A Sunny Autumn Afternoon

Today’s dog walk was cold (7C) but beautifully sunny.

I took the camera out with me, hoping to capture Beetley Meadows in low winter light.
(The photos are on Flickr, and if you click on them you can enlarge them there)

Ollie sniffing around under a tree. Its leaves have finally changed.

P1000173

Most of the berries on the Holly have been eaten by birds already, but these ones by the gate to the woods are on the lowest branches.

P1000174

The river was hardly flowing today, making the surface very still. I was able to get some reflections of the trees as a result.

P1000176
P1000177

If this good weather continues, I may well take the camera out again soon.

September Thoughts

Two days into the official autumn season, and I am feeling rather autumnal in mood. It has been a very strange year for everyone, almost as if it didn’t exist, and were living in some kind of limbo between last Christmas and the start of 2021.

Now it seems that this new way of living will have to continue well into the new year, and will probably be the way we all have to live for the foreseeable future. Like it or not, life has changed for all of us, and will almost certainly never be the same again. And we have yet to face the inevitable economic backlash of the lost jobs, closed-down businesses, and repaying the astronomical government debts incurred.

Not wishing to sound too gloomy, I feel the worst is yet to come.

I haven’t been anywhere further than thirty miles away since the second week of March. Living in a small village like Beetley may have been instrumental in saving me from contracting the virus, but I have gone a little stir-crazy stuck in the village, with an occasional trip to the nearby town. A change of scene is required, and with that in mind, I will not be around next week.

Ollie goes to the groomer tomorrow. He will have his moulting fur dealt with, a nice bath, and his nails clipped. That should make him feel better after all he endured during the hot spell of weather.

The mornings are cold now, and I have put the duvet back on the bed to cope with chillier nights.

People are already talking about Christmas, and how different the usual celebrations will have to be.

I doubt there is anyone who will be sorry to say goodbye to 2020.

Autum Arrives early

As the heatwave here continus unabated, and we get a Summer we didn’t expect, it is hard to imagine Autumn, with its fresher days, and chilly mornings.

But I was woken up many times during the night by a familiar sound that I hadn’t heard since late last September.

The acorns were falling from the oak trees. Dozens of them. They clattered onto the garden furniture, and bounced off the flat roof of the kitchen extension. Some even bounced high enough to strike the bedroom windows. The sound is not unlike distant rifle fire, and the random nature of it makes it hard to get back to sleep once you start to notice it.

Once I was thus disturbed, I could also hear the metallic clang as acorns from the other large oak at the front began to cascade down onto our two parked cars.

I had to take Ollie out much earlier today, due to the afternoon heat building up at his normal time. As we walked around Hoe Rough, small leaves were fluttering down around us like green butterflies. Looking up at the small and large trees, I could see much of the new growth was already falling, leaving bare twigs behind that poked up at the sky like skeletal fingers.

I had never seen Autumn in a heatwave before.

But I have now.

Autumn Blog Challenge

I was set one of those blog challenges by the lovely Suzan, of https://magicalbooklush.blog/

I got it wrong of course, and left my answers on her blog, instead of creating a post, and asking others to join in. At least that gave her a good laugh!
And she thought I was German, which gave me a laugh in return. 🙂

So here is that challenge, as it should have appeared. I won’t nominate anyone, as I don’t do challenges on here. But if you want to play along, feel free to do so.

1. Hot Chocolate — what is your comfort book?
My comfort book would probably be The Catcher in The Rye, by J.D. Salinger. It is so easy to identify with the problems of Holden Caulfield, tackling his difficult teenage years.

2. Pumpkin Carving– what is your favorite creative outlet? 🎃
Obviously blogging, because it allows me to write fiction, and try new ideas. But outside the house, I also enjoy photography.

3. Falling leaves– changes that appear bad but you secretly love? 🍁
Growing old. There is not much fun about becoming old. But it also allows a lot of freedoms. Freedom from social pressures, not caring so much what you wear, or what others think of you. And the freedom to state your opinions about things without worrying too much about upsetting people. It also stops you worrying about the future, because you don’t have one. 🙂

4. Pumpkin Spiced Latte– something you love that others tend to judge? 🍹
I don’t really get judged by anyone that much now. But some people don’t like my favourite films and TV programmes, which are mostly in foreign languages, with subtitles.

5. Bonfire Night– what makes you explode with joy? 🎆
My dog, Ollie. He is a constant delight, and his devotion to me is incredible to behold.

6. Friday Night– favorite scary book or film?💗
It would probably be a scary film, but I am not easily scared. This film scared me though. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0178868/

7. Halloween candy– favourite thing to eat? 🍭
Italian Food. Pasta, chicken and ham, cheese sauce, topped with Parmesan. Served with garlic flatbread.

8. Scarves– your autumn must-have accessory?🧣
Rubber and Neoprene Wellington Boots, with a warm lining. A must-have for walking Ollie in the rain and mud.

9. Fire– a book or film that burns your soul? 💥
That would be a film. A Russian film about Partisans fighting the Germans, in WW2. Haunting, surreal, and unforgettable. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091251/

10. Toffee apples– a book or film that seems one thing but has a different inside?
🍡
American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis. On the surface, it is a story about a deranged serial killer. But it is really a scathing indictment of the shallow lifestyle of the rich and vacuous people in modern-day American society.

I think I got it right this time!

Signs Of Autumn

As August comes to a close, the familiar signs of autumn are appearing in Beetley. The grass has stopped growing on the lawn, and the roses have all died off on the bushes. With the first strong breezes we have had for some time now, small branches and leaves are beginning to drop from the two oak trees that cover our front and back gardens.

Last night was the first time for days that I was able to sleep untroubled by unpleasant humidity, and there was even a light mist when I woke up this morning.

But by far the biggest sign is that the acorns are falling. They are falling in their hundreds, rattling off the various roof areas, outside furniture, and guttering. Our cars parked at the front are being bombarded with a noisy fusillade, and every flat surface is almost covered in the empty shells, acorn nuts, or both.

Shifting these things is an annual task. The only animals that eat acorns are pigs, and EU rules forbid feeding acorns to pigs now. So they have to be swept into piles, collected into a garden waste bin, and sent off to be used in compost. I cannot imagine how long it takes for the extremely hard shells of acorns to break down, but I suspect it is a long time indeed.

And as I carry out this collection, I have to be careful. Get hit by one, and it is just like being struck by a falling stone. And woe betide you tread on one with bare feet, as it is not unlike stepping on broken glass.

Once the wind gets up, a new kind of sleepless night arrives. One where the sound of falling acorns striking the windows and paths resembles gunfire, and makes it hard to sleep undisturbed.

But this is country living, as the seasons change.

Ollie, and some Autumn colour

A particularly interesting smell in those leaves, Ollie?

***All photos can be enlarged, by clicking on them***

A bright and breezy day made me decide to take Ollie out in the car. I headed for Neatherd Moor, a substantial area of nature on the outskirts of Dereham, our local market town. With Beetley still showing just drab greens and browns, it was nice to get a variety of colour for a change.

This tree was shining gold in the afternoon sun.

Ollie was preoccupied with trying to find a rabbit he had spotted, so I was able to get a shot of him.

More bright colours, just around the corner.

And a tree that has lost its top leaves, but is hanging onto the lower ones.

Ollie could hear barking coming from the path behind, and was waiting for the dogs to appear.

Then we finished our long walk in the shady woodland that fringes the Moor.
It seemed like those leaves had a great smell too!

Autumn arrives early

This is a holiday weekend in England, as today is is the Public Holiday called August Bank Holiday. Most people don’t have to go to work today, and except for the chain stores and big supermarkets, almost all the shops are closed too. It is traditional to make something of the weekend, with many leaving for a trip last Friday, to a place of interest, the seaside, or perhaps to see relatives.

Being England, the weather decided to spoil that for everyone. After the unusually hot and unbroken summer, yesterday saw strong winds, lashing rain, and a remarkable drop in temperatures. For the first time since April, we actually felt cold. Lots of neighbours put on their heating for the first time in months, and people could be seen out and about wearing heavy coats with hoods.

We were supposed to be going out with friends to a barbecue nearby, but cancelled that trip two hours before, as it seemed pointless to be outside in such weather, pretending to enjoy ourselves eating wet food under umbrellas. Though we resisted turning on the heating, a long dark afternoon sitting feeling cold did eventually inspire us to get out, and we went to a local Indian restaurant for some Tandoori specialities. The roads were awash on the way, and the nearby town almost deserted, due to the bleak conditions. Once back home, we could hear the twigs and acorns falling from the trees, battering the house, shed, and garage.

It has stopped raining for now, and tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and hot once again. But autumn is on the way, and Sunday’s early appearance was undoubtedly a ‘coming attraction’.

Dull days in Beetley

Mid-November, and the dull days are here. Not just the weather, though that is dull enough, but also that time of year. The build-up to Christmas, the frantic preparations for something that lasts for two days, before the return to more dullness.

Lacking inspiration to write anything on the blog is indicative of the pervading mood. No desire to take photos of the gloom and damp, and little enthusiasm for much else, to be honest. Even Ollie’s dog-walks are getting shorter, as my heart is not in trudging around in mud during yet another dull autumn.

Lights on just after lunch, and completely dark by 4 pm. Short days with little light, long nights with none at all. Even the glory of the night sky is denied to us, with cloud and fog providing a blanket that obscures all. Leaves cascade down from the oak trees, carpeting the lawn and paths around the house. Another job to face, clearing those. Stuck to shoes and doormats, irritatingly traipsed into the house, the once lush foliage reduced to a constant bind.

As you might have guessed. It is not my favourite time of year.

Acorn attack!

At the end of August 2013, I wrote a post about acorns. I gave it the title ‘The Acorns are falling’, and described the sheer volume of these hard seeds that drop from the two oaks at the front and back of our house. In 2015, I wrote another post, ‘The Acorn season’, about how we had not seen any large falls of acorns for two years. I was beginning to wonder if that would be my last ever post about acorns.

But it was not to be.

Perhaps the unusually wet and humid weather is to blame, but whatever the reason, this year looks to be a bumper year for oak trees to produce acorns. Fairly recently, we noticed how the branches were full of large nuts, and thought about just how much work they would provide for us this coming autumn. For anyone who has not read the previous posts, or knows nothing about acorns, two large trees such as ours can produce an incredible amount of the large nut-like seeds. And when I say an incredible amount, I really do mean it. They can carpet the ground everywhere, and cover the lawn until you can’t see the grass beneath.

Clearing them up is easy enough on pathways or the patio. When they get into soft ground, that’s another matter entirely. They have to be raked, then brushed, then finally the most stubborn have to be dealt with individually. Leave some behind, and you soon have burgeoning young saplings, threatening to undermine everything around them. But that job is probably going to happen in a couple of months. In the meantime, we have to endure the attack of the early acorns.

Both trees are very large, and are between 250-300 years old. The tallest branches tower above the house, and offer a long drop to the highest seeds. This enables them to accelerate fast enough to hit anything with the force of a falling marble. But because they are nut-like, they also bounce. We have three flat roofs around the property. There is the garage, the shed behind it, and the kitchen extension. All of these flat surfaces provide great targets for the falling acorns, and the rubber coverings give them trampoline-like bounce for their onward progress too. Then there are the two cars, offering a nice noisy surface which to bounce from as well. Throw in three plastic wheelie bins, plus the wooden garden table and seats, and the opportunities for our acorns are many and varied.

If you can imagine some naughty schoolboys armed with catapults, supplied with a limitless amount of hard objects, and secreted a long way above your house, you might get the idea. The sound of this assault is something similar to being in the middle of urban warfare, as they ping and clatter about, like stray bullets that are missing their target. And trees do not go to sleep when it’s dark, so the sound continues all night. Very talented acorns can fall from the tree, hit one of the cars, bounce onto a rubber-covered roof, then ricochet onto a table, or patio slab. We get treated to the sound of three direct hits, instead of just the one.

Not only do we have to endure this attack, but so does Ollie the dog. He is constantly barking at the falling acorns, believing them to be a sign of an intruder, or perhaps a burglar around the back of the house. He woke Julie up at 4 am recently, barking at the sound of them hitting the roof. She couldn’t really scold him. After all, he was only doing his job. We are going to have to endure this for some time yet. The slightest breeze sends a whole regiment cascading down, and any rain will force others to fall too.

So the next time you admire some grand old oak trees, don’t forget the poor owners.