Monday, 29 August 2016

Dragonfly sex

dragonfly sex mating ritual
Dragonflies are amazing creatures. Spotting one is a joy. I find them either very elusive or far too curious; sometimes the first sighting is them whizzing off into the distance or they're settled three paces ahead and maintain a distance in front without pausing for more than a fraction of a second at any one time.
There are particular places where we have greater hopes of spotting a few, depending on season and weather conditions. You can't ever rely on seeing anything at all, so any chance sightings are a bonus. Of course, getting a photograph is the cherry on the cake, especially as I only shoot with my 50mm prime lens, so cannot zoom, plus I also operate on manual settings and focus.
Imagine my excitement when we unexpectedly encountered a pair of dragonflies flying around together in union over the river! From the small amount of research about dragonfly mating I carried out, it appears that after the main act of copulation they can fly around together to lay the eggs in the water. Dragonfly rituals can apparently be a rather brutal affair, but we caught this pair in the aftermath, once the main event was
It was astonishing to capture this moment on camera in reasonable quality, with the sunshine and the sparkles. Possibly the most exciting picture I have taken this summer - or maybe even ever!
dragonfly sex mating ritual
They buzzed up and down along a rather short stretch of water, darting around in sweet synchronisation. I felt very lucky to have witnessed their fleeting moments together and to have been given the opportunity to immortalise the scene. Aren't they beautiful? What a treat.
Sophie

Thursday, 25 August 2016

When August slips away

I know what you're thinking. "Aren't these the same pictures we saw on Monday?". Well no, but they were taken on the same day. I'm so sad that theses sights won't be around forever. It's good that I got out there and saw them while I could.









If there were any repeats I do apologise. But they warmed my beating heart.
Sophie

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Grass snake at large on the allotment

sunflowers in vase

For the first time in perhaps forever, I felt distinctly redundant at the allotment this weekend. Over spring and summer it's been a hive of activity with so many tasks clamouring for attention. Upon arrival on Saturday I took a lap of the plot to make a mental list of things to do but precious little presented itself. C had procured a (second- but don't get me started) rotivator which took a bit of a faff to get into the car. As designated labourer I knew that my priority was to barrow lots of well rotted manure from the big heap onto our plot, before C would rotivate it in. However, after an initial lap of the empty patch, the machine refused to work again. Cue me struggling to maintain composure when I was feeling incredibly frustrated. So my job was put on hold and instead I resorted to picking big stones out of the beds and filling the centre path.
rotivating the allotment

C spent quite a while tinkering on Saturday evening after a good google and had the rotivator running again by Sunday morning. So back we went and thankfully all went well. C prepared the ground, I layered on the manure and C went back over it to churn it all in. Not only do the two empty patches look neat but also they're already enriching themselves for next year's growing season.

The biggest and most exciting news is that a grass snake (we've called here Sally) has taken up residence in our allotment compost bin. Apparently we came across a snake a few years ago but this memory has all but deserted me. Imagine my surprise when I pulled the lid off, poised to throw in a bucketful of weeds when a basking green snake slithered off down the side of the bin! I shrieked with surprise, then yelled SNAKE! As C would dearly love to see it himself. He missed it but we bided our time and saw it on several other occasions over the two days. I took a few pictures and even a video but from now on we'll give her a little more space and hope that perhaps she stays with us on a permanent basis.
grass snake living on the allotment

grass snake living on the allotment

grass snake living on the allotment


simple flower display

gladioli in vase

I picked more of the gladioli that have come into flower to add to the few I already had in a vase. The two colours are so pretty and I like how they look together. Also (and daringly) I cut three little sunflower heads off one of the multi stalk plants. I love the simplicity of them, so cheery and bold, but wow they drop an awful lot of pollen! I'm collecting vases,jugs and vessels to display flowers in from charity shops. Next year should be colourful.
preparing the allotment for spring

Sophie

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Fitness update time

blogger fitness update
Aha, an elusive fitness update. The good news is that I have been putting in a bit of effort lately. The last month or so I've been getting out and running 2-4 times a week and usually heading to a boot camp workout once a week. It still utterly confuses me how I've found myself in a position where I'm at my strongest ever but still increasing my fat content. I guess it just goes to show how taking your foot off the accelerator can have ramifications which are so hard to recover from. Currently, I weigh myself once a week just to keep tabs on things. If I suddenly start piling on the pounds I want to KNOW about it. Treading water is how I'd describe the situation at the moment. Exhaustingly neither breaking free, nor drowning in things. In an attempt at positivity I would applaud myself for putting in the time and energy into trying. Things could be worse. While I'd love to report that I'm getting back on track; losing the additional fat that's been creeping on, getting stronger and increasing my cardio.... it's not the case. But equally, I'm not letting negativity bring me down. I haven't thrown in the towel.
blogger fitness update
My days of running in races are most probably over. Running feels hard, so hard. Maybe it's all in my head. The important thing is that I hold on to the drive and motivation to keep going, to keep trying. Any little glint of improvement is to be cherished. I'm congratulating myself for completing runs, in the same way I'd applaud anyone else. Hurrah! Well done me. On to the next one.

I do keep mulling over the idea of getting myself under the thumb of a personal trainer. My character thrives under instruction. Getting told what I need to suits me well. In fact, I think that's the direction my active life has been missing. Unfortately, my schedule, lifestyle and location has meant that getting to a gym (regularly) is pretty much impossible. Hand on heart, I loathe group workouts. There is little that appeals less than having to make polite smalltalk with sweaty strangers and working with them in any format. Once I'm clad in an outfit with a significant amount of elastane it's down to business. I don't care what your name is or how many reps you're up to - please just stay away. I'd rather work alone. Solitary is my way, it's how I push myself. Go hard or go home, I don't care for politely holding back.

So how are things going? About the same, but that's an achievement in itself.
Sophie