News Blog 2016

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 ChristmasToday 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 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 (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 RevisitedOff 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 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 6×2 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 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 receptionPoor 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 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     StrimSam 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 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 ) 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 ) 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. 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 AromaticThat 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 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):  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.