A Year in a Lane – Week 52

And so here we are – a whole year has gone and this is the final week of the blog. I have taken many more pictures than have appeared on these pages and plan to create an e-book over the next few months to make a permanent recording of life in a lane in the early 21st century. Who knows – maybe one day someone will read it – haha.

This last week of the year has produced some very different weather depending on the day. Once again we had a lovely early morning mist or two.

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A couple of sharp overnight frosts – one dropping to as low as -7 degrees here in rural parts – meant that early morning hay for the horses becomes essential for their well-being.

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And of course, with the clear skies, came some lovely sunsets – indulge me one last time with this one!

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As the temperature dropped the log burner is called into action during the day as well as at night – which means certain creatures don’t even bother to set foot outside unless it’s for essential business! Not a bad life for a dumped Greek stray and a cat found wandering the streets of Swindon by the RSPCA!

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And so, having passed through November and December, our thoughts start to turn to Spring and the rejuvenation of plants and the land in only a few week’s time. Right now everything looks a little desolate and the lane, like us, waits for that re-birth to start all over again. Another year begins – thank you for sharing your time with us.

Happy 2017 to all.

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A Year in a Lane – Week 51

Christmas is coming and the weather has taken a bit of a chill but nowhere near cold enough for a white Christmas – have only seen two in thirty years of being in Dorset so it shouldn’t be a surprise! There are always plenty of walkers about on the paths and tracks – just a bit more hardy and wrapped up this time of year.

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So, Christmas day is here and the tree is ready for presents underneath – although some won’t fit as we will see below.

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And the reason being that some presents are almost as big as the tree itself. Here’s Willow who has a penchant for cooking – both her granddad and great granddad were chefs so maybe it’s in the genes!

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Horses don’t stop eating and poo-ing for Christmas so there is always work to be done in the paddock . Wheelbarrows at the ready!

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Talking of horses, they usually join in the annual Boxing Day walk – invariably down through the village into the woods. This time the Head Gardener has hopped on board looking suitably professional – or is that fear??!

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A Year in a Lane – Week 50

We have had a few early morning mists recently, some of which I have captured on this blog. However, this week we have had mists at the end of the day at low level. This produces quite an eerie effect – this picture and the one below were taken about 4.45 in the afternoon.

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The low level nature of this mist is better illustrated by a view across the farm field as shown below. It’s a shame there are no sheep around as this would have provided an interesting photo opportunity.

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Stuff always seems to break more in the winter – particularly anything made of wood that lives outside. The damp and cold exacerbates any damage or weakness and quite often something reaches that critical point. The horse feeder below is a prime example although it isn’t helped by half a ton of horse using it to scratch his rear end occasionally!

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The stile at the end of the driveway has also given way. I don’t think Tommy can be blamed for this unless he has been going for midnight strolls across the field! Technically it is the farmer’s responsibility to repair this although I quite often effect minor repairs myself as I don’t fancy anyone breaking a limb at the end of the driveway. (caring thought for Christmas!)

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This last picture is rubbish. A salutary lesson for those of us that have to drive the recycling and bin bags half a mile to be collected. If you get it wrong one week and leave the recycling out instead of household rubbish, you have twice as much to go out next time!! One of these boxes belongs to my neighbour (honestly!) but I blame the head gardener for her prolific wine consumption for the rest of the bottles!

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A Year in a Lane – Week 49

Energy supply is more of a conscious effort in the countryside than in the town where the utilities are all “plumbed” in. There is, for example, no mains gas which means if you want to use that energy source then you have to have calor gas. The alternative to that is oil. Either way you have to have a physical delivery of something, which entails other problems. Living down a country lane and having no turning circle for anything bigger than a flatbed brings a variety of challenges. The oil lorry isn’t going to swing round in the driveway!

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So the solution is for the nice man driving the thing to reverse two thirds of the way up and run a very long hose to the tank. Fortunately most of the drivers who deliver in these parts are used to this sort of arrangement. You can see next door’s tank in the picture above so they have a similar situation.

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It’s Christmas month and we love to have lots of festive lights on in the house and also in the garden outside. The gazebo is ideal for the outdoor ones. It is looking a little sorry for itself after having been blown around earlier in the year (Storm George or something of that ilk) so this will be its last job before a new model is brought in for next spring.

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The skies are currently really dull and overcast albeit not too much rain thank goodness. This pigeon sits fairly miserably in a bare tree against a grey backdrop – he looks how I feel this time of year!

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A Year in a Lane – Week 48

This week has seen the arrival (at least temporarily) of what is known as a “proper” winter. The temperature has dropped and the clear skies have produced some lovely sharp winter sunny spells, especially in the morning.

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We have also had some lovely early morning mists, which fortunately haven’t turned to serious fog thus causing problems when driving.

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As the temperature has dropped we have had some very cold nights – the week low was -7 degrees overnight. Although the sun has been bright it is obviously not that warm at this time of year and areas that get little direct sunlight are liable to remain frozen. This is the verge down the driveway at 2pm one day this week.

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Earlier on in the year, the remaining goldfish were stolen by a heron which at least saves the problem of having to break the ice on top of the pond for them.

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The vista across the fields has had that lovely winter look early in the mornings this week. Looks almost like a Christmas card, which is topical at this time of year.

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One fellow who remains hardy throughout the winter is Flash. He is a New Forest pony so doesn’t really need a blanket to keep warm as his coat naturally thickens to protect him. This is just as well as, with the really cold snap, approaching we decided maybe a blanket might help given that he is not getting any younger. Despite not being the most active or quickest horse in the world, he managed to avoid the attentions of three people trying to put his rug on for thirty minutes before they conceded defeat. He looks well enough anyway and happy to pose for the camera.

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A Year in a Lane – Week 47

This year it has so far been a much colder and drier start to the winter, which is a blessing to be honest – no-one wants a repeat of last year’s mud fest as it kept on raining. The skies are thus much clearer giving some lovely sunsets through the trees providing a different effect now that the leaves are largely gone.

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The lane itself is looking more bare and bleak. Not so many pickings around for nature’s creatures, but that doesn’t stop the hens from wandering around, foraging whatever they can from the verges.

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We did have some severe winds in storm Angus that blew through the other week and that caused some residual damage. The crab apple tree in the horses’ paddock which I showed previously was already propped upright but sadly now has collapsed once again – possibly terminally this time.

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The brown and white shape you may notice behind the tree in the picture above is none other than our hero, Tommy! This was one of the milder days so he took the opportunity to have a sit down and enjoy a little warmth from the winter sun. He is looking in fine fettle at the moment.

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Tom doesn’t have a good relationship with winter blankets. He either rips them while scratching himself against a shelter or a tree or they bring him out in a nasty skin rash if he perspires too much. The racehorses next door, on the other hand, are far more sensitive to the cold and are always well dressed during the day when grazing outside.

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And back to where we started, note the lack of mud in the fields pictured in the photos above – long may it continue!

A Year in a Lane – Week 46

The winds have been picking up of late and culminated in storm Angus which blew in at the end of the week.

The apples on the tree in the paddock have held on as long as they could but the stronger winds have proved too much, especially as some were of a size where they were ready to drop anyway.

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And the remaining leaves took a battering as well covering the lane with a golden blanket before everything eventually mulches away..

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And with the storm came two days of torrential rain causing the storm ditches to overflow in places. The problem was that the fallen leaves blocked the water from following the natural course of the ditches. The one between my land and the field above suffered in exactly this way, causing a rather large area of water at the corner of the paddock.

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There are a number of pheasants about at the moment having been driven from their habitats by those who seek to shoot them for “sport”. No comment! Here’s a refugee at the bottom of the garden.

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Finally, here’s a sight you do not see too often – a Sale Agreed sign in the lane. The house at the bottom is set for new residents in the new year. Only the third time a house has changed hands in 20 plus years.

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