Saturday, 8 August 2009

Bees, Mushrooms and morning dew.

This morning we had free, due to the kids both being elsewhere last night, Jo wanted me to take a couple of photos of a mushroom just off the drive, so I thought I'd share them with you.

I love the detail of the underneath of mushrooms - they have incredible architecture!

Since I had my camera in my hands, I thought I'd see what else was out there this morning, and moved to the back garden to explore.

One of the first things that came to mind was the flowerbed by Zak's room, it has some beautiful colours and the flowers are wonderful.

It was while I was deciding which flower to take a shot of, that I noticed a solitary bee hovering from one flower to another, so I took a couple of shots.

The first shot was of a thistle, and the second shot was caught as it was collecting pollen from inside the flower itself.

The last shot I took this morning was of a spiderweb that was covered in the morning dew.

All I could think of when I saw it was, how you could imagine certain parts of it looking like jewelry.

What do you see?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

VICTORY!! Stiggy vs Mole update!

It's been a while since I started an assault on a mole that had been causing me no end of trouble and heartache.

The war started with smoke bombs, to try and push the mole out of our back garden, which worked quite well, making Mr Mole scurry into our paddock area. The main problem with this was that he then had free-reign to dig and burrow for all he was worth. This made it very unstable in the paddock, due to the unbelievable amount of tunnels, which collapsed underfoot and under mower!

Enough is enough I thought, and preceded to buy a couple of mole traps which I didn't have much success with to be quite honest. Mr Mole seemed to delight in back filling the traps until they went off, and then tunnelling around them!

The same thing happened when I used a 'Humane' mole trap. The little wotsit just glued the little tin doors up, and then tunnelled round the trap!

Recently though I thought that Mr Mole had moved on to pastures new - to either the field next door - or to the field across the road - that was until I walked round the chicken run and nearly broke my ankle when I trod on a three way tunnel junction...

...I then realised that the problem hadn't gone away - just out of sight!

I wasn't too optimistic about catching anything, but I thought I'd give it a go before I spent any more money buying a few Dufus mole traps, so off I went into the paddock, armed with two of the traps I'd bought previously.

One of the advantages of a long campaign is that you do actually get to know, or recognise certain signs of mole behaviour.

One of these signs is to find a tunnel just under the surface that ends with a little mound of earth. This is one of his exploration tunnels, which he may or may not come back to and continue on his way.

I roughly tore up the roof of the tunnel about 8" before the mound of earth, and set the trap. The second trap I placed in one of the tunnels I knew the mole was still using. You know Mr Mole is still using the tunnel because you have to flatten all the tunnels in the first place to see if he repairs any - then BINGO, you know where he goes!

I went back to the traps the next day, and didn't think anything of the trap that had gone off - but i took it out and looked into the tunnel...

...low and behold, I saw a little tiny paw sticking into the tunnel - I didn't want to get too excited, just in case I'd actually caught a rat or some other animal...

...slowly i grabbed the little paw...

...pulled it out of the tunnel...


I pretty much whooped with joy - I know it sounds silly, but no-one I know has had ANY success in catching or killing moles.

I was exalted!

Straight away I brought Mr Mole to the house like the proud hunter I was, and showed Jo who took the photos, and although Kane wasn't too impressed with it, hopefully it will help to harden him up to country life a bit.

One thing I remember is a comment on my first post about the moles (which I deleted), from a professional mole catcher - which pretty much pooh-poohed my attempts at mole catching, suggesting instead I contact a 'proper' mole catcher to do the job, as I was unlikely to get any results, and I was just wasting my money.

Well I hope you're reading this Mr Mole Catcher - because you are totally and utterly WRONG!

ANYONE can catch a mole, and it's even easier I hear with the Dufus traps - you just have to know what you're looking for in the first place in order to set the traps in the correct place!

I feel like I have just come of age!


Saturday, 1 August 2009

School Sports Day.

Since I'm on the subject of summer, nothing symbolises the break up from school for the long, summer holidays than the School Sports Day.

Kane recently had his, and it's always a great day, with a chance to watch the kids having fun, and (sometimes) getting that competitive feeling.

An awful lot of schools, I hear, in the UK have stopped the tradition of sports day because they don't want their pupils to feel in any way inadequate by losing a race!
Personally I have the opinion that in order to survive this wonderful and difficult life, we have no choice but to teach kids the bad with the good - and how to cope with losing occasionally...

...even if it IS losing the 'running with a plastic cone on the head' race!!

Anyway, I digress.

The way the Sports Day works at Kane's school is they have lots of different events placed within the school grounds, each one being run by either a parent or one of the older kids at the school. Last year I ran the 'kick the football at targets on a wall' event, and felt I missed out in a big way from not being able to see Kane compete.

This year was different. This year I decided to drop all responsibility, and to follow Kane round and give him support. Jo and I went together and I decided to take a few snapshots of the day. I wish I could post more than I have here - but to be honest, I actually took 192 photos of the day!

So be prepared for lots of photos here - I'll just put a quick note saying what each one is!

Kane's 1st event of the day - 'balancing 3 tennis balls on a tray race'

Dribbling ball round cones.

Get a score with beanbags.

Standing long jump.

Run to get 1st beanbag and put it in bucket, then 2nd beanbag etc...

...then run carrying bucket to finish line.

Dribble football round cones.

Skipping race (which Kane was WAY in the lead until he got caught up in the rope!)

Famous 'cone on the head and run as fast as you can' race.

Egg and spoon race.

Having a laugh between events!

The sack race.

Get score by throwing balls in baskets.

See how many times you can bounce the ball on the racket event.

Obstacle course race.

Last event - get as many balls through the hoop with 3 balls.

We were so proud of Kane, and the way he handled himself during the day. It was lovely to see how much he had improved at certain events, and just how wonderful he was generally with everything that was given to him to do.

All in all everyone had a really fun day, the kids behaved impeccably (as did most of the parents!) and no one was mortally wounded or put into deep depression by any of the events.