This Too Shall Pass

An early English citation of ‘this too shall pass’ appears in 1848:

When an Eastern sage was desired by his sultan to inscribe on a ring the sentiment which, amidst the perpetual change of human affairs, was most descriptive of their real tendency, he engraved on it the words: – ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’

(cited by Julia Samuel, 2020)

I’ve just started reading  Julia Samuel’s ‘This Too Shall Pass’ – Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings which is newly published with commendably appropriate timing.

Here we are in week four of our crisis – I hope you are all doing ok.

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Hareheugh Crags – the view from our house

Yesterday we went for a short walk up to Hareheugh Crags, it was not a bad day here, cold wind but some sunshine as well. We can see the Crags from the house – they are a ‘prime example of a volcanic plug with an unusual rock composition’ and a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the rare Northern Brown Argos Butterfly can be seen there. Plenty of butterflies about on our walk but not that one. There are also some quite ‘locally important fauna’ if you go at the right time, which is around now. The only wild flowers we found apart from buttercups and dandelions were these which I think are Wild Pansy………

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Sarah Raven says the Wild Pansy has declined due to the use of herbicide and fertilisers.

On the way to the Crags we spotted a Pied Wagtail and I managed to get some photos.

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This one was alone as far as I could see but we often see a pair on the hedges and field near the house. Now – Pied Wagtails apparently roost in communes of up to 3,000 – 4,000! I’ve only ever seen one or two at a time – but when they are together they are called a Volery of Wagtails. I looked up volery – it means ‘a flock of birds’!! Haha!!

We sat for a few minutes and looked across to Sweethope Hill and watched the cows grazing before heading home.

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This morning I headed out for a very early morning walk. It’s not just that I love walking in the early mornings, its that if you don’t go straight out once you are up, Mojo gives you no peace! She won’t go out on her own at the moment because the blackbirds are nesting in the holly hedge and if they spot her alone, they dive bomb her and she’s such a scaredy cat!  So we have to take her out, if I walk along the road she’ll have a run along with me but she gets nervous if I go too far so she goes home and sits on the wall waiting:

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You can see that the mist descended pretty quickly….

There was a lovely light and low lying mist which was just a white cloud in the distance when I started out but soon completely enveloped me so that I turned back. Not that I was worried about getting lost – there’s only one road – but I had been hoping to spot a trio of deer that Mr RR saw yesterday and the mist put paid to that.

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By the time I’d got home and had a cup of tea it had cleared!  Anyway I saw one of the wagtails,

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a pair of jackdaw which are, I’m fairly sure, nesting in a hole in a tree and I took some pictures of the trees in the mist.

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The Jackdaws have been visiting our garden this year as well, I’ve been watching them feeding from the plate of seed and hanging on for dear life to the feeder.

We’ve had some excitement in the field this week as more and more new lambs arrive. Number 20 is proving particularly troublesome, he’s a good climber and has managed on a couple of occasions to climb over the wall and been unable to get back – leaving his mother bleating consistently on the other side while he runs up and down looking for the way back in. Have  you ever tried to catch a lamb? It takes some skill I can tell you – and we don’t have it!  After a couple of attempts  a neighbour opened the field gate and reunited the pair.  Actually talking about trying to catch the lamb reminded me of the time that we were walking on Dartmoor with our lovely friends Mr and Mrs B – when we spotted a sheep with its head stuck in a bucket! Mr RR and Mr B spent a hilarious half hour trying to catch it before we had to give up! I tried to find some photos of that but we have hundreds, if not thousands of photos all over the place!  That might be a project one day!

What else for this week?

Finished a little outfit for the youngest member of the family.

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Sorted out my herb garden – I might actually grow some herbs in it this year!

We actually sat in the garden with a glass of wine one evening this week – a rare event requiring a blanket for me!

Made a slide show of a children’s story book so that I can read to little Master RR online tonight and he can see the pictures. I’m not telling you which book in case I’ve breached some sort of copywrite law – but it involves a famous park keeper.

I’m rereading The Malice of Waves by Mark Douglas-Home, a Scottish author. I’ve read all three of his books and really like his writing – I’m sure its time he published a fourth.

I must tell you that as well as all this other stuff – I am working from home which is much more time consuming and exhausting than you might imagine! I have had to learn to zoom, chat online and host virtual drop-ins, and this week I’m apparently going to learn how to use a graphic design app! 🙈

Here are some more of todays early morning photos – from our wildflower patch – a wild teasel loved by our Charm of Goldfinches and Lily of the Valley, named from the Song of Solomon ‘I am a flower of the field and a lily of the valley’.

Anyway – Mr and Ms RR have gone out for a cycle ride so I’m off for a quiet sit in the garden with a cup of tea, a piece of freshly made chocolate flapjack and my book!

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Keep well, stay safe and remember – This Too Shall Pass.

Thanks for reading.

J xx

Easter Highlights

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So – that was week three of lockdown…how was it for you? Thanks to all of you who commented on last week’s ramblings. It’s lovely to hear from you all.

Highlights for us this week: lots more lambs born and brought to the field, I’ve lost count now but I’m watching them from my window running around amongst the chickens and there are a lot! Hares….what a lot of hares there are at the moment. I went for an early walk one morning and saw six in one field, the cat found one hiding amongst the daffodils in the garden – luckily it was too quick for her and escaped unharmed, and as you’ll see in a minute we watched a couple on our walk yesterday.  A few days ago a deer appeared in the field opposite us. It looked a bit bewildered, the field has recently been ploughed and planted and I think it had lost the way out, we watched it for quite a while before it finally made its way across the burn and up the hill back to the woods.

We haven’t had the sunshine that many of you have had recently, although its not so cold at the moment – just a bit grey. Yesterday morning we repeated last week’s walk, but backwards….makes a change and the views are different!  You can see Hume Castle nearly all the way from different angles.

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We started out in bright sun but by the time we got to the garden gate grey clouds had arrived again! There were a few exciting moments – I managed to get my first photo of a yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)!

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I’m very pleased about this one, they’re quite flighty and difficult to capture but we spotted this one alone in a tree as we walked towards the farm. Lovely bright yellow head – although I’ve seen brighter ones than this one – my RSPB book says that in winter the yellow is obscured by greenish-brown streaks so I suspect this one is still changing its plumage or it’s a juvenile. They are found throughout Britain but are red listed due to a recent decline in numbers mirroring that of other farmland species – loss of wide field margins, autumn planting and use of herbicides impacting breeding. We have a flock of yellowhammers just along the road from us, and the other day after the field opposite was planted I spotted one in our hedge which then flew down to help itself to the new seed, but apart from that one I haven’t seen them venture this far along the road before.

A little further along the road we saw this pair of hares sitting in a field, we watched them for a little while – as long as you’re quiet they don’t notice you.

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Apparently their eyesight is not good but their hearing is. Which explains why out walking in the early mornings they often lollop towards you getting quite close before noticing you’re there.

Remember the Swiss sheep with the curly horns? – they’ve taken their coats off:

and the pony with laminitis has moved back in with his mates:

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It’s a lovely walk along this track, there’s a woodland on one side and views of Sweethope Hill on the other, I love woods like this with gnarled old trees and mossy logs,

although I do think my companions are taking social distancing a bit far!

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Wait for me!

We spotted a kestrel near the end of the track, hovering and diving, obviously after its lunch, but I couldn’t manage to get a photo.

Walking this way round means we have to go up a long steep hill, my feet were really painful by this point so we took a rest on a mossy boulder and ate chocolate flapjacks – another highlight – the young Ms RR makes delicious flapjacks from an adapted Nigel Slater recipe, they have quickly become my favourite snack!

Perfect for taking a quick break to rest the sore feet.  A flock of sheep watched jealously:

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As we got to the top of the hill more ploughing in progress plus the spreading of some very pungent fertiliser! Earlier we’d seen a deer hoof print in the mud and as we walked by all the activity we saw a pair of deer, panicked by the machinery trying to find their way to the woods. They made several false starts before suddenly making a run for it and escaping.

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Turning the corner to head downhill towards home, we could see lovely views of the Eildon Hills….

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…..and a beautifully mown field – I love a pattern!

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There were more highlights to come: A virtual Easter Egg hunt via Zoom with our grandson – we stuck paper eggs up around the room:

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and he got a real ‘chocolate ball’ when he answered the clue and found the eggs; he seemed to enjoy it anyway! Also a surprise Easter Egg hunt of our own devised by Ms RR;

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and a half eaten mouse left specially for us by Mojo! I decided not to take a picture of it….but here’s the culprit in hiding:

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Makes of the week – not so much knitting and sewing this week although I did start a rainbow which needs sewing together. Managed to produce some hot-cross buns although they don’t look much like the real thing, they taste alright. Plus a chocolate sponge cake as I didn’t buy any Easter Eggs – which I made before remembering that Ms RR does not like sponge cake!!  More for me then 😁!

Maybe see you next week! Let me know what you’re reading at the moment…I need a good book!  I hate choosing books online, it’s just not the same as picking it up and flicking through.

Have a good week.

J x

Permitted Daily Exercise!

Well! Can you believe what’s going on? It seems we suddenly have a whole new vocabulary – lockdown, sheltering in place, social distancing..etc. It’s all a bit of a shock isn’t it?  I don’t know about you but I’m finding it better to keep away from social media and to stop constantly listening to the news.

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The view from here….

So I thought as I’m lucky enough to live in this lovely place, I’d share some stuff from my local rambles.  I might share some old photos as well, seeing as I haven’t been here for a while. And I might even share some other stuff….I’ll see.

Down the road is a field that is more often than not, flooded. Geese and seagulls love it, occasionally an oyster catcher drops by, and quite often the lapwings feed there:

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Lapwings on a local piece of wetland

There’s a flock of lapwings always gliding around a bit further away at the top of the hill – such a lovely sound they make when they’re together in the air. I guess these are the same ones come down for lunch – but who knows? They may not be. A group of lapwings is actually called a Deceit – A Deceit of Lapwings. I looked it up – it comes from the birds’ use of diversionary tactics when they have young in the nest. There’s even a poem called ‘A Deceit of Lapwings’ by David Underdown (https://www.davidunderdown.co.uk/a-deceit-of-lapwings).

I love lapwings, I love the way they swoop and ‘rollercoaster’ in the sky and when they’re on the ground they’re so funny and proud with their crested heads bobbing about. And their song which you can hear on the RSPB website is very distinctive, they are sometimes known as peewits because of their call. (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/lapwing/).

Lapwings are on the red list – their numbers were noticed to have declined significantly in the early 1900s due to their eggs being collected for food. The Lapwing Act in 1926 helped them to recover a bit but by the 1940s changes in farming practices caused them to decline again. Cultivation of arable land adds to nesting failures and crop growth shortens the nesting season.

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To be honest we didn’t actually see any Lapwings today on our walk, except in the far distance swooping over their usual field. We did see yellowhammers, skylarks, and a buzzard. It was a good day for a stroll – no wind.  It’s windy here on most days so its lovely to be able to get out without being blown along or dodging falling branches!

There are plenty of lambs about now of course, we have some in the field next door, six black and white lambs born to Zwartble ewes:

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Today we walked past these amazing rams:

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I think these might be Valais Blacknose sheep originating from the Swiss mountains. I’ve no idea why they are wearing coats though – maybe to keep their fleeces clean?

We saw some miniature Shetland ponies, including this little one, separated from her friends because she has laminitis – caused by eating too much and getting too fat!

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We caused a good deal of excitement walking past a field of horses – they came running over obviously expecting a snack – sadly we only brought chocolate flapjacks along and we’d already eaten them!

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Not so many Spring flowers to be seen here yet – but we spotted some Lesser Celandine, a type of buttercup. It grows anywhere but you shouldn’t think that because of that you can ignore it – its really important for early feeding for many insects and an important source of pollen and nectar. I spotted three bumble bees buzzing around today looking for food so these plants might be common but they are important.

And of course there are daffodils everywhere and continuing the yellow theme, the gorse is in flower!

I can’t leave out the lichen and mosses! We saw these in the woods…

And the views…

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Looking across to The Cheviot Hills

 

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Sweethope Hill

 

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Not sure what this building is…….

Stay safe everyone – I may be back soon!

Meanwhile here’s what Mr RR has been up to:IMG_2722

and yet another started but not finished thing by me! 😊

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