Thursday, 8 May 2014

Rough Winds Do Shake....

Quince blossom.
We are neither of us very impressed by this weather and we would like to be able to hand May back in and stick with our April, if that is OK with everyone. The lovely warm days of April have been replaced by a continuous fitful Sou'Westerly bluster which brings in showers and long bursts of that heavy drizzle that only seems to happen in Ireland and which they call 'soft'. A good bit of our fruit is currently in bloom and it is being badly blown about - rough winds indeed DO shake the darling buds of May.

Apple blossom (Red Windsor, here)
The poor quince has a lot of big leaves on by now so it seems to catch more wind than the top fruit, the tree rocks about so that I debate whether to stake it higher up and the big, soft, delicate blooms quickly get brown edged wind-burn to the petals, as do trees like Magnolia stellata. I worry that the blooms will manage to get pollinated before they are reduced to wet brown rag. There are very few bees of any kind in this breeze and no hover flies either but there does seem to be a good population of a narrow, black, soft-bodied looking fly in among the flowers; perhaps they will pollinate the trees by sheer weight of numbers.

Winter cress (?) growing as a weed in our raised bed. 
Talking of bees, we have finally received our first copy of the magazine of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations (FIBKA). This mag, called 'An Beachaire' (The Beekeeper) contains an article about doing pollinator surveys for the National Biodiversity database (similar to what we do with the birds and mammals). These people need you to agree to walk a set route at least once a month and record the bumble bees you see, and they supply you with a wealth of info and pictures which will help the beginners (like me) to identify them and know which species to expect.

The ex-Hastings fig may only be 18"
high but it is still trying to fruit!
They seem to be happy to have some seriously doubtful data while you are learning and getting your eye in, and do not expect you to dive straight as able to tell queens, workers and drones across the 20+ species. Well, I walk the dogs every day and I am quite happy to keep my eyes open for bees as I stroll along. Indeed, since we have been interested in honey bees I have been doing this anyway and mentally trying to distinguish my Garden Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) from my white-tailed BB (B. lucornum) and my buff-tailed BB (B. terrestris). I have had to submit my 2 favourite dog walks as 'transects' to be used in the study. Thank you, too, Pud Lady who sent me in the post a "Bee Saver" pack which came to her house from Friends of the Earth promoting something called the "Bee Cause" but which included a load of charts and pictures about making your garden bee friendly AND an identification wall chart. I call that timely.

A bit frayed by the wind, Cambria's old "bob"
Meanwhile, barking up a completely different tree, I need to thank my old chums from the Sailing Barge Cambria (for which project I still maintain the website, keep blogging and now 'Tweeting' and, with Liz, produce their Newsletter ( ). The winter re-fit of this lovely old Thames 'sailorman' (108 years old in theory, but mainly now a very young 3 years of age!) involved the replacement of her "bob". This is the flag flown at the top of the main rig which was partly to advertise the company colours but also to work as a 'burgee' telling the helmsman the wind direction and strength.

Cambria flying the bob from the topm'st head (arrowed)
When Cambria was in trade, the (Everard's of Greenhithe) bob would have been red left and right, white top and bottom. When she was sold off by Everard's to her famous and final Skipper-in-Trade, Cap'n Bob Roberts, he chose blue and white. Now 'we' (The Cambria Trust) have her the Board decided to go with red white and blue combining both the stages of her story, but then a bit of green to denote that we were engine-less and therefore a green form of transport. The first of these flags went on when she first sailed as a re-launched restoration and had been out in the weather getting shredded by the winds (rough and otherwise!) for the first season, after which it was claimed by colleague, Dave B. I am honoured and delighted to have been chosen by the Team to receive the 2nd one, an important piece of barge history. I will treasure it and keep it safe and sound. It might look like a tatty ol' bit of flag cloth to you but it certainly isn't to me. Thank You the Cambria Trust.

1 comment:

Matt Care said...

Oops. Seems I have fallen foul of the flag 'police' by posting my bob upside down. The green 'canton' is supposed to be at the top with the white tape. A keel-hauling offence, I expect, if only barges had a keel.