Welcome to our little home on the net. We are Steve & Rosemary and live in Buckinghamshire, UK. This is a blog of our life, sometimes interesting, but mainly boring. It is very picture orientated as Steve loves to take pictures, especially of wildlife. Sometimes he has his arm twisted by Rosemary and takes the odd snap of a weed.
Morrison was out again on Monday 7th June on a long trek to mid-Wales for four nights camping. We took the longer route there, crossing the old Severn bridge and meeting up with relations to view their Hill Fort. They have a dwelling down some of the narrowest roads imaginable. Thankfully we met nobody coming the other way. Leaving was not quite so lucky and I had to reverse back up the road to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass.
Their Iron Age Hill Fort is in a spectacular setting, you can see the major South Wales hills in the distance. The embankments to where the hill fort is located would take an athlete to scale. Their fields were wonders of wildflowers. After a nice lunch with some lovely Scottish cheese, we left to drive up to mid-Wales. (We have now ordered some of the cheese (from the Ethical Dairy)).
We arrived at Fforest Fields campsite, checked in, set up camp and went for a walk around their ponds in the lovely evening light. So beautiful and so quiet. I grabbed a few golden hour photographs.
The next day we went for a walk up the hills, visiting all the usual spots, such as Mobile Phone Mast, Look Out, The Water Falls. We did spot many red and blue Damselflies and a Broad-bodied Chaser who stopped long enough to be photographed.
Tuesday also appeared to be sheep herding day, all you could hear were the sheep being rounded up and moved from one field to another. Quad bikes and dogs doing the work. Lots of baaing sheep as they were moved from field to field. I don’t know what was happening to them, no shearing appeared to occur, some were penned away behind trees out of view for a while, where there was much shouting.
It was a lovely day, and after lunch back at Morrison, I decided to go for a hike up the hills and along the top to where I used to paraglide. Shot up the hill, (those Joe Wicks exercises worked well), along the ridge, along sheep tracks. I forgot how steep the slope was. Falling I would not have stopped for a while. Coming back I went inland along the vehicle tracks and back down. Aargh, the pain in my left leg below the knee was excruciating. Fine going uphill and level, but agony going downhill. Back at Morrison, a (pre-made by me) Negroni eased the agony. Some lovely evening shots of the buttercups in the long grass under the slope to the hills in the field where we were parked. The owners have kept up to the tradition of mowing a number of spiral paths in the long grass, making beautiful patterns when glimpsed from above.
Wednesday and Thursday a gentle few days of walking around the site. On Thursday R and I walked along the bottom stream towards the pub, then up the hill and back past the mobile phone mast. In the afternoon after lunch, I decided to walk up the hill, and then a walk south on level ground high up. It was a damp day, cloudy. Good day for walking as not hot. I made it to a trig point took a selfie and then walked back. Around 6 miles in a couple of hours. The same problem, walking uphill or on the level, no problem. Downhill, on the same path as Tuesday, my left leg was in agony. At the back of the leg, just below the knee. Thursday night we fired up the charcoal BBQ, and then resorted to the frying pan on the induction hob.
Friday we packed up and left. The site was full on Friday, would have liked to have stayed as the weather was good for the next few days.
What has changed at the site since our last visit three years ago?
There was a new check-in and shop built, separate from the main shower block and cafe. The shop had the basic requirements, milk, cheese, eggs, sausage and meat, items for a quick meal. The coffee shop was the same, now selling some (too) lovely chocolate brownies. Made in Wales, though Cardiff does sound a long way to bring them.
The new tree planting on the hill was growing well, the birds appreciated it, they were deafening, even from 300 meters where we were parked. Some mature trees at the top of the hill, behind the lookout, had been felled for wood. Some other pines at the top had also been felled, and the newly exposed pines had been damaged by high winds in the winter.
Around the swimming pond, the path had been built unmuddied with stone, and there was a little more grass cutting to open it up. Looked nice, but not so friendly to the wildlife. There were moorhen and coot families on the pond and we did see a fierce bust-up between two coots.
We took Morrison out for his first trip of the year to Cambridge, arriving on Tuesday 25th May at the Cambridge Camping and Caravan Club’s campsite. On route, we stopped at Saint Neots for lunch and parked in the riverside car park. The payment system was a new one for me, you could pay by card. No problem, you also had to sign out of the car park using the same card, otherwise, you would be charged for the whole day.
The Cambridge Camping and Caravan Club obviously had had some issues with the persistent rain of the previous weeks. Sections of the field were roped off. Thankfully our stay was relatively dry and we were parked in a dry patch. We soon set up and caught the bus into Cambridge. It was remarkable how quiet Cambridge was with the lack of tourists. King’s Parade was totally closed to traffic and all the restaurants had placed tables on the street. We stopped for a glass of wine outside the Cambridge Wine Merchants, where you could choose a glass from their menu or any bottle of wine from their shop. We had a walk around, tea at Michaelhouse Cafe and some more walking. I had booked the Loch Fyne Restaurant, believing it would be crowded, it was still the first week restaurants could serve indoors. No, it was remarkably empty and many of the menu items were off or had substitutions. No lime or lime juice for a cocktail, no mangetout peas. All rather odd.
Wednesday we met up with the UK Chapter of the Sadgits, being us two, Norman, Valerie, Simon, Richard and Andrea. We met up with some of them at the Michaelhouse Café, where we got talking to an elderly couple enjoying tea. It seems he was up at Emmanuel in 1957 when they met. We visited Kettle’s Yard where N&V and us two had the first tour. We had the museum to ourselves. Such a treat. The others had later “tours”. Somehow we ended up having a liquid late lunch at The Punter where we stayed for rather a long time. Nice pub. How come we didn’t know it? Valerie and Norman had to leave early to catch a train home, while the rest of us were going on to the Cambridge Chop House for supper. Early for the Chop House, we split into three groups, Simon and I going for a fast-paced walk along the River Cam past Jesus Green, Midsummer Common, and part of Stourbridge Common; while Richard had to collect his new Mac and Rosemary & Andrea presumably dawdled in various shops. We all met up at the Chop House for a pleasant, meaty meal. We could have dined outside, but rain was in the offing.
Thursday was the Fitzwilliam Museum in the morning to see the exhibition on Touch, and a wander around the exhibits. R did not warm to the exhibition, but was revived by a visit to a favourite painting. Afterwards, we stopped at the Cambridge Wine Merchants (again), where after a glass of different wine each, we opted for a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet followed by a constitutional walk to Jesus Green to locate the restaurant for tomorrow’s supper. Today we ate supper at the Tapas Bar, Tabanco. We had our best meal of the week here. Served by a very attentive waitress who always kept a watch on the tables, and was with you in an instant when you required her. So we were able to call for the bill, pay and promptly catch the bus home. It was a lovely evening back at the campsite with a pretty setting sun.
Friday and the campsite was looking deserted as more people were leaving. Today we were visiting the Cambridge Zoology museum. We had been before at closing time and had been impressed in the 30 minutes we were there. This time we had a few hours looking around, not so impressed. R was unhappy with the labelling and visitors did not obey the one-way system, which I must say was difficult to follow. There were also uncontrolled children on site.
Afterwards, we made the required stop at Michaelhouse Café, think we must have visited there at least once every day. Next, we walked along the River Cam towards the Fen Causeway, watching the inexperienced men trying to punt. So funny to watch, I would, of course, never be like that. Time to spare before supper, we walked up Castle Street to Castle Mound where I took a photo of Cambridge. It had now had started to rain, so we hurried to the River Bar Steakhouse & Grill. A steak place, pretty expensive, and I do prefer the steaks I cook to most restaurant ones. Asked for a rare steak and I got what I call a medium, or even medium-well-done. To me rare means some raw meat in the centre. A steak with little or no blood oozing out of it is not rare. R had “disappointing” salmon.
Back to the campsite, the rain had stopped. The campsite was now full, with lots of kids. It was the start of half term. Thankfully it all went quiet as night drew in.
Driving home the next day, stopped at the St Neots Tesco to fill up with diesel. The price of hydrocarbon fuels has shot up as we come out of the lockdowns. This was the first time I hit the £99 limit for paying at the pump. So not quite a full tank.
Over in the field pond, I caught several songbirds on camera while trying to capture foxes, badgers and Moorhens. Here is a Thrush, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Moorhen and Pigeon. The last shots are birds drinking from the pond. I do have a small video of the Moorhen and chicks coming soon.
The location is the field pond. A badger came to visit. You can see the badger trying to step onto the Willow Catkins floating on the pond surface. The bed of vegetation made the pond surface look solid, confusing the badger. The badger tries this a couple of times and then backs off. Next, you see the badger walking behind the pond, one slip and he is in for a dunking in the deepest section of the pond. He then makes his escape through the fence into the neighbouring field.
Kingswood in the Sun
After weeks of cold, and then weeks of rain, the sun came out. I took the opportunity to photograph some country scenes to the North of our abode. Lets hope the sun continues to shine. The Spaniel in the picture is owned by the farmer on whose land I was walking, as are the sheep, pond and wool. These were taken during the golden hour.