Stonehenge, ‘Christchurch beach’, The New Forest, and Wiltshire cornfields

(All photographs taken by me, August 2021, note, rather than several postings I’m sharing all the remaining pics)

If you’ve been following my WordPress closely, (humour me) today’s is the photographic finale to my families week long vacation. In previous postings I’ve shared our London sightseeing also canal boating legs, now to the visits of Stonehenge and our beautiful countryside walks through Wiltshire, a rural and farming County largely untouched by the current orgy of housebuilding across Oxfordshire.

(Big sigh), that’s called progress and now I’M veering off message. Anyways…………..rather than repeating my tale, there’s 3 earlier postings of photos that explain all 🙂 .

You’re all busy people, so if you wish to understand more about this beautiful and ancient English County, go visit Wikipedia but lol if not here’s the synopsis:

Wiltshire is characterised by its high downland and wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being the location of Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles which together are protected along with so many other ancient landmarks close by, with many raised ‘barrows’ and 4000 year old White Horses cut into the chalk,

…………….also the largest training area for the British Army.

An ancient County, Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology also Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age people that occupied Southern Britain, building settlements on the hills and downland that cover much of Wiltshire, with Stonehenge and Avebury being the most famous Neolithic sites in the UK.

Here endeth the History bit, but just understand Wiltshire’s downland could be described the birthplace of ancient Britain…………you, me, who knows may just have descended from here?…………..I think that’s fair lol.

Stonehenge

English Heritage describes Stonehenge thus,

‘Walk in the footsteps of your Neolithic ancestors and circle the large blue stones transported great distances from Wales (however no body knows how), marvel at one of the wonders of the world and the best-known of all prehistoric monuments in Europe’.

I guess these mystical ancient stones might affect people in many different ways, Barak Obama famously describe them as “being on my bucket list!” Yes seeing them up close is emotive, 4000 years old no less! But being truthful a famous scene taken from literature crossed my mind, Stonehenge is the place Hardy’s ‘Tess D’Urbervilles’ apprehended by the police after murdering her evil manipulative and rapist husband.

There you are, Stonehenge is a truly incredible structure again described thus:

At Stonehenge on the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone in the north-east part of the horizon and its first rays shine into the heart of Stonehenge.  

Observers at Stonehenge at the winter solstice, standing in the enclosure entrance and facing the centre of the stones, can watch the sun set in the south-west part of the horizon

Christchurch beach

Moving on from Stonehenge we lunched at Christchurch beach on the South Coast, not far from the seaside Town of Bournemouth to be more exact, a cold day the weather can be described as bracing rather ‘bikinis and trunks’. Still after a year of COVID lockdowns, looking out to sea was a lovely highlight for me.

The New Forest

Wiltshire’s ‘The New Forest’ is one of Britain’s many National Parks (also protected from building houses upon), hmm I guess there’s little more to add than you can walk for miles through tranquil woods or across rugged heathland, the complete antithesis to bustling London…………..oh and you’ll be persistently bothered by wild horses stealing packed lunches of food (if you allow them to).

Wiltshire cornfields

As I described earlier, the rural County of Wiltshire is peaceful relatively un-spoilt and regarded as a ‘bread basket’ of Britain, summer views with fields of golden corn as far as the eye can see………..and hopefully for many years to come.

A. Shepherdson 2021

Nesting Boxes in my Mother’s garden

Been a while but not to worry 🙂 . Whether my seasonal Calendar agrees with me or not, this weekend feels like the first days of Spring, a low warming Sun has lifted air temperatures and I even walked the dog without wearing a coat for the first time this year………………… as an aside 20 million Brits have now been vaccinated (including moi), Covid-19 cases appear to be dropping, or maybe it’s the lovely weather but life seems ok at present…… finger’s crossed!

Oh yes returning to my theme of today’s Posting, my mother now has 4 bird Nesting Boxes in her garden and attached to side walls. I know because I constructed them from oddments of timber and erected in various positions earlier this year and joy of joys for my mother, because she loves her garden flighted visitors, Blue Tits have begun visiting one Nesting Box with hopefully a view to laying eggs and raising a family.

But first and pictured below are 3 species of birds regularly visiting British suburban gardens, or I should say 3 species that regularly take residence, the Blue Tit, Robin and Pied Wagtail.

Blue Tit (Stock image)
Pied Wagtail (Stock image)
Robin (Stock image)

I’m no ornithological expert but if you place these timber constructions around you garden either side of Christmas then with a little luck mother nature hopefully will provide, and as you’d imagine my mother gains great pleasure from watching and feeding her feathered friends……….. I may even buy her a pair of cheapish binoculars from Amazon, yes that seems a good idea. Anyways before I meander off topic below you’ll see photos captured this fine Sunday morning. Incidentally I don’t wish to get tooo technical but Nesting Boxes are very species specific, a Blue Tit prefers stand alone Boxes with a 25mm entrance hole (32mm for Sparrows), but not Robins or Wagtails who will only use the open front design……………….. and if you have densely foliaged bushes then just may have Blackbirds build a nest therein!

Oh and I’ve included a photo of mum’s garden feeder (resembles a Hat Stand), great for hanging bags of nut and attracting hungry birds who just might be house hunting?

Pictured above is my pride and joy, I constructed this timber design specifically favoured by Robins, a beautiful red breasted garden bird that can be so tame that they’ll feed from a person’s hand…………………… or so the wildlife books tell us………………oh and notice the position, whereas Blue Tits prefer open space boxes attached to poles, Robins prefer nesting within deep foliage. Apparently!

Picture above I placed an open fronted Nesting Box favoured by Robins or who knows the pair of Pied Wagtails that visit and feed, wildlife are fickle animals, you never know we might be lucky although March is leaving it late.

Pictured above and attached to a side wall is a second nesting box specifically for Blue Tits, might be lucky you never know.

HOWEVER every story has villain of the piece, over the past decade or so and as more open farmland’s been turned over by housebuilder’s excavating equipment, another bird species attracted by warm blooded protein has colonised suburbia as it’s own, and the results are savage and definitely not pretty. Below you see an all to common sight in British Towns the evil eyed Sparrowhawk, a small bird of prey that yes feeds on Robins, Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Thrushes, Wagtails……………… you could say Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection and yes a beautiful if brutal feeder. That being said I have seen one particular Sparrowhawk perched on a fence dividing gardens, a savage feeder yet striking bird of prey, you either embrace and appreciate its beauty or anger yourself over ‘what may have been’s’?

A. Shepherdson 2021

The Mountain goats of Llandudno

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Well appears everyone on social media across the planet is posting photos of the Mountain goats of Llandudno, so I thought to myself ‘Andrew why not jump on the bandwagon?’

These Mountain goats normally populate the rocky Great Orme Country Park land, also occasional visitors to the seaside town of Llandudno (in Wales UK).

Ever heard of the phrase

‘Wild nature always takes an empty space’

If you haven’t but you’re a keen gardener, you’ll be all tooo aware clear a patch of soil from all vegetation, leave unattended for several days, and weeds will have already begun re-invaded the space as their own….. yep wild nature always takes an empty space goats included.

The wild herd of ‘shaggy coated’ goats were most likely drawn by the lack of people, few cars, and the absence of tourists due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Oh and a plentiful supply of lush green grass………… they won’t be the only wildlife species either!

A. Shepherdson 2020

‘Tower of London’ ravens

Our tour group was assigned a Yeoman Warder (above), a lovely guy his humorous and fascinating tour lasted one hour and interestingly they are ALL serving soldiers in the British army…. if you wish to upset a Yeoman Warder lol call him or her a tour guide, being an entertaining story teller is a prerequisite and you know how children love tales of murder blood and intrigue! 

I wouldn’t imagine these photos taken during my 2018 summer visit to the Tower of London will be of terrifically great interest, but I feel passionately about the Tower’s 1000 year royal history and cherish the wonderful stories that it holds because I’m unashamedly proud to be British…. sometimes I wonder if I can admit such a ‘heresy’ within present day multi cultural Britain? Not to worry 😀 tonight’s post was as much an exercise in historical research for me, as well as an excuse to ‘show share’ my photos somewhere!

(Please note ALL the unpublished photographs below were taken by me.)

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Clear blue skies… I’d forgotten how lovely the day was.

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Raven facts written in many different languages for the benefit of tourists.

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A raven looking at the central White Tower which seems pretty apt for a Castle that’s recognised the world all over, an image that defines England and what it is to be English.

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Enjoying the warmth from a late afternoon sun.

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Perched precariously on one leg… now that’s what I call a clever raven.

Our Yeoman Warder Guide would pause at points of interest throughout the Tower grounds, address the assembled group of tourists with captivating facts and lurid tales of murder intrigue and English history anecdotes I’d last studied 40 years ago!

One of the many legends to have grown around the Tower of London, is that of the Tower ravens. The legend states that if the ravens, which can be seen dotted around the grounds or perched on walls, should ever leave then the iconic White Tower would fall along with the entire kingdom (happened 2016 after Brexit!), incidentally it’s said to be King Charles II (1660-1685) who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower should be protected. 

Long before the conquest, ravens had been a familiar sight in the streets of London, where they were welcomed as natural scavengers who carried away bones and edible refuse from the gutters. The legend of the ravens, and no one is quite sure by whom it was started, has become of such importance that for hundreds of years royal decrees have been issued protecting the birds…  our Yeoman Warder said they can never leave, they cannot fly away because a vet has clipped a single flight wing.

I guess the saying ‘better safe than sorry applies’!

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Apparently this is the brand new raven enclosure, housing 6 birds.

One Yeoman Warder is tasked with caring for the ravens and is termed ‘Raven Master’. Up until just recently 6+ birds were caged by the Wakefield Tower but have since been rehomed, and I guess rather than name the birds each Tower raven has a different coloured band on one leg, interestingly captive ravens in the Tower grounds have reached the age 40 years…… I imagine the lack of predators helps!

Click here I’ve been sightseeing in London again! (The Tower of London)to view ‘loads more’ gloriously colourful photographs.

A. Shepherdson 2020

Walking in the Windrush Valley, pt2

Several days ago I posted photos of myself and Holly the ‘cross collie’ (our family’s pet dog), both out walking together in the Windrush Valley, the title is ‘see if you can spot the collie dog ‘ and if you click the link you’ll see my photos and incidentally a post I’m very pleased with. 

Now that you’ve hopefully returned, I also filmed a brief mp4 of the two of us and uploaded onto my (rarely viewed) YouTube Channel which I’ll share below. Oh and apologies if you thought I sounded worse for drink…………… I’m not! I narrate like this when I’m concentrating 🙂 .

A. Shepherdson 2018

Lions Tigers in a farmer’s field?……… IN England?

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To avoid confusion the cages below are not in a zoo, these big cats in my photos were all rescued from zoos then released into the wild. 🙂

I had intended to call this post Animal Zoos are cruel! But that’s a negative title and I’m a positive guy please read on……………. 

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I hope you’ll enjoy Matt Monro (yes we had our own Frank Sinatra) singing ‘Born Free’ perhaps you’ve never heard this tune before?

Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heartRead More »

Blenheim Palace photos pt2 (& Trump visit)

My photos and please download and save if you wish.

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I know I’ve written many times this is a politics and religion free blog, but Trump’s visit is more a carnival event rather than working visit, (he’s desperate to have tea with our Queen) now like you all I have personal opinions which I’ll refrain from sharing here……………….. only that if Trump is your guy, your chosen leader then that’s called Democracy in action.

Before I begin I will suggest before reading my Blenheim Palace pt2 you should go and look at the photos in Blenheim a photo post pt1, which I’ll ‘link here’, viewing will both help follow my thread of thought ands saves me having to repeat everything twice aka Trump’s visit! Thank you 🙂 .

So having visited pt1 you’ll now know MY photographs were taken walking around the beautiful Palace Parklands, glorious they were bathed in glorious August sunlight, however to begin with I wish to mention something of Trumps’ official UK visit next Friday! Just be aware Blenheim WILL be global news next weekend.

Number 10 confirmed Friday Donald Trump’s 4 day visit will avoid London, with one caveat, he and the wife will sleep one night at the Ambassador’s residency in Regent’s Park and well that’s all he’ll see of London! Incredible because historically Nixon Kennedy Bush Reagan and Obama have ALL visited Number 10 and the Houses of Parliament, shared tea with the Queen at Buck Palace but such is the threat of major demonstrations Trump is in effect banned from London. Our Capital City thank God hasn’t been suicide bombed in a while, and well I’d guess MI5 MI6 have advised against a visit for his and our own security………. all very sad.

Remember in pt1  lol told you he’d miss London in favour of Blenheim, I was right when I said ‘watch this space’ as I shared the fact Trump’s visit is little more than a stop over visit to Fortress Blenheim Palace, lol I told you so…………. ok someone I know who work’s in security informed me that he’d heard the mountain will be coming to Muhammad, the mountain being British establishment, Muhammad being of course Donald Trump.

Ok here’s a brief itinerary ‘yawn lol’ if you’d really like to know, such a shame because Obama was welcomed with open arms and well Trump IS an unwelcome liability. (Courtesy of Microsoft on-line).

  • The US President’s four-day tour will instead include a military parade at Winston Churchill’s birthplace of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, talks with Theresa May at her Chequers country home, and tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle
  • Trump will spend just a few hours in the capital, when he overnights at the US Ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park.
  • He will not visit Downing Street, Buckingham Palace or the Houses of Parliament, all of which are expected to feature the biggest protests ever seen during a visit by an American President.
  • The ‘working visit’ lacks the status of a full state visit, but organisers of the event on both sides of the Atlantic have tried to meet Trump’s demands for ceremonial pomp, a military theme and rounds of golf in Scotland.
  • Trump coalition is still planning a Carnival of Resistance across the entire country, and demonstrations – against Trump’s sexism, racism and treatment of migrants – are planned not just in central London but also some of the stops on his now public itinerary.
  • With some Britons expected to take days off work to attend the protest, the main demo in London next Friday will start outside the BBC’s headquarters and end at Trafalgar Square.
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan has given the go-ahead for a giant “Trump baby” inflatable balloon to be tethered above Parliament Square.
    Amid security worries, intense secrecy has shrouded the President’s plans for months, but Downing Street finally announced details of the event on Friday.
    Trump will arrive on Thursday July 12, when he will come directly from the NATO summit in Brussels.
  • The Prime Minister will then host the President and the First Lady for a black-tie business dinner at Blenheim Palace, the ancestral home of the Spencer Churchill family. The event will begin with a military ceremony performed by the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards. The bands will play the Liberty Fanfare, Amazing Grace, and the National Emblem.
  • During dinner, the Countess of Wessex’s Orchestra will perform a series of classic British and American hits. The Royal Regiment of Scotland will pipe the President out at the end.
  • Windsor Castle, where President Trump will meet Queen Elizabeth II next week
  • The next morning, the President and the Prime Minister will visit a defence site, yet to be made public, to witness “a demonstration of the UK’s cutting-edge military capabilities and integrated UK-US military training”.
  • Chequers for bilateral talks on a range of foreign policy issues, over a working lunch. Trump and May will then hold a joint press conference, the only point on the visit when media will have direct access to the President.
  • The President and the First Lady will then travel to Windsor Castle to meet The Queen, a key moment of the entire trip.
  • On Friday evening, they will travel to Scotland, where they will spend the weekend. It is understood that the British government will play no part in the Scottish leg of the trip as it is a ‘private element’ of the official visit.

Finally he is expected to travel largely via his ‘Marine One’ helicopter, so along with ‘Black Hawk’s’ ‘Apache’s’ and May’s helicopter Blenheim Grounds will resemble a Heliport!

Returning to my OWN Palace visit here are photos taken as I wandered the track that leads visitors around the stunning beautiful Parkland, new photos you’ll not see in pt1.

The guy wearing a green shirt, holding a blue rucksack and drinking lemon and lime is of course MEE!

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………………….. AND finally to conclude this rather mixed bag of a post, if you hadn’t heard of Blenheim Palace before July 2018…………watch the TV and you will sooon 🙂 .

A. Shepherdson 2018

 

Holly buttercups and pools of water! Part2

I borrow my mum’s collie Holly at ever opportune moment, we all love our animals whatever they may be and perhaps owning a pet is our last tentative connection to being part of mother nature? 🙂 Isn’t it odd that I feel the urge to owning a dog……………… do they fulfil some primeval need so which is it? Companion friend or just that they are utterly devoted to their owner?

Hmm how would a blog fair dedicated solely to my mum’s dog? (Might be more popular than mine? 😀 )…………….. btw I won’t be but it’s an interesting thought all the same!

The photo below shows Holly adores being in the countryside, her brain is alive and thinking and I love the way even in a 3 hour walk she’ll always stay close, never stray and keep me in her sights.

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There’s a guy at work called ‘Dave the plumber’, a lovely colleague who likes joking around and taking the ‘micky’ out of me, I should explain that’s light hearted ribbing to you foreigners, well at one point in our conversation he said,

“Andy you must be the last person alive who still uses a digital camera!”, I thought for a second or two, and yes perhaps I am because EVERYONE I know takes photos using a tablet or mobile phone! Hmm but are each as good as the other?

I’m NOT going to write a comparison test “yawn”, but looking again at the photos uploaded and displayed on Holly buttercups and pools of water, my previous post, I have to be bluntly honest and say in my own humble opinion, I think my little digital camera captures pretty good images.

I hope you take a peek at the linked post (part 1) because then part 2 (this post) has a context and additional point of view, and lol saves me repeating the exact same text again. So if you’d like to see several more photographs taken from my afternoon walking Holly the collie, I’ve included them all below and all snapped in what’s affectionately known as ‘The Indentation!’

Pictured below I’m standing on the edge looking down into the ‘bowl’ which incidentally has been known to flood 2 feet deep!

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Looking closely at photographs from both posts, I’m hoping you’ll understand the reason why this small piece of wasteland came to be known by residents as ‘The Indentation’, and yes you’ve guessed correct it’s shaped similar to a large bowl and lies below the level of all the surrounding houses, simply because at times of sudden heavy rainfall, say an electric thunderstorm, excess water is piped into this manmade bowl and stops people’s homes being flooded out! The beautiful consequence of a designed civil engineering functionality is the basin is constantly replenished with clean life giving water, it’s not stagnant, and as we all know, wherever in the world water comes in contact with the land then nature thrives………… and buttercups have taken hold in this moist soil also toads no doubt sourced from resident’s garden ponds!

Here endeth the natural history lesson.

I guess for those readers who live in America, would you say ‘The Indentation’ is another name for a ‘Storm Drain?’

Lol who cares 😀 , I think this wildlife haven is fabulous! And don’t you agree the vivid yellow buttercup with its gloss shiny petals is as beautiful as any garden flower?

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🙂 Now having looked at both posts, do you see this low lying ‘bowl’ with it’s gently inclining sides so as to collect storm water flooding in? Hmm buttercups seem to like this ‘spongy’ moist soil.

A. Shepherdson 2018

Holly buttercups and pools of water!

I’ve been rereading the introductions to many of my posts and lol I keep saying the same friggin thing and it’s gotta stop! Right here stop now! Btw I’m far from annoyed I just dreamt that opening up and it made me laugh, but being serious for a ‘mo’ my Blog is devoid of a theme and always will be an eclectic random mixture of whatever captures my imagination…………. so if adult content isn’t for you (you have taste btw) then perhaps nature posts or a cookery lesson possibly will (you have taste btw) just be aware this is all new original content by me. 

Lol rant over! (A nice friendly rant 😀 )

Above you are looking at a picturesque sweep of 4 photos that form one scenic panoramic view, and taken by me 03/06/2018, to be more precise you are looking at a pond and heathland very close to my mother’s home, and this small oasis of British plants and insects is enclosed by housing estates on all four sides.

Yes this urban natural scene is most definitely by definition an urban wildlife oasis and absolutely essential for both quality of human beings life also for keeping British wildlife alive and thriving…………. Town planners have to realise these sanctuary’s in overcrowded urban environments are incredibly important no absolutely essential if we’re going to have any type of wildlife left in the United Kingdom………. and yes they’re as important as acres of picturesque National Parks with their deer wildfowl.

Within large cities such as Birmingham Manchester and London these sanctuaries for plants bees toads and birds are important places for inner city children to visit on school trips, so they at least feel some sort of connection to the Natural World. Btw I’m not being patronising we have charities which will transform rubbish laden filthy shitholes into wildlife havens and we should feel grateful for such great citizens.

Oh and they’re fabulous locations if you are a dog walker like myself but then I’m very lucky because we have many such nature reserves dotted around my Town, I have old photos but I’ll not publish again…………… I used to belong to a conservation group hmm perhaps I should join again……….. perhaps I’d meet a middle aged single with large saggy breasts!

Well if you enjoy looking at the panoramic scene I’m sharing above, larger individual images are shown below, and being absolutely honest if I didn’t walk my mother’s dog from time to time then I doubt I’d have any sort of affinity or connection to my natural surroundings, without Holly I’d have been inside tapping on my laptop keyboard writing bad erotica on this Blog rather than enjoying a sunny June afternoon walk……………. isn’t that at least one great reason to owning a dog! Get away from social media lol.

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A busy trunk road and large housing estate lie exactly 26 seconds walking distance directly behind me 😮 .

More pictures will follow because I walked further out into our British countryside, in fact I walked several miles I guess that’s why Holly is so pleased to see me when I visit mum on a Sunday and have a beef roast dinner made for me! But she gets to tell me about her week and chat so all’s good.

Below is Holly, not quite a collie dog but an intelligent loyal companion all the same……. she loves ‘The Indentation’ as well………………. oh I forgot to tell you it’s called ‘The Indentation’ because it’s basically a large bowl lower than the surrounding houses.

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A. Shepherdson 2018