First week of November

Friday the First of November 2013

Two of my four cats have decided to establish strange places as their primary residences.

DSC_6343SqueakSqueak, a 95% black female, has commandeered a spot on top of the kitchen cupboards …


DSC_6344Kipper… while Kipper, 100%black male, is vertically below her on top of the microwave.


Meanwhile there’s not a lot going on outside.

DSC_6359LongTailedTitLong tailed tits are really, I mean really, cute.


DSC_6373FaceDown the canal at the mews you’re being watched:


Grebes are still on t’pond:DSC_6389Grebe


Betty Botter bought some butter,
Betty said: “This butter’s bitter.
“If I mix this bitter butter
“With my bit of better butter,
“It will make my better butter bitter”

There’s a lot of slightly different versions out there, most involving bitter batter, but this is how I remember it.

Then there was ‘Little Miss Bouncer’ who ‘Loved an announcer, down at the BBC’


Saturday the twoth

Anyhow, enough of this: on with the pics:
DSC_6527GrebesDSC_6664GrebesHere’s the grebes – both adults with the two remaining youngsters – the other two having done the buggerin’ off.


Are robins alone in being territorial at this time of year?DSC_6630Robin


DSC_6736LichenLichens are beginning to show as the leaves fall. This was on a willow by the canal.


A young swan arrived as we (that’s Ian [twitter: @Watts127] and me) walked round the pond:DSC_6566SwanDSC_6572SwanI think it was too big to be still called a cygnet (?).

Later it was doing swanny things:


Grebes, canal, ex-pigeon, cyclists and a beautiful conker.


No sun–no moon!
No morn–no noon!
No dawn–no dusk–no proper time of day–
No sky–no earthly view–
No distance looking blue–
No road–no street–no “t’other side this way”–
No end to any Row–
No indications where the Crescents go–
No top to any steeple–
No recognitions of familiar people–
No courtesies for showing ’em–
No knowing ’em!
No travelling at all–no locomotion–
No inkling of the way–no notion–
“No go” by land or ocean–
No mail–no post–
No news from any foreign coast–
No Park, no Ring, no afternoon gentility–
No company–no nobility–
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member–
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds–

Thomas Hood

Not generally true though, November has, by and large*, been pretty good weatherwise. (so far; touch wood)

*(There’s something I didn’t know: that’s a nautical expression; “by” meant sailing into the wind while “large” was going with the wind. hence “by and large” means, roughly, “under any circumstances”)


Pond & canal (yawn!). Crossed over to Shireoaks road at Highground Bridge, just below Deep Lock. Walked up the road as far as Haggonfields Lock. Coming back down the towpath I snuck through the hedge into the environs of the C&RT sludge pond, the zillions of teasels never fail to attract me.
DSC_6893PondWhen I go to the pond I take a pic from the same spot every time. I might schloosh ’em all together to make a gif or a movie later.


DSC_6901SparrowsThere’s a privet bush a short way round the pond that’s home to a flock of sparrows.


DSC_6921FungiThe steps, made from old railway sleepers, that take the path from waterside to the high path past the school, have a few occasional fungi …


DSC_6937AutumnColours… and the footpath back down, surrounded by bramble bushes, has views of distant autumnal trees which get more vivid as time passes.


The adult grebes are getting rid of the kids and starting to be a couple again. (Yup, I’m playing with the movie thing on my Nikon again – sorry)


Up the canal:
DSC_6963ReflectReflected willow.


DSC_6976ReelsThe wireworks are spending millions of pounds on new buildings. These are some of the oversize cotton bobbins parked in their yard. I’d assumed that they made cables for electricity but I’m told they made cables for e.g. hauling cages up and down coal mines. The bottom dropped out of that market some thirty years ago. Wonder if they do suspension bridges and the like.


DSC_6992TwoJaysIn the front of one of the companies along Shireoaks road a couple of jays were flirting. (not a good pic: took me by surprise)DSC_6998JayDon’t get many jays round the pond, in fact I can only recall seeing one in the seven or so years I’ve been here, so these attracted me.


Back down the towpath and into the “teasel field”:DSC_7007TeaselOne teasel …


DSC_7018Teasels… a lot of teasels.


DSC_7032CommonDarterThere were a surprising number of red common darter dragonflies around and over the water.


DSC_7046TeaselLeavesEven the dead leaves of teasels have their appeal – these looked more like miniature rams horns than anything.


DSC_7052DarterAnother darter …DSC_7087DarterPair… and a pair “at it”.


Back on the canal:
DSC_7109DeepPoundLooking down to Deep Lock and Highground Bridge.

DSC_7141reflectAutumn reflection.

DSC_7156LadybirdLadybird on barrier post.

DSC_7228MallardMallard in a flap.



“(It’s lookin’) black over Bill’s mother’s.” Apparently, according to t’internet, this is a Nottinghamshire expression. Don’t like to disagree with such an authority, but I used to hear it in Sheffield regularly when I were a kid.
For anyone uncertain about its meaning: “bad weather is coming as there are dark clouds in the distance”.
Who Bill was and why his mother lived “over there”, I have no idea.



No change: pond & canal.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot;
I see of no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot.

Most folk “celebrated” bonfire night last weekend. My cats cowered in sundry places.

DSC_7267BlackbirdsBlackbirds on twig.


DSC_7291GrebeYoung grebe practising before “doin’ the buggerin’ off”.


DSC_7309FungusFungus has interesting shapes and shades, no?


DSC_7324MorseTrollyShopping trolley in Morse Lock. Tweeted C&RT and it was lifted next morning.


DSC_7353Crowverhead“Black as a tar barrel”


DSC_7371PondThe lake is bloody beautiful!


DSC_7436KesKestrel before and after a bit of photo-manipulation.


DSC_7471GrebeYoung grebe …

DSC_7521GrebeFish… and here’s one of the adults with a fish.



The heron was on the pond next to the ducks’ basking and feeding point.
DSC_7557HeronPondJust by the way, that’s a piece of old carpet that the heron’s standing on. Someone kindly chucked it in a few years ago. Not a bad pic, though I say it myself.




Tufted ducks are increasing in numbers as they come here to overwinter.DSC_7630TuftyMale …

DSC_7633FTufty… and female tufties.


DSC_7643RobinRobins are territorial in autumn. Their song is shorter and more staccato at this time of year.


DSC_7653GullHawsThis gull was pecking at haws on the canal bank. Not seen ’em doing that before.


DSC_7682RobinA somewhat less shy robin sitting on the fence around Morse Lock’s bywash.


DSC_7690HawsStrange how some hawthorns are absolutely covered in fruit while others have none.


DSC_7694IvyWaspIvy blossoms and fruits later than almost anything, providing food for wasps and flies braving the cooler weather.


DSC_7721MicrolightDon’t know how, or why, folk have the nerve to go up in one of those.


DSC_7736BullrushesBullrushes. I just like ’em


DSC_7747GrebeJuvenile grebe practising again.


DSC_7765ReedI have no idea whether this is reed, rush, or grass, but it’s pretty.


DSC_7780GullDSC_7792GrebesGullGulls hover over and skulk around grebes hoping to nick fish when they surface.

Thursday the seventh of November

Up to and round Lady Lee; as well as round t’pond and down to town on t’canal.
Just by the way: when I use “t’” -it’s not actually a “T” – more a sort of varying combination of “T“,”D” and “UH” depending on context.DSC_7811GrebeHave a grebe.


DSC_7856DucksPeaceful scene.


DSC_7891KesTwo views of a kestrel hunting.


DSC_7915LichenI wonder which happens first; the wood dying or the lichen colonising. Or are they independent?


DSC_7921AlderAlder, female and male “flowers”.


DSC_7936CampionA campion of some kind (I think).


DSC_7956ThistlesWhat happens to thistles after the thistledown has left.


DSC_7962LadyLeeLady Lee lake.


DSC_8025CloverStill flowering.


DSC_8040TreeIt’s almost impossible to get a picture of this tree without intervening overhead power lines. I’ve tried for ages and finally managed this. I think it was worth it.


DSC_8051UmbrellRemnants of cow parsley.


DSC_8056HawsTowpath with a carpet of haws.


DSC_8098YellowTiny yellow flowers.


DSC_8186GrebesThe adults. Alone at last?


DSC_8198MoonNot bad for a hand held daytime shot?



That’s week one done – might get around to week 2 before week 3’s out 🙂

13 thoughts on “First week of November

  1. Here in Lancashire I’ve always heard it as “It’s a bit black over Fred’s mothers” 🙂 I suspect it’s a fairly common term although probably more in the north than the south. Great pics, as always, you’re lucky to have snapped the jays they’re very nervous around here and are off in a flash if they see you.


    • Lots of “local” sayings are variants of national ones, I think.
      Seen the same(?) jays again in almost the same place, accompanied by a squirrel this time.
      Should say I take at least 100 pics/day, often over 200 in a couple of hours, and publish only the best bits of the best of those.


  2. You don’t need my version of Betty Batty, but I’m surprised it’s different. I suppose it’s to do with where my mother was brought up.
    First time I heard “Black o’er our Bill’s mother’s” was collecting such phrases at Biggin School.
    Which reminds me – Dad had saved one English exercise book. He must have been forced to spend an entire academic year copying out such stuff.
    Sure it stood him in good stead…
    Like the photographs. And the pomes.
    Should put my glasses on next time I find a conker.


  3. The mallard in a flap is an amazing picture. I like all the lake and pond shots, the colours make me homesick. The moon reminded me of a bizarre dream I often have about swimming through space. The teasels certainly looked like a bit past their prime. It’s not weird to feel sorry for a plant, right? When they’re fresh and new perhaps they are a tease of teasels, when they’re feeling less sprightly a forlorn of teasels. Forgive me, it’s early here 🙂


    • Mallards are often doing that – it’s catching ’em at it that is the trick.
      Likewise the moon – I don’t often manage to do everything right to get a decent picture. (Camera tech, like aperture, f numbers, ISO rating and so on are a mystery to me)
      Luvs me my teasels!

      It’s 1/4 to 9 (PM) here It’s strange to think it’s 7:45 tomorrow morning with you.




      • Queensland has no daylight savings, it’s only 7.23am now, the pterodactyl out the back generally wakes me around 5am, 7.45 would be a luxury 🙂 I am awake in a house full of teenage girls. Definitely a giggle of girls.

        I don’t think I’d ever seen a teasel before I came to your blog, although it’s possible I have just forgotten as I am a bit thick when it comes to such things 🙂


      • Aah. I knew knot which time zone you were in: I assumed you were same as NSW. I think I’d have been horrified at a houseful of teenage girls whatever my age at the time.

        Teasels were used for carding wool – raising a nap and getting all the fibres lying the same way.


    • Qld, one hour and one hundred years behind the rest of Oz. Some folk actually argue that it will upset the cows if they bring in DS, and that it will be hotter during the day. No kidding. So we have 4am sunrises and 7pm sunsets in the summer. Sigh.

      Ah, the girls keep me young – although I could live without the midnight shrieks as they play truth or dare, apparently that particular scream involved ice cold water in your belly button – and they think I’m dead cool cos I play the PS and XBox, have been known to let the occasional curse word fly, and don’t give a bugger if the house is tidy Not mummish behaviour, apparently. Finally, someone somewhere thinks I’m cool 🙂

      Etymology of the word tease then? I learn new stuff on this blog all the time 🙂


  4. “Well, I’ll go to t’Trent!” At least that is what my Mum used to say to express surprise (she was a Notts lass in South Yorkshire).

    As to territorial birds: for a couple of winters we had a fieldfare in our crab apple tree that never left it and defended it against all comers for several months, until it had eaten all the apples. I’m not sure that a single tree qualifies as a territory but it was fun watching the scrapping.


  5. It were “Well I’ll go to me tea!” from my broad Yorkshire steelworker grandfather, and “It’s looking black over Jack’s mother’s way”.
    “Cats go anywhere
    Any table, any chair etc etc” – poem by Eleanor Farjeon. Very popular in the late Forties – hence my middle name!
    Photos fantastic as always but particularly like the Lady Lee lake picture.


    • Lady Lee is a tiny “nature reserve” that’s not maintained at all except by yobs on motorbikes. It’s almost totally inaccessible and obscured by vegetation – this is probably “a good thing”.



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