"Make hay while the sun shines" takes on a whole new meaning. I thought only farming was affected by the weather, but clearly I was wrong. I cannot stay at my desk, writing up my blog ,when the great outdoors is calling me to do the thousand and one jobs that require attention in the garden. Hence my spasmodic delivery of a regular blog. However, on a dull, damp day here I am again.
Birds first. We are told that house sparrows are on the decline. That is certainly not true here where little flocks of them empty the fat-ball feeder on a daily basis. Though thought of as a dull bird, seen at close hand their plumage is really quite pretty. Although many people do not put out bird food in the summer months it is advisable is to feed them all year round. Many birds are raising chicks and access to an easy food supply saves them time and energy. Chilly, wet weather takes its toll; dry weather means many plants die before setting seed and worms go too deep for the birds to dig out. Its a hard life.
Talking of plants dying, I found the leaves of one of my favourites eaten off to the central rib. Closer investigation revealed masses of large, green caterpillars with bands of yellow and black spots munching their way through the plant. Intrigued, I Googled it (naturally) and identified it as the Mullein moth caterpillar, whose favourite food is verbascum and buddleia. As I use virtually no chemicals in the garden I shall have to look out for it earlier next year and deal with it the old-fashioned way, with finger and thumb - messy but effective.
Contrary to popular belief, life in the country is not always quiet. One sunny evening, recently, a footpath walker came to the door to say that he had seen a riderless horse trotting down the lane. He was concerned that there might be an injured rider somewhere and asked if we could help. Naturally we all turned out. The horse was caught before it reached the main road. Now to find the rider. Using that piece of equipment, the mobile phone, invaluable in a remote situation, plus a knowledge of the local bridlepaths, plus the assistance of police and emergency services, the rider was located, injured but not too seriously, and taken to hospital. Happily it was a case of all's well that ends well.
Trade at the recently reopened Cross Keys is brisk. Villagers and the wider public are flocking in to try out the menus, both bar and restaurant. The innovative ideas include a Pony Park - western style, hitch up and pop in for a bag of crisps and a drink! If you work from home you can also have a coffee and a wi-fi connection; very civilised.
In my next blog I hope to be reporting on the oilseed rape harvest. The crop looks promising at the moment but, to mix metaphors, we learned long ago not to count our chickens before they are hatched.