Monday, 20 January 2020

To Pastures New


This will be my final post from Cumbria for a bit as I am returning to Crete on Friday. Once there I shall be putting the little cottage that Christina and I lived and loved in for fourteen years on the market. Crete is a great place for two but rather lonely for one. This means that I shall have to find somewhere to live here in Cockermouth and with that in mind I thought we’d take a look at some chalets on the outskirts of town.





Certainly can’t fault the view and good walking country too. The River Cocker flows just beyond those trees down there but we’re high enough up to be out of the flood zone. In the distance lies Grisedale Pike, Grasmoor and Whinlatter Forest Park just waiting to be explored in the Spring.





The chalets, I have my doubts about. Many of them are holiday lets and, as it’s rather exposed up here, I think it may not be much fun in the winter and it will probably cost a fortune to keep warm. Anyhow, I’ll bear them in mind.





On a practical level let’s take a time check and see how long it takes to walk into town. The chalets are situated just off Simonscale Lane which we visited back in the summer. It looks very different today with just a few haws to provide a splash of colour.



If we cut through this little housing estate there should be a path leading through a wood…



...that will lead us down to the river...



...which will take us to the little lane that runs by Tom Rudd Beck where, in this hazel coppice where the catkins are ready to release their pollen to the wind, I’ve just seen a Red Squirrel.





Here we are at the top of town in a little under half an hour but I noticed that it was downhill all the way which means it would be uphill all the way home – most likely carrying shopping. I think we’ll look for a flat in town. Oh look, the snowdrops are out. How nice.

Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in buying a detached, two bedroomed cottage on the south east coast of Crete between Ierapetra and Makry Gialos please message me via facebook.


Although insects and other creepy-crawlies are very thin on the ground still at the moment that’s no reason not to buy a book about them. Get to know them before they arrive in all their varied forms.









Crete Nature Catch-up


Friday, 17 January 2020

Down by the Derwent



That Wordsworth was a romantic fellow: I wandered lonely as a cloud..” I mean, I ask you, has anyone seen a lonely cloud in Cumbria? Ever? Had he been of a more pragmatic turn of mind he may have come up with something like this…



But these are fair weather clouds so let us take a stroll together down by the Derwent, starting by its confluence with the Cocker where Jennings’ brewery nestles comfortably between. This magnificent old tree, dominating the foreground, has a large spherical growth larger than a football. This is a canker and is the tree’s reaction to an invasion by small sac fungi, probably Botryosphaeria stevensii.



At this point we must leave the river bank, climb a stile and take to the fields where a group of Corvids are feeding. More than a third of all birds in the family Corvidae are in the type genus Corvus which includes the rooks, crows, jackdaws and ravens which can be difficult to tell apart. Jackdaws have a grey nape, pale grey eyes and call ‘chack’; ravens are much bigger than the other three and call ‘cronk’; crows and rooks are all black and of similar size with a similar cawing cry. The easiest way to tell them apart is from their beaks: black:crow [bc] white: rook [wr] – [bc] are together at the beginning of the alphabet, [wr] are towards the end of the alphabet.




Here in the hedgerows holly and hawthorn provide berries and haws for birds such as this blue tit. There are also great tits, sparrows, chaffinches and goldfinches around and that whirring, brindled body that just scurried off in the field on the other side of the hedge was either a partridge or a hen pheasant.



Back by the riverside we have a welcome splash of yellow, the flowers of an Ulex bush, commonly known as gorse, whin or furze. I wonder if it has attracted any insects? In a word, no. Insects and other creepy-crawlies are very thin on the ground still at the moment.



This bit of ironmongery is a sluice gate and it has been here since at least 1700 and was used twice a year to allow the gote, or ditch, behind to be cleared. The gote was a fast running ditch, or race, used to power the mills that were built along side it. Hence its name; Gote Mills Race. Lurking behind the felled tree to the left is a beautiful colony of bracket fungi.












For those of you who have followed my blog regularly it will come as no great surprise that at the end of a good morning’s walk I like to suggest that we rest awhile at some local hostelry. Today is no exception so I suggest that we adjourn to my favourite hostelry on Cockermouth’s Main Street, The Bush.








Although insects and other creepy-crawlies are very thin on the ground still at the moment that’s no reason not to buy a book about them. Get to know them before they arrive in all their varied forms.








Crete Nature Catch-up


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