Author

I'm a part-time writer, full-time mother and dog-walker living in a small English village by the sea with my husband, daughter and a dog named Doc.

All posts by Dean B

The Bird Feeder

But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.”

  • L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

November can be a bit of a drag.  The days become shorter and the temperature drops making it colder.  At least with December, we have Christmas to look forward to.  But November?  The only good thing about this months is that it leads to December and then it becomes a blur.  The countdown to Christmas always becomes a blur, especially if you’re a parent and before you know it, you’ll be taking all the Christmas decors down.  Which reminds me, I really want to put ours up.  But I promised the husband that I’d only start decorating in the first day of December.

I’ve digressed, I wanted to write about the bird feeder my husband bought (as mentioned on the previous post).  We hang it outside our bathroom window so our cat and the squirrels won’t reach it.  Birds make the husband happy.  He likes feeding them left over bread and crackers.  I call him Cinderella.  I keep waiting for him to break into song, so far he hasn’t … yet.

Armed with my camera, I was determined to catch some birds in action.  But wasn’t so sure I’d be lucky since Doc followed me out and soon, Boots was there too.  To my surprise I didn’t have long to wait.  I spied one blue tit on the roof.

I knew it was watching me, Doc and even Boots.  And then when it realised that it was safe it decided to go for it… slowly.  I watched its every move through my lense.

When it felt bolder, it finally made a move.

After a few pecks it flew away.  But before I could even put my camera down, two of them came by.

It was just lovely to watch them feed.  From below, Doc was busy chasing his tail and Boots?  She was on the hedge… watching.

I’m so glad the bird feeder is way up there.  And in the winter, our cat likes to spend it mostly asleep on top of the boiler where it is nice and warm.  She’s like her humans who gain a lot of weight on the colder months, even if she could reach the bird feeder, somehow I doubt very much if she’d be quick enough.

During these short cold days, it’s the small joys that really matter, like watching the birds feed, enjoying the lovely autumn light through the window, and blue skies against beautiful winter trees that are slowly losing its leaves.

What are your small joys?

Afternoon Light

It’s mid November.  Surprisingly, the temperature is still mild, although if the weather forecast is correct, it will turn cold next week.

We’ve been having lovely weather lately.  Everywhere you turn is beautiful especially in the afternoon autumn light.  I’m currently loving autumn leaves.  When the light is lovely, I rush outside with my camera in hand and click on whatever catches my eye.

Let me share some photos with you.

My husband hang a bird-feeder outside our bathroom window.  It’s lovely to see the birds feed from it.  But I’m never able to capture it.  I think the birds know when I’m holding my camera or my phone as soon as they see it, they fly away.

The autumn afternoon sun amazes me.  Sometimes I just sit on the floor and watch it form shadows on the wall, or watch the way it beams from the window and explodes inside a room.  If I’m lucky it stays that way for more than a couple of hours before it darkens and everywhere you look it is gloomy.  Then without warning, the temperature drops and I feel the cold in my bones.  Thank goodness for warm, fluffy socks!  Days like these, I hold unto the small joys.

What about you? How’s your autumn going?

Autumn in Canons Ashby

While Summer is by far my favourite season, Autumn is dear to me too.  As mentioned, I love the rich changes of the colours of the leaves.  It’s nature weaving out its magic in its finest, isn’t it?  What’s not to love about Autumn?  Yes, it’s definitely colder, but it’s also an excuse to wear lovely chunky knits, and warm over-sized coats!

We went over to Beds to see family during the half-term break.  It was also T’s grandfather’s 90th birthday.  We’re pleased to see him really well and strong in mind.  He has a youthfulness which I hope will always stay with him.

While over there, we also had the chance to visit Canons Ashby, a National Trust house in a small village with the same name as the property.  Built in the 16th century, it’s been home to the Dryden family for over 400 years.

Highlights from the visit – finding medieval doodles on the wall.

According to one of the guides there, in the 80s, when this particular bedroom was stripped off its rotting panels, they found lovely etchings that dates to medieval times.  If you peer at the photo above closely, you’ll see a child-like doodle of a girl obviously made by a child.  The next ones (as seen on photos below) were obviously done by someone older.

All on this wall:

T enjoyed poking about in the small rooms in the house.

While Canons Ashby doesn’t have a large garden like the other National Trust properties, it was still a joy to walk on, or in T’s case, skip about.

The vibrant autumn colours were in full boom in Canons Ashby.

We also visited the13th century Abbey nearby.

Like all National Trust properties, the place is steeped in history.  Our link to the past, or if you’re an 8-year-old little girl like T, a place to skip and jump about.

So far, I haven’t visited any National Trust or English Heritage property and was disappointed in the end…. Have you?  Do share.

Autumn Photographs

It’s been a while since I took my camera out for a spin.  Did just that today.  It started out in the garden and then T, Doc and I decided to go over the neighbouring field for more photos.

Scenes from our garden:

 

“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler of crust of brown sugar and cinnamon” – Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost

 

A touch of colour (photo above) and bat girl and her dog in the field beside our house.

Don’t you just love autumn photographs?

The Flowers of Castle Drogo

I must have flowers, always and always.  – Claude Monet

And it’s no wonder that the famous the French artist went on and created paintings of them one after the other.  I’m no artist.  I knew that as an early child when mum hired a local artist to teach my brother and I how to paint. He did well.  I did not. I cannot paint flowers but I can certainly photograph them.

But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I have a friend who can name every single flower there is.  She tried to teach me once, but I’m afraid my memory retention is bad and it’s only going to get worse (hopefully not!), so I’m afraid I won’t be able to name any of the flowers above apart from the roses.  After all, who can’t?

These beautiful flowers can be found in Castle Drogo in Devon. They were taken in the summer so I’m not sure if they’ll be as colourful and beautiful as they were in those photos, but still worth a visit.  The castle is still surrounded by scaffolding but the gardens are definitely worth visiting especially if you love flowers.  If you find yourself in the area, do drop by and visit the flowers of Castle Drogo.  They have wonderful grounds too, perfect for autumn walks.

What about you?

Are you good at identifying flowers?

S is for Surfing

And as Storm Callum ravages the UK, I sit here on my desk, warmed by the heater and sipping a mug of hot tea looking at these images of little T surfing over the summer and wishing I could could go back to those moments on the beach, watching my little girl as she misses a wave and has to do it all over again with that determined look on her face I love so much.

After several tries, she manages to pull herself up and ride with the wave.  I asked her once what it was like, she said it’s like being on top of the world!

And she loves it.  She absolutely loves it and it’s also a thrill to watch her from ashore.  I don’t worry about her, because my husband is never far from where she is.  Admittedly, the waves here in Widemouth Bay in North Cornwall can be very rough, but he’s never far and we also make sure that there are lifeguards around.

If you happen to find yourself in North Cornwall next summer and you think you or your kids would be interested to learn how to surf.  Do contact Miles, little T’s coach.  He was brilliant with her and her friends.  He had them all standing by the end of the first lesson.  Click here to find out more about him.  He is the best coach in the area.

Back to reality, as I hear the winds thrash our house and the surrounding trees in our garden and I’m reminded that summer is indeed over and that I’m wearing wooly socks to keep my feet warm from the cold.

Wouldn’t it be great though if we could step into these photographs of our summers on the beach, lighting our old rusty bbq, and staying till sunset and till the last of the surfers are gone.

Summer on the Beach …

… that’s the theme of our whole summer of 2018, although to be fair, that’s an ongoing theme in our family life since we live close by to the beach. You’ll find us there whether it’s summer, autumn, winter or spring.  This is a part two of what we’ve been up to in the warm months, you can click here if you want to check out part one.

We did think of going abroad, but with the “heat wave” a close friend said “Why go abroad when it’s as good as anywhere here when the weather is as warm as this?”.  And that’s exactly what we did!  We didn’t even go very far.  Just over the border, into Devon…

Lyme Regis

Charmouth Beach

We’ve been to Charmouth before, but I’ve never seen this much fossil hunters on the beach!

, Our friend was right, when the weather is great, spending summers here in England is as good as going abroad.

What about you?

Did you go abroad this summer?

Our 2018 Summer in Photos (Part 1)

Hello again.  It’s been a while since I’ve last posted anything here on Little Steps. I’ll be honest, I’ve lost my blogging mojo and I’ve been trying to get it back.  In the mean time, I’ll try to say it in photos and hopefully the words will come…

Porthleven

Perranporth Beach in the fog:

And then the fog lifted …

To be continued…

Cows: Life in the Country

You know you live in the country when the first thing you hear in the morning is the loud and aggressive mooing of Theo the bull, who likes to threaten the other bull, somewhere in another field… goodness knows where.  They like to holler to one another, I’m guessing they say a lot of “I’m bigger than you” in cow lingo.  I could be wrong of course, for all you know, cows are also like people, who like to talk about the weather…

I felt really sorry for the cows when were having unusual weather a few months ago.  The appearance of the beast from the East… twice, meant that they were unable to come out and were stuck in their barns.  When the snow finally cleared up and we all thought that Spring was finally on it’s way, it was the rains that came and made the surrounding farm land too wet and soggy for the cows.  When I heard the first moo in the field behind our house, I was really pleased to hear that they were back outside.  Not sure they were pleased to see us, especially our annoying dog Doc who likes to bark at them.

I’ve especially been spying on the mama cows and their calves.  I just find it so endearing the way they’re so protective of their young.  I guess all mothers are the same regardless of species and the thought just really warms my heart.  I can sit for hours just watching them.

At the moment, we have scaffolding all over our house.  We’ve had really bad damp and mould over the winter and we’re hoping the builder will be able to fix this.  When he is gone, I like to go up there and watch the cows.

I saw this mama and her calf a few days ago.  They were really near the back of our house.  This mama was actually standing a few feet away from her calf, but as soon as she saw me she quickly walked towards her young and gave me a bellow as if to say “You come near my baby and I’ll break your bones”.

I just sat there and watched from above.  I don’t think she liked my presence at all.  She stopped threatening me but turned to her young as if to say “Let’s move on.  I don’t trust that woman up there”.  Her baby which I’m guessing was just a day or so old, judging from it’s unsteady steps, just ignored the mum.  I guess the young are also the same regardless of species, they like to ignore their parents.  After more bellowing the calf eventually moved towards its mother.

And as soon as her baby was near her, like all mothers, she jostled her little one to get a move on.

And just like that, they left me watching them.

How was your Bank Holiday weekend?

I heard the rest of the UK were basking in a lovely mini-heatwave.  I wish I could say it was the same for us down here in North Cornwall but it wasn’t.

The weather last Saturday was a good start.  After little T’s ballet we picked up a friend of hers who was going to have a sleep-over at our place, then we headed to Exeter to watch a football match.  It was lovely in Exeter.  It was just the right combination fo not too hot and not chilly.  On our way back home, we could smell people having bbqs at their homes.  It was early evening and my husband had plans to light the fire and just sit till night-fall.  But as we headed arrived in Cornwall, we saw sea-mist in the distance and our hearts sank a little bit.  By the time we turned into our driveway, we knew that our plan of sitting around the fire was gone out the window.

The next day, our house was still surrounded by sea-mist.  We had plans of spending the day in the beach, but it looked like it wasn’t going to happen.  Thankfully though, the mist cleared up towards mid-day and little T and her friend still managed to have some paddling pool fun.

I’m hoping the weather will be better at the end of May when T’s next term-breaks comes, especially since we’re expecting a visit from some family members.  It would be nice to be able to take them to the beach sans the sea-mist and have lovely bbqs in our garden.  Then again, this is Cornwall.  I think the weather down here is more unpredictable than any other place in the UK.  I could be wrong of course 😉

What about you?

How was your bank holiday weekend?