Napoleonic, WSS & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday 20 October 2023

Hooptedoodle #450 - Babet Takes Out the Hedge

 Wild weather here - Storm Babet passing through - should be with us until sometime tomorrow. As ever, one mustn't complain - there are dreadful tales of flooding and injury coming from around the country. I send my best wishes to anyone who is affected.

Apart from having been awake all night with the noise, we have limited damage, but the gales have flattened a section of my big hedge. We'll decide what needs to be done about it once the place stops moving about. Yes, it's a Leylandii, and only a maniac would have a Leylandii hedge of this height, but I inherited it. Since 2000 it has cost me thousands of pounds keeping it under control, and also a number of heavy-duty disputes with my neighbour.

The hedge was planted (I believe) in 1985. The occupier of my house at that time was plagued by a neighbour, armed with binoculars, watching his wife sunbathing. This was the infamous Roland, now long dead and consigned to local folklore, so I think of it as Roland's Hedge
You will appreciate that I was not happy about the proximity to my car, which is always parked in some random spot on the drive. I assume that Nature chooses the section of the hedge at random too

The hedge trees are about 5 to 6 inches thick; these particular trees have been dead for a few years, and it is evident that they have snapped off below ground, being rotten
It's too wet and filthy to tell yet, but it is just possible that my car is undamaged - it may not even be scratched. The serious bits of the hedge missed it by about 8 inches, and it has just been caught by outlying twigs
So I appreciate that I've been very lucky. I moved the car to a safer spot, away from the hedge. While I was looking for such a spot, I became very aware of the possibility of Babet going on to flatten full-size trees, or even the odd stone wall. The sound I could hear above the organ-chord of the wind may have been the gods laughing at my efforts

Saturday 7 October 2023

Hooptedoodle #449 - Another New Garden Visitor

 Some excitement this morning - never seen one before, but we have dozens of Redwings in the Whitebeam trees at the edge of the wood this morning, noisily stripping off the berries.

It's pretty dark - we've had biblical rain for a day and a half, it doesn't look like stopping soon, and the birds are hyperactive, so a decent photo is out of the question at the moment. They are probably passing through; if not I'll try again when it brightens up.

In the interim, here is someone else's photo. They are a member of the thrush family, turdus iliacus, usually only seen in the UK in Winter, it says on the RSPB site. It also says that they often forage in mixed flocks with Fieldfares, so maybe we have some other new visitors as well.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Hooptedoodle #448 - Once Again, Nature Attempts to Play with My Head

 An odd time of year, as the Autumn rolls in, and one feature of this here on the farm is that there are rapid changes in the wildlife - especially insect and invertebrate life. We have a house joke here, which is "the crop of the day"; one day, especially if it is sunny after a period of wet weather, the garden may suddenly be full of large moths, or perhaps swarms of bluebottles, or little flies sitting on the whitewashed walls, enjoying the sun's warmth. They are gone by the following day - all tiny cogs in Nature's wondrous machinery.

A few years ago, I got a bit of a fright when mysterious signs appeared on the Velux window in the attic, but it turned out it was simply the track of a couple of slugs (or maybe just one slug?) across the outside of the window. I published a post on this at the time. 

It's happened again. Keep calm. This is this morning's edition.

Since I observe that my previous slug-writing post was almost exactly this time of year, I was less alarmed when a similar sign appeared on the same window; I now know what caused it, this must obviously be the time of year when slugs start hiking around roof-windows, but if it comes back later to complete the drawing from 2019 I shall become very worried indeed. I'm keeping my eyes open.

Last night we also suddenly had a load of very noisy, very vigorous houseflies whizzing about in the upstairs bathroom. Another seasonal crop. They were bouncing off the tiled walls and the mirror - not recommended at all. I don't care for these chaps; one or two can be ignored - they won't live long anyway - but a whole gang of them is too much, and is likely to upset the Contesse. They almost certainly have hatched out in the loft area above the bathroom, probably on Monday when it was warm, and have got in through the small gaps in the bathroom ceiling around the halogen lighting. Whatever the back-story, they were unwelcome [I would be reluctant to create a nuisance in their bathroom, for example, though there might be some philosophical debate about whose bathroom we are discussing here], and, though I am not enthusiastic about chemical warfare, I shut them in overnight with a short burst of Raid insecticide. [Sorry about this - I am not proud about it]

This morning I went into the upstairs bathroom at about 10am, to see how the chaps were getting on. I regret I did not manage to get a photo, but there were 8 flies lying dead on the tiled floor, which is not unexpected. The thing which raised the hairs on the back of my neck a bit was that they were in a straight line. If I'd had a metre rule handy in the bathroom (I didn't) I could have proved it, but they were dead straight - not evenly spaced, but straight.

Now this really does get your mind racing. Another warning from the other side? In fact, it's not much of a puzzle (I am very relieved to report). The poor flies, suitably unwell from their exposure to the spray, must have been drawn to the window (another roof Velux) as the sun rose this morning, presumably buzzed their last up there, and as they died they slid down and fell in a line which was parallel to the bottom of the window frame.

So that's all right then. Nothing strange to worry about at all. It was weird while it lasted, though.