Saturday, 17 July 2021


HOVERFLY - Eupeodes corollae - ON RAGWORT - 16TH JUNE 2021 -
HOVERFLY - Eupeodes corollae -
This photo is not from today but from 16th June.
There are many wild flowers growing in my street.
This ragwort is one of them.
I'm really fortunate in my neighbours for
they value wild plants as well as garden flowers
and vegetables; so ragwort, willow herb, buttercups and
dandelions are all left in place to grow and flower
in season.

This is an indulgent post. I walked out of my front door a few times today, took photos for the record and came back in again.

I have no garden, just a few square feet between the house and a little wall, beyond which is the pavement. Some of this gap is covered with a huge stone slab which does as a front path. To one side, there is concrete. To the other a tiny patch of earth - a few square feet where, at present, there are nigella turning into seed heads and poppies newly opened today. Mostly my plants are in pots - lots of them; small and large, within this confined space then along the pavement and down the street!

Here are some of them:

'Sweet Dream' rose from David Austin.
'Sweet Dream' rose from David Austin.

Throughout the day the light has been intensifying, the heat growing. The plants change in appearance. First thing in the morning, roses look ethereal.

'Sweet Dream' rose from David Austin.
The same plant later in the day.

Later in the day they mature decadently. It's as if they've put on thick make-up.

Pale purple Candytuft.

 Candytuft by the front door looks pretty when the light is thin.

Pale purple Candytuft.

The candytuft on an old lintel glows through the shade as the sun moves round.

Deep red nasturtiums growing up small bay tree.

While I was watering nasturtiums growing up a little bay tree, a neighbour asked if I'd been having 'trouble with teenagers' recently. 'Not at all,' I replied. (Little knowing!) "It's just that two or three weeks ago they were taking the soil from your pots to throw at the police." I've been watching bees and hoverflies. Urban living!

Foxglove leaves.

Last summer I collected seeds from foxgloves growing beside the road. The huge results are now in a large pot. No flowers yet.

* * * 

A bit of housekeeping:

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Sunday, 27 June 2021


Yellow gloves disintegrated from disuse at allotment.
My gardening gloves at the allotment disintegrated during
the long months of recovery from leukaemia when I could not touch
soil because of the microbes living in it.
I'll begin with apologies. I don't mean to be continually starting and stopping. It just happens. There are so many things to do! I've begun going to my allotment again. I've been fighting a battle with rats in my house. I spend a lot of time picking up litter in my neighbourhood. I take photos and write posts in my head - but never get round to putting them on screen. Be assured, though, that I am not forgetting you.

In my head, I planned a whole series of posts about how the terrain changes as we climb up from the river and canal at the foot of the hill, through the town and up to the moor. I was watching to see when the dandelions opened on the different levels. I was going to tell you but . . . 

Doorstep on 1st June 2021
Doorstep on 1st June 2021

When it came to June I thought I would take part in the '30 Days Wild' challenge with the Wildlife Trusts. I tidied up outside my front door so I could happily sit on the step to have breakfast on the first day and look around at the plants and creatures which happened to be there. Indeed, I did sit on my doorstep for breakfast that day . . . but got distracted by the adventures of a relative who was trying to get back to England after working in Austria and there are so many hospital appointments to go to and neighbours to chat to and spikey things to be pulled out of wooden floorboards and all sorts of other distractions in daily life that . . . well . . . the days go by . . . and I've not been writing any 'wild' posts for June.

The notice at the entrance of Lister Lane Cemetery.
The languages on the notice at the entrance to Lister Lane Cemetery gives you clues
about our neighbourhood - English, Urdu, Bengali and Czech.

However, one thing I did do recently was to visit Lister Lane Cemetery on 31st May when it was awash with aquilegia. 

Lister Lane Cemetery awash with aquilegia, May 31st 2021
Lister Lane Cemetery awash with aquilegia, May 31st 2021 

Every year it is awash with something . . . poppies, evening primrose, foxgloves . . . something striking and everywhere. This year, it's aquilegia.

Bee Hives in the old Chapel at Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax, Calderdale, UK.
The chapel no longer has a roof. Instead, it has bee hives!

In other years I've peered through the gates but only once before have I been in. On that occasion one of the interesting things about it was that there was a set of stocks - the old kind of punishment where people were fixed between planks of wood at their wrists and at their ankles so anyone who felt like it could throw rubbish at them - old fruit and stuff. I doubt the Friends of Lister Lane Cemetery who look after it nowadays had really been having fun at the expense of their less popular neighbours but it was a surprising piece of 'street furniture' to come across all the same!

Grave stones at Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax, Calderdale, UK.

Lister Lane Cemetery in Halifax was opened in 1841 as a commercial enterprise. As someone who grew up familiar with Church of England country churchyards the idea of a burial place as a money-making scheme came as something of a surprise. But the conventional churchyards of the town at the time were jam-packed and lives were short and some people were unwelcome in the religious graveyards even in death and they were found places in Lister Lane - people who committed suicide, people of different denominations. 

Aquilegia growing between graves at Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax, Calderdale, UK.
I am struck forcefully by how closely
many of the graves are packed together. Just enough space
for these flowers to grow between.

Chapel and path at Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax, Calderdale, UK.
Forget-me-nots between paving stones in a wide
walkway leading to the chapel ruins.

The soot on the obelisks, the way the graves are crammed together, the stories told in the engravings . . . the cemetery still says something about what life was like here in the nineteenth century - dark, crowded, brief, rich with experience. 

All sorts of people were rammed in, wealthy and poor, with crisply cut, durable gravestones and obelisks, walkways for the living, a sense of welcome and peace and now, thanks to the those who tend it, the graves are covered in flowers. Even the paths have flowers sprouting out of them. It's one of the wonderful things about the 'Calderdale Style'. Even in local parks there's a relaxing and admirable mixture between the formal and informal, the cultivated and the wild.

I'm hoping you will like it here as much as I do for we will be returning!

Ivy-leafed Toadflax on steps at Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax, Calderdale, England
Ivy-leafed Toadflax on steps at the cemetery.

The last burial at Lister Lane was in 1963 - when the mills were still belching out smoke. 

The other day a neighbour described coming home from work on a bus in a smog of the 1960s. The smog was so thick the driver couldn't see where he was going. The conductor had to get out and walk a couple of feet ahead - and beckon to show it was safe for the bus to move forward. We now live in different times. The air has cleared, the skies are often blue (and there is less snow).

Flowers on graves at Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax, Calderdale, England
California poppies and Aquilegia.

There's an open day every year on 4th July - with guided tours of the cemetery. If you are in the area you might like to take part. Here's a link.

And you might also like to follow the twitter account of The Friends of Lister Lane Cemetery where the graves are listed over time and the lives of the people who lie there narrated.


Description of Halifax 1810 - 1850 on 'From Weaver to Web' 

(An Online Visual Archive of Calderdale History)

Sunday, 11 April 2021


I can see this dandelion from my kitchen window. I watch it as the months go by - while the water runs warm into the sink, while I wait for the kettle to boil, when I look down the street to see how much traffic there is . . . 
From now on, you can watch it with me. It doesn't do much but remarkably, notably and all-on-its-ownedly . . . it's there.

So we'll see what it will do.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

MOSSES AND LICHENS on a dry stone wall.

This little plant (plant?) takes only a couple of square centimetres of space.
 You know that feeling of awe and joy which swells so large in your chest that it blocks your throat and you can't speak? You turn away and the world calms. Then you look back and the same thing happens. This great big bubble fills your breathing space and all you can do is smile and be happy? That happened to me this morning when I paused by a wall, rich in mosses and lichens - and caught sight of this tiny space of red filaments.

It was quite extraordinary, how many types of moss and lichen were there on that wall.

Mostly, when I come across so many things I don't know about, I start searching the internet to find their names. By the time I've found them the month has marched on and I fail to post about them. With mosses and lichens I have reached a stage of release otherwise known as 'giving up'. I will never know what they all are. I will never understand them. I will just marvel and enjoy them.

When photographing these, I didn't move a foot. So in that sense, it's a 'Stuck Foot Post'. But in another it's far short of that. There were so many mosses and lichens on these few square feet of wall, I have not shown them all. I didn't even begin to look at the other plants.

 This wall is not far from the village of Wainstalls in West Yorkshire. It's on the border between moorland and farmland. On one side of the narrow road there's rough grass and little streams. On the other there are sheep grazing in fields with dry stone walls around them - like this one - descending into the comparative lushness of a valley. It's all very steep. And this morning it was almost immersed in mist.

I'd begun higher up. But higher up was completely blanked out. Everything except an occasional small thorn tree had vanished behind whiteness. Oddly, though, I kept thinking I could see tall, bare branched trees ahead. My mind was creating them.

Lichens and mosses on this small piece of wall are packed together; intermingled. Each half stone seems to be a tiny and varied garden.

 Some of the mosses were neat and self-contained. Almost like cactuses.

 Some lichens were spread out like stars.

There were rows of elphin cups.

 And distinct circles.

 Mountain slopes on a minuscule scale.

And stark, exotic, rocky landscapes, all on a wall.

Of course, I would like to know what these lichens and mosses are so I'm hoping some of you will be able to tell me.

And I'll come full circle, returning to the wonderful red filaments which first caught my eye.

All photographs in this post were taken on 9th March 2021

Monday, 2 November 2020

2nd NOVEMBER 2020

Leaf shadows on trunk of tree in Autumn. 2nd November 2020.
Leaf shadows on trunk of tree in Autumn. 2nd November 2020.
What have I seen today?

That which I enjoyed the most were the shadows of leaves on the trunk of a tree.

When I first moved to Halifax (in West Yorkshire) I found a site where you can type in your post code and it will tell you the air quality. Halifax is a very busy town with lots of lorries and buses and cars. I anticipated the score would be low; a sad contrast, I expected, with the air I was used to in Dorset where I had lived right by the sea. But no. It came out surprisingly high. Pretty healthy stuff. I was pleased; but puzzled.

Autumn  Woods, Mount Pellon, Halifax, West Yorkshire. 2nd November 2020.
Autumn  Woods, Mount Pellon, Halifax, West Yorkshire. 2nd November 2020.

A few days ago I went on a short journey into Lancashire to visit The Forest of Bowland. It isn't a 'forest'  in the usual sense of non-stop trees - but it is very beautiful. On the way home I was entertained to see that the notice which announced I was re-entering Calderdale (this part of West Yorkshire) had a description written on it. Calderdale, it turns out is 'Ruggedly sophisticated'. My new image! The best of all worlds. I really am not sure about the 'sophisticated' bit but 'rugged' it certainly is. So rugged, so up and down, with so many steep drops in inconvenient places - there's plenty of room for trees where houses simply couldn't be. They are frequently in 'cloughs', the local word for a steep sided valley or ravine. Sometimes, often, you don't know they are there but these trees must have a huge impact on our air quality.

Autumn woods, Mount Pellon, Halifax, West Yorkshire. November 2nd 2020.
Autumn woods, Mount Pellon, Halifax, West Yorkshire. November 2nd 2020.

This morning, I was pottering around in the Mount Pellon area of Halifax - and that's where I saw the leaf shadows . . . and lots of autumn trees!

Path in woods under tall railway arch. 2nd November 2020
Path in woods under tall railway arch. 2nd November 2020

I also went under this huge arch belonging to a disused railway line.

Seedling on mossy wall. 2nd November 2020
Seedling on mossy wall. 2nd November 2020

And back up in the light . . . found this seedling growing out of a mossy wall. This seedling is almost as amusing as the 'ruggedly sophisticated' slogan because it has the air of being the kind of seedling that would want to grow into a really large plant if only it weren't sticking out of a wall . . . and if only it were a different time of year . . . and . . . it looks like a squash seedling, though perhaps it's a sunflower. Can anyone say?

Tiny white toadstools. Possibly Ivory Bonnet (Mycena flavoalba). 2nd November 2020

This afternoon I went out to look at a patch of tiny toadstools. They are spread over an area about two foot square, are white and each one is only about a centimetre across. You can see how small they are by comparing them with the size of the sycamore leaf. I put them on iSpot and a couple of people have already suggested they are 'Ivory Bonnet' (Mycena flavoalba). They are probably right - though I thought the tops of 'bonnet' fungi tended to be more pointy than these.

Tiny white toadstools close up. Possible Ivory Bonnet. (Mycena flavoalba) 2nd November 2020
Tiny white toadstools close up. Possible Ivory Bonnet.
(Mycena flavoalba) 2nd November 2020

Well, that was today! I hope you have had a good day too.