Maples, martins and some frogs

Acer palmatum Trompenberg

Acer palmatum Trompenberg

It seems I will never get used to the sight of the new leaves on Japanese maples. Lucky me. Going around and checking the young leaves for black-fly is one of my hopeless antidotes at the moment for my depression over the election results.DSCN7564

Acer palmatum Sango-kaku

Acer palmatum Sango-kaku

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Acer palmatum Matsukaze

Acer palmatum Matsukaze

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And biggest excitement of the maple year – a new baby.DSCN7602

Every May there is another excitement – the return of the martins. We were a little apprehensive about their reactions, as we had knocked out two of their three regular nests in order to paint the bargeboards round the house. However they are backDSCN7591 DSCN7607 and seem to be sharing the one nest while building next door. This is a pair.

If you thought the photos of the martins were poor, try my ‘art house’ video of frogs. Actually, best shut your eyes and listen. It is only 9 seconds. It expresses some of my censored comments at the moment.

Fitz… and a frog


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Many years ago I met an author (and brilliant photographer), Jenifer Roberts, at The Society of Authors (UK) and we exchanged addresses. A year or so later I received a flyer for her book Glass http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenifer-Roberts/e/B004UO6NWQ. I bought a copy, loved it, and we became friends. We self-published our second books at the same time, though hers, The Madness of Queen Maria, was later taken up by a mainstream publisher in Portugal.  It is with enormous pride that I can report on the success of her latest book, Fitz. I can remember the beginnings of Fitz, the enormous lengths to which Jenifer went in researching this book, the endless drafts and improvements and the long cycle of agents and publishers who said… great writing, terrific story, but we are not sure it has a market… or similar. Well, after years of work and waiting it has found its natural home in New Zealand. The New Zealand Listener (see below) says of it “…This is history as it should be, alert, well-observed and informed…” about this man who was an “…infuriatingly mercurial personality but eminently loveable man.”

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It is also in the top ten New Zealand non-fiction best seller lists. I can vouch for this as a great and entertaining read. Jenifer has set a brilliant example for aspiring writers and I am so happy to see this story reach the public it deserves.

Now for something completely different. We live (I say, as the rain it raineth ev-ery day) in a very dry area of the UK, and we have no pond and no obvious ground level source of water, yet every year I meet at least one frog in the garden. I don’t meet him/her in one particular damp spot, but anywhere in the third of an acre that is ours. So, there must be quite a few frogs living here. This is the best I could do in the way of a photo – he is in there – honestly.

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Foiled by a frog

Today I decided to sort out the log pile. One of my tasks being to separate out the pine, of which we have far too much for the health of our new stove. Underneath the pile I discovered some very unsavoury-looking bags, but they turned out to be full of really useful leaf-mould.

DSCN4747I was doing quite well when I lifted up one pine log and came face-to-face with a frog. He/she scrambled around a bit, looking very miffed about being disturbed, then hid. So very cautiously I replaced the logs in a rough pile. I continued tidying up, but revised my plans, accepting that I would have to leave the frog corner until the spring.

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As soon as I had piled everything back there was a rustling. And the frog hopped smartly across the cleared area and under the newly stacked logs on the other side. And I didn’t even get a picture.

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