A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Monday 29 December 2014

Water Rail

Freezing weather today gave good views of this Water Rail. They are usually seen skulking in and out of the reeds but today this one was walking out over the ice

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Traveller's Joy

Wild Clematis is abundant in hedgerows and woodland and is commonly known as Travellers Joy or Old Man's Beard.
This seems appropriate at Christmas when the man with the white beard is due to start his journey distributing gifts!

Sunday 21 December 2014

Happy Yuletide

The Winter Solstice is here and from now on the days will start getting longer. The sun is now setting behind the hills at about 4:00p.m. as the days are at their shortest,
 The solstice is the time of the ancient pagan festival of Yule and a time of celebration at the turn of the year.

Friday 19 December 2014


As Christmas approaches it is traditional in this country to go out looking for greenery to decorate our homes. After a mild autumn there are still many berries in the countryside around here for the birds which means that holly berries have been left so far. We have found some lovely holly berries in Coaley Wood and are keeping them cool place until Christmas Eve arrives.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Food for the Birds

The hedgerow berries are plentiful this autumn and the birds are able to take advantage of the abundant food like this redwing feeding on hawthorn near Coaley Peak.
Redwings are winter visitors which arrive in large numbers from their breeding grounds in Northern European forests.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Woodland Walks

Beautiful sunny weather made for a great walk in the woods yesterday as the bare trees let in the sunlight.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Winter Trees

Now most of the trees have lost their leaves the delicate tracery of their shape is revealed dramatically on foggy days when they are silhouetted  against the mist.

Saturday 29 November 2014

Cattle in the Mud

Late autumn in the Uley valley and this hardy herd of black cattle are still living out in the fields. These cattle do well in the open countryside with their tough coats but do need supplementary feeding as the grass grows only very slowly in the winter which results in some mud around their feed creeps. These young cattle seemed happy enough in the sunshine as we passed by on our walk.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Misty Days

We have had a few damp foggy days lately but today was brighter and the sun broke through giving some fine views at times.

Monday 24 November 2014

First frost

A wintry feel to the weather this morning as the first frost turns the fields white and freezing fog forms in the Severn Vale.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Afternoon Sun

When the morning fog clears we are still getting some bright autumn sunshine with long shadows as the sun gets low in the sky.

Friday 14 November 2014

Bewick Swans

The weather is still relatively mild but winter is approaching. A sure sign is the arrival of Bewick Swans from Siberia. They are later than normal this year but around 20 were present at Slimbridge today.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Oaks by the Severn

Most deciduous trees have shed their leaves by now but the oak always hangs on to them a bit longer as shown by these lovely trees reflected in the Severn near Haw Bridge.

Sunday 9 November 2014


 Our cornfield poppies were with us in June and are now long gone but poppies are always associated with November and Remembrance Sunday particularly this year with the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World war.
This week however we visited a stunning and very moving display of ceramic poppies in London commemorating those killed in the Great War.

Monday 3 November 2014


The setting sun and a quick shower produced a spectacular rainbow this evening.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Dursley Beech Woods

  • Beech trees are showing their autumn colours as the leaves start to fall. There were a few sunny intervals today as we walked through the woods above Dursley and they are well worth a visit.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Autumn in Coaley Wood

Leaves are falling fast now but there is still plenty of autumn colour in  Coaley Wood.
It's a lovely time to get out for a walk in the woods.

Friday 24 October 2014

Colours in the autumn evening sunshine.

After a stormy afternoon, just before dark we were treated to an amazing effect in the south Cotswolds.

Friday 17 October 2014

Beech Mast

There appears to be a very high quantity of beech nuts on the ground this autumn known as mast.
Beech does not always produce ripe nuts but in mast years such as this year trees bear thousands of ripe nuts which provide a feast for wildlife.
We seem to be crunching over nuts everywhere on our woodland walks and even in the garden. It is not clear why mast years occur but weather may be a factor

Tuesday 7 October 2014


 Teasels were used in textile processing many years ago. The seed heads made a natural comb for woollen cloth where they were used to raise the nap. Nowadays teasels have been replaced by metal cards but seeing them growing in the countryside reminds us of years gone by. Today they provide a useful source of food for small birds like the Goldfinch.

Monday 6 October 2014

Woodland Clearance

 Scenes reminiscent of rainforest slash and burn as the National Trust burns brash wood in Woodchester Park to clear woodland to restore pasture for cattle and sheep.
Their aim is to recreate the historic parkland landscape and to encourage the rare lesser horseshoe bats which are already present in the park.

Friday 3 October 2014

End of Summer?

Rain forecast but what a fantastic warm dry September we had with only 12mm rain recorded in our garden.
Our borders are still looking good but sadly it can't last

Monday 29 September 2014

Harvest and new planting.

In a few days a field of maize is harvested then hedges trimmed and the ground is ploughed  harrowed planted and rolled. Modern farming certainly gets on with the job!

Saturday 27 September 2014

Autumn colours starting

 We are past the equinox and autumn is here so the spectacular colours of deciduous trees are starting as they prepare to shed their leaves.
Pictures  taken at Westonbirt Arboretum

Thursday 18 September 2014

Blackberry and Apple Jelly

On our walk around the Uley valley recently we picked some juicy blackberries. With the windfall apples  I had the perfect ingredients to get some jelly making going. After boiling the fruit until squishy it was time to strain it overnight to catch the juice.

Then measured the juice and boiled it with the appropriate amount of sugar until setting point was reached.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Blackberry Harvest

 This year has been particularly good for blackberries and the hedgerows are laden with juicy ripe berries.Now is the time to get out and collect this delicious harvest!

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Ancient Trees

We are lucky in living near to the semi natural ancient woodland of Coaley Wood and the footpath through the wood passes this coppiced beech tree which has been recently recorded as an ancient tree.
This tree has stood on this spot for hundreds of years  and has survived because it has been coppiced or cut down for timber and allowed to regrow from the original stump. The adjacent has been quarried for stone and the roots of the tree undermined somewhat but the tree has survived with six stems from the old trunk.
 Long may it continue!

Friday 5 September 2014

Sunshine and Autumn colours

We are enjoying the September weather for walks in the countryside. We have noticed the trees gradually changing colour as they prepare for winter dormancy. As the trees begin to shutdown the green chlorophyll which is important for making food in the growing season gradually disappears from the leaves and we get to see the yellow, orange and red colours more prominently which is what gives us the "Autumn colours".
You can see it starting to happen here in this Acer on our patio:

Sunday 31 August 2014


Sunflowers are a crop not often seen in our area but this strip near Leonard Stanley seems to be doing well. We  thought they were supposed to face the sun but these seem to be turned away perhaps avoiding the prevailing winds.

Friday 29 August 2014

Maize nearly ready for harvest

The field of maize near our house seems to have grown well this summer and is almost ready for harvesting. 
Maize a type of wild grass came from tropical Mexico around 5000 years ago spreading to other South American civilisations. Eventually the Spanish discovered it and exported it around the world.
In the UK maize doesn't usually ripen as a grain due to the climate. The corn cobs are harvested together with the plants by farmers in the south when it is cut in the autumn and made into a high energy silage crop for winter feeding of cattle.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Yellow plums

Autumn brings fruit of many types. Yesterday we picked and dealt with the yellow plums from our old tree.

The plums are quite dry to eat raw but delicious stewed and served with yoghurt, in a fool, made into jam or with apples from our neighbour's tree and made into chutney.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Caper Spurge or Euphorbia Lathyrus.

We have spotted this plant in the countryside many times but this year it popped up in our garden. We couldn't agree on a diagnosis so asked some friends who easily identified it as Caper Spurge, Mole Plant or Euphorbia Lathyrus.
When we say "popped" the plant grows at an alarming rate and by the time we pulled it up it was one and a half metres tall!  All parts of the plant including the seeds and the roots are poisonous to humans and most animals so be very careful if you come across one. When seeds are ripe they apparently explode sending them everywhere which must be how it arrived in our garden.
It's other name Mole Plant comes from the fact that it is supposed to repel moles in the garden. W think it might have worked as we did have a young mole around in the spring but come to think of it he hasn't been around recently!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Horse Chestnut

The fruits of the Horse Chestnut are now ripening to the delight of children who collect them for the game of Conkers where conkers are threaded on string and swung at opponents conkers to try and shatter them while keeping their own intact.
This fine avenue of trees leads to the church at Frampton on Severn.

Saturday 2 August 2014

Ancient Oak

We passed this magnificent old Quercus Robur on a walk near Frocester Court and wondered how many hundreds of years it had stood there. Some branches have died and fallen but this is normal for a tree of this age.

Saturday 26 July 2014

Bird Bath

I was awoken this morning with the sound of much flapping of wings and thought at first that a bird must be trapped but looked out to find a family of blackbirds bathing in the pond.
The continued this activity for around an hour presumably ensuring their feathers were in good condition and free of parasites