Summer Solstice sunrise on a Welsh hill

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Before moving to Wales, we lived in Salisbury for 15 years and never once did we go to the Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge a few miles away. We probably missed out... Stonehenge at the Solstice is a big event. There were things like family life and work commitments that meant we never joined in the all-night / early morning festivities. In any case, crowds are not really our cup of tea.

Last night, tempted by the invitation over on Facebook by some Montgomery friends to gather at the Town Hill County Memorial Monument to see the sun rise on the longest ...

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From Africa to Wales

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Since moving here, I have learnt a lot about wildlife, especially the wild birds that visit our place. I can now identify many and recognise their songs and calls. I spend time birdwatching, which is a great way to familiarise myself with their world, record their numbers, observe their behaviours and generally get a sense of their comings and goings. Some are here all year round but some only visit during the Summer and it is always very exciting when they arrive.

One particular bird that has sparked my interest is the redstart and every Spring, I eagerly await their ...

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Making time to stand and stare

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It's an incredibly busy time on the smallholding at the moment. I have had several blog posts on my mind since the last one but very little to write them! Please bear with me and forgive my silence as the land requires all my physical and mental energy at the moment.

Since the Spring Equinox, hours of daylight are increasing before they culminate at the Summer Solstice. We have now passed Beltane, the half-way point between the two and in response to the lengthening days, nature is very busy. Plants are growing fast and for the tender ones, it ...

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Off to pastures new...

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You may remember, dear readers, that we decided last Summer to no longer keep sheep, after a tough lambing season forced us to re-evaluate our priorities. Whilst it was a difficult decision to make, one over which we agonised for several weeks, we felt ready to take the smallholding in a different direction. Last Sunday, after eight months of trying to sell them, our three Shetland ewes went off to pastures new.

Eight months seemed like forever and at times, we felt the odds were stacked against us! First, Summer 2018 was very dry and people were not buying extra ...

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Merry Midwinter!

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“Night’s black shadows vanish, the golden sun an arc, Winter’s crystals glitter – dazzle – and banished is the dark.”

I read these lovely lines in Gillian Monks’ book “Merry Midwinter” and thought they beautifully evoked the symbolism of the Winter Solstice, which is today in the Northern Hemisphere. They resonate with the optimism that I feel deep inside me, knowing the gloomiest, darkest days are now behind us. Up to now, the dark has triumphed over the light but from today, the seemingly impenetrable obscurity thins a little to let in the delicate glow and warmth of the returning ...

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I wish I were a hedgehog!

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As I get out of bed, look out of the window and see another dark, cold and wet morning, I feel like going back under the warm duvet and curl up for more sleep. But the hens are calling to be let out of their coop and my day on the smallholding must begin… there are chores to be done, log baskets to be filled, kindling to be fetched and woodburners to light for a start. A hundred and one other things too, or so it seems when my motivation and energy levels are as low and weak as the ...

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Nature's own fireworks

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Aren't the Autumn colours beautiful? Such a fiery riot of reds, yellows, russets and oranges.

Like quiet fireworks, they illuminate our woodland-rich landscape during the daytime, just as fireworks and bonfires illuminate the night skies at this time of year. The rolling hills of Mid-Wales are a real kaleidoscope of colour as the trees continue to hang on to their burnished and rusty leaves.

In our garden, the display of autumnal colours is just as dazzling with the copper beech, the rowan and the ornamental cherries being the stars of this blazing spectacle! Their rich ruby tones have been ...

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Colchicum Autumnale

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How can it be 1st October already??! Before time runs away from me even more and the moment passes, here is something that we did in September.

We have Colchicum Autumnale, also known as Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron or even Naked Ladies, in one of our fields and we continue the work of the previous owners in counting the flowers each Autumn and passing on the numbers to the county recorder for the Botanical Society for Great Britain and Ireland.

These pretty wild flowers are rare nowadays but ours survive and thrive because the field has not been ploughed for ...

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September is here and change is in the air

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Is anyone else feeling that Autumn has been in a bit of a hurry this year? The end of the Summer seems to have occurred rather abruptly with cooler temperatures and unsettled weather pushing their way through August with much haste and determination. I have so enjoyed the long, hot days of Summer, a “proper Summer” of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out on the patio for weeks, with glorious sunshine to help us feel well from the increased amounts of vitamin D being absorbed through our skin, where our water butts ran dry a couple of times (even in ...

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Heady days of Summer

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Our little spot in the hills of Mid-Wales is alive and in full growth. The bird population is at its peak as the young have now fledged and some are coming to the feeders with the adults. The grasses in the fields have turned to seed and have now reached well above my knees! Our tiny flock of sheep cannot graze the grass fast enough at this time of year and our Shetland ewe lamb easily disappears from sight in there! To my delight, I have spotted a few wild orchids in the meadow. The honeysuckle in the lane is ...

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