Friday, 13 May 2016

Bascote (a week of feelings and all sorts)



Not sure what the weather’s been like in the rest of the country but we have had a right old mixture.  We had two days of constant rain and then yesterday was like summer again.  This morning it is grey and damp and as Karen is going to be sitting working at the table all day I have lit the stove.

As it was such a good day yesterday Buddy and I carried out a transect count for Warwickshire Butterfly Conservation.  I have mentioned before that he is not so happy with the hot weather this year and would rather be stretched out on the towpath in the shade of the boat.  He just stood in every puddle, putting on a hang dog expression, to make his point – a year ago he wouldn’t go near mud or puddles.

Buddy cooling off in a shady muddy patch

Butterflies transects are usually recorded from the beginning of April until the end of September. The guidelines are that they are up to 4km in length recording butterflies seen in a five metre wide band.  Walking the transect one way and then the other provides a good walk as well.  They are quite strict about weather conditions and times, e.g. the walks must be undertaken between 10.45am and 3.45pm and only when weather conditions are suitable for butterfly activity (dry, wind speed less than Beaufort scale 5, and temperature 13°C or greater if there is at least 60% sunshine, or more than 17°C if overcast).

The Warwickshire group are hoping I will find Small Blues and a few other species which they believe are extending their range due to habitat management.  No such luck yet but I did get my first Holly Blue of the year.

I took a picture of a Green Veined White; the white that tends to visit gardens (and lettuces etc.) is generally the Small White.  You can see the green veins which help distinguish the two (other than the habitat as one is usually hedgerows and the other gardens).


Underside of male Green Veined White showing the distinctive greenish veins


Male Green Veined White



Each day we also take a walk into Long Itchington to get whatever we need in the fresh fruit and vegetable department.  I love the style of this house by the church as you walk into the village – it also has such lovely views across the River Itchen.

The manor house would make a beautiful home


Our friend Aileen (who writes a blog about her and Mike’s travels on their narrowboat Quaintrelle) has been writing about their current trip in Cambridgeshire.  This is the last new area they are discovering in the UK before taking their boat to France for a few years.  Her latest entry is a mixture of feelings: bored with travelling along rivers and drains because you can’t see anything but banks; unhappy because moorings are hard to find; fed up because things aren’t always what the guide books say but really happy that they are visiting new places and making some delightful finds.

We have tended to have similar feelings when on rivers such as the Trent, Thames, Avon, Severn etc.  Cambridgeshire and the Levels are a large area we have wanted to visit so reading her blog has filled us with some trepidation.

This view as we walked back home from yesterday’s transect reminded me why we live in places like this.

Where we are moored this week - one of four boats moored by the road bridge


People ask me if I get lonely with Karen at work and all the children having left home.  The short answer is no, in fact the quieter it is and the fewer people I see the happier I am.  As with our spot at Tomlow where we stayed for the last two weeks I see hardly anyone during the day.  There are a few other boats moored like us with their owners going to work.  They seem to be like minded as we have a cheery wave but that’s it – you can tell that they would chat if one of us wanted to but we have chosen spots like this to have solitude.  I am often reminded of when I used to work because I talk with Buddy a lot and at work I was constantly in trouble for talking out loud to myself.

Saying all that, we do really enjoy it when we get visitors – it was lovely when three of the children came up a couple of weeks ago for a night or two.  Living as we do and with the children working all over the country (and Europe!) does mean that we must make time and visit them rather than expecting them to come to us.

Even though we are on the Grand Union canal it has not always been called that.  Originally this section was the Warwick and Napton canal, a branch of the Oxford canal system.  In 1929 several canal companies were merged into the Grand Union canal company forming a network than ran from London to Birmingham and also up to Leicester and Nottingham.

Other than sheep and dairy farming, this area of Warwickshire is known for its limestone quarries and cement works.  The rural landscape often looking odd as a prominent chimney from a cement works suddenly appears.  This is looking southwards along our transect and a chimney can be seen in the distance.

Part of our current transect with a cement factory chimney in the background


Many railway branch lines were built to serve these quarries and cement works and as they are now in disuse they form great places to walk and are also havens for wildlife.  They also form natural corridors for wildlife to disperse and extend their range.

It just occurs to me that one impact of Karen working is that we don’t get lots of photographs taken other than at weekends.  I must try and remember to take more myself as it’s great to have a record to look back on in the future.

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