Wildlife Diary and News Blog 2016/17/18 - notes from a small wood. Observations from Groves Bank, Groves Dyke and Groves Coppice, Whitby, North Yorkshire, England Scroll down for the current News Blog (but first, please help with this campaign): www.Fight4Whitby.com is the website for the fight to properly maintain Whitby Harbour and provide a proper new Tourist Information Centre (now that they have got rid of our old one). Please visit to check progress ('News') and to donate towards our legal cost. ...................... STILL HAVING A FEW TECHNICAL PROBLEMS _ Please read 'News Blog 2018' (below) for the moment... 11 August 2018 FIVE Apricots All this dry sunny weather has made my trained (along the post and rail fence) Apricot feel at home and this summer the total crop has increased from 3 to 5 - AND they were delicious. We picked 3 today for breakfast, leaving the other 2 to swell a bit more. Ran out the electric string and spent just over an hour sawing the 6 lengths of Cherry cordwood into 15-inch drums. After lunch we split and stacked them into the woodshed, as well as Silver Birch drums, all felled early this spring. 22 July 2018 Cider bottling again Far too hot again and even worse that TDH. IT sez 24 degrees C outside and just about the same indoors. We dodged from shade to shade, patio parasol to raftings to veranda, and back again, carrying buckets of Camden solution and tap water to sterilise the bottles and then rinse them out again. Then capping them, then carrying them indoors to store. Today's c25 small bottles are being labelled 2017b, as distinct from the first batch of 2017a. 21 July 2018 Beating a Blackbird Over breakfast we saw an intruder within the fruit cage and rushed out to evict it before it ate ALL the Goosegogs, Blackcurrants and Redcurrants. The Goosegogs were most at risk, so we excluded that bush from the cage and rebuilt it, more securely than ever, around all the remaining and heavily-laden bushes. We then sacrificed our hands and arms to stripping off the Goosegogs (while there still were some) and took them indoors to wash (our blood off!) and blanch them all. About 10 litres in all, which is a good crop from just 1 bush - Goosegogs, that is, not blood! 5 Crumbles later and we had had enough of a warm kitchen on a super-hot day. Yet still B spent far too long weeding the spatio (south patio) gravel bed. Mad dogs and... 17 July 2018 A shower of rain! We had a drop of rain overnight, our first for many a day (about 1/4 inch all told) but when we got to Helmsley outdoor (and heated) swimming pool, we found the town had many muddy but dried-out puddles on the roads, following an inch of rain overnight and a few flooded roads. 16 July 2018 Pollarding the swanp Oaks ID and I spent one of the hottest days of the year working in the now dried-out 'swamp' below the high voltage leccy wires. Normally we would be ankle-deep in water but not this summer. The past month's drought has removed ALL water so we felt safe enough to top the self-sown young Oaks which are normally too risky for any but the fully trained, qualified and equipped Leccy Lads for Northern Power Grid. Just to make life interesting, there was a light shower for 5 minutes, which had very little effect. All told, we now have some 20 or 30 Oak branches up to 12 feet long, all stacked-up against the Oak and the Whitebeam at the start of the North West Passage, for burning in the winter of 2019/20. ... 16 June 2018 Catching up again Two things have happened: My whizkid GK is currently working on this website to archive some of the News Blog (should download faster now) and to update the version of WordPress which I use, so please be patient... We have had friends staying and have been having a very enjoyable week out and about with them, enjoying all that the North York Moors has to offer, including (a few days ago): 13 June 2018 Red Kite over White Horse inn RoseDale Yes, we were about to be handed our lunch plates when there was a cry from EEJ of 'Red Kite above', so plates were thrust back at the startled staff as we grabbed our binoculars and looked up - What a beauty! 31May 2018 Summer again - 5th try 30 May 2018 Thick, thick cold grey fog 20 May 2018 Tomatoes in We prepared the Tomorite grow bags on the Tomorite irrigation trays and planted 3 Tumbling Toms into the bag on the veranda wall - not to mention Broad Beans in Veg Bed B and Peas in Veg Bed C. Still unable to locate any Broccoli plants... Darby and Joan, the pair of Mallard now living in my pond, dozed the day away, while a Buzzard circled high overhead and was later mobbed away by a Carrion Crow. FAR too hot and sunny for gardening. 19 May 2018 Tom and Rosies' tops Harry and Megans' wedding The hot, sunny weather was perfect in Aislaby this morning for great-nephew TR's marriage to RT in Aislaby church. After a lively, modern service with lots of audience participation, we all strolled down to Aislaby Lodge for a magnificent Reception in the gardens, the marquee and the (very!) newly refurbished Family Barn. 16 May 2018 Third attempt at Spring fails again Cold and grey with a Northerly wind again, so off to Pickering for a swim - only to find Pick cold and grey as well. After our swim, we admitted defeat and required a very nice, very warming Full English Breakfast in Café Stop to warm us up again. 15 May 2018 House Martins return - again this year Having been and gone again once this year, the pair of House Martins were again flying around the house and chittering under the eves in the early morning. And then they vanished again, perhaps back South to where the flies are, now the cold weather has returned again again. 13 May 2018 Stove logging Sycamore Wet overnight and much cooler, so we sawed the Sycamore from the cord into 15-inch stove logs and started the west wall in the lower half of the woodshed - which we should start using in Feb or March of 2019. 12 May 2018 Introducing Phil and Stu, the compost twins The great Broccoli search started at Homebase and ended with a promise of 'Next Thursday' at Viccy Farm, so we went for lunch at Sleights River Gardens. Then we shifted all the gravel in the dumpy bag (still perched on top of the steps) to the newly created compost corner. The two identical big, black compost bins now stand by side in a special gravel bed. The lids are interchangeable, so one is now labelled Phil, while the other one is labelled Stu... And when Phil is fully filled, then it will be time to swop the lids and let the contents stew, while the other bin-full of lovely compost is dug into the beds as soil improver. All 3 tons of gravel have now been moved, the veg garden gravel is complete, and some is left in the yard for future use on the south patio... We were delighted to see a Buzzard over Littlebeck, a single first Swift high over Sleights, but not a single Swallow or House Martin anywhere. 11 May 2018 Pickering swim and lunch A quick and relaxing dash to Pickering for a nice relaxing swim after a busy week. 09 May 2018 Hot, dry and sunny So off to Pickering for a nice relaxing swim, followed by our first balcony lunch of the year at the Garden Centre. Almost perfect, but no Gardener's Platter yet. 07 May 2018 Hot gardening CM strimmed all the grass, while I teetered on the gangplank of 6x2 inch edging planks, pulling the damned Zebra Weed out of my pond. Once done, we cut and screwed the planks to create the new compost corner of the veg garden. Afterwards, I emptied the outer compost bin into the inner one, moved the near empty bin inside to stand by its mate, and then started reloading it. Then more gravel shifting. 06 May 2018 Too hot to garden, so bottle Hot, dry and sunny again today. We started with a little genteel gardening: planting Runner beans, and starting again (for the 3rd time) the Peas and Broad Beans (bloody wildlife). Not to mention using the weed burner on the paths around the veg garden. Then into the shade to scrub the labels off wind bottles, sterilise them, rinse them and fill them with last year's Sleightly Blackcurrant Merlot, Sleightly Redcurrant Rose and Sleightly Red and Blackcurrant Roselot. 15 bottles all told, and quite nice, too. 5 May 2018 Lunch al fresco Another hot, dry and sunny day so we took off to bag the best table by the river bank at Shepherd's Hall in Lealholm. A toastie and a Shepherd's Platter kept us going as we atched the Mallard, the House Martin (1 only) and the Dipper. Then on to Great Fryupdale for a cuppa at the Yorkshire Cycle Hub, this visit we were enjoying it out on the veranda, admiring the magnificent view. Then off on a road I have never driven on before, around the very head of the dale, then up onto Glaisdale Rigg (but still no Skylarks), then down Caper Hill to see Thomas Hartus and his yatstead. 4 May 2018 The gasman has been-eth The nice Amber gasman came as promised and looked at the obsolete gas fire in Droves Dyke sitting room. He took measurements, showed us a range of possible replacement fires with living flame, of course, and we picked one. It might even be fitted next changeover day... AND I cured his hayfever, for which I hope he will be eternally grateful... [Boots over-the-counter non-drowsy own-brand hayfever remedy, which I accidentally discovered 10 years ago, after suffering annually for 60 years. Delighted to discover them but furious that the NHS didn't think to tell me they existed]! 02 May 2018 Cold, wet and windy but the Chuckle Brother returned We disregarded the rain and went up to the long-felled Cherry tree to bring some down to the wood yard. Then up again with the 2-person cross-cut saw, to saw the too-big lumps into almost too-big to barrow down lumps. The wind eased, but it was too late for a bonfire, so we carried on as the rain cleared. By mid-afternoon it was almost dry and sunny, and we had succeeded in bring down most of the Cherry for sawing into stove logs next winter's fuel supply. Met readings April 2018 MA mixed month, mostly cold and cloudy but with a short mini-heat wave towards the end. Max 76 degrees F, Actual 58F, Min 31F. Precipitation 2.4 inches. 29 Apr 2018 The Goth from the East Cold and strong winds from the North East have returned for the Spring Goth Weekend, so not too much promenading. We sat back and admired the new Whitby Arbour in the front garden of Groves Dyke. It does look good, but then we are biased, having shifted a couple of tons of gravel to create it and freshen-up the car park. 28 Apr 2018 Finishing the new Whitby Arbour More bits of wood from Homebase, then collect the new 4-foot bench from Victoria Farm Garden Centre and then a delightful day of DIY to put the bench together (our very favourite job - NOT) and fix it within the new arch, to create the new Whitby Arbour. And very nice it looks, too. Even if we do say it ourselves. Sitting down frequently to rest, we noticed a VTO Wren (Vertical Take Off) carrying moss to the edge of my roof - and into the old House Martin nest there! Oh dear, that may put the poor old House Martins off - if the chilly weather hasn't already. 27 Apr 2018 Dreary, damp and cold So we had to take some Whitby Guidebooks up the valley and we had to eat a Small Fryup breakfast at The Cycle Hub in Fryupdale, followed by a potter around KMS (Kirbymoorside). No suitable 4-foot bench found, until we got back to Viccy Farm garden centre. 26 Apr 2018 More gravel and yet more gravel Another ton was delivered this morning, so I spread it on the approach to the polebarn, and then barrowed the last half ton up from the Groves Dyke car park (handy for the new arbour), across the yard to a new site near the pond. Flop! Ordered another ton of gravel for the veg bed, which the driver cleverly hoisted across in a dumpy bag onto the upper level of the fruit lawn, thus saving the carrying up 5 steps. 25 April 2018 First House Martins A pair of House Martins were chittering under the eves this morning, my first here this year. 24 April 2018 First ton The first ton of 20mm gravel ordered and delivered, so I barrowed half of it across the lawn to the new arbour on Groves Dyke lawn. Phew. 23 April 2018 New arch construction I thought I heard a House Martin chittering under the eves this morning, but maybe I dreamt it. None seen. CM and I finished putting the new arch together, set it into position and then collected 6 small sacks of crusher run to fill in the base of the wooden frame it will stand in, topped with gravel. 22 Apr 2018 New shorts broke the heat wave The lovely hot weather for the last few days didn't like my new shorts and this morning we had overcast skies and some heavy showers. Racked the 3 demijohns of last year's Redcurrant Rose, Blackcurrant Merlot and (mixed) RnB Roselot in the veranda, dodging the big rain drops. 21 Apr 2018 First Historic Houses Association (HHA) visit As the hot, dry and sunny weather continued, we set off against the flow of visitors and drove to Scampston Walled Garden, near Malton. A quick tour of the garden, still fairly dormant and without any colour, before we settled down to one of their fabulous Gardener's Platter and a Yorkshire Rarebit overlooking the garden. VERY summery! Then a nice stroll to the banks of the newly dredged lake and back to the plant sales, before cutting cross-country to Thornton-le-Dale and back over the moor to home. 20 Apr 2018 Staithes in a heat wave We took a boot-load of Whitby Guidebooks to Staithes and had a lovely relaxed potter about, dropping off the odd boxful here and there. Home via Runswick Bay and lunch on the deck outside the Sandside Café, overlooking the bay at low tide and the unmanned excavators parked-up waiting for who-knows-what before they start repairing and improving the sea defences. Every small wading bird knows that their activity is governed by the tide, not by the clock, but then coastal defences always cost £millions. 19 Apr 2018 TDM I know it is wrong of me to complain, and I'm very sorry, but today was 76 degrees F, which is just Too Damn Hot for me. Yes, it has been a very long, cold, damp winter. Yes, it did snow here at least once a month for the past 6 months: in Nov, in Dec, in Jan, in the Beast from the East in Feb, in the Mini-Beast from the East in March and then even a snow shower on April Fool's Day. Yes, it has been the coldest, wettest worst winter for 10 years. But today, it was the hottest April Day for 69 years - and its Too Damn Hot! 18 Apr 2018 Indoor swim and outdoor lunch After a nice swim at Pickering Pool, we went to the tea garden at Balderston's Bakery in Thornton-le-Dale and had a lovely, sunny (but shady) lunch. 16 Apr 2018 Groundworks begin CM and I screwed a big wooden framework together for the new Whitby Arch in Groves Dyke garden. We carried it to the front lawn, dug it into place and added the weed suppressing fabric. Now all we need is either a ton of Crush n Run for a foundation, OR to fix the legs into place before the stone goes down. I wonder which should come first..? 15 Apr 2018 Spring gardening Warm and dry and sunny - wonderful. B put the Onions in, then removed all the hedge-laying brash to the bonfire. I, meanwhile, was gadding about in the Memorial Hall at Staithes with a sponsored walk for the Brains Trust, the brain tumor charity. 14 Apr 2018 We wondered lonely as a crowd A nice, dry day with no wind and no fog, so we set off for Farndale to see the Daffodils at their best. We were not alone. Parking awkwardly at Church Houses, we strolled down to the Daffy Caffy (packed) for a bacon butty and then on downstream, through the 15 gates (yes, 15), along the paved path, dodging prams, kids, dogs, families, couples and the odd push bike. The Daffs were magnificent and in full flower. Low Mill was a welcome open space, as was a cuppa in the church hall. THIS is where we should have parked, with a big official car park, the National Park info caravan with a couple of Voluntary Rangers, public loos, etc. The return leg was on the same path, with the same 15 gates (yes, still 15) and many of the same crowds, but this time heading in the opposite direction. Well worth doing, but preferably NOT on a weekend. 11 April 2018 Hedge-laying on the Beech Ian and I spent a very full day standing on the only dry bit of ground (the car park tarmac) and laying the Beech hedge at the bottom of the wood. First we laid one end to the left, then we laid the other end to the right - and then we worked out how to lay a left hand side stem to the right and a right hand side stem to the left, to try and hide the widening parting. This was NOT a comb-over! 9 April 2018 Young Ash pollarded CM used his chainsaw to take the tops off a multi-stemmed Ash which has now topped the electricity and phone wires to the house. While I was sitting in a meeting, he produced a very useful amount of cordwood for our stoves next winter. 8 April 2018 Soggy digging and sparse Frogspawn The weather may have dried up a little but the soil is still sodden. Started digging the new Raspberry bed, but gave up when every spade full of soil removed resulted in another mini pond. Pruned the Blackcurrant bushes into a better goblet shape and dug over the Onion bed. The Frogs seem to have had a poor Spring as well, with a mere 1 litre of spawn in my pond, rather than the usual several bucket fulls. The first Chiffchaff was 'singing' in the wood today. 5 April 2018 First Frogs singing in my pond Sunny, warm a dry today, which makes a lovely change. The Frogs appreciated it too, with a dozen or so cavorting in my pond. Hopefully, there will be lots more in the next few days, if this good weather continues. 3 April 2018 Digging a new 10 foot flood relief drain After an inch of rain yesterday, the stone seat in my garden was awash as the little beck blocked the culvert and then roared across the lawn. I dug a relief drain for 10 feet from under the stone seat, capturing all the escaped water and leading it back overground and into the beck again. 01 April 2018 Cold, wet Easter with snow forecast We sawed the Hornbeam into cordwood, got too cold and suffered for our foolishness. March Met Station 2018 Precipitation 3.6+ inches (overflowing). Max 54 degrees F, Actual 36, Min 24 degrees F (ie 8 degrees of frost). A wet month, with cold Easterly winds which became known as the mini-Beast from the East. Miserable. 31 Mar 2018 Cold and wet again Easter Saturday and the weather has gone backwards. Whitby is very busy, including lots of shivering scooterists (who must have had a miserable ride over the moortop), so sneaked off to a nice café near Whitby and enjoyed a lovely lunch. Took some Whitby Guidebooks to the Abbey for English Heritage and had a chilly high-speed tour of the lovely Abbey House garden, with its magnificent views over the harbour. 29 Mar 2018 Tour of Beckhole and Goathland IJ and I took a carload of Guidebooks to distribute to all the visitor outlets in both villages - a great excuse to drive over the moors and visit some of the nicest places. The village was quite busy, but we still managed to pop into the Mallyan Hotel Tearoom, enjoy a nice scone and a couple of cuppas, and then admire some of the Gnomeman furniture in the hotel lounge. 28 Mar 2018 Grand tour and grand reunion We collected IJ from the Royal Hotel and set off up the coast towards Staithes, delivering boxes of the newly published Whitby Guidebook to Runswick Bay (new coastal defence work has started, costing £1.5m), Hinderwell and the nice new Barn Own Café just before Staithes (where they do a nice lunch). Then up Ridge Lane to Scaling and over the moor to the Moors Centre at Danby. More coffee at the Woolly Sheep café there, where D and RC met us, having just done the Roseberry Topping walk in the rain. Good to see them here! 25 Mar 2018 Gardening weather at last The temperature has finally reached double figures these last couple of days, the chilly wind has dropped and the sun is shining. What a lovely change! B dug over a veg bed (Mid-East bed) for the Onions, but still too chilly at night to plant them, and cleared Moss from the veg garden paths. I de-Mossed the yard and the bit around the bins, brushing, air drying, raking, air drying, brushing, air drying and finally shovelling up, up and away. During our frequent '5 mins' breaks we watched our Buzzard 'Aldrin' fly out of the wood to tackle / court a passing Buzzard, with quite an impressive aerial ballet. Robin, Dunnock and Great Tit were singing, while a Tawny Owl and a Green Woodpecker also called. 24 Mar 2018 Guidebook tour of upper Esk Valley We took a stack of newly delivered Whitby Guidebooks on a grand tour of Castleton, Danby and Lealholm - the ideal opportunity to have a delicious lunch at Shepherds' Hall café and a snack at Yorkshire Cycle Hub at the back of Little Fryupdale. When asked how they had fared during the worst of the Beast From the East, they were proud to say that they had visitors every single day, including 2 long-distance skiers, 2 snow mobiles and a group of quad bikes! 21 Mar 2018 Frost Guard radiators switched off Now that my loft is super insulated but still has the solar hot water system up there, I have taken the precaution of keeping a frost guard electric radiator in each loft. They were switched on sometime before Christmas, and have been on ever since - only using electricity if the temperature falls below 6 degrees C, so that must be nearly 3 months of either frost of possible frost! 19 Mar 2018 Coppicing Ash and Sycamore CM spent 4 hours cutting back unwanted and self-sown Ash and Syc from among the Apple, Pear, Plum, Medlar and Quince trees in the big orchard. It is now in the woodyard and will be sawn into 15 inch stove logs, stacked for the summer and ready to burn next winter... 18 Mar 2018 Very cold and windy, with snow Yes, but not as bad as its big brother. Windchill made it feel like -6 degrees C, so it was SO cold we had to go to Sandside Café and have an All Day Breakfast. Then we stayed indoors and took a 15-minute bird count: Robin 3, Coal Tit 2, Longtail Tit 2, Wood Pigeon 2, Bullfinch 1, Blue Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Great Tit 1, Marsh Tit 1, Nuthatch 1 (12.30 to 12.45). Bet they wanted an ADB as well! 17 Mar 2018 The Minibeast from the East Bitter, cold, freezing, nithering, perishing, starving - none of these words quite describe how it feels outside today. In fact, it was so cold, that we had to go to Sandside Café for a Full English breakfast for our lunch. This cold snap with strong Easterly winds is also accompanied by snow showers but as the actual temperature is hovering around zero, the wind-chill make it feel like -6 degrees C or even less. Glad this one is only going to last 2 or 3 days, rather than its big brother which lasted a week. 13 Mar 2018 Coppicing the big orchard CM spent 4 hours with the polesaw removing the self-sown Ash and Sycamore from the top of Groves Bank orchard. The steep bank itself is far too wet and slippery to dare try to stand on, but the polesaw can be used from the level path along the very top. He cut, trimmed and dragged more than a dozen useful stems to the woodyard, for sawing into next winter's firewood. 12 Mar 2018 Bonfire in the mud It poured all day so ID and I (mostly ID) lit and tended the bonfire, coaxing it into life and encouraging it to consume all the lop and top accumulated over the past few weeks. 11 Mar 2018 Long reach coppicing Quite a nice dry, mild day so B and I walked up Woodlands Drive to the end of Bank Orchard, stood on the nice dry tarmac and used the extended polesaw to coppice unwanted Ash and Sycamore from between the Apple trees above us. We felled, trimmed and dragged it to the woodyard and then sawed it into cordwood and stacked it. Not content with that, we also felled a couple of the bigger Hornbeam from the unnecessary hedge at the top of the Stickery steps. There will be some nice walking sticks from that! Discovered that our local BATA store has English grown firewood, which is kiln-dried using their own off-cuts by a firm in Hereford. Still quite a long way, so I have now started kiln-drying my own logs - by warming them up on top of my woodburner for an hour or 2 before I put them inside to burn. FAR Greener! 07 Mar 2018 England reconnected to Whitby Has been for a few days, but this was our first attempt to get out of Whitby and the Esk Valley since the Beast From the East left us. The evidence was still up there, with occasional drifts 3 or 4 feet deep still unmelted, while the moortop was mostly brown again. We drove to a farm to buy a few samples of their 'kiln-dried firewood' and were very impressed by the scale and the efficiency of the big modern barns full of pallets of logs. No sign of any kiln so I asked where they were dried and was told that was 'outsourced'. When I asked how far they had to outsource the drying, I was told several places in England and even to the continent. Oh dear. Forty ton lorries speeding up and down the motorways at 70mph to deliver and then collect 'local' logs for drying - not as Green as I had hoped. 04 Mar 2018 Twice as warm again Yes, today IS 4 degrees C and the snow is melting away. Now everything is damp and a cold, raw mist has enveloped us. An improvement? Not sure yet. 03 Mar 2018 Twice as warm... Yesterday was 1 degree C above freezing and today is a whole 2 degrees above. Woopee! The thaw has begun but now it is feeling damp and raw. Bring back all that nice 'dry powder' snow! Tomorrow will be twice as warm as today... 02 Mar 2018 Lunch out The snow has melted a little now the temperature is a whole 1 degree above freezing. We went to Victoria Farm garden centre for lunch, but not many of us had even tried to get out. Shopping with T and D afterwards and Sainsbury's bas 'almost like Christmas' as far as crowds were concerned. 01 Mar 2018 First day of Spring indeed! A bit more snow fell overnight but the wind has got up and is now blowing it around. Not a good day for driving anywhere, so just curl up by the woodburner with a good book - again. Our Amber Weather Warning (Be Prepared) ends today, then we are merely on a Yellow Warning (Be Aware) for the next 2 days. Poor old Central Scotland had a Red Warning (Take Action, lives at risk) and now the South West is also on Red. Good Luck out there! Met Feb 2018 28 Feb 2018 Fieldfare now owns my yard feeders My first close-up Fieldfare of this winter, now one has taken control of my yard and its ground feeder, keeping all the Blackbirds, etc at bay. Only the Grey Squirrel scares it off. 27 Feb 2018 Whitby ok but England is cut off Never mind, they will just have to manage without us for a day or two... I cleared a couple of tracks down my drive and let the weak sunshine melt down to the tarmac. By noon it was possible to get the car out and onto the well-gritted main roads. Lunch out and a bit of shopping gave us a break from the cabin fever. 26 Feb 2018 The 'Beastie from the Eastie' is very pretty The long predicted severe weather arrived overnight and now we have about 4 inches of snow blanketing everything. Looks lovely, but the paths needed the snow shovelling off before I could get more seed and fat balls out for the birds. 25 Feb 2018 Jessie flys by A glorious cold, dry and sunny day so we sawed up the long dead Guelder Rose stems (some of them 4 inches thick) from the clump by the Twigwam in Groves Dyke garden. We burned some in the stove last week and they create a heat that soon warms the whole house up! With snow forecast this week, we might need a bit of extra warmth. As we worked a Buzzard flew over, calling. We could see its jesses (falconer's leather straps) trailing behind, when suddenly 'our' Buzzard flew out from the wood and chased it away. Nice to know that our Aldrin is still in the wood and regards it as his wood. By mid-afternoon we had sawn enough seasoned stove logs, including some Ash and Oak, to see us through this imminent cold snap. 24 Feb 2018 First dry day this year? Perhaps not, but it is certainly the first time I have been able to walk across the slippery Yorkshire flagstones by my pond without being very conscious of not slipping. Winter Olympics indeed! We drove to Malton to collect the newly serviced big strimmer and celebrated its return with an All-day Breakfast at Pickering garden Centre. It was such a nice sunny day that we detoured via Goathland (looking lovely as ever), Beckhole (even lovelier) and Green End (magnificent moorland, as ever) before arriving home just in time for 3 o'clocks. Three Buzzards flew over our wood, calling, and three Bullfinches fed together on the spatio bird table. 21 Feb 2018 Terrace wall - Build Back Better Young CM and his mate have dismantled the collapsing dry stone wall which supports the second terrace of my front garden over the last week, and today they finished rebuilding it better than ever. It looks great and will stop the slumping that would have occurred if left for yet another wet winter. NB: Build Back Better is the slogan used by the Practical Action charity when they provided some minor modern adaptations to re-building the traditional houses in Tibet after last year's earthquake - if all roof beams are 'tied' to the tops of the walls, then next time the roofs won't collapse onto all the families within. Simples. This afternoon we noticed that the big clump of Guelder Rose in Groves Dyke front garden had flopped over and covered the triangle of emerging Daffodils. Perhaps the soil is just so wet that the roots have rotted? Or just pulled-out of the semi-liquid soil? Or that 40 years is as long as Guelder Rose shrubs live, and they all gave up together? Whatever the reason, they had to be sorted, so we waded in from the uphill side and began sawing off and removing the big stems - most of them dead. We left any green ones, provided they were still vertical, so perhaps they may be some survivors... 20 Feb 2018 Usually 0, occasionally 2, rarely 4, but today... 11 Siskins were at my feeding station, the most I have ever seen here in 30 years! They were a wonderful sight and even managed to keep the regular Goldfinches at bay, as they swarmed all over the Niger seed and Sunflower heart feeders. So transfixed was I, that I did a full 15-minute bird count: Siskin 11, Robin 4, Blackbird 2, Bullfinch 2, Coal Tit 2, Blue Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Great Tit 1, Goldfinch 1, Great Tit 1, Long Tail Tit 1, Greenfinch 1, Marsh Tit 1, Wood Pigeon 1 (0920 - 0935, Calm, dry, mild and overcast). 18 Feb 2018 Coppicing the SSSI We finished coppicing the Sleightly Singed Sycamore Item at the back of the woodyard - too near the bonfire. It produced a very good forked stake for propping up the Juniper tunnel, several weaving rods for polebarn and wicker fences and a useful amount of cordwood for next year's firewood. Mild, dry and sunny, we coffee-ed on the veranda (first time this year) and watched a thermal-ing Buzzard get too close to our wood, when our Buzzard went to intercept. Then we went on to remove the collapsed Guelder Rose in Groves Dyke garden, only to discover that the stem has rotted through at ground level and the whole thing has fallen over. More work required to see how much can be left, but yet more cordwood was added to the pile. 17 Feb 2018 Malton to Helmsley via Castle Howard Took the big old strimmer to Malton for its annual service, then popped over to the Courtyard Café for a Yorkshire Rarebit before rounding off the nice dry, mild and sunny day with a stroll around Helmsley - which had to culminate in a Salted Caramel and a Chocolate and Cherry ice cream for the home of Ryeburn Ice Creams. Then up Blakey Rigg and into thick cloud and 25 yard visibility, before passing Young Ralph's Cross and finding ourselves back in the Esk Valley and a fabulous sunset. 16 Feb 2018 Three seasons in one week The Sussex family leaving Groves Dyke this week really enjoyed some wild and windy weather over the past 7 days: They enjoyed some sun, showers, downpours, sleet, hail, gale and frosts in a most mixed-up week. The moortop still has a dusting of snow in the shady places. 11 Feb 2018 Tripod, 2 workers and 1 Primrose Bright, dry, sunny and almost warm, so we dismantled the tripod of assorted skinny lengths in the woodyard and sawed them into stove logs or cordwood. A Robin sang as we paddled through the many Molehills. As a grand Finale we coppiced one stem from the slightly singed Sycamore (beside the bonfire) and noticed the first Primrose in flower nearby. 09 Feb 2018 There's Snow Bunting like show bunting After the Mucky Duck had swept my woodburner chimney, we sneaked off to Sandsend for a late afternoon Sandside coffee in the cold, blustery wind. As we sat at the end table, a couple of LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) landed just outside, but with white patches on their wings. Yes - 2 Snow Buntings! They landed on the sparse grass and mud at the top of the new sea wall and spent the next 20 minutes feeding in full view. Even the café boss came out for a closer look. 05 Feb 2018 Chuckle Brothers saw Cherry at Winter Olympics ID and I slithered and tobogganed our way up the muddy ski jump to the felled Cherry and continued to saw it into more manageable chunks with the 2-man cross cut saw. Getting the giggles may or may not have helped progress, but it was the ideal piece of equipment to mutter 'To me. To you. To me. To me.' to... By late afternoon we were both covered in mud (one of us even more than t'other), well entertained AND the Cherry chunks were small enough to drag down, once it is dry and safe to do so. 04 Feb 2018 Coppicing Sycamore in Bank Orchard The weather improved by midday and we took the pole saw down on the drive to cut the self-sown Sycamore growing at the bottom of the orchard. Not only is the ground far too wet, slippery and steep to work from the orchard itself, but this way we can keep our feet on the tarmac. We completed a whole stool, threw the lop and top up towards the bonfire hollow, and carried the 5 big sticks (the biggest was 6 inch butt diameter) up to the woodyard and added them (in 4 foot lengths) to the cord. The Molehills are spreading quickly, for some reason. It seems to be mostly on the upper lawns, suggesting that the lower ones are too waterlogged to support Worms or Moles. A Buzzard called from up in the wood. Jan 2018 Met 30 Jan 2018 Saying Goodbye to Jenny TS A sad occasion, improved only by the wonderful service with very appropriate music (songs by Rod Stewart, Elkie Brooks and Stevie Wonder) and words, including: 'When I come to the end of my journey And I travel my last weary mile Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned And remember only the smile' (When I'm Gone). 28 Jan 2018 Sawing in the polebarn We used the built-in shaving brake to hold the Willow poles while we sawed them into stove logs and stacked them into another wall of the polebarn. The better, straighter ones we set aside to weave a little more of the wicker wall. A Buzzard flew over in the gusty SSW wind and called as we worked. 26 Jan 2018 Walling and shifting Young CM has been working on the wall of the garden terrace, taking down the collapsing drystone wall, laying the stone out and re-shaping the clay face (more batter!) ready for rebuilding. We carried the cut Willow poles from the Twigwam (now more Twigloo shaped) and stacked them undercover in the polebarn. 'Way back in the 1960s, when Grandma Riddolls was creating her 'new' garden, she employed a local drystone waller called Mr Waller. His first job was to build a wall from the house to Woodlands Drive, to divide the two front gardens. His starting question threw her a little: 'Wheeer's bonnyfass?' She enquired further and, with her expert knowledge of the Yorkshire dialect, found she was being asked 'Where is the bonny face?' ie 'Which side of this new wall is going to be the pretty side, and which the back side?' Thus Groves Bank (her side) has the 'bonnyfass' and Groves Dyke has the other - but now hidden by a substantial Lonicera hedge! 25 Jan 2018 OK, so where are we now? Where does time go? Here we are again, and we seem to have had lots of BT Openreach vans swarming around every other green cabinet in Whitby, lots of rain, some snow, several frosts and at least one gale - but today was mild, dry and sunny - and the ladybirds on my bedroom window frame are on the move, a Robin was singing in the wood and the Snowdrops in the Groves Dyke orchard are now in flower. 05 Jan 2018 Back again - and Happy New Year! What an interesting Christmas this has been: a bit of snow and ice; frequent visits to a poorly neighbour in hospital (70, then 40 miles round trip every few days); an unexpected Christmas visit from the Canadian relatives (lovely, but they were really here for a funeral); an expected New Year visit from the German relatives (really lovely - and how the 'kids' have grown!); then a bit more bad weather and now a few computer problems... Anyway - we are both very well, thanks and we hope you are, too! 27 Dec 2017 Where did Christmas go? It seems Christmas has been and gone, but in a chaotic flash this year. Very odd. We hope you all had a nice, calm, enjoyable and relaxed Christmas - and we wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year! 03 Dec 2017 Snow all gone and Super Moon this evening All the snow has gone from around Sleights, but the river is very high, thanks to all the snow melt. BBC Countryfile is filming down at the Salmon Leap, for a feature (tonight?) about the Cleveland Way National Trail. We coppiced some more unwanted Sycamore from the bottom edge of the big orchard, producing 3 useful (4 inch diameter) stems for cordwood. 02 Dec 2017 Escape to England England has been pretty well cut off by the snow on the moor, but today the temperature had risen enough to get the roads cleared. We had a nice day in Pickering, including a newly-discovered antique shop 'Tink's Vintage' (Eastgate) which has a wonderful collection of rescued Teddybears, each with their own story label. We just happened to be in the main street when the anti-fracking march arrived, with a couple of hundred protestors, drums, placards, etc. They chanted outside Barclays Bank, which apparently owns 97% of First Energy, who are doing the fracking nearby at Kirby Misperton. As the placards say: 'Other banks are available.' Nov 2017 met summary 30 Nov 2017 Passable with care I was due to attend a training session (Lottery applications) in Scarborough but the road there was a wee bit tricky. Times like this, you wonder why you are the inly car on the road... We made it, although the only other person who did was the trainer, from Harrogate! We got home again ok - just, but by tea time my drive was too snowy and too slippery to get the car up, so it spent the night at the bottom (and made it ok late tomorrow morning, when the sun was up). 29 Nov 2017 Northerly sleet, snow and bonfire ID and I decided it was far too cold, wet and slippery to try felling the Cherry, so we lit the bonfire in the woodyard instead. In a Northerly, it is quite sheltered under the hill, but the flames still took a bit of encouraging - as did a Bank Vole, which we found sheltering under the heap and successfully moved to the tripod of skinny branches. 28 Nov 2017 Wintry showers and rough seas The Northerly winds are strengthening and some nasty weather is coming our way... but today the frost is easing and it is dry and cool. The feeding station had: Blue Tit 3, Great Tit 3, Coal Tit 2, Nuthatch 2, Blackbird 1, Dunnock 1, Goldfinch 1, Marsh Tit 1 (0915 - 0930). 27 Nov 2017 Sycamore coppicing begins Now that the big orchard has been strimmed (ok, a few weeks ago) I can get at the self-sown Sycamore that shouldn't be growing in an orchard. Working from the drive and reaching up to the lower edge of the orchard, I used a polesaw and loppers to reduce an unwanted Sycamore to a couple of useful cord lengths for firewood, and a small heap of mini lop and top. 26 Nov 2017 Ash cord started AS well as adding to the Sycamore cord, we also dropped a little leaning Ash by the bottom bridge and began the 2nd cord of next winter's fu-u-el. Dry and sunny enough after a frosty night to run out the leccy string and use the Tyrannosaw to saw the Silver Birch lengths into 15 inch drums. Left under cover to open up a bit, as they refused to split. 25 Nov 2017 Little fry-up in Great Fryupdale Hard frost last night, the first proper one this winter. We discovered the Hub, a brand new mountain bike centre with café (open to all), bike repairs and hire, accommodation, etc. See www.yorkshirecyclehub.co.uk . It looks like a new build, just where Great and Little Fryupdales meet, around the back of Danby Crag and across the road from Fairy Cross Plain (where the fairies dance on top on Mid-summer's Eve). Great big windows (what a novelty) frame magnificent views of Great Fryupdale, while the wood burner throws out a wonderful heat, and the kitchens serve a great menu. We shall call again... 12 Nov 2017 Major BT broadband failure in the Whitby area... ...so Mind the Gap in Blog posts! 9 Nov 2017 First gap for months Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage has been booked almost non-stop since Spring, so this vacant week Sam has redecorated the shower-room, we have shampoo-ed the hall and sitting-room, and I have re-sealed the shower. Looks better already! 7 Nov 2017 Felled Silver Birch It was a sickly specimen, with fewer and fewer green leaves each summer for the past few years. The top branches were already dead and falling in the wind, so very much a case of fell it while the wood is still sound. It came down nicely, helped by ID and me, and then (as the rain began) we used the crosscut to create just-manageable lengths and wheeled them down and into the woodshed. Phew! Nov 2017 Met: Max 14 degrees F,Actual 9, Min 4, Total Precipitation 1.5 inch. A mild month, then windy and wet. 29 Oct 2017 Last of the Summer Tomatoes Windy last night and this morning it has shifted to a strong and chilly Easterly, with occasional showers. A couple of Fieldfare, our first winter thrushes from Scandinavia, chattered from the wood. Several Blackbirds, possibly newly arrived, feasted on the Cotoneaster on my Spatio. Clocks Fall Back - tick! Today we also picked the very last few ripe and almost ripe Tomatoes, then chopped off the stems and brought the fruit / veg indoors to ripen on the windowsill. Dug out the Polyanthus (still in flower) from the Rhubarb bed, unearthing a few surprise Potatoes in the process, split and replanted them in the veg bed until required for the pots on the holiday cottage patio. Picked some more Broccoli and Kale, and the very, very last drop Raspberries. 28 Oct 2017 Last afternoon tea Both big plastic buckets of last week's Apple juice are now fermenting and starting to bubble. Only 6 months to wait... Almost warm enough so we sat by the riverbank at the Chain Bridge Café at Ruswarp to enjoy our last outdoor sandwiches, cream scones and fancy cakes. Then we toured Whitby to admire Whitby Goth Weekend - and the place was PACKED! 24 Oct 2017 Laptop home again After a couple of days with CompuSOS in Whitby, being serviced. Weather murky and misty, so had a stroll at Sandsend and cleared leaves and moss from ground floor gutters and yard drains. 23 Oct 2017 Cider bits away Today was washing out, drying and stacking away all the various bottles, buckets, chopping boards, cloths, Kilner jars, jugs, tubs, trugs, tubes, etc, etc that we used to produce the 26 litres of Apple juice for cider, plus the 10 bottles of pasteurised juice. 22 Oct 2017 Captain Cook in St Mary's Church We attended the annual commemorative Captain Cook service in his old church, at the top of the 199 Steps, followed by the wreath-laying at his statue's feet by all the Mayors of Cleveland, Stokesley, Redcar and Cleveland, Scarborough Borough Council, Whitby Town Council and the Whitby and District Tourism association. Sunny and dry, but a mite breezy. 18 Oct 2017 Re-press Day Having kept the pressed Apple pulp open to the air overnight, it was pressed again and gave another 5 litres of juice. Then the electric Lidl Fruit Juicer (reduced price) was used to juice another few crates of local Apples and gave another 6 litres of juice. 17 Oct 2017 Cider Day We were joined by SR, ID this morning and we gathered, cut, chomped, pressed a LOT of Apples, producing 16 litres of juice by late afternoon. This is less than usual, either because MD's Wonderful Apple Scratting Machine wasn't serviceable and/or this year's Apples held less juice. The old style Turnip Chopper reduced the apples to pressable bits, but all clean cut rather than mashed. The pulp was kept overnight to press again when it had softened... 15 Oct 2017 Buzzard! Two! Three, four five Buzzards! We had a nice stroll at Sandsend this morning, only to hear the unmistakable 'Me-ou' of a Buzzard over the fields. And another. And another. And another and another! Probably Mum, Dad and 3 Kids being taught how to cope with a very windy day. 12 Oct 2017 Bird count A morning bird count from my dining room windows gave: Great Tit 3, Chaffinch 2, Coal Tit 2, Blue Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Goldfinch 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker (male) 1, Marsh Tit 1, Nuthatch 1, Robin 1, Wood Pigeon 1. Dry, mild and calm. 9-9.15am. 10 Oct 2017 New species! Never recorded within my land before, but today there was an odd bird sitting on the edge of the top terrace sunning itself. Looked odd and hard to see from above and behind, but it might have been a female Sparrowhawk (perhaps on a kill?) of a Green Woodpecker (perhaps in a strange 'anting' pose?) But no, looking from several different windows and angles, it eventually turned out to be a Red-legged Partridge (ie French Partridge). It sat so still for so long that I suspect it had been injured, but by midday it had gone elsewhere. 08 Oct 2017 Well-seasoned Sycamore VERY well-seasoned! In fact, these are the lengths we set aside last winter AND the winter before, as part of our hedge-laying above the big orchard. We rediscovered them, now that young CM has strimmed the orchard a couple of days ago, still propped-up to keep them off the damp ground. This has worked well, as they are still sound enough for firewood (but no longer sound enough for fencing stakes). We dragged them across to the polebarn, sawed them into stove logs and stacked under cover them to let the damp bark dry off. A Yaffle (Green Woodpecker) flew over our heads, calling loudly and landing in the big leaning Ash. Mild, dry and then sunny. 07 Oct 2017 Coast and Moors trip A nice day for a short walk followed by lunch at Runswick Bay café, then on to Staithes to potter around the harbour and enjoy the art centre and shops. A lovely drive along Ridge Lane to Scaling, on to the top of Danby Beacon and drop off more Whitby Guidebooks at the National Park Moors Centre, before a well-earned cuppa at the Old Chapel Café in Castleton. Home via Lockwood Beck reservoir, where the new Potash Mine has built a bund (and is building a another very nice dry stone wall) to hide the vast excavations beyond. 06 Oct 2017 Big orchard strimmed today All credit to young CM, who did very well in 5 hours what used to take me 2 or 3 days! His super-duper brush cutter made short work of the long grass, and his long-reach hedge trimmer then finished-off the remaining brambles. It looks SO much better now than it did before! A flock of c100 Geese flew over Southwards early this morning, probably Pink Feet again. Some might link the traditional belief that the terrifying Gabble Ratchet foretells a death, to today's funeral service for poor old NH, who in his retirement, drove many a lorry-load of emergency supplies to Bosnia and was also a long-term fighter for the disabled and for tourism in Whitby. RIP. 05 Oct 2017 Oak sorted ID and I put in a good day's work today. We sorted the Oak lop and top from last year's pollarding in the NE Corner, identifying a dozen walking sticks, thumbsticks and staffs for future work. The remaining Oak was sawn into stove logs with the Lidl battery saw and stacked into the woodshed, where it topped-up the middle wall of the lower half. We also brought down the Hazel poles propped-up at the top bridge, where we had to drop a Hazel before we had space to fell the long-dead Holly. That took ID several trips, not to mention another one to bring down the last 2 drums of the Sycamore felled by the Leccy Board last winter on the NW Passage. Phew 01 Oct 2017 Wet, wild and mild The tail-end of Caribbean Hurricane Maria is just passing the UK, with 60mph winds for us, rather than the 160mph winds that so devastated Dominica last week. We picked more Raspberries, Tomatoes and Broccoli, collected a few logs and retreated indoors. Sept Met - A mild but overcast month, with 3 inches of rain, Max 67 degrees F, Min 39 and Actual 58 degrees F. This whole summer has been officially 'warmer than average' but only because of the heat wave in June - the rest of the summer was mild but overcast and a bit damp. 30 Sept 2017 Burton Constable Hall near Hull Quite a long trip but well worth it to explore and admire this Grade 1 Listed stately home set in 300 acres of Grade II Listed grounds. The entry via the Stable Block (for 70 houses) is impressive enough, then across the grounds to the Hall itself, with its spectacular rooms and fascinating collections of objet d'art. 27 Sept 2017 Woodyard filling up again We sawed down a few Sycamore stems which had grown too tall and flopped over to block the path from the stone seat to the Big Orchard. The stems were duly dragged, trimmed and sawn into cordwood, which was laid ceremoniously on the recently emptied cord stead. 25 Sept 2017 Woodyard empty Having sawn the very, very last of last winter's felling, the 2 rows of 3 cordbeds each are now standing completely empty - and looking very sad. 24 Sept 2017 Two wo/man saw day We sawed up the very last of the big lumps of last year's felling. Though we would need the leccy string and the Tyranosaw, but decided the £4 cross-cut would do the trick - and it did! The last of the Hazel, the Sycamore and the Hornbeam is now all neatly sawn into 15 inch stove logs, or offcuts. The ancient rods on the raftings were removed and snapped easily into kindling, then some of them replaced with recent Cherry rods, removed from the Buddhlia corner. Then we strolled up the main drive, snipped a few Brambles back from the path, and discovered a super-crop of Pears! Very inaccessible but still unripe... 23 Sept 2017 Duncombe Park day out We parked on the carriage circle, paid our fivers and enjoyed the many antique stalls within the grand rooms of the Feversham family home at Helmsley. The rooms are lovely and some of the treen on the stalls was very tempting: Mouseman bread board for £230, Mouseman plate rack for £900, plus an anonymous gingerbread mould for just £120. Decided not to buy anything - except lunch. 22 Sept 2017 Breakfast on the balcony Another mild, dry, calm and almost sunny day so we went to Pickering for a swim, followed by an all day breakfast on the garden centre balcony. Very satisfying! 20 Sept 2017 Middleton Post Office Tea Rooms Too late for breakfast, too early for tea, so we have a lovely lufternoon tea, complete with 2 triple-decker stands of sandwiches, cakes and scones. Wonderful! 19 Sept 2017 Hazel cord almost gone. Using the Lidl cordless sabre saw, which is remarkably good, I sawed the last of the small and medium thick Hazel into 3 stove-logs per 45-inch cord length. Now there is only the really thick cordwood to saw, and that might require a dry day, the leccy string and the big Tyranosaw. 18 Sept 2017 Soup, saw and birding Two big roasting tins of washed cherry Tomatoes (mostly yellows, when we thought we had bought reds) with some of our own Garlic cloves, our own Onions and some bought-in Carrot and Tomato puree. Pop them in the oven to roast gently for a few hours, saw enough Hazel to exhaust the Lidl rechargeable kitten (small sabre) saw, an hour to recharge it, stir soup, carry out a bird count, saw more Hazel, recharge, stir, birding, etc. Half the cord in now in stove logs and in the woodshed, 9 Tupperware tubs of Roast Tomato & Garlic soup ready for freezing, plus: Great Tit 3, Blue Tit 2, Dunnock 2, Goldfinch 2, Chaffinch 1, Coal Tit Tit 1, Robin 1, Wood Pigeon 1, Wren 1. 17 Sept 2017 Wet Heavy rain overnight and drizzle today. We picked all 6 of our ripe non-Tumbling Cherry Tomatoes in 2 growbags in the back yard - about 4 pints of toms. Still lots more to ripen, if we ever get some sun... Roast Tomato and Garlic soup to make later. Planned our holidays and caught up with tidying-up, Blog, etc. The House Martins were back, flying over the wood, but no longer chittering in the nest in the early morning. 16 Sept 2017 Burton Agnes Hall and Walled Garden My first visit to this wonderful Elizabethan estate, near Bridlington. We discovered some lovely country lanes to get there and arrived in time for a very thin Tomato soup in the café (we'll show how it should be done, tomorrow!). The Hall is magnificent, with a Great Stair from ground floor to 2nd floor, with continuous newel posts, in Oak. The Long Gallery on the 2nd floor has three great modern pieces by Makepeace (of Dartington fame), including 'Obelisk' - a pyramidal chest of drawers some 5 feet high, with Yew-faced drawers (matching grain on all 4 sides) on Hornbeam runners, within a Sycamore frame. Wow! The Walled Garden was slightly past its best so late in the season, but still showed just how impressive it could be. We'll be back! 15 Sept 2017 First Gabble Ratchet On our drive South across the moors to Pickering we admired the last few clumps of still-purple Heather, now that most of it has gone a rusty brown. A skein of Geese flew high across our route, heading South-westerly towards the coast. Winter is a comin' in... 14 Sept 2017 Martin Scone My House Martins seem to have left sometime in the last few days. Their gentle early-morning chittering in the nest under the eaves has ceased. Bon Voyage chaps, and Au Revoir! 13 Sept 2017 First named storm - Storm Aileen Aileen was a bit of a damp squib, as named storms go, with little wind here but lots of overnight rain instead (another 1.5 inches overnight in my rain gauge) We sawed the part cord of assorted Willow (bits of Twigwam trimming), which to our amazement was sprouting green leaves, even though it has been cut and then stacked horizontally months ago! There was also some Sycamore and a few bits of Oak (bark-stripped and killed by the Grey Squirrels, early this summer), but it is all now in stove logs and under cover in the woodshed. 12 Sept 2017 Mucks Duck cleans chimney Yes, he does call his chimney-sweeping business 'Mucky Duck' - great name! My woodburner has now been cleaned and is ready to go into full heat and hot water production for the winter months. In the afternoon, at low tide, I walked to the end of Whitby's West Pier, then onto the west Pier Extension, then down onto the lower deck (and back) to check the state of the safety railings, ladders, etc. Read all about it soon in the Latest News section of http://www.fight4whittby.com to see just how much work Scarborough Borough Council has been doing to maintain Whitby's sea defences - or not. 10 Sept 2017 More cider bottled Cooler today, with cloud and the threat of rain. We got c40 small bottles of slightly dryer cider from the second batch of cider. Returned the unused bottles, now washed, to the bottle rack in the woodshed. 09 Sept 2017 Nature's way of telling Trump Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose are just Nature's way of telling President Trump he is completely wrong about climate change. But will be listen? 06 Sept 2017 The Last Cord Thanks to my nice new cordless sabre saw from Lidl (£19.99) we were able to saw the final medium-sized cordwood into stove logs. It is remarkably good (if not better than the pricey Bosch Keo equivalent) and the cord has now virtually vanished. Only the skinny bits left to do, and the lopper will sort them out. The woodshed is now 2/3 full, with part cords of Oak, Hazel and Sycamore still to do. 05 Sept 2017 Raining steadily all day A 15-minute bird count from 9.15 to 9.30 from my kitchen / dining room windows gave: 2 Blue Tit, 2 Coal Tit, 2 Great Tit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Dunnock, 1 Marsh Tit, 1 Nuthatch. (Later in the day there were 2 Goldfinches). 04 Sept 2017 Leccy tree surveyor visit The nice man from Amey's forestry work appeared unexpectedly for a look at the wood. I gave him a tour on my morning round and he noted on his device which trees / species need to be trimmed back from the overhead wires. Doubtless, another rival firm will appear sometime soon, to do exactly the same. Then both firms will bid for the contract with Northern Power Grid, one will win and in a few months a team of arboriculturalists will appear to do the work. I wonder which..? 03 Sept 2017 Tyranosaw strikes again We ran out the electric string again, plugged in the Tyranosaw and finished off the last of the thick ash cordwood, building up another full wall of 15-inch logs in the woodshed. Only the medium and skinny cordwood still to do... 02 Sept 2017 Sledmere 2 Our second visit to this impressive stately home in the Yorkshire Wolds, 10 miles from Malton. This time we had the Yorkshire Rarebit (again) and a proper exploration of the superb walled garden. Their butterflies really like their blue Asters and something else we tried to remember. And failed. Shan't plant that one, then. Found the carriage display, including a typical Wolds farm wagon, which led to the formation on the estate of the 1,200 strong Wagoners' Brigade recruited locally by the estate to supply the front line in the First World War. Their traditional skills and horsemanship are graphically recorded in the Wagoners' Memorial in Sledmere village centre. Also visited the church and the farmyard. 01 Sep 2017 Last of the summer swim Off to Helmsley for our final swim of the year in their wonderful outdoor heated pool. Not only was there a good number in the pool, but even more Swallows (c40) gathering on the overhead wires and snatching occasional drinks from between the swimmers. The day was completed very nicely with a lovely lunch in the Walled Garden, a nice potter around the market AND a locally made ice cream (1 Lemon and Pistachio, 1 Apple and Rhubarb Crumble). Aug Met A mild month but damp, with little sun and one tremendous thunderstorm and downpour. Total precipitation 2 inches. Max 78 degrees F, Actual 56, Min 38 (but the sun may still be shining directly on the thermometer, so Max is probably too high). 30 Aug 2017 Tyranosaw Day With ID we had a great day. It was dry and sunny, so we rolled out the leccy cable and got the electric reciprocating saw working on the full cord (8 feet x 4 feet x 4 feet stack) of Ash logs which we felled last winter. After 2 good sessions, and lunch in between, we had sawn half the stack and built it into a wall and a half of 15-inch logs in the woodshed - which is now more than half-full for the coming winter. VERY satisfying (if a hard day's work). Luckily, most of us didn't have to cycle home again, go on a 4 mile run and then have a strenuous gym session - but ID did! 27 Aug 2017 Bottling Sleightly TaR cider One keg of 2016 cider is rather nice, so we bottled and capped nearly 50 small bottles, to mature for TaR's wedding in May 2018. 26 Aug 2017 Time is precious - So waste it carefully We did, with a lovely leisurely sandwich lunch at Shepherds' Hall tea garden, by the river bank, watching the noisy radio-controlled toy speedboat until it broke, then enjoying the Mallard on the water and the Buzzard overhead. Up to Danby Beacon to admire the endless, and only slightly past its very best, purple Heather. 24 Aug 2017 First Apricots About 5 years ago we planted a new Apricot tree in Groves Dyke garden, training it along the rails of a South-facing post and rail fence. It came from Perry's River Gardens, some 300 yards away, in Briggswath. They once claimed to have the 'most Northerly fruiting Apricot in England' but mine is 100 yards further North than theirs - and this year it had its first ever fruit! Woopee! Not a very impressive crop (about 6 small fruits, one of which was enjoyed for breakfast) but nonetheless, A CROP! 23 Aug 2017 Purple thunderplump With rain forecast, we drove to Pickering pool for a swim - only to be engulfed in a fabulous storm on the moortop. Dark enough for dipped headlights and high intensity rear light, raining hard enough for high speed windscreen wipers, roads awash enough for 30mph driving, with occasional big puddles across half or even all of the road, not to mention the continuous thunder and lightening all around. Pull over and wait for it to pass (as one of the very few metal things on the moortop)? Or just keep going slowly and carefully (and hope to reappear out the other side)? Luckily the latter was the right choice and we made it to Pickering. Poor old Egton Show, the biggest in our area, had a very damp day that day! Scarborough even made the National News on BBC tv, with more than half the expected average rainfall for the month, falling in just a few hours today. 21 Aug 2017 Sunny swim at Helmsley Another lovely drive across the purrfect purple moors to Helmsley for a sunny swim and a sunny walled garden lunch. What could be better? 20 Aug 2017 Shelling out We picked all the Broad Beans and most of the Peas, then spent the next hour shelling them in 4 small tubs of Beans and 4 of Peas - all out of an 8 x 4 foot bed (plus a few Green Beans, still cropping). Next, the Blueberries from the one small bush, producing just over 2 small tubs of very sweet and tasty berries. We also sampled the latest cider, from last year's Apples, which is now settling-out in the keg and ready to be bottled. Mmmm nice - it gets at least a 7/10 and will probably improve in the bottles. 17 Aug 2017 Falling Foss cuppa We went to repay Team Foss on behalf of a foreign debt, and Buttercup enjoyed the trip down as much as we did (but the Buttercup didn't have anything nice to eat or drink in the super tea garden there). 16 Aug 2017 Helmsley and Blakey Rigg purple A lovely trip over the perfectly purple moortop, dropping DnI off at the Walled Garden, while we enjoyed a gloriously warm and sunny swim. Lunch for all at Crema cafe, then up, up and away over Blakey Rigg, where the Heather was even better than ever. CA detour by Westerdale before a cuppa at the Old Chapel café in Castleton. The veranda was full, so we sat just inside the doors and enjoyed the breeze. And a rocky road between us. 15 Aug 2017 Steam and scuttle We collected DnI from the bench at Willowgate in Pickering before having lunch at the garden centre there. Then off to KMS (Kirkbymoorside) to collect my new Mouseman book trough from Ryedale Auctions, before heading back over the moor via H-le-H (Hutton-le-Hole), Spaunton Moor, Chimney Bank, Rosedale and the Hamer road to Lealholm. Soooo much Heather, and ALL in full and glorious purple flower. The moors are looking magnificent for their annual visit by DnI, who always time it so perfectly. 13 Aug 2017 R n B Currant rose merlot Today we not only racked the big plastic bucket of fermenting Apple juice pressed last October, but we also racked the 2 buckets of Redcurrant Rose and Blackcurrant Merlot. There was just enough of each to make up another demijohn of mixed Red and Blackcurrant rose merlot. All 3 demijohns are now festering nicely in my snug. 11 Aug 2017 Busy at Helmsley outdoor pool A warm if overcast day for a nice swim at our 'local' heated outdoor swimming pool. As busy as we have seen it, which means that all their publicity to attract more swimmers has been working. Use it or lose it! 9 Aug 2017 Super bonfire day After yesterday's continuous rain (1 inch in 24 hours) ID and I decided the fire risk must be as low as it is possible to get in mid-summer. We lit the towering stack half-way up, let the top half burn away and then minded the fire for the rest of the day. Add just a little, but not too much - or rake some away to let the air in again. A very delicate balance, which involved constant vigilance and lots of coffee. By late afternoon we had a huge pile of glowing embers and just a few big lumps of un-splitable wood (which were still smouldering the evening after). So primitively satisfying in every way! 07 Aug 2017 Garden produce to bucket and bottle As well as setting off 2 big plastic buckets of Red and Blackcurrants for wine, we produced 10 jars of Redcurrant Jelly (a First, but then it was a bumper crop from just 2 bushes). 06 Aug 2017 Currants Black and Red A mild and sunny morning, with the young GSW (Great Spotted Woodpecker) on the Peanut feeder and the young TIM watching from the landing window. We dismantled the 3 high security wire netting panels and the net roof from the fruit bushes. Of the 3 Blackcurrant bushes, all were slightly over ripe and should have been picked last weekend, and 2 had a poor crop. All in all, we picked about 5 pints. Of the 2 Redcurrants, both were magnificent, heavily laden with beautifully almost a gallon (8 pints) of ripe fruit. Plans to make crumbles and wine were put on hold for a day or two, due to the lack of energy, sugar, aluminium pie dishes, pectin and yeast nutrient. Tomorrow... 02 Aug 2017 Helmsley swim and walled garden lunch It stayed dry long enough for a lovely swim in Helmsley's heated outdoor pool, which included floating on my back to watch a Buzzard soaring high overhead - not many swimming pools you can do that from! Then a very nice lunch of Greek Lamb Salad inside the Vinehouse Café, as the rain began. Then off to Kilburn to see the Mouseman and his wonderful creations, as the rain came down. Back for an ice cream in Helmsley, indoors, as the rain continued. Met readings for July 2017 A changeable month, with occasional wet days. Total rainfall 2 inches. Max 86 degrees F, Min 42F and actual 62F. 30 July 2017 Intensive gardening weekend Yesterday and today we emptied out the 4 terracotta pots on the patio steps, refilled with a gritty soil and planted up the 16 new Lavender plants. Capped with white chippings, they should look very patriotic in a few months. B worked on the cloud hedges with the rechargeable hedge-trimmer, while I weeded and gravelled the 50-year old Lavender beds on the South Patio (Spatio). Wonderful that the pollen count has finally fallen to something manageable, for the first time in many, many weeks. The weed-burner was rediscovered and put to good use, then we picked lots of lovely plump Blackberries, between the heavy showers. 28 July 2017 Helmsley swim and Rieveaux lunch The pool was warm and sunny - and much busier than usual. Just what they need to keep it open! Then our favourite Yorkshire Rarebit in the café by the abbey, before pottering around Helmsley and home. 26 July 2017 Wet vol ID joined us for the day, but it got a bit wet. We trimmed the Brambles, etc from the path around the wood, sawed-up the slightly too long for my new stove logs, re-stacked them in the lower half of the woodshed (now 2/3 full of unused stove-logs from last winter) and the upper half is now completely empty and ready for us to saw-up the cordwood stacked alongside. Then we collected and dropped off 12 boxes of the Whitby Guidebook (see www.VisitWhitby.com ) at the Park n Ride, and toured the neglected walled garden nearby. 25 July 2017 Sledmere Hall visit We had a lovely day out in the Yorkshire Wolds, near Driffield. An excellent tour of the house, with organ recital in the hall, then lunch and a quick visit to the ((double)) walled garden and the Wagoners' Brigade museum. Must come back again for a proper look at this unusual walled garden, plus the village and its church. 23 July 2017 Goosegog top and tail Our one high security Gooseberry bush has had a bumper crop of c6 litres ('A litre's like a meter, only wetter') or c12 pints or 1.5 gallons of lovely ripe, sweet goosegogs. We picked them today and topped, tailed, rinsed, blanched and drained them for our freezer or for friends n relations. Aldrin the Buzzard flew over the wood, having been disturbed by the Air Ambulance flying above him on its way to some emergency in Whitby. 19 July 2017 Helmsley Open Air (heated) swimming pool Our first visit this year, and it is as wonderful as ever. We lunched in Helmsley before pottering around the shops there, before enjoying a locally made ice-cream (Salted Caramel for her and Cappuccino for him. 17 July 2017 Kiplin Hall is exceedingly good Our first visit to this Jacobean historic house and garden, near the chaotic roadworks on ALL the approach roads to the A1 at Catterick. The house and grounds were great, but the journey from there to Leeds Bradford Airport took all of the 2.5 hours we had given ourselves as 'extra time' in case of any problems. Sister FCW arrived at the Check-in desk with just 8 minutes to spare! 16 July 2017 Scampston Hall picnic Another lovely day for the 3 of us to visit another historic house and grounds. Scampston this time, with a tour of the Hall itself, as well as a good look around the modern interpretation of the original walled garden, as well as a stroll around the magnificent grounds. 15 July 2017 Tourist Speed in Whitby Showing FCW the historic Eastside of Whitby, strolling along Church Street to Fortune's Kippers and on to the end of Henrietta Street. We absorbed the sights, smells and atmosphere, including window-shopping and admiring the wonderful views of Whitby Harbour. A very nice lunch above Hammond's Jet Shop and then pottered off home again before an evening meal at The Stables. We then provided Afternoon Tea for our ('Horselips') neighbours, but indoors as it a bit too cool outside. 14 July 2017 Medieval St Hilda and Victorian lunch AD showed us the temporary exhibition about our local saint, in our wonderful local Whitby Museum, then we enjoyed a very old fashioned meal upstairs at Botham's Café. 13 July 2017 Antiques Roadshow at Castle Howard We 3 took Great Uncle's Chinese luggage to the experts for their opinion. First we queued for 2 hours to find out which queue to join, then we joined the Miscellaneous Queue for another 2 hours, before meeting Clive Stewart-Lockhart. He identified the embroidery as a possible 'sleeve panel' worth c£150, the small wooden carvings as Codera (?) nuts (NOT netsuke) and the bamboo brush pot as a bamboo brush pot. 'If only' he said, 'Our ancestors had not bought the contemporary local art (now only 100 years old and not very valuable), but HAD bought the earlier, possibly Imperial, artworks (now 200+ years old)...'. 12 July 2017 'From Shanghai to Sleights' We 3 went to Pickering for a swim, then lunch at the garden centre there. A relaxed afternoon before FCW gave her talk to the Whitby Endeavour Rotary Club about Great Uncle James Hunter Smith and his time with the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs, his brush with the Boxer Revolution, his non-return home, his illness en route, his terminal illness and death at a convent near Kobe, Japan, the return of his luggage (but not him) to Florence Street, Derry and my sisters' visit to the Kobe convent last year. Wow - what a story! 11 July 2017 Airport Pick Up I collected sister FCW from Leeds Bradford, her plane only just taking off a bit later than it was due to land. 09 July 2017 Mad dogs and English residents Too Damn Hot again. We dug a small hole and planted a Tropaelium (a climbing Nasturtium) below the Willow tree in the garden of Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage. If it looks as good as the one with red flowers climbing the tree at Poet's Corner Garden Centre, where we bought it yesterday, it will be lovely. 08 July 2017 Dipper at Beggar's Bridge It has been a few weeks since we saw a Dipper on the River Esk, but one obliged on the tributary behind Beggar's Bridge in Glaisdale. Once so common all along the river, now even the 'best place' at Grosmont Bridge can no longer be relied on. Poor Aldrin the Buzzard was being harried by a Herring Gull and later by a Carrion Crow, and once again took refuge by landing in my wood. 06 July 2017 Normal again just in time for the storm All the General Election forms were completed and returned to Scarborough Borough Council today, followed by a stroll at Sandsend to clear my head. By teatime, the first rumblings of thunder were heard and then the next 2 hours were a spectacular storm of thunder, lightening and torrential rain. Sit back and enjoy! By 8pm it was almost all over, gutters were overflowing and my rain gauge showed 1.5 inches of rain. Surprised it wasn't more, judging by the roar of the Salmon Leap weir long into the night. 05 July 2017 Wood path strimmed I took the plunge and strimmed the path around the wood, as well as the Stickery Steps and the front of the Stickery. Much neater. 02 July 2017 Gardening (ie weeding) Warm, dry and sunny today so we weeded the fruit and the veg lawns, beds and hedges - not to mention taking a crop of c8 stems off our 3 new Rhubarb plants, our first proper crop this year. Then we ate the last of this year's Strawberries crop, with ice cream. Earlier, Aldrin the Buzzard flew down into the wood, as he escaped the noisy attention of a Herring Gull. Met June 2017 A wet month, but only because the dry first half and the severe heatwave in the second half, were both interrupted on occasions by very heavy rainfall. Max 82F (26C) Actual 60 (15C) and Min 40F (5C). Total precipitation 5+ inches ( 2.5 inch rain gauge overflowing on 29th). 28 June Still raining steadily and non-stop for days A soggy bird count from my windows gave: Blue Tit 3, Chaffinch 1, Greenfinch 2, Great Tit 2, Magpie 2, Marsh Tit 1, Nuhatch 1, Robin 1 (9.10 to 9.25, steady rain, cool). A Grey Squirrel was also inside the 'Squirrel-proof' feeder, but only because it was a juvenile - once it eats enough, it won't be able to get between the bars again... 24 Jun 2017 Home again from t'Lakes Having a very easy day today, feet up and recovering from an unforgettable few days in Langdale. Hot? Yes. VERY hot. Sunny? Yes. VERY sunny! Pollen? Oh yes. VERY VERY high. So we pottered about in the shade, visited a couple of lovely stately homes at Levens Hall (300-year old topiary garden - fab) and Leighton Hall (Gillard of Waring and Gillard furniture fame), swam, ate, drank and tried to keep cool. No kneed to say the usual 'It rained all week' this time! 11 Jun 2017 Gooseberries secured and Strawberry security improved We surrounded the Goosegog bush with 1-inch wire netting and a fabric lid. Then nailed more 1-inch wire netting onto the upper frame over the whole Strawberry bed, to free-up the 2 temporary wire netting frames for the rest of the fruit bushes. Then we celebrated by eating some of our very own Strawberries, for the first time in 2 or 3 years - bloody wildlife! 09 Jun 2017 Election over - so sleep 07 Jun 2017 Logs down, sawn and stacked ID carried down several more loads of Hawthorn and Hazel logs from the wood, where they have seasoned for many months. After lunch, I joined-in and we finished the job. 04 Jun 2017 High security strawberries We spent much of the day adding another round of tannalised 6 x 2 inch timber above the existing frame around our 'new' permanent Strawberry bed. Then another round of 3 x 1.5 tannalised on top of that, then a lightweight framework of 1 inch chicken wire right across the top. If that doesn't keep the Grey Squirrels (Tree Rats!) and Wood Pigeons out, then we don't know what will. These may be the most expensive Strawberries for miles around, but the frames should last for several years. During our well-earned 3 o'clocks on the veranda, we were entertained by 2 Buzzards soaring over the SW corner of the wood. Later, one of them was harried by a very persistent Carrion Crow and a less persistent Sparrowhawk. Great entertainment! Met for May 2017: A dry and mild month, with a mini-heatwave near the end. Max 86 degrees F, 75F actual and 34F Min. 0.5 inches of rain, most of it in 1 day. 28 May 2017 Toms in, Buzz over A little cooler and fresher today, thank goodness, with a possible shower or two yesterday and overnight. We planted-out the Tomatoes (4 Red Tumbling Toms and 2 Yellow Tumbling Toms) in their irrigated growbags on the edge of the fruit lawn and overhanging the back yard. Fingers crossed. Still a bit too hot, so we sat on the veranda to enjoy the breeze and watch the Buzzard fly into the wood with a Carrion Crow on its tail. A Green Woodpecker yaffled from the wood and a Blackcap sang. 25 May 2017 2 weeks in August / September available! Due to a cancellation, the last week in August and the first week of Sept are available again. You can see the prices on my Your Booking page or on the Groves Dyke page of www.Yorkshire-Cottages.info website. 24 May 2017 Obliging Curlew on Danby Beacon Escorted C & EEJ to Danby Beacon where, contrary to expectations, a pair of Curlew put on a wonderful display for the camera. We seem to have parked somewhere near their young, and the parents performed perfectly for the photographer. Occasional Golden Plover called invisibly, and Red Grouse popped their heads up from time to time. Lunch at Stonehouse Bakery in Danby, then up Blakey Rigg (with occasional exciting stops en route) until we got off the busy road and turned down into Westerdale. There the Golden Plover chase continued, but their ventriloquism was superb. Onward and upward to Young Ralph's Cross and we went our separate ways from the car park overlooking Rosedale - me back to Sleights and them back to Formby and thence on to Greenland... 23 May 2017 55,400 flyers sent packing Today we sorted, packed, weighed and labelled one A5 General Election flyer for Royal Mail to deliver to every address in the Parliamentary constituency of Scarborough and Whitby. Phew! All for John Freeman, Independent but standing in support of Fight4Whitby, on the platform of 'Enough is enough - time to reform Scarborough Borough Council and make them KEEP our Tourist Information Centres, public toilets, Futurist Theatre, etc AND mend Whitby piers'! Very wisely, C&EEJ took themselves off for a lovely day's birding at the RSPB's Bempton Reserve and its 100,000 seabird flyers. 22 May 2017 Red Gates Stonechats and Falling Foss The Stonechat family (mum, day and 4 kids) was very obliging, perched on the fence alongside the May Becks road and flying numerous sorties onto the grass verge of the grassy field to feed. It was hot, dry and sunny, the birds were superb and the photographer was delighted. Not much at May Beck, apart from a drainage digger, so off to sample the cream scones at Midge Hall / Falling Foss tea garden - WELL up to standard. Home via a disappointing Grosmont bridge, where this once 'Guaranteed Dipper' location was completely devoid of any water bird. 21 May 2017 Danby Beacon and Old Chapel Cafe Hot, dry and sunny, so we all went off to Danby Beacon to look for all the usual moorland birds in the Heather, which is so very absent from Merseyside. Small numbers of most things, but the Wheatear was especially nice. Cream scones in Castleton were rather good, but the birdlife on the way home was a bit disappointing. 20 May 2017 EEJ does it again at Runswick Bay We all had a lovely stroll around the village, before a leisurely sandwich outside the café while the tide went out. Then a stroll to the end of the beach and, on the way back, a female Long Tail Duck spotted by Ted diving very close to the shore. Quite what she thought she was doing in this country at this time of year is another matter, but she was unmistakable. Wonderful! 15 May 2017 Much needed rain due After a very long period with little or no rain, it seems we are due some later today - and very welcome it will be, too. Yesterday's shower did some good and the Peas and Beans were planted out. A 15-minute window count today gave: Blackbird 1, Blue Tit 2, Bullfinch 3, Chaffinch 1, Coal Tit 1, Goldfinch 4, Dunnock 1, Great Tit 1, Nuthatch 1, Robin 1 (8/8 cloud, F3W, dry, mild). 13 May 2017 Runswick Bay OK We enjoyed a lovely day, walking on the beach, jet and fossil finding, 3 pairs of Fulmars on the cliffs, lots of people and dogs, lots of sand and few pebbles, nice café sandwiches out on the deck, a potter around the village, North Lee all ok (just for SA!), more coffee and then home via more Whitby Guidebook drops on the cliff top. 10 May 2017 Still no Ash leaves ID split all the Silver Birch drums in the woodshed, and shortened any 'slightly too long' stove logs still in there. After lunch we joined him in the wood and decided to drop just one more skinny Ash endangering the phone wires. Very, very odd that none of the Ash trees have any more than a few emerging leafbuds, while every other tree species in the wood and far beyond are all in full leaf by now. I wonder if they are poorly? The skinny Ash fell nicely and was trimmed, logged, dragged, sawn into 45-inch lengths and stacked onto the cord - which is now a stack which is a full 4 feet high and 8 feet long, composed of 45-inch lengths. VERY satisfying, thank-you all! 08 May 2017 John Freeman (artist) nominated as prospective MP Today we delivered John's official papers to stand in the General Election. His slogan is 'Yes, this IS asking for your protest vote!' to hold Scarborough Borough Council to account for their neglect of Whitby Piers. They still, many years on, have not raised the £3.1m they agreed, to match the £4.8 offered by the Environment Agency, while the voids eroded by the waves within our two main piers now total 12,000 cubic metres! Whatever happened to 'Open, transparent and accountable local councils and services?' 03 May 2017 Full song all day from Blackbirds and Song Thrushes I'm sure they should be doing something better, like feeding young, but perhaps the cold weather has delayed the eggs hatching. Anyway, the bird song is almost continuous, all day, every day, from the Blackies and the Songies. Never heard so many Song Thrush 'Baked beans, baked beans, baked beans!' We sawed up the newly felled Ash and the cord is almost complete - and it looks VERY impressive. 02 May 2017 Dropped an awkward Ash Just one more, I thought, as there is still no sign of any leaves on any of the Ash trees (no, I don't think they are all dead, just very, very late). This one decided to try and fall backwards onto the phone wires, so I added another rope, plus the strapping winch on one end of it. This DID prevent it falling backwards, but instead it decided to fall sideways. Thanks a bunch. Still, better than no phone! 01 May 2017 Still no Ash leaves I felled several more skinny Ash trees as there is still no sign of them budding leaves. April Met readings: Max 70 degrees F (a bit higher than expected, direct sunlight perhaps?), Actual 50F, Min 30F. Ppt 0.9 inches (23mm). A remarkably dry month, mostly warm and sunny until a cold wet week with wintry showers. 30 Apr 2017 Oak in winners' enclosure, Ash a non-starter Dry and sunny but with a chilly East wind. The Cook Oak (and lots of other Oaks) is now in full leaf, but the poor old Leaning Ash (and lots of others) hasn't even broken a leaf bud yet. Very odd. We strolled across to the River gardens and bought 6 little Tumbling Tomato plants, but still too cool to plant them out so they are now in the potting shed. 28 Apr 2017 Tour de Yorkshire flashes past It was all over in a flash this year. Half a dozen riders were out in front, then a tightly packed 'peloton' sped over Sleights bridge, past the end of the drive and turned sharply (with a cry from one of them 'BRAKE'!) right to go through Briggswath and off to Whitby. As ever, the 50 or 60 police, etc motorbikes which put on the rolling roadblock were more entertaining. Still, if I was cycling from Bridlington to Scarborough, I wouldn't go via Pocklington, Malton, Pickering, Goathland and Whitby! 26 Apr 2017 Three seasons in one week The week began in Summer weather, then jumped back to Winter with overnight frosts, wintry showers and scraps of hailstones lying on the ground, then on to Spring with a bit of sun and warmth again. A 15-minute bird count from my windows gave: Blue Tit 4, Blackbird 1, Bullfinch 1, Chaffinch 2, Coat Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Goldfinch 2, Great Tit 1, Robin 2 (15 individuals of 9 species). 23 April 2017 St George, Gardening or Goth weekend? Gardening, of course. Mild and sunny but with the beginnings of a chill Northerly wind - just a warning of what is to come this week... possibly even snow on high ground by mid-week. We collected a lot more dead Ash twigs from the wood and snapped then into kindling lengths, in anticipation of a few more woodstove evenings. Then we dug out the remaining Kale and added the wonderful new compost to all veg beds. The wonderful new compost is Wool Compost from a small farm in the Lake District. Since all hill sheep cost about £1 to shear and the wool is only worth 50p per fleece, hill farming is on its uppers. Luckily, one farmer married a scientist and she found a way of composting the almost worthless hill sheep fleeces with local Bracken (itself a problem to hill farmers) and Voila! A wonderful new compost, made on the farm and buying-in almost worthless fleeces and totally worthless bracken from all their neighbours, adding the secret (organic) ingredient, and selling it at garden centres all around the UK. Please buy some, improve your garden AND the local economy of our hill farms! 19 April 2017 Ash tree felled And STILL the Ash shows no sign of budding any leaves, even though the Oak is now budding nicely. Since the sap hasn't risen in the Ash, we can take down another one!With ID's help we dropped a skinny Ash from just above the Cornerpost, sawed it into cord lengths and carried it down to the woodyard. It was soon added to the cord, which is now almost a full 8 feet x 4 feet of 4 foot lengths = 136 cubic feet of firewood now seasoning for next winter's fires. Having done that very successfully, we also carried down and sawed and bagged some of last winter's Ash which had been leaned against a tree to season. What a good day! 16 April 2017 Easter gardening Dry, cool and cloudy this morning, so B sorted out the potting shed and planted 4 trays of Peas, Beans, Broad Beans and Runner Beans. I sawed the ends off a few (very few, luckily) stove logs that are now an inch too ling for my new stove, and filled 2 bags for the house. We then dug over two of the veg beds (A and B) and added a bag of peat-free compost to Bed A and Chicken Manure to Bed B. Cut back the old Kale remaining in Bed A and added it to the almost full compost bin. Then the drizzle began in earnest, so we went indoors and cought up with this News Blog. A 15-minute Bird Count from the window of the snug produced: Blackbird 1, Blue Tit 2, Bullfinch 2 (pair), Chaffinch 2 (pair), Coal Tit 1, Dunnock 2, Goldfinch 5, Great Tit 2, Greenfinch 1 (female), Marsh Tit 1, Nuthatch 1, Wood Pigeon 1 (3.30 - 3.45pm). 19 individuals of 11 species. The Captain Cook Oak is almost in leaf, while the Big Leaning Ash shows no sign of any leaf buds... 15 Apr 2017 Good Saturday for Castle Howard We took the back roads to Castle Howard and enjoyed lunch in the big house, followed by a stroll and then a proper visit to the principal rooms. VERY impressive. A potter around the gardens (First Swallow flying alone ) and then off to nearby Yorkshire Lavender for afternoon-sies. Lovely day out, warm and dry and sunny. Roads very busy. Came home to find 3 (yes, THREE) Grey Squirrels (Tree Rats!) on the one and only non-anti-squirrel feeder, so it had to be removed. Sorry Mr Bullfinch. Far too many Tree Rats have survived the very mild winter, so more of my young Oak trees can expect to be bark stripped and die. 09 April 2017 Dry Lakes Just back from a few days in t'Lakes - and it didn't rain once! OK, it did rain once but it was overnight, so that counts as Good Organisation rather than bad weather. Most unusual that the wettest National Park in England should be so very dry for a change. Here, in the driest National Park in England, Spring has advanced and most trees are well into leaf now. March met readings: Precipitation 0.5 inches (14 mm). Max 65 degrees F (16 C), Min 28 F (-2 C), Actual at 09.30 hours 52 F (11 C). A very dry month. 31 March 2017 Spring has sprung What a lovely warm, dry, sunny day for a cuppa and a scone at Witzend Café in Sandsend. Almost too warm for a fleece. Funny spring so far, with the Daffs around Groves Dyke either in full flower or slightly past their best. The Frog spawn from over a week ago is very unimpressive in quantity (a cup full?) and produced by only half a dozen Frogs which vanished almost immediately. Willows are well into leaf, Sycamore is just starting to bud, Dogs Mercury is everywhere, as are Wood Anemone and Lesser Celandine. 26 March 2017 Mother felling tree Today we celebrated by dropping our last skinny Ash of this winter. First we had to clear space to drop it into, then saw it up, carry it to the woodyard and saw it into cordwood and stack. Lovely warm, dry sunny day AND a Buzzard soared high over our heads to keep track of progress. Cake! 19 March 2017 Tree shifting again We logged the felled Willow just behind the stone seat, and added it to the appropriate pile: cordwood for stovelogs, kindling or bonfire. Then, never satisfied, we dropped another 2 skinny Ash trees (one hardly skinny at all)! 18 March 2017 Box shifting We filled Buttercup (the car) with boxes of the just-published Whitby Guidebook for 2017 (see http://www.visitwhitby.com for a virtual one) and took them up the Esk Valley to distribute to shops, cafes, pubs, National Park visitor centre, etc. A very enjoyable job, as we may have to sample the food and drink as we go! 17 March 2017 Tree shifting After a swim, we trimmed-up the 5 skinny Ash trees from just over the woodyard bridge. The cord of Ash firewood is now half full and looking very respectable. 12 March 2017 Yet more skinny Ash pollarded We dropped another 6 skinny Ash, almost all from one Ash stool that was coppiced 35 years ago. The biggest was about 6 inch butt diameter and the smallest about 3 inch. Only 2 more to go, but we had had enough by 3 o'clocks. The cord of Ash for next winter's fuel is looking about 1/3 full and another much the same of Hazel and of Oak. 'Aldrin' the Buzzard flew over the valley as we ate our after afternoonsies, so a very successful day. 11 March 2017 Two Buzzards calling over Echo Hill No, sorry, it was only one! After pollarding the last of the self-sown young Oaks by Bruno's Bannisters (with every other one left to continue growing upwards), we headed to Perry's River Gardens for a bit of well-earned lunch. Sitting out of doors (1st time this year) we heard the distinctive 'pe-ou-ing' of a Buzzard across the river and then looked up and saw him soaring magnificently over the valley. After lunch we continued pollarding the Ash just over the woodyard bridge, and brought down a few more and added them to the cord. 10 Mar 2017 Pick swim Off to Pickering for a swim (as Groves Dyke arrivals tomorrow) and a lunch at Russells. To our surprise it was cool, cloudy and raining in Pick, but it hadn't been in Whitby. 09 Mar 2017 Another skinny Ash down I dropped a good sized skinny Ash (8 inch diameter) using my nice new 'winch' for the first time. This is a strap tightener as seen on every lorry tarpaulin, with a 10 meter strap and a breaking strain of 5 tonnes. Sadly, it only tightens by a few inches, but that can be enough to pull a small tree in the right direction - especially if you sit on the tape at the vital moment! 08 Mar 2017 Chimney swept and more fuel cut Woodburning stoves need more frequent chimney sweeping (every 6 months or even every 3) so today G swept my chimney. After lunch we pollarded another 3 of the too-close-together self-sown Oaks by Bruno's Bannisters. The rush is on to get everything down before the sap rises and the leaves appear. 06 March 2017 Two down, ten to go I took down another 2 skinny Oaks from Bruno's Bannisters. The lop and top is propped up against a nearby tree (Oak of course, in case I get confused later in the year) and the Big Sticks (6 inch diameter) were carried down to the cord in the woodyard. 05 Mar 2017 First Oak pollarding As we set off up the wood this morning, a Buzzard soared overhead, being slightly annoyed by a passing Carrion Crow. Just above Bruno's Banisters is the 50/50 Oak, a 30-year old Oak with the top half all bark-stripped just last year by the Grey Squirrels (Tree Rats!) and the bottom half still untouched and with green leaves. Ideal for pollarding, we thought. Pollarding is the same as coppicing (cutting off a tree stem to encourage the regrowth of young shoots), except several feet up the stem, so that the regrowth is too high for browsing Deer to eat it easily (4 feet 6 inches off the ground in the case of our local Roe Deer). Having done the 50/50 Oak, we moved down the slope to pollard a few more of the self-sown young Oaks which are far too close together. A pole saw would have been a better choice, as using a bow saw above head height is very tiring, so we settled for just one. Then as we stacked the lop and top to one side, and leaned the potential firewood against another Oak, we noticed the remains of the 3 Oaks we had felled as building timbers for the new Syder Ched a couple of years earlier. Thoughtfully, the non-structural bits had been carefully stacked up off the damp ground, so now we had some lovely, well-seasoned and ready-to-burn firewood. We dragged it down, sawed it up and bagged it, ready for immediate burning. Then up the main drive to de-bramble a bit of the wall and to look at all that Sycamore ready for coppicing in the big orchard. Then Blueberry muffin time! 04 Mar 2017 Grand tour We had a half day off and went on a grand tour of Eskdale. It was dry, calm and mild so we meandered along Betty Backside to Egton Top, down to Egton Bridge and right towards Glaisdale. Steady rain throughout the night had left large puddles across many of these country roads. Through Glaisdale to Lealholm, where the Shepherd's Hall café is not open until weekends only in the middle of this month, then on to the Moors Centre. The exhibition in the Inspired by... Gallery includes works by local artists Len Tabner and Peter Hicks et al and is always well worth a visit. Lunch was calling, so on to the Old Chapel tearoom in Castleton for the great view up the dale (not quite sitting out weather yet) and the delicious cheese on toast with bacon. Then home via Lockwood reservoir and Hutton Mulgrave, where the ford along the road was in full flow, down Lythe Bank and a stroll on the beach at Sandsend before a nice cuppa at the only-just-opened-today-for-the-season River Gardens. So happy and relaxed were we, and such a nice light afternoon, that we decided to pollard a nice, easy and skinny Ash just over the woodyard bridge. And that was our first mistake. The main problem with selective felling is that it is almost bound to snag on a neighbouring tree (with clear felling, one soon creates a clearing that all the other trees can be felled into). The only way to get this one down was to also fell the nearby skinny Ash it was snagged on. That did the trick, except both of them then snagged onto a third skinny Ash - so we felled it, too. So there we were: Three for the price of one! 03 Mar 2017 FOGOF We took the bowsaw to one of the multi-stemmed Ash trees, just across the woodyard bridge, to remove the thickest stem (6 inches) before it tries to rub on the telephone wires. With a little persuasion, it fell in the right direction - but hit a dead Sycamore on the way down. Two for the price of one, or even Fell One Get One Free is a wonderful deal, so we must try it again! We got the ash onto the cord to season for a year, and the already well-seasoned Sycamore sawn into stovelogs and undercover, within the hour. And then the rain began. 01 Mar 2017 Sickly Silver Birch down With help from ID we bow-sawed the poorly Lady of the Wood at the start of the North West Passage. It had been increasingly doubtful, with fewer leaves year by year and no sign of recovering, so down she came. Some 10 inches in diameter, she was still sound enough to fall in the intended direction. We soon realised that the 2-man crosscut saw was a better option for the sawing-up the big stick into 2 or 3 drum lengths. After lunch we were joined by BC but luckily we had left most of the heavy work! The sack trolleys made several runs to get it all down to the woodyard, while the Base Camp personnel sawed it into 15 inch drums and stacked them in the woodshed. The outer sapwood was a bit spongy but the inner heartwood is still sound and by 3 o'clocks we had the entire tree turned into drums or stovelogs and under cover. A very good day! 26 Feb 2017 Logging again A bit windy but dry and not too cold, so we dragged down a couple of loads of seasoned Cherry logs and sawed them into stovelogs (now 15 inch, for my super new stove) and stacked them in the woodshed. Then catching-up with this blog, while a Jenny Wren took charge of all the crumbs of birdfood on the floor of the cage on the spatio birdtable. Perhaps it feels safe inside the cage, with all large animals excluded? Time for 3 o'clocks in the conservatory now... 23 Feb 2017 Doris Day Storm Doris paid us a visit today. Wild, wet and windy this morning, then strangely dry, calm and sunny as we proofread the Whitby Guidebook for 2017. By lunchtime it was wild, wet and windy again but this time from the North. Off to the West Cliff post office to return the proofs and then a bit of very impressive storm watching at Sandsend. High tide was at 2pm and the whole bay was full of white horses with the new Sandsend sea defences taking a good pounding. The piers at Whitby were also under attack (see Latest News at www.fight4whitby.com and http://www.whitbyyachtclub.co.uk for a link to the live webcam at Whitby Yacht Club), with the lower decks of both extensions regularly overtopped by big waves. Luckily, the tide was falling and Doris moving away across the North Sea, so we seem to have got away with it. This time... 19 Feb 2017 It could be Spring A lovely calm, dry, mild and sunny day and a joy to be out of doors. We cleared and sorted our conservatory, so that we would have somewhere nice to sit after a bit of gardening. Weeding the South Patio (Spatio) beds was a bit like hard work, so we were glad of a sit down in our nice tidy conservatory afterwards. 16 Feb 2017 Painting Groves Dyke finished We finished painting the conservatory (inside) woodwork and wall, ready for the first booking this weekend. Lots of Snowdrops in flower and the first Crocus flowering just outside the conservatory. 14 Feb 2017 Lunch at the White House We enjoyed a very nice lunch at our favourite hotel (the White House), overlooking the golf course, the bay and Sandsend Ness. Lovely! 10 Feb 2017 Wintry showers Frost on the lawns this morning, with a sprinkling of snow on the moortop. Then wintry showers during the day, with flurries of snow but not cold enough to lay. I think this is only the 2nd snow of this winter, and the first snowfall only lasted one morning. 07 Feb 2017 Re-decorate and Sprig Clean We have been painting in Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage all this week, including ALL the doors, skirting boards and picture rails. This involved moving all the furniture, including ALL the big bits, away from the walls, so Sam finished with a massive Spring Clean before everything was replaced. Must say, it all looks much better now. 01 Feb 2017 Big garden bonfire Perfect day for a bonfire, with rain overnight falling on damp ground, drizzle today and NO WIND - with more rain forecast later. ID and I lit the huge pile of hedge trimmings, cuttings, raked-out Zebra Weed from the pond last summer, lop and top, etc. By lighting it half-way up the pile, we burned-off the top half first before the lower half caught light. BC joined us later and we kept the fire going all afternoon, as well as bagging-up all the dinky logs and felling a nearby Ash. It was about 6 inch diameter where we bow-sawed it at 4 foot six inches off the ground. This 'pollarding' will enable the sump to sprout at a height just above the browsing height of Roe Deer, which a frequent in the wood. The tree was sawn into the new 45 inch cordwood lengths, each of which will produce 3 x 15 inch stove logs for my nice new stove. Jan Met Just 1.5 inches of rain for the month. The Max was 52F, Min 26F and 44F at 9am on the 1st of Feb 2017. 31 Jan 2017 First Barn Owl For this year, at least. A strange not-quite-Buzzard call made me look up as I walked along the top of the wood. No Buzzard, just a Herring Gull warning everyone that it was following a Barn Owl as it glided down the fields and into the wood. Lovely! 30 Jan 2017 Big Garden Birdwatch Bright, dry, calm and mild weather. A 1 hour count from my kitchen / diner windows produced: Blue Tit 3, Coal Tit 2, Dunnock 2, Long Tail Tit 2, Robin 2, Blackbird 1, Bullfinch 1, Chaffinch 1, Great Tit 1, Magpie 1, Marsh Tit 1, Nuthatch 1, Wood Pigeon 1. [19 individuals of 13 different species]. 29 Jan 2017 New woodburner My nice new woodburning stove (from Ryedale Stoves of Kirkbymoorside) was fitted by SR and CN while we were away. It is a little smaller but more efficient than my 35-year old Feu de Bois Kamina. The new one is an Arada Aarrow Ecoburn Plus 9, with a clip-in back boiler, which produces 9 kilowatts equivalent (the old stove was 6kw) but with a less efficient back boiler, so that more of the heat stays in the room. And don't it just! 25 Jan 2017 Home again Just back from a holiday in the sun - except there wasn't much their either! Blooming Climate Change, or what? Lots of catching-up to do over the next few days... 02 Jan 2017 Happy New Year everyone The New Year came in with a bang and New Year's Day was suddenly cold, with wet and windy showers clearing southwards. By today, we are back to the dry and sunny again, but this time with a chilly blast from the North. Sandsend Bay was spectacular this morning, with low tide, huge breakers and big white crests filling the whole bay. And STILL the beach is full of walkers! Dec 2016 Met A very dry month with only 0.5 inches of rain - until the night of New Year's Eve, which was the end of the Southerly airflow, the passing of a wild, wet and windy cold front, with another 0.75 inches of rain = 1 inch total. 31 Dec 2016 Dry, sunny and mild Chrissy hols Unseasonably mild (double figures Centigrade), cloudless skies, full sun and lovely weather for pottering. Whitby is packed. All the roads are busy, the car parks are full (including all the way to Sandsend, both sides of the road), 'No Vacancy' signs everywhere, crowded cafes (even outdoor tables) and the 2 miles of beach a constantly full of people walking from Whitby to Sandsend &/or back again. 24 Dec 2016 Storm Barbara says Happy Christmas Today is the morning after and luckily we only got the tail of Storm Barbara. A visit to Sandsend this afternoon at high tide was quite impressive, with big breakers and spindrift in the strong offshore wind. Happy Christmas everyone and we hope to see you again in 2017! 19 Dec 2016 Carry, saw, split and stack ID and I did just that and had a pleasant and productive day in the wood and woodyard. More Holly and Oak carried down, sawn-up, split into stove logs and stacked in the woodshed. Apart from the left-overs of the 30-year Oak which we felled a couple of years ago for the legs of the Syder Ched. These remnants are now well seasoned and were prepared as our traditional Yule Logs to carry the flame from the old year to the new... 11 Dec 2016 Mild and sunny again Sorry, but it is NOT at all like Christmas yet - which may explain why I am so far behind with all my preparations. Perhaps if I ignore it, it will just go away? We bagged some wood from the woodshed for the house, then snapped some well-seasoned Ash twigs (last season's Pea sticks and Bean poles) for kindling. 07 Dec 2016 Get Well Soon IJ A very special Get Well Soon message to IJ, who has been coming to Whitby once or twice a year since the very beginning of RENTaRANGER, some 25+ year's ago. Now recovering from a bad fall, we hope you make a full and speedy recovery. Looking forward to seeing you here again soon! 04 Dec 2016 December wasp sting The temperatures are still in double figures (just) and all is dry and calm. We returned to the woodyard to split and stack the last few drums of the Leccy Ash (the giant cantilevered limb) and the Leccy Sycamore. Putting on my big leather gauntlets which I had left in the woodshed 'ready for next time' I discovered that somebody else was already wearing them. They objected and stung the end of my little finger! Shaking out the culprit revealed a couple of sleepy wasps, who thought they had found the perfect wintering place. So much for all the insect hibernating boxes I had provided elsewhere. We split almost all of the Ash except those bits which are too knotty to split - so one of them has become the new chopping block. Then we split almost all of the Sycamore and stacked it on top, filling the westward wall of the lower woodshed (which also keeps any driving rain off the inner wall of long dead Holly. The woodshed is looking pretty full now, but the woodyard is a bit empty... 02 Dec 2016 Not Rudolph Returning late in the evening we disturbed a Roe Deer doe bingeing on the windfall Apples in the orchard. Like the one a few nights ago, it dashed hither and thither in a bit of a boozy panic, before setting off in a fairly straight line for the wood. Good thing it doesn't have to stay sober for a long night's work in a few weeks! November Met readings 27 Nov 2016 T-Rex in action It was dry enough by early afternoon to run out the flex from the conservatory to the woodyard and use the Tyranosaw on the lengths of long dead Holly and more recent Sycamore. By 3 o'clocks we had half-filled 2 walls of the woodshed, equivalent to filling 1 complete wall. Then time for well-earned chocolate trifle! 22 Nov 2016 Wash-out Blue Bank Last night I recorded more than 1.5 inches of rain (gauge overflowing) as the un-named friend of Storm Angus hit this area. So much rain fell on Sleights Moor and ran down the main road towards Sleights that it washed out all the PFA pellets (Pulverised Fly Ash) from the arrester bed and washed c800 tones of it down the road, into gardens, etc. The A169 was closed by teatime yesterday [and remained closed until late on 24th Nov]. Some say it has never happened before, but some of us remember c25 years ago when a lesser event happened, solved by the NYCC road sweeper lorry gathering up the pellets and tipping them back into the top of the arrester bed. 16 Nov 2016 Met station in loft While Groves Dyke is empty (first time for a long time) I went into the loft and replaced the 500 watt Frost Guard convector heater with a 750 watt - 2kw one. Having insulated both lofts so well (12 inches of fibre glass) there is now more risk of frost damage to the plumbing up there, including the solar hot water system. As a precaution, I also added a remote Met Station sensor in the loft, which gives me a temperature reading on the base station next door. That way I know when to switch on the radiator in both the lofts. Simples! 13 Nov 2016 Kindling, leaves and apples A lovely calm, dry and sunny day for a change. We gathered long-dead Ask branches from the wood, carried them down to the woodyard and cut them into 15-inch lengths as universal kindling. Three big Sainsbury bags full. Then we brushed off all the wet, slippery leaves from the drive, which makes driving up and down a lot safer. Finally, we gathered another 3 big crates of windfall apples (which will all need the mud to be hosed off and bad bits cut out) and 1 small crate of picked apples from the few remaining within reach. All these will give us enough juice to pasteurise and bottle in the newly acquired Kilner clip-top bottles, which can be bought at bargain prices if you search hard enough. 12 Nov 2016 Cold, damp and horrid So we drove to Malton and enjoyed their monthly Food Fair and a bit of shopping. By the time we were coming home again, the low cloud on the moortop had thinned to the odd tendril of mist catching in the sunset. Lovely. 07 Nov 2016 Birds begin feeding again After a whole summer of minimum feeding outside the kitchen windows (Peanuts, Sunflower hearts, fatballs and Niger seed), the birds are once again showing a real interest, so I added a Sunflower heart feeder on the South Patio (Spatio) table. A 15-minute count of both sites from within the house gave: Goldfinch 3, Dunnock 2, Blackbird 1, Blue Tit 1, Bullfinch 1, Chaffinch 1, Coal Tit 1, Great Tit 1, Marsh Tit 1, Robin 1, Wood Pigeon 1. (10-10.15, sunny, bright but with heavy wintry showers). 06 Nov 2016 Stormy Goth weekend Whitby is full for the ever-welcome Goth Weekend, with some wild and windy weather to welcome them. Must go down to Sandsend at high tide to see how the new sea defences are coping... 05 Nov 2016 Deliver and Stand Now that the new woodburner has been delivered, we went back to Kirbysidemoorside (KMS to its friends) to collect the stand it will sit on. Now all we need is CN the plumber... We also bought a new lightweight strimmer which was on special offer at Pickering Garden Centre. At £99 it was too good to miss. It will do the short grass on the lawns, which will extend the life of the elderly and heavy duty brushcutter which is needed for the wood path and the orchards. 03 Nov 2016 Sandsend sea defences explained I spent the afternoon with the engineer involved in the recently completed works there. We walked and talked and he explained the thinking behind each of the aspects I queried. Largely reassured, we parted amicably and we both wait for its first real test with some serious on-shore gales and high seas... 02 Nov 2016 Overnight frost This morning all the lawns were white with frost, so Winter has begun in earnest. Met info Oct 2016 Max 62F (15C), Min 30F (0C), Actual 48F (8C). Precipitation 2 inches (4 cm). Apart from a cool, wet and windy weeks, October was mild, dry and open with the grass still growing and leaves still on the trees. 30 Oct 2016 Tumbler Toms gone Mild, dry, sunny and calm so we picked the very last of the outdoor Tomatoes (2 roasting tins full) and put them on the windowsill with a ripe Banana to ripen them as much as possible. More soup... Then we sawed up lots of the long dead Sycamore branches stacked in the woodyard and filled bags of the well seasoned Cherry, especially the very long stove logs which will be too long for my new stove. 28 Oct 2016 My new stove delivered After c40 years of faithful service by my wonderful Belgian Feu de Bois 'Kamina' my nice new all bells and whistles Arada Aarrow Ecoburn+ 9 was delivered today by Ryedale Stoves of Kirbymoorside. It's nice new clip-in boiler is included and, for the moment, the 2 woodburners stand side by side until CCK arrives to fir the new one. 27 Oct 2016 Croxteth Hall and Country Park remembered Sad news from a friend and colleague from the good old days. Alison Maddock, Visitor Services Officer there in the 1980s, died suddenly a few days ago. She was my immediate boss and good friend, responsible for much of the Sandford Award-winning education programme there, which continues to this day. To Absent Friends... 25 Oct 2016 Past your eyes before you know it Pasteurising all this afternoon before bottling into an assortment of Kilner Jars. 24 Oct 2016 Apple Pressing Day Everyone turned out, some with grandchildren, for a very busy and productive day. BC, M and AD and T and A, ID, CPyr, AD, D and L Lis. Even SR turned up, if only to have to dash off to sort out a broken shower. We spent the morning gathering, cutting and scratting Apples, which were left to stand and soften while we all had lunch with extra chairs around the Oak dining-room table. After lunch the pressing began, while a few more Apples were gathered and prepared. By late afternoon we had 2 fermenting buckets for cider-making with 15 litres each, 7 litres distributed as fresh juice to the workers and another 5 for pasteurising tomorrow. Phew! 23 Oct 2016 Standing-by We sorted-out the polebarn and began to get ready for Apple Pressing Day next week. 22 Oct 2016 Bro replaces purp Off to Riveaux Abbey, just beyond Helmsley, for a nice lunch in their nice new café. Then a stroll around the village before returning to Helmsley for a potter and a cuppa. Back home over Blakey Rigg where all the purple Heather has gone and been replaced with brown Bracken. Hey ho, another summer has gone... 15 Oct 2016 Almost caught-up again After a few errands in Whitby we lunched at the newly-extended Penny Clare tearooms and shop in Newholm. Excellent, twice the size and still full of lovely food and furniture, etc. Then home for some long overdue gardening, weeding the hedge veg beds (now Rhubarb and Wild Flowers, as well as de-Brambling the top edge of Dyke Orchard, in preparation for Apple Day - just as soon as the Apples say they want to be pulled. 14 Oct 2016 Day off in Pickering Pickering was surprisingly busy, streets crowded with their big Wartime Weekend and costumed re-enactors. We swam, lunch and popped in to see Roger's Nurseries very impressive Apple Day displays www.rvroger.co.uk 11 Oct 2016 Canadian visit Great to have W and D over from Canada and spending a few days in Whitby. We formed a transatlantic team and entered the pub quiz at The Forge in Aislaby, where we didn't disgrace ourselves. 05 Oct 2016 Somerset to Sleights Great to see SA up this end of the country again for a few days. We showed him around the new extensions to the polebarn, the Syder Ched and the Press Room. After lunch and a good catch-up we strolled around the wood, noting the young self-sown Oak tree which is now half green and half brown leafed. Why was the top half brown? Closer inspection showed that all the bark had been stripped from the upper half by Grey Squirrels (Tree Rats!). They do this when the dominant male Tree Rat keeps all the lesser males off the best acorn tree, so they then vent their frustration by 'tearing a strip off' the surrounding young trees. Too many Tree rats... We all carried down some of the long dead Holly logs and had a bit more chat and another cuppa b4 thanking him for his many years of voluntary hard work in Groves Coppice and wishing him well and Safe Home. 3 Oct 2016 All well The trouble with having a holiday is that there is so much catching-up to do afterwards... First frost this morning, with a patch of white on the grass. This was soon gone and we had a warm, dry and sunny day. MD and ID and I constructed a Bottle Rack on one wall of the Syder Ched, to hold all the empties awaiting a refill. Four shelves hold demi-johns, wine bottles, big beer and small beer bottles, which clears the floor beautifully. After lunch we felled 2 of the long dead Holly trees, which is always exciting as they haven't read the books and don't behave like living trees normally do. Thanks to great skill (and good luck) they came down roughly where we intended and were trimmed-up for easier handling. 02 Oct 2016 Last Chiffchaff calling A Chiffchaff called from the back of the garden, unusually late but possibly intending to stay here for the winter. Dry and sunny. We dug-over 3 veg beds and we still have some Broccoli, Kale and 2-year old Potatoes appearing. Met Records for Sept 2016 Max 17 degrees C (80F), Min 5C (38F) and Actual 12C (54F). Total Monthly Precipitation 13mm (0.5"). A very dry month 22 - 27 Sept 2016 On holiday in the Lake District It rained almost non-stop. When we got home, it had hardly rained here at all. That'll teach us to leave the driest National Park in England and go for our holidays in the wettest National Park in England! 18 Sept 2016 Bottling again We bottled another 36 small (beer) bottles of last year's cider. And labelled them, too. Busy day. 15 Sept 2016 Press cover MD and I spent a very enjoyable day converting a few tannalised fence rails into a triangular roof, creating a new covered space for the cider press. This will make more room within the Syder Ched and make space for our next project, the bottle rack for all the empties. As we worked in the morning mist, two Buzzards soared overhead. Later in the day the sun appeared. Later still, I spent 2 hours strimming lawns. 12 Sept 2016 Buzzards calling A grand total of 4, yes 4, Buzzards were soaring above the wood and calling. Finally, after 40 years of wondering why this perfect habitat of the lower Esk Valley has absolutely zero Buzzards, they seem to have arrived. Wonderful! 11 Sept 2016 Bottling cider We bottled about 30 small bottles of last year's cider. This gives us something to drink next month as we gather and press the bumper crop of Apples now hanging on the trees. 04 Sept 2016 Cider rack Rained all morning so we just racked the first bucket of last year's cider into the keg with a tap, ready for bottling in a few days. Tastes good! 01 Sept 2016 Sunny lunch at Castle Howard We (nearly) all rendezvoused in the courtyard for a lovely lunch, before their Ulsterbus tour whisked them away to York. Lovely to see everyone again. Then we went exploring and found Yorkshire Lavender, not far away. A lovely southerly aspect on the edge of the Howardian Hills AONB, with interesting grounds, acres of Lavender and a very nice café serving Lavender cheesecake with Lavender ice cream (double sin)! August 2016 Met Max 28C (82F), Min 9C (44F), Actual 10C (58F). Precipitation 50mm (2 inches). A warm and sunny month with a few days with heavy showers. 31 Aug 2016 Ulsterbus tour My sister, brother-in-law, friends and others arrived in Whitby on a coach holiday. Sadly, they had to visit Scarborough first, but Whitby soon made them feel better. We walked over the swing bridge, through the crowds, to the old Market Place and enjoyed a meal overlooking the harbour. The sun shone and it was good to share their company. Then back via Church Street and Grape Lane, delayed once again by the opening bridge. See you all again tomorrow... 30 Aug 2016 Too hot Hot and sunny again today, so did a bit of indoor Admin. 28 Aug 2016 Mizzle Steady rain overnight, so racking the cider will just have to wait... 27 Aug 2016 Flutter-bys What a lovely morning to have our breakfast on the patio, in the shade of the parasol. A strange noise made up look up to see 2 powered para-gliders heading for Whitby. Nice to see our resident Sparrowhawk went up to see them off 'our' airspace! Later we checked our Buddleia bushes and Yes, for the first time this year, they do have a goodly selection and numbers of butterflies. We saw up to 6 Peacocks, 10 Small Tortoiseshells, a couple of Red Admirals and too many assorted Whites. We set off for Scaling Dam and enjoyed the new, improved hide and feeding station. Seems we missed the early morning Osprey and the mid-morning Kingfisher, but we did see 3 Herons, 1 Great Crested Grebe and a very, very close Common Sandpiper. Then on to the Old Chapel tearoom in Castleton, where be bagged the best table on the decking and had a very nice cheese on toast as we admired the scenery up the dale. Then up the dale we went, on a new road for both of us, before arriving a bit too early for the café at Botton, the Camphill Village Trust 'village' at the head of the dale. What a lovely day out. 26 Aug 2016 Whitby piers on BBC Regional TV News This evening John Freeman took the BBC camera crew out in a boat to see for themselves just how ruinous the stonework really is. Great cracks across the massive stone blocks, gaping holes in the stonework, slumping of the piers, etc were there for all to see. A Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) report from 2012 says they are 'highly likely to collapse within 10 years' - and that was 14 years ago. If they do, then up to 600 Whitby homes and businesses will be flooded. The Environment Agency have offered over half the £9m required, but SBC say they can't afford the remaining £4m, and yet they have provided £9m to build a new waterpark in Scarborough town! Please see the Fight4Whitby links at the top of this News Blog and help to pay the cost of our legal advice from a barrister specialising in Harbour Law. The fight goes on! 25 Aug 2016 Summer bird count. Cool and overcast, 8/8 cloud. A 15-minute bird count from my windows produced the following on the feeders in the back yard: Coal Tit 2, Dunnock 2, Goldfinch 2, Robin 2, Blue Tit 1, Great Tit 1, Nuthatch 1 (ie 12 individuals max of 7 different species). The feeders are currently Sunflower hearts, fat balls, Peanuts and Niger seed. 24 Aug 2016 Hot and busy While young SC cut the Groves Dyke grass and hedge, MD and us walked around the wood for a recce. Sitting on the nice new 'Rest and Be.' bench at the Outlook, we noticed 4 dead but standing trees just upstream of the top bridge. First we split and moved the very, very last of the Leccy Ash drums across The Swamp and carried them down to the woodyard. After lunch we returned to the top bridge and felled 2 of the smaller dead, standing Silver Birch trees. These are long dead but the wood is still sound and very well seasoned ie stove ready! We carried all of them to the main path, and some of them down to the woodshed. An excellent day's work. 23 August 2016 Official Fire Safety Audit This afternoon North Yorkshire County Council's Fire and Rescue officers came to check that Groves Dyke complies will all necessary fire safety regulations. As expected, it does, but he did suggest a couple of improvements: a wireless link between the downstairs and the upstairs smoke alarms (if one goes off then so does the other), and a different type of lock on the outside door. No problem. Will do. 21 Aug 2016 Rack and prune While most of Whitby was busy with the Regatta, we bottled the demijohn of last year's Blackcurrant Port (tastes promising) and then tried to shape the fruit bushes into 'goblet' shapes, as the good Saint Monty recommended. Too hot after a bit, so we retreated indoors. We saw a Buzzard flying across the main road, near Sleights roundabout, a first of me in this area. 19 Aug 2016 Pick swim and KMS Rain forecast, so we swam and then lunched at Pickering, before viewing tomorrow's auction in Kirkbymoorside. Left a couple of bids on a small Oak book trough and a painting of 'Whitby' Harbour (which was actually Staithes). 17 Aug 2016 Purp for Essex While poor ID carried down 10 loads of Sycamore from the NW Passage, we had a lovely time. Sorry ID, but well done you! We drove to Helmsley where half of us had a swim (Swallows are gathering...) and the other half went to the Walled Garden. Then rendezvoused (?) for a lovely lunch at Crema Café. Then onwards and upwards, higher and higher, up Blakey Rigg, past the Lion on Blakey and down the other side for yet more purple Heather. Only the very highest part is still to bloom, near Young Ralph cross. Then down to 'Guinea Pig' the new café in Castleton, with magnificent views up Danby Dale. What a wonderful day! 16 Aug 2016 Rosedale and Lealholm We met D and I in Pickering, just off the steam train, and whisked them off to lunch in the nearby garden centre. Then off to find some more purple Heather in full flower in Rosedale and on the Trough House road over to Little Fryup Dale. Not a bird to be heard, when we paused here and there on the moortop. Then down to Lealholm and the Shepherds' Hall for their lovely Yorkshire Cream Tea, before showing them the only just completed coastal defence works on the Sandsend Road. 15 Aug 2016 27 years Not Out Went to the Royal Hotel to meet our good friend D and I, who are staying there for their annual trip to Whitby. We were delighted to see them and spent a pleasant evening planning our next few days exploring the North York Moors. 14 Aug 2016 Bumper crop Hot, dry and sunny again. We dismantled the netting from around the fruit lawn and saw just how successful it had been at keeping the birdies off. The next 3 hours were spent picking a huge crop of Blackcurrants (8 pints?) and then almost as many Redcurrants (4 pints). All from 5 bushes, too! Then another hour to bottle enough of the Blackcurrants, so that the rest would fit in the fridge. Now we can have a break and deal with the Redcurrant Jelly in a day or two... 13 Aug 2016 Freshwater Seal We enjoyed a cool lunch at the Chainbridge Café in Ruswarp, with a table at the water's edge. Canoeists paddled about just a few yards away, when suddenly a Common Seal followed one canoe! A Seal? Above Ruswarp weir? But that is just upstream of the tidal bit, so the Seal must have clambered up and over the weir, to get into the freshwater just upstream. Never seen one here before! 07 Aug 2016 Goosegogs n Peas Hot, dry and sunny again. Almost too hot to work in the garden but I picked the Gooseberries (good crop, c 2 litres) while B picked the Peas (c 1 pint). One of us sat in the shade topping and tailing the Goosegogs, while t'other pulled up all the Spinach (well past its best). Hot, hot, hot. 06 Aug 2016 Quiet Castle Howard A nice day out at Malton to chat to the TheWoodlark.com (missed him) at his shop in The Shambles, and do a bit of shopping. Then on to The Courtyard Café at Castle Howard for a nice lunch out-of-doors - but so quiet that they seem to be operating a reduced menu, without our favourite Gardener's Platter for Two. Home via KMS (Kirbymoorside) with a cuppa in The Penny Bank. 05 Aug 2016 Lazy Friday Hot, dry and sunny again so we went to Pickering for a nice cool swim, followed by lunch on the pavement at Lazy Sundae. Very Continental! 02 Aug 2016 Mega-strim Hot, dry and sunny but I had to strim anyway. Mad dogs! From 10.30 to 1pm, I did every single lawn (both houses) and the path around the wood! Only the woodyard was given a reprieve. On the grounds of exhaustion. Mine, not its. 01 Aug 2016 Kingfisher at Ruswarp As I drove past Ruswarp Dam just after tea, something caught my eye. It was the oddly-shaped end of a branch on a washed-up log on the dam itself. Not a good example of an emergency stop, nor of crossing a lane of (thankfully non-existent) traffic, nor of parking on the inside of a bend on double yellow lines, but yes, there it was! That oddly-shaped branch was a beautiful Kingfisher, perched over the water and waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Lovely sight, but my Highway Code was calling, so I had to move on. Met for July 2016 Max Temperature 28C (82F). Min 5C (44F). Actual this morning 17C (64F). Precipitation 0.9 inches. Summer finally arrived this month and was very, very welcome. 31 July 2016 Mad dogs Today, in the midday sun, we tidied-up the spatio, weeding the gravel bed and trimming the creeper. TDH! [Too Damn Hot]. 27 July 2016 Swamp buggy ID By the end of a very tiring afternoon (not to mention morning) we have enough extra wood to fill the other half of the woodshed. Collapse time!wheeled down the last of the big Cherry drums (that 'reluctant' Cherry which had to be winched-down out of the neighbouring Hawthorn) during the morning. Wow! After lunch B and I joined him and together we used the bread-tray-sleigh to ferry 3 heaps of the Leccy Ash across the swamp at the end of the NW Passage. This was preferably to wading through the swampy bit with 1 log at a time, which would only have made it even more swampy. By the end of a very tiring afternoon (not to mention 'day' for some) we had moved enough extra wood to fill the empty half of the woodshed. Excellent! 25 July 2016 Little Egret and Mucky Duck As we drove past Ruswarp Dam, B noticed a 'strange white bird' in the river. On closer inspection it turned out to be a Little Egret, the very first I have ever seen on the River Esk. What a nice start to a super day out. On to Helmsley pool for a lovely outdoor swim, accompanied by Swallows swooping down for a drink. Then lunch of afternoon tea outside the Black Swan overlooking the busy square. Home over Blakey Rigg, where the Bell Heather is now in flower (but not yet the more widespread Ling) and via Stonehouse Bakery in Danby for a cuppa. HB JB! 24 July 2016 Hot hedge Still very warm, so B trimmed the Cloud Hedge at Groves Bank. VERY cumulo-nimbus! 20 July 2016 Cooler at Sandsend Hot again. Five whole days of this and we can declare it an official Heat Wave... 19 July 2016 Scorchio! Our local tv weatherman warned us that today would be 'Scorchio!' and he was right. Horribly hot. 28 degrees C at least and even worse further south. Poor things! 18 July 2016 Young Redtop The juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was on the Peanut feeder, just outside the kitchen window. Later I strimmed for well over an hour. 17 July 2016 Syder Ched We bottled the demijohn of Redcurrant Rose and the one of Blackcurrant Port, sorted out all the empty bottles and moved them up to the newly titled 'Syder Ched' (the more you drink, the more sense it makes)! 16 July 2016 Sunny Staithes So nice and warm, dry and sunny that we had our first outdoor breakfast this year. This called for a day off and we went to Staithes to relax. And we did. Is this the first GOOD day this year? It certainly feels like Summer has finally, finally arrived AND it's mid-July before it got here. 14 July 2016 Woodyard empty, woodshed full Ok, almost. MD chainsawed all the cordwood still remaining in the woodyard (Ash, Cherry and just a little bit of Apple, Oak and Hornbeam) and we split it as required and stacked it in the woodshed. Then he chainsawed a cross into one end of every drum (Ash and Cherry) which refuses to split (hot cross drums?) and we left them out to weather a bit longer. Hopefully, a bit more wetting and drying, expanding and contracting, and they will soon begin to open up... The woodshed is now well over half full, with the Leccy Ash still to be carried down from the soggy NW Passage, once the temporary path dries out a bit more. 10 July 2016 Strawberry thief Once again, our Strawberry crop has vanished. We took more precautions than last year, with wire netting over the top and soft mesh around the sides, but the holes chewed in the soft mesh (plus eye-witness accounts) put the blame firmly on the Grey Squirrels. We removed the now-redundant netting, abandoned the now-bare Strawbs, and re-used the netting on the 7 fruit bushes which still have ripening crops of Blackcurrant, Redcurrant, Blueberry and Gooseberry. After a wet day yesterday (shopping in Scarborough), today is hot, dry and a bit too muggy for gardening. Oh dear, for months it's either been too wet, too cold or too windy for gardening - and now it's too hot! 08 July 2016 New kitchen tap CN arrived this morning and fitted a brand new tap, replacing the fawlty one which has been getting annoying over the past few weeks. He also took a look at my proposed new woodburner for Groves Bank and approved the one I like. Oh goody! 06 July 2016 First Helmsley swim Bright, warm, dry and sunny, so off to Helmsley for our first outdoor swim of the year. The heated pool there improves every year, with the welcome addition of warm showers this season. A potter around town, lunch at Crema café, a tour of the Walled Garden (superb, but late this summer), a cuppa there and then an icecream at Ryeburn café. What a lovely relaxed summer's day! 05 July 2016 Benchmark With MD's invaluable help, we completed the new bench seat at the Outlook, carried down some Leccy Ash from the NW Passage (still v wet), looked seriously at the proposed new roof over the cider press corner, ordered some tannalised timber for it, chain-sawed all the Ash cordwood in the woodyard into stove logs and stacked them in the woodshed (now almost half-full again) and, finally, dropped the largest of the Hornbeam hedge. Phew! Busy day! 03 July 2016 View improved The big, straggly Cotonaster on the Spatio is now short, neat and well-shaped for the first time in years. Very handy for hanging bird feeders in the winter, it had the disadvantage of blocking the view from the dining room window. Much better now. Met Summary for June 2016 Little sign of summer as the cool, damp and windy weather continued well into the month. Max 28C / 84F. Actual 17C / 63F. Min 8C / 44F. Ppt 1.5 inches. 30 June 2016 Mantle, dismantle, remantle Just back a few days from a lovely week in Edinburgh (very nice thank-you) and lots of catching up to do. This afternoon MD brought the nicely-drilled bits of the new bench back, which we mantled and dismantled last time. Today we carried them to the top of the wood and remantled them [Spellcheck is silly]. Now we have an almost complete and lovely new bench at The Outlook, where you can Lookout across the beautiful Esk Valley to the Ancient Woodland (pre-1600) of Littlebeck Local Nature Reserve, some 3 miles away. 28 June 2016 Strimming again Home again with lots of catching-up to do. Especially 2 hours of strimming around Groves Bank and the Woodyard. 18 June 2016 NW cul-de-sac The weather finally improved and the sun shone by early afternoon. I strimmed the path around the wood AND blazed a trail through waist-high veg towards the Leccy Lads Ash logs beyond Flag's Folly. This is almost the famed North West Passage but, as Captain Cook found, it is actually only a cul-de-sac! NB: In the news this week we hear that the Antarctic research ship cum ice-breaker has been chartered to provide an escort for the first ever giant cruise ship to navigate the North West Passage around the top of Canada. Who says there is no such thing as climate change? 16 June 2016 Mega strim I waited all day for the grey and grizzly weather to improve, but by 3pm I just had to start anyway. Three hours later it was still grey and grizzly but ALL the lawns had been strimmed. Collopse! 15 June 2016 Benchmark Grey and grizzly again so MD and I worked in the polebarn, planning the new bench for the Outlook at the top of the wood. With the four 16 foot lengths of 3 by 2 (PAR = Planed All Round) already in stock, we knew we wanted a criss-cross bench which could be mantled in the polebarn, dismantled and carried uphill in easy bites, then remantled easily at the top. After a bit of brain, we came to a conclusion of what was possible with what we had and started sawing the lengths. After a good winter-warmer soup and sandwich, we drove to Ruswarp for the fixings, then came back and continued sawing. A bit of bench drilling was required, so MD kindly took everything back to his workshop. 12 June 2016 Damp again We did a minimum amount of gardening, then concentrated on catching-up with this website, now that the Northumberland Whizkid has sorted everything. Many thanks GK! 09 June 2016 Hot, dry and sunny Another lovely day. Let's hope that TnC leave this lovely weather they brought with them... 08 June 2016 Beach walk Out with TnC this afternoon for a great walk along the full length of Runswick Bay beach. And back for a cuppa in the lovely café. Followed later by a superb meal at The Board in Lealholm. A late evening detour to the top of Danby Beacon finally provided us with a missing Golden Plover. Three in fact. Both parents and the chick. 07 June 2016 Moor tour Out with TaC for the whole day, mostly on the moortop looking for all those birds that we have as 'normal' for here - but they don't. From Egton Bridge we drove over the Hamer road, with frequent stops for almost non-existent Red Grouse, Curlew and Lapwing. The Golden Plover were completely absent today. Low Hamer finally produced a nice Stonechat, as well as some Linnets and a Mistle Thrush. Great lunchtime sandwich sitting out at the White Horse in Rosedale, looking out over that magnificent view, then up to the moortop again and home via the Trough House road to Little Fryup Dale and 3 o'clocks at Shepherds' Hall in Lealholm. 06 June 2016 Bird City Off with TaC to the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs, just south of Filey. 250,000 seabirds nesting on the cliffs, excellent viewing platforms and the super new Visitor Centre. T (EEJ) even managed to point out the local Peregrine Falcon, for our 3rd consecutive annual visit. Wow! Home via Filey Dams, with a lovely Avocet performing just in front of the hide. Double wow! Then FaC at Trenchers, well up to standard, as ever. Triple wow! 05 June 2016 Oakley Walls Brunch with TaC was followed (slowly) by a nice drive along the moor-edge to Danby Beacon, then down for 3 o'clocks at the Shepherds Hall. The 'When is a Bakewell Tart not an Almond Slice?' debate kept us entertained. 04 June 2016 Pottering Still cool and low cloud on the moortop, but a shade less windy so it feels less raw and miserable. We pottered about the garden, B potting-up new flowers and weeding the veg, while I sorted the slow-drying laundry, dressed the cottage and arranged the wood supply. Later joined by our good friends TaC from the other side of the country. 03 June 2016 Pickering pick-u-up Off to Pickering for a swim and a nice lunch at the garden centre. Then we pottered about the town as the sun actually came out and shone from the sky - something we haven't seen for a couple of weeks. It actually felt warm as we sat outside Café Frog for our 3 o'clocks, feeling very Parisian. Except they are evacuating all the object d'art from the basement of the Louvre, as the River Seine rises higher than ever recorded before. Perhaps they will do what Pickering has already done to successfully reduce its flood risk, and 'Slow the Flow' upstream, holding the water from torrential rain in the uplands and releasing it only at a steady rate which the lowlands can cope with. 01 June 2016 Still cold, wet, grey and grizzly. May Met Summary Max 70 degrees F (20 C), Actual 50F (10C), Min 38F (4C). Precipitation 1.75 inches. The first 2 weeks were very like summer had finally arrived, with one day of very heavy rain. This was followed by 2 weeks of cold, damp, miserable weather with a constant North or North-easterly to make it feel even worse. 29 May 2016 Look up We cut some Ash for the new Beanpoles and set them in place in the 2nd veg bed. Only as we looked up to tie the tops together into a wigwam shape did we notice the Buzzard soaring very high above us. Makes you wonder just how many we miss during routine, gardening activities with downcast eyes. High cloud today, dry but with a cool Northerly breeze. One of the new Rhubarb crowns has rotted away, but the other 2 are taking nicely. It was the Early variety which succumbed, leaving us with a Maincrop and a Late. In the winter the sole survivor of the original Rhubarb Triangle of North Yorkshire will be moved down from the woodyard, to fill the gap in the new Rhubarb bed. Being much closer to the beck, we hope they will appreciate the damper soil... 25 May 2016 Woodwork MD replaced the repaired wheels on the sack trolleys (many thanks) and brought down several loads of the 'Reluctant' Cherry to the woodyard. The dry morning was soon replaced with persistent rain, so after lunch we all retreated to the polebarn to saw wood and make major improvements to the seating arrangements. 23 May 2016 Editing Upgrade Many thanks to GK who has today improved this website by sorting out a few editing problems. Now I have no excuse to update the problem pages over the next few days... 22 May 2016 Tomatoes in Warm, dry and sunny today so we sat out drinking coffee a lot. Nice change! Then we planted the 7 new Tumbling Toms in 3 troughs by the back yard (closer to the tap and less windy). Then more coffee on the veranda. Then dragged down some of the lop and top (from the Ash felled last autumn) for lovely kindling. Then more coffee on the veranda, watching something big and not very flappy soar out of sight 'way up the valley. 21 May 2016 Harwood Dale and Forge Valley Off to The Granary in Harwood Dale for lunch in their lovely big conservatory with glorious views, before exploring Reasty Bank to Cloughton, with a surprize Farm and Cider Shop en route. Must go back to investigate. Then on to Hackness and Forge Valley, where the Birders' Car Park is still flourishing, with 2 Nuthatch and lots of other species on the feeders. 20 May 2016 Sunny Runswick Bay We distributed the new Fight4Whitby posters to the businesses in and around Hinderwell and Runswick, a great excuse to enjoy lunch and then sit in the sun on our favourite bench and admire the high tide. 19 May 2016 Birding and poster-ing A 15 minute bird count this morning from my dining room windows gave: Blackbird 2, Bullfinch 2, Chaffinch 2, Dunnock 2, Blue Tit 1, Coal Tit 1, Great Tit 1, Long Tail Tit 1, Wood Pigeon 1 (09.15 - 09.30, 7/8 high cloud, Mild, dry, calm). 18 May 2016 All Hands! Today we were delighted to be re-joined by MA and ID in the wood. The storm damaged hanging Oak branch was polesawed down (all), the last of the Leccy Ash was carried down (mostly ID), more Cherry logs (mostly MD), more Orchard Ash too (mostly BC), the sack barrows de-wheeled for repair (MD) and the bonfire of rotting fence post with wire was burned (ID) as well as some logs sawn and stacked. No wonder I'm tired! 17 May 2016 Raised beds finished SA came and completed the last of the 4 veg beds, giving all of them a nice, chunky, tannalised wooden frame. This means we can raise them by an few inches, which should improve drainage and let them warm up sooner in the spring. While he did that, I strimmed for 3 hours, including the first cut this year of the path around the wood. 16 May 2016 CJS Revisited Off to Goathland this afternoon for 3 o'clocks with The Gang. Lovely to meet everyone again and catch up with all the latest news. Not to mention the Labs, especially the newest additions. Delighted all are doing so well and that the CJS continues to be so successful. See www.countryside-jobs.com 15 May 2016 From slop to concrete With no rain for the past 10 days our very clay soil has gone from 'too wet to work' to 'almost impossible to dig'. Despite this, the sunny weather with a North wind let us out of doors long enough to put the new Tomato-watering device together, weed the pond bed of Nettles, plant Peas, Red Onions, Spring Onions, rack 2 demijohns of Blackcurrant Port and 1 of Redcurrant Rose. All this involved quite a lot of sitting down at frequent intervals, just as long as it was out of that pesky wind. 14 May 2016 Nice day out Even if it was to Scarborough. We had lunch at Dean's Garden Centre, bought lots of essentials there, then to a few more Big Sheds before escaping for home and sanity. On the way home we diverted to Harwood Dale, just 4 miles off route but not our usual haunt, to try out The Granary Farm Shop and Café. AND they ONLY do real coffee, so no NVQ in 20 kinds of coffee required AND no annoying hammering every time anyone orders another coffee. What a wonderful improvement on all these trendy barista joints which only give me a double headache. 13 May 2016 Sift n Plant While B prepared the veg bed for Spinach and Kale (with Broccoli, these 3 'dark green' veg are awfully good for you), I finished sifting the last of the compost heap. It has taken many days to chop, weed, riddle and carry, but now the big heap has vanished and there are more than 660 litres (ie two 330 litre compost bins) of 'still composting' and big plastic trug after trug of lovely sifted composted soil now spread over the newly dug veg beds. Phew. 12 May 2016 MD returns Great to have a flying visit from MD, just returned AND recovered from a few months in Oz. It was much warmer there, apparently, especially when crossing the Nullabar Desert which took 4 days. Lots of catching-up to do next week... Took delivery of 6 more 6x2 tannalised timbers for edging the veg beds, so that they can be raised a few inches to improve drainage and warming-up. Then lunch at the Chainbridge Café in Briggswath, the total count of Hirundines over the river just above the weir (a favourite place) was: Swift 1, Swallow 1, House Martin 6, Sand Martin 0. 10 May 2016 First Swift Today the First Swift flew over the garden. Others may have been seen elsewhere, but this was the 1st this year in MY airspace. 08 May 2016 Only a splash We took a breather in the shade and suddenly noticed that the Oak was in leaf before the Ash, so according to the ancient rhyme that means not much rain.(Had it been Ash before Oak, then in for a soak). We planted Spring Onions and Broccoli, in one of the veg beds then removed the grass and sods from the newly enlarged Rhubarb raised bed and barrowed it around to fill a hole in Groves Dyke garden. 07 May 2016 Not summer menu yet We left Whitby and its sea fret behind and drove to Castle Howard to celebrate the newly arrived summer weather with a Gardener's Platter in the Courtyard Café but, alas and alack, 'We are not on our summer menu yet', so had to settle for a Yorkshire Rarebit. Roll on June! Two Buzzards flying near Malton, followed by a Short Eared Owl on Sleights Moor as we drove back into the sea fret in late afternoon. 05 May 2016 New Fight4Whitby Facebook page The new Facebook page was launched today, so please 'Share' it with everyone you know so that it 'goes viral' and saves Whitby Tourist Information Centre before it is too late! SR called today to repair the gate to the veg garden, as well as add a new gate by the compost bins (Very handy shortcut!) and, while he was at it, add a new raised bed. A busy day. 04 May 2016 New www.Fight4Whitby.com website launched Please visit the new website to save Whitby Tourist Information Centre and Whitby harbour before it is too late. Scarborough Borough Council plan to lease it off for c20 years as another food outlet. House Martins flying around the house as they return to nest for yet another year. Today is warm, dry and sunny, only the second day this year that feels like a 'strip right down to your anorak' day. 02 May 2016 Busy birding Very windy and cool. Pouring later, then sunny again. A 15-minute bird count from my dining room windows gave:3 Blue Tit, 3 Goldfinch, 2 Coal Tit, 2 Dunnock, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Robin, 2 Siskin, 2 Wood Pigeon, 1 Bullfinch (male, inside the kitchen window feeder!), 1 Chaffinch, 1 Nuthatch, 1 Tree Sparrow. 01 May 2016 Tour de Yorkshire Cool and wet so we sat indoors and watched most of the great bicycle race on ITV4 until they got as far as Egton. Then we walked to the end of the drive to see the event in the flesh, before returning to the best seat in the house to watch the Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay and Scarborough finale. Met readings for April 2016 Max 66 degrees F, Min 28 degrees F, Actual 50 degrees F. Precipitation 2.75 inches. A cool, wet and windy month with little sign of spring. 30 Apr 2016 T de Y preview We drove to Helmsley and enjoyed the Walled Garden and the Strangled Butterfly café, before tracing a bit more of tomorrow's Tour de Yorkshire route up and over Blakey Rigg and down the Esk Valley. Detoured (!) via Oakley Walls and were delighted to see a pair of Wheatear for the first time in many years. 29 April 2016 First House Martins They flew excitedly around the house but the weather was wet, raw and cold so little thought of nesting just yet. 27 Apr 2016 Cool reception Poor IJ arrived to wintry showers this week, with scraps of snow lying up on the moortop. It was lovely to see her again but the weather conspired against us. Off delivering the Whitby Guidebook (see www.VisitWhitby.com) to Goathland hotels and then via Randy Mere to Egton Bridge, over the Hamer Road to Rosedale Abbey for a lovely 'winter warmer' soup in the bakery. Then home via Blakey Rigg to Lealholm for 3 o'clocks. 26 Apr 2016 Ice on't pond Not only was there a skim of ice on my pond this morning, but there was a layer of snow on top if that! Chilly! 24 Apr 2016 Wintry showers Oh dear, is it winter again? Frosty nights with a chill Northerly wind and occasional wintry showers. Not what we wanted this weekend for us, nor the poor Goths. 23 Apr 2016 First Wheatear We set off with several boxes of Whitby Guidebooks for the Moors Centre at Danby and were delighted to see our first Wheatear fly across the Oakley Walls road. There used to be several along this 3 mile road on the mooredge between Lealholmside and Danby, predictable as clockwork, all summer long, year after year. But that was in the 1980s and early 1990s, when they were joined by Curlew and Lapwing, now also sadly much declined. 21 Apr 2016 Those gleaming points of fire A Red Letter Day, as not only was the Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming IN my wood again, for the first time in several years, but Sleights Beacon was lit this evening as part of the nation chain of beacons lit for the Queen's 90th Birthday. 'For swift to east and swift to west, the ghastly war flame spread High on Saint Michael's Mount it shone, it shone on Beachy Head. And far on the deep the Spaniard saw, along each southern shire, Cape beyond cape, in endless range, those twinkling points of fire.' Lord Macauley 20 Apr 2016 First Swallow Clear, sunny and warm weather greeted the first Swallow to fly over my garden, as the Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed nearby and I sat on the veranda with a morning coffee, serenaded by a beautiful male Siskin in full song from the Hornbeam hedge. Lovely! 19 Apr 2016 All lawns all cut For the first time this year, all the lawns have been strimmed. Young Sam t'Garden did 1.5 hours worth of strimming, then I did as much again. The Great Spotted Woodpecker male was on the Peanut feeder outside the kitchen windows again today. 17 Apr 2016 Two Swallows Make a Spring. At last! Chilly overnight, but dry and sunny today. We drove to Poet's Cottage garden centre in Lealholm and bought a Baker's Dozen of reasonably priced Raspberry canes. Ten Erica and 3 Autumn Bliss, all late fruiting to avoid bird damage. On the way home, via Oakley Walls, we saw a roadside Lapwing holding territory and then 2 Swallows flew across Danby Moor. Once home, we dug a trench in the saturated soil and planted our new Raspberries with some compost and chicken manure, then part covered between them with weed-supressing membrane. The Green Woodpecker continues to yaffle loudly from the wood every day and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker was on the Peanut feeder just outside the kitchen window. 16 Apr 2016 Rain, hail, sleet and snow Our attempt to do a bit of gardening was soon interrupted by all of the above, so we went on a Raspberry Cane Hunt, looking specifically for autumn fruiting ones. Almost no joy, or at least, not at those prices! 15 Apr 2016 Pick n KMS A nice day, so we made the most of it with a swim at Pickering, lunch at Middleton Tea Parlour and Post Office (VERY traditional and nice) and then to Kirkbymoorside to view the auction rooms and 3 o'clocks in the Penny Bank. Heavy rain on the way home. 14 Apr 2016 Ditching I dug out the perforated plastic drainpipe across the path through the Middle East Coppice and set it to one side for future de-claying, leaving the ditch open to try and divert the water from running down the path. 13 Apr 2016 Strim Sam the Garden strimmed the Groves Dyke lawns for the 2nd time this year, but it was too wet to tackle anything that hadn't been strimmed last week. Later I checked out when my own strimmer would be returned after servicing - Sat! 12 Apr 2016 Cold, grey, foggy and horrid Nuf said. 11 Apr 2016 New sofa Stozzy delivered the nice new 4-seater sofa for Groves Dyke holiday cottage, and took away the old 3-seater sofabed and matching chair. It hadn't been in the Network Furniture recycling shop an hour before they were both sold! See www.WhitbyAreaDevelopmentTrust.org for details of this super shop. 10 Apr 2016 Dig n Plant A lovely warm, mild and sunny day so we went to the Car Boot sale at Broad Ings, where we found a nice shoerack cum coffee table. Then home to sit on the veranda, drink coffee and watch Aldrin the Buzzard flying over Woodlands and being mobbed by Crows. When we all tired of this, we dug and weeded the ex-Leek bed and transferred more Strawberries. The soil is a bit less wet than a few days ago, thank goodness. 09 Apr 2016 Drizzle and Bonfire The perfect day at last: steady rain all morning and no wind, so we lit the top half of the enormous bonfire heap in the woodyard. Once it was half the height, the flames were encouraged downwards and by late afternoon only a few dying embers were left. 08 Apr 2016 Pick swim and patisserie Off to Pickering for a swim, with lunch at the garden centre. Then on to Malton searching for a nice new pine coffee table for Groves Dyke conservatory (to match the big comfy chairs). We failed on the coffee table but succeeded in finding the nice new patisserie where we enjoyed a drink and a chocolate marquise. 03 Apr 2016 Clip and dig The second lovely Spring day this year, so we clipped off the Raspberry canes and dug over another veg bed, this time for the Onions. The soil (!) is still very cold, wet and very clay, so refuses to fall off the roots of the weeds, no matter how hard we shake them. A Chiffchaff called from the wood, there are Daisies flowering on the still uncut lawns and the leaves are now showing on the twigwam Willows. Seeds of Broad Beans, Peas were planted, as well as Kale and Strawberry, but all within the Potting Shed, which ought to be a mite warmer and drier. 01 Apr 2016 Coastal guidebooks We drove up the coast, dropping off boxes of the free Whitby Guidebooks (link from www.VisitWhitby.com ) at all the shops, cafes, pubs and hotels in Runswick Bay and Hinderwell. The life-saving Ellerby Hotel does a lovely soup and sandwich by the roaring open fire (just ask IJ)! March 2016 Met data Cold, wet and very windy - and not at all like Spring. Rainfall 4.4 inches. Max 56 F, Actual 45 F, Min 27 F. 30 Mar 2016 Goathland and Pickering Hard frost overnight and then I had to tip out 2 inches of rain to from the rain gauge, to leave room for the next torrential downpour. We dropped off a few more Whitby Guidebooks in Goathland, the headed for Pickering for a potter around, including a tour of the new 'Retirement Village' there. Not yet! 29 Mar 2016 Perfect funeral weather Heavy rain started just as we gathered for CS's funeral at Aislaby and continued throughout. Miserable weather for a sad occasion. 28 Mar 2016 Water water everywhere Torrential rain (1 inch) fell overnight and all this morning, yet Yorkshire Water managed a leaky water main in Briggswath, so 150 houses were without water for much of the day. Quite an achievement, especially on a changeover day for the holiday cottage, with 4 loads of laundry to do. Still, it would never have dried... 26 Mar 2016 Paddy We took an Ashdown today and called it Paddy (LibDem joke). About 6 inch diameter and standing next to the woodyard foot bridge, it was getting far too tall and within reach of the woodshed if it tried hard. So it had to go. Just a bowsaw job to pollard it about 5 feet off the ground (above Roe Deer browsing height). It fell as requested and we lopped off the twiggy bits and then sawed the big stick into 4 foot cordwood. It gave us 8 lengths (= 24 nice no-need-to-split 16inch stove logs), plus the 5 foot pollard, = 37 foot, plus another 10 foot for the twiggy top. That's 47 foot tall or thereabouts. Lots of firelogs for next winter, not to mention lots of lovely kindling, too. Thanks, Paddy. We heard the first Chiffchaff of the summer as we worked in the woodyard. 25 Mar 2016 Gardening weather at last We watched a Buzzard soaring over Woodlands and the Esk Valley as we enjoyed our morning coffee. It just looked so right! Then we completed the raised bed for the Strawberries, topped it up with our own compost, laid a weed-supressing permeable membrane over it and transplanted the Strawbs by cutting slits in the fabric. We had a very pleasant outdoor lunch at the River Gardens, just across the main road, and their Eggs Benedict was delicious. Also emptied the old frost damaged tubs, smashed them for crocks for the new frostproof tubs (I wonder?) and filled them up with last year's tomato growbags, and planted-up with Monkey Musk. Time to sit in the sun and listed to the Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming further up the drive. 23 Mar 2016 Fighting for Whitby The campaign to save Whitby Tourist Information Centre continues, so please sign the Petition and Comment too, if possible. Thank-you. A 15-minute Bird Count from my windows included: Great Tit 4, Blue Tit 2, Chaffinch 2, Dunnock 2, Robin 2, Siskin 2, Coal Tit 1, Goldfinch 1, Wood Pigeon 1 (ie 17 individuals of 9 species). Dry, mild and calm. 22 Mar 2016 Flying colours *** Inspection today, when the Visit Britain quality assurance Inspector comes to check on Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage. Suitably impressed by the newly redecorated dining room and its new carpet, as well as everything else, we have once again been awarded 3 Stars and lots of nice comments. Many thanks! 19 Mar 2016 Guidebooks up the dale Still warm off the printing press (almost), we delivered lots of Whitby and District Tourism Association Guidebooks (see link on www.VisitWhitby.com ) to The Moors Centre at Danby, the other village businesses, and to Shepherds Hall (very nice lunch, too) and elsewhere in Lealholm. A very nice day out, with a good drive over the moortop. 17 Mar 2016 Logs from Glaisdale Young CF delivered another 2 larger-than-average dumpy bags of his well seasoned 16-inch stove logs, mostly Ash, Beech and a few Cherry, @ £75 / bag (delivered). That works out at about 50p per log and is cheaper than our previous supplier, who has now moved too far away. All stacked into the walls of the polebarn in just over 1 hour. 14 Mar 2016 Save Whitby Tourist Information Centre Believe it or not, Scarborough Borough Council are planning to sell off our TIC for another fast food outlet. Please sign (and share) this petition: Thank-you. www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-whitby-tic 13 Mar 2016 Coffee on the Veranda A nice bit of high pressure across the UK, resulting in a misty morning and a fine, calm, 26dry sunny day - a pleasure to be out of doors, for almost the first time this year. We cut down the biggest of the Hornbeam stems behind the bendy hedge and trimmed it into potential walking sticks for next year. A Green Woodpecker yaffled in the wood and there was a steady hum of traffic on the main road to Whitby. 10 Mar 2016 Home again Just back after a few days in the Lake District, which is coming back to normal again after the awful floods there. Glad we could help their tourism economy just a little. Many thanks to J and C for house-sitting while we were away, shame it was wet here and sunny there - again! 05 Mar 2016 7 steps to Sandsend Work on the new coastal defences near Sandsend continues apace and the 3 layers of 7-step concrete slabs is now almost complete from Sandside café to Raithwaite Beck. The giant crane which has stood on a platform out over the beach all winter, will soon be removed and the first of the 'giant sett mats' has been put in place just below the road and above the 21 steps. A very impressive job, well advanced despite the weather, with a bit more re-profiling of the boulder clay slope above the road. 28 Feb 2016 Spring hedging A lovely warm, dry, sunny day, ideal for another 6 yards of hedging at the top of Groves Bank orchard. Resting in the sun between bouts of hedge-laying was very pleasant and it was very clear just how advantageous a Southerly aspect can be. BC topped-up the tubs on Groves Dyke and replanted them with Spring Primroses, and we added a few more weaving rods to the wicker fence around the garden. 27 Feb 2016 New woodburner? Our first trip to Guisborough for a very long time, to chat to Pawletts Ltd - the very same firm who supplied my current stove, so 30 years ago. My integrated solar hot water cum woodburner back boiler, all topped-up if required by off peak electric within a super-size and super insulated hot tank, is perhaps due for a technical review by someone who really knows what they are doing. And what new technical advances are now available. We came home via Staithes, with a cuppa at Dolly's Tea Room and a very brief stroll to the harbour. Her one condition for sitting in the window seat is to shout out if we see anything unusual - ie, anything which is NOT a tourist, a dog or a seagull. Nothing unusual to report, apart from a very nice fruit scone! 25 Feb 2016 Step one complete At Sandsend I watched the giant crane lifting a couple of 12 ton concrete slabs off a lorry and down onto the beach. Very spectacular. Each slab is shaped into 7 very wide steps and these slabs are laid tightly, side by side, all the way from Sandside Café in Sandsend village to Raithwaite Beck. This lowest layer of slabs is now complete, with some of the second layer already in place, thus providing 14 steps up off the beach. Just one more layer of steps to go and then that phase of the coastal defence work is complete. More stonework will be added above the 3rd layer, right up to the roadside. The landscaping and re-profiling of the boulder clay slope above the road is well over half way, with a (theoretically!) now stable slope of just 38 degrees. We will see... 23 Feb 2016 New logs My first delivery of seasoned hardwood logs from a new supplier, our regular chap having sadly moved even further away. These me from a young chap with a newly created business in Glaisdale, just 12 miles from here. More expensive at £70 / dumpy bag than our previous £45, but these are bigger dumpy bags (a full 1 ton, not just the usual 0.7 ton size) and hold twice as many 16-inch logs as before. The net result is that the old logs cost about 66p / log while these new ones work out at about 50p / log. 21 Feb 2016 Yorkshire Aromatic That is the variety of the young Apple tree we planted today, to replace the one that blew over in the storms and is now stacked on its way to the woodyard. The tree comes from Roger's Nurseries in Pickering (ie local) and the variety comes from Duncombe Park in Helmsley (ie local and traditional). It is now just west and above the bonfire hollow in Groves Bank orchard, near the section of recently laid hedge. 17 Feb 2016 Catching up Seems I need to type in all of your email addresses again, so if you are wondering why I haven't been in touch, please send an email to email@example.com Stormy again last night and this morning, but the ice on my pond has melted. Finally able to complete my Big Garden Birdwatch submission online, from 30 Jan 2016. It was: Blue Tit 7, Long Tail Tit 6, Great Tit 5, Goldfinch 3, Chaffinch 3, Chaffinch 3, Dunnock 2, Coal Tit 2, Robin 2, Marsh Tit 1, Nuthatch 1, Siskin 1, Tree Sparrow 1, Wood Pigeon 1. I think that should be 39 individuals of 14 species in the hour (interesting that all but Nuthatch and Tree Sparrow appeared in the first 15 minutes, so my more frequent 15-minute counts are almost as accurate). 15 Feb 2016 Back again! Thanks to my local whizkids, (ok, so one of them is in Northumberland) I am now back on line again. Aren't computers wonderful? No web, no email, no nothing for a couple of weeks - almost a holiday! 31 Jan 2016 Painting done We have just finished painting the dining room in Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage. We couldn't paint until Our Kev The Joiner had completed the new plasterboard which now covers the ancient pegboard wall. Now that is done, and the painting done, then the new carpet goes down in a couple of days. Then we can clear-up and dust. Then the furniture can go back in. And then we can clear-up and dust again. And THEN Groves Dyke will be finished and all ready for the new season... 24 Jan 2016 Inbox only For reasons known only to Microsoft and my elderly laptop, I am able to read (all?) of my emails but can NOT reply to any of them! Sorry about that. I shall scream soon. My landline is working again, so please phone me instead. It is warm (very warm, 14 C) and dry today, which is a very nice change. 12 Jan 2016 Please Vote for Whitby The Countryfile magazine has Whitby as one of the leading nominees in this yera's awards, so please add your vote (b4 the end of Jan): www.countryfile.com/awards2015-16 10 Jan 2016 More rain Another 0.5 inches in my rain gauge, making it 5 inches since 1st Jan, plus another 3 inches at the end of Dec, or 8 inches in about 3 weeks. The occasional dry day allows the River Esk to drain away, so flooding is not really a problem for the vast majority. 08 Jan 2016 Too much rain I tipped out another 2 inches, a total of 4.5 inches of rain so far this month - and its only the 8th! So that's about twice (in 8 days)what we might expect in an average month!! Cool and raining as I spent 2 hours digging a ditch to take the runoff from my top neighbour's fields away in the correct direction, otherwise it flows out the side of his un-maintained ditch and down the hillside into my wood or into my side neighbour's paddock and then into my side ditch and under Woodlands Drive. If only, I thought, my top neighbour was a millionaire in the building trade with a fleet of excavators and drivers... oh yes, I remember... 07 Jan 2016 Pouring again So wet and windy that MD and I cancelled our plans to saw up the Leccy Sycamore on the NW Frontier. A 15-minute Bird Count (raining, 8/8 cloud cover, wind Force 3 SW) gave: Blue Tit 4, Chaffinch 3, Goldfinch 3, Great Tit 3, Long Tail Tit 3, Bullfinch 2, Robin 2, Blackbird 1, Coal Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Siskin 1, Wood Pigeon 1. 05 Jan 2016 Wetter still! Very, very wet yesterday and overnight, when a couple of small areas of Whitby were flooded by the sheer volume of water which fell and just couldn't drain away fast enough. This included Homebase on the industrial estate, where the car park accumulated enough water to overwhelm its 5-year old drains! Just goes to show that the more of the UK we tarmac, the more surface water flooding there will be... I tipped 2.5 inches of rain out of my rain gauge (again!) to leave room for yet more. So that was 3 inches of rain in the last week of Dec, plus 2.5 in the first 5 days of Jan, = 5.5 inches in 2 weeks - when a 'normal' month would be about 2 inches in total! 04 Jan 2016 Wet, wetter, wettest During a brief dry spell, I trimmed a bit more of the hedge at the top of the orchard. 7 Redpolls, the first for months, perched in the Willow in Groves Dyke garden. 01 Jan 2016 Happy New Year Calm, dry, sunny and cool this morning, with frost overnight, for only the 2nd time this winter. We drove to Lealholm and lunched at Aislaby pub. The 7 inch metal bolt was ripped off my 12 foot wooden gate by the severe wind last night, leaving it to swing wildly until we got a rope on it.