At last, a bit more sunshine

Sunday 13th August to Saturday 19th August 2017

Normally I take Teddy over Upton Heath on a Saturday, but as we went to the Dorset Dogs Festival instead I took him over on Sunday afternoon this week. We were greeted on our arrival by this beautiful Red Admiral on the path.

Red Admiral

We turned left into Longmeadow Lane woods where the beech trees were looking lovely in the sunlight.

Beech Trees

Then we made our way up the Roman Road before turning onto the heath and heading towards the viewpoint. En route I spotted this pretty little Grisette. I rather liked the setting with the moss surrounding it.

Grisette

We walked down the hill and eventually came to the pond where Teddy set about eating the soil – something he seems to like to do quite a bit here. Jez used to lick the soil here too, so I’m guessing it’s full of minerals. Perhaps I should try it!

Teddy likes to eat the soil by the pond

From there we walked around the lower heath where I spotted another Grisette.

Grisette

Finally we walked back along the Roman Road before heading home. Monday morning, of course, we were back there again. And once again Teddy was sticking his muzzle in the soil, as you can see.

Teddy's been digging with his nose again

Tuesday was a lovely sunny morning so we headed out to Morden Bog, which is looking beautiful where the heather is in full bloom.

Heather in full bloom at Morden Bog Looking back up the hill

In this photo you can see Decoy Pond.

Decoy Pond behind the heather

And here’s a photo of Teddy in the heather.

Teddy in the heather

We walked on and as we headed towards Henry’s Pond we met our friends Tink and Twig. We walked on round with them. At one point they disappeared into some shrub. I heard a rustle, and then a young roe deer popped out onto the path between me and Teddy. I don’t know which one of us was more surprised. It ran off into the trees on the opposite side of the path and after thinking about it for a moment Teddy thought he’d follow. But he was a good boy and came back when I called, after which Tink and Twig re-appeared and took off after the deer in totally the wrong direction, so Teddy had to follow them. The next time we saw Teddy he was a really long way away, still chasing the non-existent deer. So we walked in his general direction with me calling him, and after a short time he came running back to me. I was so proud of him!

After all that running, though, the dogs were hot and had to cool down in a bit puddle.

Teddy, Tink and Twig cool down in a muddy puddle

And finally for Tuesday, one last view of Decoy Pond and the heather taken from the top of the hill as we headed back to the car.

Looking across to Decoy Pond

On Wednesday morning I went to see my Dad, and in the afternoon I took Teddy over to Canford Heath.

Teddy admires the view

Unfortunately I struggle to find good photos on Canford Heath these days, but I quite liked this one of the trees along the path that runs next to the Crematorium.

Trees and clouds

And here’s a slightly different view, taken as we walked up the hill from Steeple Close.

Trees, clouds and heather

And so onto Friday and another walk on Upton Heath.  Along the old railway line the honeysuckle is now in bloom.

Wild Honeysuckle

But there are no other photos from Friday. We did meet Charlie, the dog walker, though, with 6 dogs so Teddy had a good play.

And, of course, Saturday afternoon it was back to Upton Heath. As usual on a Saturday we walked up the Roman Road, across to the viewpoint, and then down the hill. Today, as we passed to two pine trees on the hill, the sky behind them was fabulous.

Cloudscape

We continued on to the pond where Teddy spotted a pigeon on the far bank.

Teddy has spotted a pigeon

And then I threw him a stick and he started to play.

I don’t know what he thought he was doing. Although he picked that stone up at the end he immediately dropped it and then went back to digging in the deeper water. He was doing this for nearly 15 minutes while I sat watching him and laughing.

And then we walked on around the lower heath, along the Roman Road and came back to the car. And although he spotted the ponies along the way and showed an interest he came away when I called him. I’m sure it won’t always be like that though!

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A Friday Wet Walk

Friday 15th April 2016

It was wet today. Wet and miserable. Which meant I was well wrapped up in waterproofs when I took Max for our Friday walk on Upton Heath. I didn’t take my camera either, but ended up taking a couple of photos on the iPhone.

One thing about the rain: young shoots and flowers always look nice. This is wild honeysuckle.

Rain on honeysuckle

Of course, Max didn’t care about the rain, so we still had to go to the pond to play.

Max doesn't mind the rain

You can see it was raining quite hard by the surface of the water.

We didn’t linger on the heath too long though: I did our regular circuit and then came on home.

A year ago today

No post again from exactly a year ago, but on 14th April we met our English Pointer friends Henry, Sybil and Addy on Upton Heath.

Waiting patiently

Mixed weather at Badbury Rings

Tuesday 5th January 2016

As there was some promise of sunshine this morning I took Max out to Badbury Rings for our walk. The weather wasn’t bad when we got there and we soon made the acquaintance of Golden Retriever, Monty.

We met Monty

As usual we headed up the hill to the north of the rings that leads to the old oak wood.

Blue skies and a muddy path

As you can see we had blue skies. There was some cloud around though, as this shot, looking west towards Hemsworth, shows.

Looking towards Hemsworth

We continued on up the muddy track where we met a walker coming the other way.

We met a walker

After that we skirted round the side of the old oak wood. You can’t walk through it as the trees that fall are left to rot, although I noticed today that the National Trust are clearing it out a bit. Anyway, the path round the wood was somewhat wet and muddy, to say the least.

It was impossible to avoid the mud

We walked on round and then turned south towards the Rings again, walking through King Down Farm and on up the hill. At the top of the hill we turned east into High Wood, which was also very wet in places. I also don’t understand why the National Trust have cleared all of the bracken and brambles in the centre of the wood, as in the summer it is usually home to loads of butterflies. Anyway, as we walked round I took this photo of fungi growing on an old tree stump.

Fungi

And here’s another one, a bit further on, of fungi and moss.

Fungi and moss

At about this time we had a very short shower of rain, which enabled me to take this photo of raindrops on a honeysuckle shoot.

Raindrops on a honeysuckle shoot

We came out of the woods after struggling through the mud, and then turned back towards Badbury Rings. Along the edge of the woods there were lots of hazel catkins.

Hazel Catkins

When we got back to the Rings I was wondering which route to take, and then realised that the skies were black to the south but the sun was starting to shine through, so that decided me. It enabled me to take a whole series of photos of the sun breaking through the clouds. When you see a scene like this you can understand how ancient peoples thought that there god(s) were talking to them from on high.

Circle of light

And here is a panorama of the same scene.

Hole in the sky

How lucky was I?

As we came home via Wimborne I stopped off by the River Stour, which is currently in flood.

The Stour is in flood

And finally for today, in the early afternoon the postman knocked on our door to say a blackbird had flown into our front window and had knocked itself out. It quickly recovered but refused to move.

A blackbird recovers from an encounter with a window

I popped a washing basket over it to protect it from the neighbours’ cats, and then left it to recover. After about half an hour I removed the basket but kept an eye on it, and I’m pleased to say it eventually flew away.

A year ago today

Max and I met the Exmoor ponies on Upton Heath.

Nosy!

Back on Upton Heath

Saturday 24th January 2015

After a morning spent cleaning I was back on Upton Heath with both Jez and Max this afternoon. There was no frost and ice today, though. We were fortunate to have sunshine for our walk. Here’s Jez under the pine trees finding something interesting to sniff.

Jez has found something interesting to sniff

I was surprised to see that the honeysuckle which grows wild on the heath is not only in bud but that the shoots are starting to open.

Honeysuckle shoot

As we walked on towards the pond we met a young Jack Russell whom we first met back in October on his first outing to the heath when he was only 13 weeks old. His name is Vinnie and here he is now.

Vinne

Back when we first met him he was very taken with Jez, and that doesn’t seem to have changed.

Vinnie & Jezebel

After we left Vinnie we continued on up the hill, at the bottom of which Max hung around in a ditch hoping that I’d throw something for him.

Max in a ditch

We walked on up the hill to the Viewpoint and then cut across towards the Roman Road. En route I took this view looking down across the Heath.

Panorma across Upton Heath

And finally, after Jez had taken us via the route which boasted thick squelchy mud, we got to the Roman Road and cut back down through Pinesprings. As usual Jez had to stop here for a quick rest, so Max decided that it meant that I had time to play with him.

Max wants me to throw something for him - it's a serious business

You might just be able to make Jez out in the background, lying down in front of the house on the left.

A year ago today

We met three very wet Exmoor Ponies on Upton Heath.

All in a row

A walk at Badbury Rings

Friday 22nd August 2014

I like to mix our walks up a bit, both for the dogs’ sake and for mine. So this morning we went to Badbury Rings for our walk. Once again, I took the EOS 6D with the 70-300mm lens on it to try and get some different shots. I’m quite pleased with what I ended up with.

As we entered the Rings from the car park I realised that the cows were alongside the path we were going to take, which is not too big a problem, although Max does like to bark at them. However, as long as I walk on and call he he normally follows after about a minute or so, which is what happened today. Many of them were lying down in the long grass, which gave me the opportunity to get this shot, which I have called ‘No place to hide’.

No place to hide

On the other side of the path, where the Point to Point racing is held, the field has been harvested and wild flowers have grown along the margins, making a lovely colourful, yet stripy effect.

Stripes

There were more stripes a bit further along, where the farmer had again cut the crop and was gathering up the bales of hay.

Hay Made

This is also the section of path where all of the wild honeysuckle grows. It has gone to seed now, giving a wonderful, blowsy effect.

Wild Honeysuckle

We continued our walk on round, past the Oaks and back to High Wood, where I picked a few blackberries (although there are hardly any there), and then came back to the Rings. There are notices on the entrances saying they are spraying all of the brambles on top of the Rings and advising dog owners to walk around the outside which we did. It did mean that I spotted quite a few delicate little Harebells though.

Harebell

Then Jez went to say ‘Hello’ to some people who were sitting on the top of the outer ring. The woman asked if she was friendly, and I said ‘Yes, very’ at which point a previously unseen Jack Russell flew at Jez from nowhere and attacked her. Poor little soul wasn’t standing for that and soon put the dog in its place (which sounds and looks a lot worse than it is, as she never hurts the other dog on such occasions). The woman seemed to think Jez was to blame for ‘invading their territory’. I pointed out she was in the middle of a large, open, public space and that perhaps she should consider muzzling her dog given how aggressive it is. Needless to say we did not see eye to eye on this one.

So I took Jez on. She was clearly a bit upset as she initially refused treats, but this photo was taken a couple of minutes later and you can see that she seems to have settled down again and is looking happy.

Looking back

So this stupid woman and her very aggressive dog managed to spoil the end of a very pleasant walk. We tried not to let it upset us too much though.

A year ago today

We were on another part of the National Trust Kingston Lacy estate, at the River Stour at Cowgrove, where the cows had come down to the river for a drink.

Time for a drink

A bit like an early birthday present

Monday 3rd February 2014

“It’s bin day today, it’s bin day today”. My little song and Chris shaking a plastic carrier bag is pretty much guaranteed to get Jez off the bed and out of the front door on a Monday morning. And since it gets both her and Max over-excited, for some strange reason, and they both tear down the drive as a result, we always walk over Upton Heath on a Monday. Otherwise I’d be dragging them back down the drive to get them in the car, which seems a bit pointless.

Despite the grey clouds we at least managed to avoid the rain for our walk today.

Upton Heath Skyline

The people chopping down trees have moved onto the relatively small conifers on the path near at the side of the old pits (leading to Max’s favourite pond and the Viewpoint). On Saturday we noticed that that they had cut a lot down and had left them at the side of the path. Today they were gathering them up.

More tree felling = more mud

Elsewhere there are signs that, after a mild winter, we may be in for an early spring. Here’s a wild honeysuckle bud burst.

Honeysuckle bud

And the silver birch trees not only have catkins, but some also have buds.

Silver Birch bud

All of the catkins might explain why Max is scratching so much at the moment.

Normally when I point a camera at Jez she purposefully moves away. Today I managed to snap a shot before she disappeared.

Jez on Upton Heath

When we got to the Roman Road I saw they had felled one of the big trees.

Another one bites the dust

I think it’s a beech.

So onto the title of this post. After we got home I went shopping, and when I returned there were two big parcels in the hall. The smaller was a couple of photographic reflectors. But the larger of the two was two big softbox lights. They weren’t for me exactly, but Chris’ company wanted to spend some money before their year-end, so I suggested these lights for indoor video work. The upside is that I get to play with them! Mind you, they weren’t easy to assemble. I put one up, and packed the other away in their carry case, and when I’d finished the living room looked like this!

Unpacking and setting up the new lights

I didn’t have much time to play around with it before I had to exercise and get dinner, but did take a quick photo of Max snoozing on the sofa.

A snoozing Max

I’m pleased with the result.

More hints of Spring

Monday 18th February 2013

I put the 100mm macro lens on the camera when I took the dogs over to Upton Heath this morning. I didn’t realise quite how windy it was though, so struggled to get any shots. I did spot this honeysuckle: growing wild and starting to shoot.

Honeysuckle Bud

And I took the opportunity to bring some more colour to this blog by taking a photo of some of the gorse.

Gorse Blossom

I’m pleased to say that, although still muddy in places, the Heath is starting to dry out. This was also the second walk where I tried out my new camera strap. I’ve bought a Black Rapid, RS-7 Curve to use when out walking. I’m tired of getting shoulder / neck ache from the camera, and of missing shots because it’s draped over my shoulder and gets caught on my coat/bag/arm as I try to quickly pull it into position. The strap was expensive, in my opinion, but I’m absolutely loving it.