Monday, 21 July 2014

Woodhall Spa, Dunston, 99-year-old Granny!

Jersey Granny, 99 today! + dad and brother Roan

Today, Monday 22nd July, our Jersey Granny is one year short of receiving her telegram from the Queen. We call her Jersey Granny because that's where she's from, born and brought up on the Channel Island of Jersery. Granny's husband Alfred (dad's dad) was a Jersey child too, though not from a farming family like Granny. It's from Alfred's family that we get this great surname. You can read about life during the German Occupation in Granny's Jersey Occupation Diary, published by Seaflower Books under her maiden name Nan le Ruez. Order it here or from your local bookshop.

The birthday
A gathering was organised by uncle Chris and auntie Christine and we made the trip to Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, where Granny now lives. Dad's lady Anne drove us (me, dad, brother Roan) skillfully through sun (lots of) and storm (short, but what a downpour). We took a circuitous route to mostly avoid the biggest roads and to follow the line of the currently-under-construction Borders Railway.

Once in Woodhall Spa - lovely family time coincided with the town's 1940's weekend, meaning World War Two fire vehicles in the car park, soldiers and land girls in the street, Blitz dancing on the green, tommies camping in the woods, a troupe of yankee jeeps parked up outside the ice cream shop and crowds of happy people everywhere. There were flypasts by a Hurricane, a Dakota, a Spitfire. On Sunday two Spitfires duetting, magnificent in flight.

spit the spotfire

Woodhall Spa nature
We made time for walks: Woodhall Spa woods and golf course - jays, a hare, a green woodpecker, a kestrel, all seen well; Moor Farm nature reserve, as featured in my previous Woodhall Spa blog post here. Such quantity of butterflies in the summer sun, and not just those that we're used to from home - we saw commas, skippers, gatekeepers, a large white. Also peacocks, meadow browns, ringlets, at least one blue.

kestrel scratching

spot the comma, spot the meadow brown

meadow brown


peacock (butterfly) in flight, Moor Farm nature reserve

Dunston moths
On Saturday night in nearby Dunston village I stayed up later than I intended because of exciting numbers of moths flutter flocking the lights outside our bed and breakfast. Here are some photos, I've still to go through the books to i.d. them. I love doing that.

buff ermine? Muslin moth?

Dunston walk
Early on Sunday I made a pre-breakfast solo exploration of footpath and bridleway, restricted byway and non-restricted byway, through the fields and wooded lanes surrounding the village. Linlcolnshire is so flat, it feels so British - village greens, church steeples, collared doves coo-cooing. Such huge skies.

rural England

A hare bunched up on the edge of a corn field, tan fur on red soil below rich sheaths of green. A deer stepped across the path in front of me, two grey partridges and a pheasant did likewise a little further on, separated from me by gating and a strong PRIVATE ROAD sign. I forget how lucky we are with our right to roam in Scotland.

Nice isn't it? I wasn't allowed to walk there.

I took a pocket field guide and tried to learn some wild flowers. I learned bristly oxtongue. Ragwort I already knew, golden yellow flowers feeding and housing the golden yellow-black striped caterpillars that will become crimson-black striped-spotted cinnabar moths. Another one I knew grew all along the same track - pineappleweed. Rub flower or leaves between fingers and the lush scent makes its etymology clear. My book tells that pineappleweed wasn't in the UK until introduced from America in 1871. Now it's everywhere.

ragwort & cinnabar caterpillars

pineappleweed (smell it)

bristly oxtongue, like ox tongues with bristles

Four generations of du Feu's and close associates. Happy Birthday Jersey Granny!

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