Showing posts from July, 2019

The Great British Countryside

Much as I adore living here in Crete with its wall-to-wall sunshine there is something to be said for rain; it does make things green. So come with me if you will, down Simonscales Lane, for a walk in the great British countryside. Notice the difference between the hedgerow on the left and the one on the right. There are far more woody species on the left indicating that it is probably the original field boundary with just a footpath this side. You can estimate the age of a hedgerow by counting the number of woody shrubs in a 100ft stretch and multiplying by 100. This makes the original boundary over 600 years old, whereas the footpath was probably upgraded to a track and the second hedgerow planted within the last 200 years. Besides the woody shrubs there are plenty of herbaceous plants such as Common Vetch (Vicia sativa) and Crosswort (Cruciata laevipes). These are providing food for the local insects as we can see from this Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) sipping nectar from a …

Grand Tour 2: Cumbrian Lakes and Seashore

Let me take you back 500 million years. Crummock Water, now one of fourteen beautiful lakes in The Lake District, was on the sea bed, a bed made up of sand and black, glutinous mud. Since then, that sediment has been squeezed, scunched and uplifted (and continues to be so) to form the fells that surround the lake, in this, the oldest part of the National Park. To the south of this are the eroded outcrops of hard lavas and ashes formed as a result of catastrophic volcanic eruptions 450 million years ago. It is here that you will find the highest peaks including Scafell Pike, England's highest at 3,209 feet (978m). To the south of this lies the gentler sedimentary rocks of southern Lakeland. These mudstones, sandstones, siltstones and limestones made up of billions of crushed seashells were formed upon the sea bed around 420 million years ago. The result is an area of truly outstanding natural beauty.
Let us take a walk around the woodland at the edge of the lake. It feels primaeval …

The Grand Tour

Those of you who were with me last year will recall my friends, Betty and Bert. They are what is known in the trade as 'a literary device'. They allow me to recall the actions and words of my true friends and family without fear of being ostracised, sued or generally marmalised. I met a number of new friends on my recent sojourn to the UK and back to Crete by train and ferry and would like to keep them (at least until they discover what I am really like). This is the story of that journey; through England, Holland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy and Greece, as seen through the eyes of a naturalist with Betty and Bert popping in to provide a bit of comic relief.

Nestling up in the north west corner of England, just above the Lake District and trying to pretend that it is part of it, lies the idyllic town of Cockermouth. It is a place where a walk to the health centre involves negotiating a flock of sheep and a trip to the supermarket is accompanied by earthy sce…