My Garden Wildlife – February ’16 update

 

With Winter nearing an end down the Lane comes a chance of checking around the various parts of my garden for any signs of life and that things are in reasonable order and position for the warmer months.

The Bug House appears to be holding out and I know there are about 4 drilled holes which were used by Leafcutter Bees to embed their Larvae in at the end of last August.
There was much Invertebrate activity as well in Autumn so leaving it untouched through the Winter months will, I hope, bring some fruitful life next month or April.

Garden Bug House

All the Tit Houses and the one Robin House were put up early last Spring but didn’t attract any occupiers, but now they’re weathered in and have a bit of natural surrounding.
My 8 Bird Feeders have attracted all the Tits, Dunnocks, House Sparrows and more through Winter. I haven’t placed all the houses too near the feeders, so here’s hoping!

The same applies to the Bat House I put up high just inside of the open fronted Barn. There are many Bats around here through the warmer months and to be honest they have a wide choice of more natural homes, so I’m not over confident, but it’s there should they wish to use it.
Of course, once they do, no one can move it, fine by me !

Tit Box in Ivy Tit Box on House Wall Tit Box on Tree
Three of the Tit Boxes around the Garden

It’s nice sitting inside my Office Shed because I know I’m not alone ! Underneath the Common Lizards are enjoying a nice dry and cosy place to spend the Winter.
There are more up the other end of the Garden but I know not where they have their Chez Nous!
I make this an excuse for not tidying up too much around the Vegetable Patch, I’d hate to destroy a Winter Home and possibly losing them.

Lizards under Shed The Frog House Bat Box in Barn
Lizard entrance under Shed – The Frog House – Bat Box in Barn




As far as I know the Hedgehog is still fast asleep in my DIY Hog House.
For about six years I never saw a Hedgehog here, then last Summer two or three seemed to be paying regular visits.
I made three Houses for them and to be honest, again for the reason there are ample natural places for them to stay, I didn’t think they would be occupied. It was one of those things where it’s nice to do but underneath you don’t think it’ll work.

In late October I thought I’d just check them out and the one under the Laurel Bush in which I’d put some dead leaves and twigs appeared more compact. I gently moved the top of them to find a large spiky ball in the corner!
I have to admit I shed a tear !

Occupied Hedgehog House
The occupied Hedgehog House

I placed a couple of small twigs in the tunnel entrance to check if he or she was going out or coming in and they’re still there.

I haven’t checked the Frog House, don’t want to disturb one if there’s one there.

So with Spring the excitement comes. Will it all fall into place, will it help? etc.
I look forward with hope!





Wildlife – A matter of Life and Death

 

We, humans, may have all the technology and academia behind us, but one thing’s for certain; Wildlife can survive without us, we cannot survive without wildlife.

Every living creature has a purpose whether it be to eat or be eaten, it’s like the song ‘I know an old Lady who swallowed a Fly’. Everything she swallowed was to catch something else and this is apparent in our homes and gardens, you take away one part of a chain and everything else is affected, especially so with Invertebrates.

Wheatear

I harp on a lot about the Media showing too much Nature from around the World. I’m not a killjoy, love to watch the exoctic creatures, but my point is that saving our Planet starts outside our own back door, if not within our homes.
Like Charity, it begins at home.

There are many things we do which can destroy the chain; Weedkillers, Fly Sprays, Slug Pellets etc. etc. They may well work, butwhat are we killing off as a side effect of it?

Slug Pellets will see off our Hedgehog population who feed on them, Weedkillers and other Fertilizers will destroy necessary Insects in the circle of things.

Go beyond that and we find ourselves, through searching for low maintenance gardening, filling our back gardens with Concrete.

Toad UK

Sure many things are a nuisance, but controlling them in a friendly way is a far better option and will assure us of more organic growth to the vegetables we may be growing.
A good example of this is introducing Ladybirds around our crops, they’ll eat more blackfly than we could see off by using unfriendly Insect Killer and leave our plants ‘spray free’.




I believe that mankind is under just as much threat for it’s future by not caring for nature as it is in ending itself in some stupid and mad conflict between fellow man.

Nature gets on with it. A baby Lamb can walk a few minutes after being born, we can’t! Some who see us as the master race on Earth should think again!

Finally on the subject of more home grown nature on say the TV., sure we have Countryfile, Spring / Winter / Autumnwatch which are truly great programmes, but before emphasis is put on creatures from other Continents, we have quite a lot of beautiful creatures on these Islands as well !





Mods and Rockers – a blast from the past

 

“Are you a Mod or a Rocker?” was quite a common question at School, College or the Workplace during the mid 1960’s.
Unless you were covering it up though, it was reasonably easy to tell.

Mods had short hair, Rockers had long hair combed into shape with Brylcream or of the like.
Mods would waer Duffle Coats, Rockers would wear Leather Jackets often with a few medallions or have devilish slogans on them.
Mods had drain pipe trousers, Rockers had Jeans or Leathers.

Like so many things in the 1950’s and 1960’s much fashion and social trends derived from the music of that time.
Rockers were still in the Bill Haley days whilst Mods were finding their feet from the music of The Who.

Mods and Rockers
Photos from Wikipedia

Of cousrse, the main definition or identification was in their means of transport (if they could afford it). The Mods would parade around on their Lambretta or Vespa Motor Scooters whilst the Rockers would cruise around on their BSA., Royal Enfields or other heavyweight Motorbikes of that time.

Tensions between the two came to a head in 1964 when no Bank Holiday Weekend would be without both factions heading in large numbers to any popular Seaside Town with sole intent to wind and provoke each other up.
Fights would inevitably take place thus spoiling it for the ‘normal’ families trying to have a pleasant playful day out on the Beach.

Unfortuneately many of these days resulted not only in face to face brawls but damage done to properties, mainly Shops and Cafes along Seaside Promenades.
Arrests were made by the dozen and for days after the Bank Holidays clearing up and repairing damage took place.

As with many ‘fashions’ of any time, it was probably made worse by media coverage. Mods and Rockers knew that if they went to one of the major Towns such as Brighton, Clacton, Bournemouth, the Press would be there waiting and it was quite a thrill to have a picture in the Paper or a short clip on the TV Newsreels.

 

Mods seemed to diminish faster than Rockers, why I don’t know, maybe the natural progression from a Scooter to Car was a more comfortable option.
After the fuss had died down, along came the Hippy era and although this didn’t causes clashes, it provoked a need for rebellious behaviour against society.

The times certainly were a’changin !

Nowadays it’s nice to see the occasional numbers of Bikers making their way to a Bank Holiday meet up somewhere and many of these people are into a lot of charitable work, especially at Christmas Time when many Bikers visit local Hospitals with gifts for Children.

I lost my beautiful daughter and her partner to a motor bike accident when she was only 25 years old. They were preparing for a Bikers Meet Up the next day.
Word soon got around and at the funeral, about 20 Bikers led the Procession through Hastings Town Centre, at the Church itself there were probably 100 Bikers from all over Kent and East Sussex.

The days of faction and violence ended back in the 60’s. Now both Mods and Rockers respect each other, probably chat amongst themselves, are proud of what they are, what they do and…….good luck to them.





Trainspotting in the 1950’s

 

“What do you want to be when you grow up”? a question often asked to all young boys and girls. Now the answer would probably be a member of a boy band or anything related to being a celebrity, but back in the 1950’s things were different, the reply from a boy would more than likely be a Train or Bus Driver!

Before the Beeching cuts of the mid 1960’s the railways were everywhere so it was not uncommon for anyone to live fairly close to a railway line.

Trainspotting was one of the most popular hobbies amongst young boys who would crowd the ends of platforms at whatever Station to record Steam Engine number’s in their Ian Allen books. I was there !

The Observer Book of Steam Trains
An old 1950s book of mine plus wearing my Ian Allen’s Trainspotters Badge

Sevenoaks was my closest Station. On weekdays I would walk the half a mile from my house to meet my Father off his commuter train, but getting there some one hour beforehand to record any numbers I hadn’t already got.
You were supposed to buy a Platform Ticket, but usually, if you said to the Ticket Inspector you were meeting your Dad, he’d let you through.
Weekends were different of course, I’d get down there after ‘Saturday Morning Pictures’ and park myself as far coast side of the downside platform as I could and wait for the thundering Boat Trains being pulled by Brittania Class locos, it was not uncommon for them to go past at 70mph plus, the vibrations would roar up your back, the smell of coal smoke and hot oil would enter your nostrils and stay there for a good two hours or more.

Being on the main London to Dover line, many Boat Trains would come through either heading for Dover Western Docks or Folkestone Harbour to link up with a Cross Channel Ferry.

During all School Holidays, every Thursday we would go to my Grandparents house in Tonbridge. My Grandfather and myself would walk accross the fields next to Judd School and join the railway lines at the Jubilee Sidings. There we would watch a few good shunting movements then stroll around the footpaths to watch from a bank next to the Station.
With it’s junctions for the Redhill and Hastings, more versatility was there plus at that time there was still a branch line from Paddock Wood to Goudhurst and further down the Hastings line, a junction for Bexhill.
Definitely never a dull moment.

So what was it about trains which tuned almost every boy on to them? I guess it has to be a number of things; the power, the noise, the smell and although we may not have said it, it was the romance, trains would pass you by leaving to your imagination what people were on it and where they were going to.


Video by Alan Snowdon

Having no Computers and not all having a TV Set even, the imagination of a child was different. I remember wherever I went on my bicycle, it would become my train; I had Stations at various points along my cycle route, some I’d stop at and patiently wait for the passengers to get on and some would be a thunderous roar non stop as I made my way to whatever destination I had in mind that day.

Nowadays you may see the odd Trainspotter on Stations but needless to say most of them are my age and if not, they have a reputation of being a Geek, or as we called it on the railway ‘GANGY’ (Green Anorak, no girlfriend yet).
You won’t see any young lads in a pack of 10 to 15 standing on the end of the Platform with their Trainspotting Books and Notepads in their hands; it’s not the done thing now and health and safety overkill would probably see them being moved on anyway.

Those were the days as they say, days when we made our own entertainment, lived around our imagination and still got change from a ten bob note !!

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