Saturday, 23 April 2011

Swapping Sindy for Spring

This year I am experiencing my first spring. There have been other springs in my life, obviously. I am knocking 40 afterall. The operative word is “experiencing”. As a child I was too busy planning Sindy’s weekly wedding to Action Man to notice the passing seasons. As a teenager my attention was diverted by the contents of “Smash Hits” and “Just Seventeen” magazines and the big questions in life, such as is Boy George really a boy or is he in fact a girl. In the student years spring was all about study and beer, beer and study, and too much time spent in a below ground radio station. There then followed a seamless transition to London, long hours, office walls and a computer screen, when spring was little more than a tree in a pavement surrounded by dog s**t passed en route to a tube or train station. Even the move out of London to a house with a garden didn’t bring spring any closer to me – it just meant more to do in the garden and less time to do it in – spring was a restorative glass (bottle?!) of wine in front of the TV and the occasional glimpse of Bill Oddie on a sofa with Kate Humble rambling on about birds and badgers. Last year, my first spring here in West Wales, wasn’t really any different as my world consisted solely of paint, polyfilla and soft furnishings. This year, however, everything is different. This year I have time. More of it and moving through it at a slower pace. This year I have the inclination. Perhaps it comes with the onset of middle age and watching too many episodes of River Cottage or perhaps it was always there, hidden away, biding its time until all those other distractions fell away. And this year I have the location. Slowly but surely our little patch of West Wales is emerging from building work and neglect and taking on a life of its own.

Did we always have so many dog violets and primroses in the hedgerows along our lane? Was there always garlic mustard growing just about everywhere? Have gorse flowers always smelled of Hawaiian Tropic sun cream? And who knew that blackthorn has flowers before leaves but hawthorn has leaves before flowers? It’s a tricksy thing is nature.

Spring highlight so far is the blue tit nesting in nest cam box.


Spring lowlight so far is nest cam breaking down just as nest building gets interesting.

There were tears and tantrums but to no avail. Our resident blue tit had done her best to take out the camera by pecking at the cables in the box, risking mild electrocution in the process, but she needn’t have bothered as the simple fact is that the camera’s a dud. Return to sender! Just for once I thought I’d be watching my own footage instead of nest watching vicariously through Packham, Humble & Co. Damn and blast those pesky foreign made imports.

Saturday, 2 April 2011


First let me apologise to any regular readers about the recent tardiness and lack of blog updates. I completely blame the evil that is ‘Chirper’, ‘Tweeter’ or whatever it is. Since Philippa immersed herself in the 142 character world, it seems the blogosphere has taken a back seat. I made an announcement today, over some rather yummy cheese on toast, that I would take on the baton of the Banceithin blog, and log the progress of our first full operational year.

Bertha the boiler has again been busy providing the warmth to start germinating our first seeds that are destined for the poly tunnel.


Chili’s and toms


The window sills are awash with new young plants. We have loads of tomatoes, Matina as our main crop, Favorita as our cherry variety, Sparta as our bush tomatoes and a couple of Italian plum (San Marzano, Costoluto Fiorentina) which Philippa is in charge of. I have assumed responsibility for herbs after criticising Philippa for the lack of parsley and coriander last year. You can imagine the conversation, with the words “…well you can b***** well do it this year!” ending the discussion abruptly.


Mmm, tasty parsley… that wasn’t that hard was it :-)


I love my pond, it’s official. The plants I pulled out from the ditch and transplanted into the new pond have actually flowered and it seems that they are Water Crowsfoot and are oxygenators. In terms of bugs I’ve spotted two types of water boatmen, pond skaters, snails, tiny beetles, and my favourite, the whirligig beetle. This iridescent beetle whizzes around in circles on the surface. The tadpoles have all hatched and are swimming around happily, but they need to keep away from the water boatmen, who apparently are quite partial to a little wriggler.

Philippa and I are continuing with our volunteering work. I’ve started working at a different RSPB reserve, and very excitingly it is going to be the venue for this years Spring Watch, but as it’s not official yet I’ll have to keep the site secret. I have been asked to help during the time the team are there. I am hoping for the role of Miss Humble’s cushion plumper, but expect I’ll be asked to man the shop to handle the influx of Humble and Packham spotters.