Walking in the World

Flora & Fauna

Raiders of the Lost Carp


He sits in the tree at the bottom of the garden like an angel on top of a Christmas tree, right at the top, watching. His prey is our neighbour’s koi carp, so his menace is real – but it’s still kind of exciting to see this huge Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) fly in every morning. He’s only a youngster, but he’s clearly already learnt where to find an easy breakfast.

Jeff calls him Jones.

10 Nov 2016

Autumn on Wallasea


Sometimes we don’t have to wander far to find lovely and unusual landscapes. We have been watching the the transformation of Wallasea Island for the past several years as the sea has been allowed to breach the sea defenses in a carefully orchestrated and managed conservation project. As wetlands and lagoons are created, birds and wildlife are finding it a welcome place, as are the human visitors who enjoy seeing them while breathing in the fresh sea air. With new paths opening, we have more to explore each time we visit.


The peace is profound. The tide moves in and out quietly, and the wide lagoons and mud flats give plenty of space for birds, insects, critters, and human daydreams. And yet, as this sign far out on the sea wall reminds us, the reserve really is a crossroads, not actually all that far away away from civilization, at least as the crow flies.


The construction of the nature reserve was made possible by bringing in 3 million tonnes of spoil from the huge crossrail project deep underneath London. In recognition of this, a section of the cutter head from one of the tunneling machines has been installed alongside the Jubilee Marsh trail.


Its enormity bears tribute to the magnitude of the project, and stands in contrast to the tiny lifeforms that are settling into their new home, like this late season Clouded Yellow butterfly (Colias croceus).


27 Oct 2016

Vanessa atalanta


Summer is drawing to a close so we won’t be seeing many more of these little beauties this year, but we’ve found this Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) huddled outside our office window several times lately, just out of camera shot. Today, though, Jeff caught her flying into the garden and snapped a quick photo when she landed in the ivy. Their flashy colouring makes them easy to spot and fun to see.

Some Red Admirals do hibernate, so I am harbouring the hope that she will survive the winter in some protected place.  Butterflies in general are symbols of transformation, and unexpected sightings like this draw my attention inwards as I check in with myself about where I am in my own ongoing cycle of transformation. Seeing Vanessa this week reminds me of the importance of sharing the colors and joy of my creations with the world.

What does she say to you?


27 Sep 2016

Dragonfly Drop-in


We have a new friend who likes to spend his afternoons hunting small flies and basking in our garden. We’ve been enjoying a few days of Real Summer weather this week, with temperatures in the 80’s, which makes the garden a pretty nice place to be!.


26 Aug 2016

Gardening with Friends

Jeff kindly takes care of our gardening for us –  I think  he sees it as a chance to commute with his critterly comrades! This Oak Bush cricket was keeping him company this afternoon as he was clipping back a bit of the lilac tree.

15 Aug 2016

Day is Done


While I was teaching last night,
Jeff went to watch the day sink into night….

20 Jul 2016

Garden Nuts


We’ve been watching these little fellas grow outside our kitchen window. It won’t be long before the squirrels find them and make off with their treasure, but for now we’re enjoying their weirdness, and the novelty of seeing them so close to the house.

What are they? They’re cobnuts, a cultivated variety of hazelnuts that grow in the British countryside, particularly in Kent, which is across the river from us.


Cobnuts can be harvested in late summer and are available in local farm shops from late August until mid-October, and we tend to buy them as a treat whenever we see them. They are eaten fresh, rather than dried, and have a nutty-fruity flavor and a softly crunchy texture. Because of their requirement for male/female pollination, they’re not easy to produce on demand, but if the conditions are right, they might just have a happy season all on their own, like this little tree in our garden is having this year.

Our grey squirrels are going to be very happy critters when they find them…

06 Jul 2016

Winter Mothering


February is a month of many birthdays in our family, so my mind is naturally drawn to the winter mothering that has taken place down through our generations. I always greet the neighbourhood horses as I pass by on my walks, but today I slowed more than usual to appreciate the tender mothering that was taking place out in the field.

16 Feb 2016

Winter Gardens


Our wildlife-friendly back garden is the reason we have so many guests at this time of year. It is a wild garden… it may never win any awards from Gardener’s World, but our local critters seem to appreciate Jeff’s attentiveness and care. And I appreciate his generosity in sharing what he sees (and hears) with me. Our winter has been so mild, that we still have plenty of berries, and we are already seeing an odd crocus or two beginning to push up through the soil. It is turning colder this week, so our wild friends will be looking to supplement their diet, and Jeff will be out filling the feeders every afternoon.


And me? I am happy spending my January indoors. I am making soups and experimenting with new recipes for crackers and condiments, interspersed with other creative and/or relaxing pursuits. I have decided that this is seasonally appropriate and that my feet will venture further afield again as the days grow longer, warmer, and drier.


I treasure this inward season when slowing down happens almost automatically, and I have more time and space to attend to my soul. I love that our winter gardens can be both literal and figurative, and that we can each tend them in our own ways.

Soup Pot

11 Jan 2016

Morning Visitor


Sometimes, if you don’t go out into the world, the world comes to you. This little lady, a hawfinch, showed up in our garden this morning, much to Jeff’s delight — he’s convinced that he’s the first birder to find one in a local garden. So, a happy morning for us!


06 Jan 2016

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