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Down Under

by wilvir

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"Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints"

Chief Seattle (1786–1866) leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes

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This Plant BITES

(viewed 909 times)
1. I came across this rural footpath closely bordered on either side by Giant Hogweed. Not somewhere you want to stray into wearing shorts.
2. A young Giant Hogweed beginning its growth spurt.
3. Undisturbed this Giant Hogweed could eventually grow to a height of 20ft.

Many of our rural rights of way are overgrown and bordered by plants that many people unconsciously handle by tugging at leaves as they pass by.

Apart from the nettle, which most people recognise from the experience of being a victim to its stinging itch at some time in their lives, there are plants that can be far more hazardous to your health hidden amongst our hedgerows if you know what you're looking for, but none so blatantly evident as Giant Hogweed, which contains a toxic sap that can cause severe burns just by brushing against it.

Giant Hogweed seems to reach over absent minded passers-by as it starts to come into its own at this time of year, and is as common as nettle in many areas. However, it's not until it reaches head height and beyond that people become aware of it more out of curiosity than knowledge of what harm it can cause. Please do not touch it. The sap can easily be carried home on clothing and shoes if well meaning attempts are made to trample it underfoot, and then attack the wearer later. Leave well alone.

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7th Jun 2013, 19:44   comments (2)

Worth the Wait

(viewed 802 times)
Rowington, Grand Union Canal. Saturday 01Jun13.

1. Perfect for a weekend.
2. Just behind us.
3. Buttercups galore.
4. A shot across the bow.

This land of ours out-shines all others when summer touches down. There is no other country as intimately blessed by the changing seasons as we.
1st Jun 2013, 17:16   comments (2)

The Countrymans Timepiece

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'The dandelion is called the rustic oracle; its flowers always open about 5 A.M. and shut at 8 P.M., serving the shepherd for a clock.'

Courtesy of 'The Child and Childhood in Folk-Thought' by Alexander F. Chamberlain
1st Jun 2013, 16:52   comments (1)

'Oxygen Crash'

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Rowington, Grand Union Canal. Saturday 01Jun13

Last evening I came across this pretty little brook, carrying an unknown substance downstream and duly reported it to the Environment Agency (EA) Incident Hotline: 0800 80 70 60.

Coming up the Stratford-on-Avon Canal the other week, passing through and above Wootton Wawen, I happened to notice a number of decent sized bream dead in the water. With walkers and other boaters also commenting (and counting) the numbers of dead fish they had encountered, I rang the EA to report the situation. That same evening they called back to inform me that they had received an earlier report than mine of dead fish thereabouts and that they were monitoring the situation.

The following morning the EA called me back with more news that the deaths appeared to be due to an 'oxygen crash' brought about by a combination of recent warm weather algae blooms and cold rain driving down oxygen levels, which bream are the first to suffer from.

It's not an unusual occurrence in my experience as an angler, especially in near 'still' waters such as canals, lakes and meres. In truth a natural phenomenon, but one that can wipe out whole fish stocks when the conditions are right, especially where pollution is also present. Hence why I always report strange substances, like that on the surface of the brook in the photo, as it may be an illegal run-off and potentially kill or suffocate all it comes in contact with.
1st Jun 2013, 16:01   comments (1)

Animal Welfare Ignored

(viewed 833 times)
1. Farmland at Lapworth where the owner doesn't care for his boundaries or the safety of his flock. Here a distressed ewe stands above its lamb that lies drowned in the water below.
2. Farmland at Rowington where the farmer very much cares for his boundaries and the safety of his flock.

while moored just above Dick's Lock, this ewe woke us just after midnight the other morning when she began calling continuously, which I assumed was for a lamb that may have fallen in the canal. After a fruitless search in the dark for any signs of disturbance in the water, I went back to bed with the ewe still calling out in obvious distress.

In the morning I spotted the carcass of a lamb under brambles hanging down into the water. The ewe was still calling out in distress and having spotted her off-spring in the water too, was now trying to reach it down the badly eroded bank and risked falling into the canal.

So, as the field was on the other side of the canal, I traipsed off down the canal to a bridge leading to adjacent fields that would take me to a farm some four hundred yards away. On knocking on the farmhouse door the farmer, after I'd informed him of the circumstances and that the ewe was also lame, said he would be down to remove the lamb and check on the ewe. Usually a farmer will lay a dead lamb on the ground before taking it away if it had been recently lost and found, simply for its distressed mother to see it and stop fretting.

The farmer didn't bother to do either and when we left a day later, the lamb had sunk from view. Once the carcass fills with gas, it'll rise to the surface again and then become someone else's problem, probably a boaters!

The ewe called near continuously for eighteen hours.

I'm not at all sentimental when it comes to livestock, but I detest cruelty and ignorance of animal welfare, especially by those who are supposed to know better. Hundreds of lambs are lost each year due to natural boundaries, especially those bordering canals and rivers, not being fenced. In these cases such cruel losses are inexcusable and so easily prevented. Lies apparently come easily to those farming types who obviously don't give a damn!
1st Jun 2013, 14:28   comments (2)

Up and Under

1. Up......
2. ..... and under (where I live)
3. Forget-me-not (exquisite).
4. Red Campion (delicate).
5. Dandelion (one of my favourite flowers).
6. Bluebell (going to sleep).
7. Buttercup (about to close-up for the night).

Walking the lanes and footpaths, mostly ignored by people 'flying' the ribbons of impersonal concrete and tarmac from one mad metropolis to another, is a joy for me at anytime of the year. With wild flowers coming into their own and showing us the art of natural colour, shape and pattern, wandering the countryside as spring turns to summer refreshes my mind like nothing else.

I just wish people would stop getting so hung up on the weather. It was 27c yesterday, yet passing townsfolk were still complaining about next weeks weather forecast. I hope it rains for an hour everyday as that would help keep our waterways topped up and hopefully deter the TV vista brigade from venturing out.
27th May 2013, 12:16   comments (4)

Ne'er Cast A Clout Til May Be Out!

Dicks Lock, Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Friday 24May2013.

1. Heading home for the night.
2. Ransoms galore. I just love the pungent aroma of garlic onion and eat the flowers straight from the plant while out walking - delicious.
3. 'A river runs through it'.
4. 'Calcutt Coal' kindly delivered our order canal-side here at Lowsonford.
5. The beauty of the 'May'.

After topping up with diesel and a spare gas bottle we left Wootton Wawen behind on Monday, stopping at Yarningdale for three nights and calling at Lowsonford yesterday to take on 1.5 cwt of coal just in case we're in for a short Summer. I also re-lit the wood-burner having woken to a particularly cold morning yesterday and thinking hmmmm, no point in letting the boat cold-soak overnight, especially if the evenings follow suit for a while. Although there's been a mix of rain, sleet, hail and sunshine in recent days, sometimes within minutes of each other, we've had more fair weather than foul.

We're now moored just above Dicks Lock not far from Kingswood Junction where we'll be joining the Grand Union Canal on Tuesday for our run down to the Oxford Canal.
24th May 2013, 15:18   comments (1)

Below Lowsonford

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24th May 2013, 00:12   comments (0)