Hunting the hugger

Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie. It shows the sparkly cloak that our granddaughter Evie was wearing today. Some children have all the luck

We had a very far from sparkling day here today. The weather varied between grey and very grey, not quite drizzling and actually drizzling. On the plus side, it was warmer than it has been lately. When it wasn’t drizzling, it was quite pleasant to be outside.

I was in no rush to get out though, and was quite happy to dawdle about indoors until Dropscone arrived for coffee, bringing with him some excellent scones. I got out a jar of bramble jelly and we had a feast. Our neighbour Margaret and Mrs Tootlepedal joined us, and coffee and conversation flowed freely.

After the hubbub died down, I had a look at the birds. Business wasn’t brisk but the feeder had gone down quite a lot since I had filled it.

In an exciting new development, I cycled off on my shopping bike to our old corner shop for the first time for several weeks. It re-opened two days ago and has now become a butcher’s shop with some vegetables on sale as well. I bought a leek, some carrots and some diced lamb, and went home where I added a little red wine, an onion, some sweet red pepper, and mushrooms and apricots along with a few herbs and spices to make a lamb stew in the air fryer, using its slow cooking capability.

Then I went out into the garden to have a look round and consider some composting. Although we didn’t have a partridge, we did have a chaffinch in our little pear tree, and I caught it at the brightest moment of the dull day.

A jackdaw had bagged the top seat in the walnut tree so a collared dove settled for a perch on the plum tree.

I found some more potential daffodils to get excited about. (There is not much to get excited about in the garden at the moment as you can imagine.)

We have two bins for our kitchen compost. We use one for a while and then close it up and use the other one while the compost in the first one gets a good long time to rot down. Every now and again, the day comes to open up the closed bin and sieve the contents. This was that day.

It took me some time, and lunch intervened during the process, but I finally got it done. Now the left bin is empty and ready for use and the right bin will be shut up for a year. We have a big red bucket of weed free compost (centre) to go with the big red bucket of garden compost (right).

The supply of garden compost is endless and that bucket will be refilled many times while we wait for the next batch of kitchen compost to mature.

While I was sieving after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her electric bike to do some tree hugging. She is helping to survey the ancient oaks at Longwood for the Woodland Trust. It really does involve tree hugging, as she has to measure the girth of the trees among other activities.

When I had finished the composting, time had slipped by and it was too late for a cycle ride, so I settled for a walk up to the oak wood to see if I could find the tree hugger at work.

On my way, I passed the early oyster catcher standing in pretty much the same spot that it was yesterday . . .

. . . a roadside wall dripping with hart’s tongue fern . . .

. . . and a tall garden wall which at first sight looks as though it may have some red stones in its make up.

A closer look reveals, that it is not red stone, but grey stone covered in red algae.

I passed the tree hugger’s transport, securely attached to a fence and carried on up the path into the wood, searching in vain for an oak tree which had a hugger nearby.

Heading up the hill to the edge of the wood, I finally spotted her at work.

This fine old tree took some hugging as it had a girth of over 4 metres.

Each tree needs several pictures taken from different angles so that it can be identified correctly and I did this while Mrs Tootlepedal finished her recording activities.

Then we waved goodbye to the tree and headed back down the hill.

We came across a tree stump that has been attacked by an axe in a very odd way.

When we had collected her bike, Mrs Tootlepedal politely cycled at walking speed so we went home together, getting to the suspension bridge as darkness was beginning to fall.

The slow cooked lamb stew came out very well, and I will definitely be going back to the corner shop again.

In the evening,Mrs Tootlepedal went out for a rehearsal for the 100th anniversary concert of the local operatic society, and I did some preparatory work on a booklet for my sister Susan’s memorial service in London in a couple of weeks. It is a sad time and we miss her.

The poor light didn’t make getting a flying bird easy, and the best that I could manage was a greenfinch looming up behind a sparrow which was shouting at the wrong bird.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

34 thoughts on “Hunting the hugger

  1. It’s wonderful the corner shop has reopened; shopping locally is fantastic. I’m not at all surprised Mrs T hugs trees… At 4 m girth, it deserves it! Susan has left a very big gap in the world…I miss her speedy, clever, often hilarious comments very much

  2. I’m glad you have the corner store back. I grew up with them on almost every corner and now there are none.
    The tree stump was cut that way so it will rot away faster. It’s a logger’s trick.
    The oak tree that Mrs. T. was measuring is one of the biggest I’ve seen.

    1. As the cuts were at waist height, I don’t see why they didn’t just cut the stump down at ground level. Interesting information though. We still have a few independent shops in the town.

      1. Possibly so more surface area would be exposed to the elements, wood eating fungi and other things that rot and digest wood. That’s the only reason I can think of, other than maybe the logger didn’t want to bend down, which I can understand.

  3. Are the trees tagged in any way to indicate they’ve been recorded?

    Lovely looking compost – no wonder the garden flourishes (in addition to Mrs. T’s hard graft, of course).

  4. Glad the shop is open again and is useful! I’m going back to where I left off in December to catch on blog posts and interesting comments, but I must say your compost news is fascinating. I have a second plastic bin for kitchen compost and have decided this year I’m going to do exactly that, just let one bin rest when it gets full and switch to the other. Two friends also add their kitchen compost to it, and since that arrangement started, it gets fuller quicker than it used to.

  5. I am glad to hear you have a corner store again. The tree survey at Longwood sounds like an interesting job. Those old oaks have quite a bit of character to them. There was one in the town where I grew up that was estimated to be 400 years old at the time. I think it died some time ago, A massive old old tree that had seen much in its day.

    The booklet you are making for Susan’s service must be hard for you, emotionally, to work on. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. So it was quite a busy day for you… shopping, cooking, gardening and then also finding the time for a walk. The old oaks are beautiful and certainly deserve to be given the necessary care. Surround them with lots of love!

  7. I wish you well with compiling a booklet for your sister and feel sure you will do it well. You and Mrs T are both such busy people that you are an inspiration to the rest of us!

  8. That compost is beautiful! Very impressed. Glad to read that the shop has reopened and that it sells essential things you want to buy. Yay for Mrs. Tootlepedal being a tree hugger! Finally, yes, what a sad time for you. As a blogger, I miss Susan very much. How much worse it must be for you and your family. Will you be sharing anything from your booklet and the service? If not, I do understand.

  9. Out of interest, do you compost everything from the garden or leave out pernicious weeds like dandelion (not sure what you fight your battles with. And I think you shred too, from pruning. What size of shredder do you use. Mine burnt out a while back and I’ve not replaced it, making do with the copious amounts of other softer garden waste, but form time to time, I’m tempted to reconsider.. part of me got fed up battling with rose and pyracantha thorns

    1. We don’t compost any diseased plants if we can help it and Mrs Tootlepedal is inclined to throw out pernicious weeds, though she sometimes puts them in a bucket of water to soak for a good time before adding them to the compost. We have a modestly sized Qualcast electric shredder which has lasted very well over the years. I’ll put a picture of it in today’s post. We do have a much larger petrol driven shredder but I don’t like using it because it makes such a terrific noise that every neighbour for a mile around can hear it. I like using the shredder because it lets me get chopped up woody stems into the compost pile to layer up with the green stuff. Torn up cardboard boxes go in too. Mrs T often complains that the compost is a bit weedy which is why she likes the weed free kitchen waste compost so much.

      1. I do love sharing composting tips; so very satisfying. Re the weed soaking: all weeds? And for how long? Do you have bind weed fr’instance (if not I can supply all your needs!)

      2. Mrs T replies as one who knows: I don’t have any bindweed but if I did I would leave it in a bucket of water for a month or so. (never buy a house with bindweed, ground elder, or, in our case, moss). I’m pretty casual about most weeds and throw them in the compost box where they mostly rot down over the time they are in The System. 50 years of vegetable garden weeding has reduced the weeds there but things easily get out of hand elsewhere and we are plagued by annuals such as hairy bittercress, some kind of willow herb and creeping buttercup.

      3. Oh lucky you! I’ve battered thr bindweed into submission save where it encroached from the neighbours. And the ground elder will only go if I dig up two peonies and clean the roots so that’s not happening. I nanage to keep it at bay. Bitterness yes. Moss plenty not that I mind much.

  10. Great photo of the chaffinch and good to see the oyster catcher. How lovely to have a useful shop around the corner. You did well to plan ahead with preparing your supper before heading out to catch up with the tree hugger and take those photos. Top marks!

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