Sunday, 1 September 2013

Roman remains

The valley has some quite ancient history.
I have put together some of my own pictures of North Leigh Roman Villa, with wiki images which help to give an indication of what the place would have looked like between 100 and 400 AD.

It will be possible to see inside the covered areas of the site on 15th September this month between 10.00 and 4.00. This is a rare opportunity not to be missed for history lovers.

If you can't go click on the link at the bottom to see the BBC animated version.
                                                                                           An open courtyard of a single story villa like, though ours may have been closed in for the colder climate ours.

 Looking down on the site from the hillside

The old Roman road of Akeman street runs across the valley below the villa.

The people who lived here at the time the villa was abandoned may have looked like this.

Angles and Saxons fought with Vikings for the next few hundred years. It has taken us till the twentieth century to re-discover central heating. I think the roman farmers may have been less barbaric too.

This gives a good idea of Roman under floor heating like they had in North Leigh

This is the covered mosaic floor. many of the rooms had mosaics like this, with under-floor heating.

This picture outside the site shows a rather grander two story villa, unlike our own.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Kingfisher in flight

I finally worked out how to catch the kingfisher flying.

This little fellow seemed to have left the valley for good. But suddenly I saw him again last week The kingfisher is back in the valley.

I am pretty sure that the floods last year prevented them from breeding. I never saw them this spring; but here they are again for summer.

Last week I saw him flying first one way then the other down the river.

Coming back he banked and swerved as he saw me on the bank. Wonderful.

For these photos I chose a spot in the alders on the bank and only had a minute or two to wait before he came along.

Now all I have to do is learn to get him in focus in flight.

I have been trying to catch an enormous dragon fly I saw in the trees the other day; never saw one before. I always thought the little damsels were dragon flies. Now it is enter the dragon time; like a small helicopter; I think they call them emperors.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Upcoming Exhibition: Poetry and Pictures at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

From July to September there will be a poetry and pictures exhibition featuring works taken from the secluded valley at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. I thought I would share a taste of it with you on the blog to whet your appetites.

There will be poems and pictures about landscape and animals, trees and plants.

Dr Giles Watson shares the exhibition space with me, featuring his own poetry and pictures on the natural world.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The catch of a lifetime.

I was staring up into a tree on the bank of the river trying to get a good shot of a fledgling greater spotted woodpecker.

Then I looked down for a moment to the river at the foot of the tree.

To my utter astonishment there it was, larger than life, smiling up at me with a fair sized fish in its mouth


I never thought I would ever see such a thing in the mid day heat, in a small river, in rural Oxfordshire. But there it was. My camera was in my hand

Not the best shot technically; the setting were for a bird flying.

But when I checked the screen, there it was.

I have caught a kingfisher once, and that was wonderful, but this is beyond special.

I have talked to people who say they fish about the otter being here.
I mentioned it in my first post of the nature blog.

But I didn't really believe they were here.

Now, not only have I seen one, I have caught him smiling up at me.

Kudos Mr Nick Owen

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Oak and ash and thorn


There is a lovely old folk song I used to hear called "Oak and ash and thorn", a celebration of the English countryside. It is time for the leaves on the great big trees to come pushing through into the world once more.

The weather has become wintry, which is not what you would expect for late May. the trouble is there are no clear expectations of our weather any more. Even the butterflies are in trouble. Out early in the heat of March they probably wish they had not emerged now.

Oak before ash, there'll be no but a splash

Ash before oak and we're in for a soak

I think the oak is just a little ahead, in spite of the soaking we already had.

Did I post these roots already? I like them so much. The rivulet was quite a stream still at this point.
This is a real art shot. I took it when the flood was very much at the height.
                                                      This was a very peculiar piece of debris. How did it get here ?                       

A day later the river had risen still higher and when I came back it was about 400 yards further down the river. No sign of the drowned calf though.
Eventually the waters went down enough to let us back into the meadow once more. This lovely pool was left behind.

The bluebells have grown really tall on all the water this year; almost too tall.

Little trajedies happen all the time in spring. WEas it the cuckoo we keep hearing who took this one?



waters slowly go down, but there is a long way to go before the flow is normal

The water was spread all across the valley; now it is a shrinking lake

 Sophie almost caught this one. Poor thing was lucky to escape.

Finally the May is out. It is so late this year. |Why?

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Floods recede, but the sun stays away

Poor swans. I wonder what happened to their nests. The waters have receded. But what is the cost? I am pleased with coming close to good exposure with this shot. Just a little bit blown in the centre.

I love these giant roots above the tiny streamlet that grew as deep as the river

Just a reminder of the wild winds and heavy clouds which may not yet be a thing of the past

The first flowering of the trees is over now. The hawthorn should be out now, but it does not seem to grow here

My trial CS6 is yielding me colours which are not quite right. This is a tad oversaturated. I will get it right eventually.

More bluebell enchantment

This is a most unusual piece of debris. Can't think why anyone would have simply left it here. But where did it come from? There were so many things from the last big flood. This one did not have that single vast downpour.
strange debris

the river was not quite at its height here

There is a beauty in the reflections of water left behind by the flooding.

From high on the hill on a gloomy but rainless afternoon we see what is left of the flood waters down below


Pollards. I hate them
This gives some of the flavour of gloom left without the thrill of wind and rain. No signs yet of sunshine.

We saw three heron making off across the far fields the other day. This is one I caught earlier, a couple of weeks ago

Kingfisher corner with a very full river before the flood

The same position a day later with the whole valley inundated

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

More pictures of the drought/ er ....floods.

Please do not doubt
It's still a drought

If what you see
Seems wet to me

The water isn't here to stay
It very soon will go away
Or so they say

The forecast is for rain ahead
I recommend you stay in bed

This drought is spreading very fast
They say it's sure to last and last

For very soon the roads will crack
Then sanity might yet come back

I become less and less impressed with the Environment Agency. The little cow is now washed almost anywhere and may turn up on a footpath eventually.

Meanwhile they give a flood alert for Abingdon but ignore the whole valley of the Evenlode being flooded.
I guess there are no roads under water.

Please excuse the dogerral. This drought business becomes more absurd with each passing rainy day.

It has become very real today. The valley cannot be entered. It reached the top of my boots before I could even reach the style or kissing gate.