Sunday, 1 September 2013


Sue enjoying a breakfast book in the warm summer sun
Wow, what a wonderful summer we’ve been enjoying, lovely for fishing, for wild flowers, for all the butterflies and other sun worshipping critters out there and of course, for us!

By way of celebration I thought I’d compile a collection of photos, not just from the riverbank but from our lovely garden too. Sue does the flowers and I look after the watery bits and the rest of the jungle.

fishless now but still magical
winter seems far off now

it used to be a fish pond
Despite our love of the sun, the dramatic seasonal variations provide much of the appeal of living in England and I’ll attempt to give an impression of our year here in sunny Dorset.
our 'swale' provides a home for birds and amphibians

the magic of the seasons

camellias even flower at Christmas
Famous travel writer and friend Brian Jackman described our garden as “spiralling into wilderness” and though this appropriate description makes it the perfect wildlife garden, our attempts to gain some control indicates why I haven’t got much time to go fishing.

dawn from my office desk - I sure am lucky
We just love gardening and even if two acres of wooded wetland is too big to cope with on our own, we do enjoy trying. Mind you, in the height of the summer it was too hot for much digging so I just had to go and wet a line once in a while, didn’t I …
2/12 of splendid perch - I was hoping for a roach

Spring colour is exceptional in the garden because of our numerous camellias and other flowering trees and shrubs … Wisley eat your heart out.
spring - what a lovely time of year - and there's all that bird song too

our damp acid soil makes for camellia heaven

azalea or rhodo - we must look it up next year

This spring our palette was added to by a pair of exotic mandarin ducks.
the pair became very tame - what a treat

four males competed for the females attention - there were some good dogfights between the trees

I'm not sure the robins approved
They were often joined by three other males and they nested just outside the garden, visiting the ponds and bird-table twice a day. Every year we enjoy the company of nesting mallards and ducklings so at times the garden resembles Slimbridge.
we are blessed with two or three broods a year - this is one of our largest

egret on minnow or frog hunt

I've included this pic from Olympic year because a kingfisher used the string of flags as a fishing perch
Being close to the South coast, our patch is wonderful for bird life and in our 33 years here we have recorded 107 different species, highlights being osprey, red kites and hawfinch. Being blessed with a stream and five ponds we have dug, waterbirds are frequent visitors, including herons, kingfishers and even little egrets, though now the otter has eaten all the fish there is nothing for them to eat.
our once rich fish pond

fish gone - lilies trashed

one of our 'playful' otters doing what it does best

Creating habitat and attracting otters is a mixed blessing. On the one hand it’s an honour. On the other it’s deeply depressing to see our ponds destroyed by otters that are so hungry that they even eat the tiny minnows – but I won’t rant on about the state of our predator/prey relationships  again here.
the morning after a raid

foxes regularly patrol for fish remains at dawn

May was holiday time so our great friends Michael and Penny joined us in a little cabin on a Bryher beach in the Scilly Isles and though we were battered by an Atlantic storm on a couple of days, our lovely summer didn’t let us down and we had lots of long walks birding in the sunshine.
Michael, Penny and Sue on top of Tresco with our home island Bryher across the sound

view across to Tresco from above our cabin

our cabin is the left one, sunk in a sea of flowers

golden pheasant in Tresco's famous Abbey Gardens

fiesty ballan wrasse from outside our cabin

St.Martins - beaches to die for and no people

pristine two pounder
Roach fishing became a priority on return, along with enjoying our wonderful wisterias decorating our cottage.
laying all that paving seriously damaged my fishing time

 a pretty view from my desk

what a welcome sight on returning home from my travels
Early June has become our week of ‘Dorset Doddles’ and like last year, we were blessed by clear skies and warm sunshine. 

wonderful wild flowers overlooking the Jurassic coast at Golden Cap - a perfect place for a picnic breakfast

taking advantage of the summer sun

Lyme Regis for seafood soup and a glass of otter ale - perfect
Arne's magical heathland - heading for a gorse bush breakfast
Dartford warblers and dragonflies flew around our ears just here
Corfe Castle viewed from a pub with good beer

Kingcombe - not much need for these this summer

how many of us agree with this caption?!

Hook River - home to trout and otters 
Long walks in some of England’s loveliest countryside not only served to remind us just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful spot but also the value of exploring your local patch instead of suffering long traffic queues and airport nightmares.

the bluebells were especially floriferous this year.

an impressive ancient oak

hundreds of guillemots below the Jurassic cliffs at Durlston 
A welcome home after our walks and birding trips from our flowery doorways is always appreciated.
roses round the door

'homes and gardens'

Albertine - an old rose but still difficult to beat

size of a large dinner plate - don't you just love it

wren with an artistic touch - only blue clematis petals would do
top lawn - more mowing! - but the wisteria scent is intense
The garden continues to reward us for our efforts but one of our joys is our front ‘lawn’ which has become a wild flower meadow by doing nothing! Ain’t it amazing how nature doesn’t miss a trick if you provide the right conditions for growth.

win, win - no mowing - more flowers

southern marsh orchids grow more numerous every year
We didn’t plant a single seed but now we have hundreds of lovely ‘weeds’, including three species of orchid, especially an increasing number of spikes of southern marsh orchid. We started with three just four years ago and this year we had 136ish. Counting them is tricky now and I need to get a life!

a perfect tench swim ...

... and a perfect pole caught tench - nearly six pounds too

Mr.Yates on hand to snap this 2/7 crucian

opening day gold bar of 2/9
happy Trev - with or without fish

Chris lost in a world of green

friend and computer guru Chris Wild with a PB tench of 5/8
Come June 16th it was time for some fishing with friends, so tench and crucians were the first priority, along with enjoying the bank-side flowers and insects … and weren’t they spectacular this summer.
pink campion was thick
Friend Gary Newman with an Anglers Mail feature crucian of two plus - job done
don't arm wrestle with Mr.Yates
scarlet tiger moth guarding my tench swim
very yellow flag

I’d promised friends Gary Newman and Gerry Higham a go at the crucians and luckily these often tricky fish obliged.
a happy Gerry with a PB crucian of 2/8

One highlight, apart from a glorious rudd or two was a bee swarm found in a waterside tree. I haven’t seen one of those for years.
wild bee swarm - an increasingly rare sight and one to be treasured 
watersides covered with wild flowers

aren't rudd gorgeous
Mullet madness struck in the warm estuary at Christchurch and with several friends, enjoyed many hours of rod bending action and screams to the fish to show us mercy.

sunrise anticipation of the battles ahead

just a little one but still providing rod bending action

Steve with a big one of an ounce shy of six pounds
My birthday followed and a BBQ on Michael and Penny’s farm with his family was the perfect way to celebrate it, even if I wished I wasn’t growing older!

what a tasty looking Pimms
happy days and lots more I hope
August was upon us, the sun continued to shine and hundreds of butterflies, dragon and damselflies filled the garden.

summer sunrises just kept on shining

silver washed fritillaries are a rare treat

so many butterflies this year - best ever maybe

The warm weather allowed me to find a splendid rudd, the most beautiful fish I have ever caught, totally unblemished, the epitome of summer.

2/8 of the most perfect rudd you'll ever see - absolutely pristine
God's rays seemed appropriate after that fish
With the daylight hours closing in, hundreds of swallows and sand martins have been gathering for their long journeys to Africa and early on Friday 23rd, this
impressive flock set off south.

packed and ready to travel
haven't seen so many sand martins for years

The garden is showing clear signs that autumn is with us but today, September 1st, the sun is still warm … so I’d better get out there and try to control the wilderness – again, though come to think of it, where are those barbel rods?

is our summer over yet - not by the looks of today

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely blog Hugh. Very easy for us to take these things for granted. Must never forget to stop and smell the flowers on the way...........

    But we're approaching the best to be by the waterside... cooler nights, brown leaves, horse chestnuts and rivers brimming with big beautiful barbel....... (we hope!)......