17th April 2020 – Holland

No, I’ve not gone barking mad (not yet anyway). I have not really made off to Holland but (in a way) a little bit of Holland has been transported to our home and it has a tenuous link to my nature blog.

My wife, Wendy, has completed her most recent patchwork quilt and we have managed to mount it in our dining room. I am sure she is delighted to be able to see the culmination of months of her work but it has in fact lifted our spirits for both of us.


I feel I have contributed a tiny amount to this beautiful work of art as I bought her the book with the initial design for the quilt. I have spent a fair number of hours sitting looking at the library of books at Midsomer Quilting  (her favourite shop for all matters quilting and probably most of the UK’s favourite shop too) and it was there (drinking their coffee and eating their chocolate biscuits) that I was attracted to a book “Promenade dans un jardin hollandais” (Petra Pins & An Moonen). I love the series of books produced by the French publishers Quilt Mania as the main text is in French (there is also an English translation) and they always have the most amazing photographs. The photographs are technically brilliant and the quilts are also displayed in the most imaginative ways.



Wendy’s quilt is a tree of life and there’s the tenuous link to my nature blog.

Wikipedia tells me that

“the tree of life is a fundamental widespread myth (mytheme) or archetype in many of the world’s mythologies, religious and philosophical traditions. It is closely related to the concept of the sacred tree. The tree of knowledge, connecting to heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, connecting all forms of creation, are both forms of the world tree or cosmic tree, and are portrayed in various religions and philosophies as the same tree.”

I would love to visit “L’Ecomusée ou musée de Plein Air de Arnhem aux Pays Bas” which is where the quilts for the book were photographed and which in the book is described as:

” a magical place that relates several centuries of Dutch history through a 100 acre park. Founded on April 24th, 1912, the museum opened in 1918. Nowadays , this site includes ninety-six buildings and points of interest such as farms, windmills, a drawbridge, houses, workshops etc. from different eras, with one of the most recent attractions being a tram station from Amsterdam.”

A visit to Arnhem would also be very poignant as it was there that my Uncle Cyril (a glider pilot in the RAF) was killed in the Second World War.





17th April 2020 – Self-isolating in Bristol

I so miss my dose of nature. It’s been such a crucial part of my life since I retired. I love the exercise, I love being in the fresh air, I love the way my photography skills are challenged and I love the mental challenge of trying to identify (mainly) birds and (occasionally) flora and the intimacy that that provides.

I have been very lucky through these first few weeks of lock-down in that I have been able (especially with the very good weather we have had) to be outside a lot and to see and photograph a surprisingly large variety of birds in and around my garden.

However, I think that is going to change as the leaves on the trees are coming out thick and fast and (from the experience of the last few days) my view of the birds is diminishing.

This morning the weather was very dull and, as rain was forecast from 10 o’clock, I pressed on and tried to photograph some of the nature (mainly trees) in and around my garden. The purpose of this exercise was simply for self fulfillment. I am not trying to “show off” my garden as it is tiny and designed for minimal effort so that we are able to take off either locally or further afield whenever we want and not have to worry about the consequences. However, it does provide us somewhere to cook a barbecue and to sit outside when the weather is good. I didn’t realise how important it would become to me.

We probably have too many trees for the size of the garden and since I realised that I have reduced the number.

The highlight has been the front garden where we have planted a crab apple and a magnolia, which this year have really been at their best. In the dull weather this morning they probably weren’t at their best for photos but I do restrict my blogs to photos of any particular day.








DSC00130When the 20 mph signs were erected I thought “what madness, who could possibly do more than 20 mph done this road?” but I have eaten my words more than once when some crazy fool has sped by.

As well as the crab apple and the magnolia there are a couple of other shrubs (I don’t know what they are called).



As the viburnum has finished blooming two peonies are about to bloom but there are some worrying signs with loads of ants on them.




DSC00156I love this plant (is it an aubretia?) which clings to the outside wall

In the back garden the best has been the acer with its very delicate blossom. But a rowan tree (mountain ash in such a tiny garden – madness?) is about to come out in blossom and the scots pine seems to have more cones on it this year.

The holly had a severe trim last year as did the bay tree and the fig (not featured as it was just too dark to photograph).




DSC00099The rowan has blossom appearing.




But beneath the bay the lily of the valley is already out (it will always be “muguet” to me for the special connotations it has on the 1st May in France).


DSC00116An aquilegia has self sown among the lily of the valley.

But the best of all the trees is not outside (!) and I hope to be able to show it (and explain) in my next blog.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.