August in the UK is school holiday time and millions of visitors flock down to the south-west following the narrow ribbon that flows between Exeter and Penzance known to all as the A30, with the widening scheme around Bodmin causing current hold-ups and then the single lane section between Carland Cross to Chiveton Cross north of Truro (plans to widen this section are proposed for a start date of 2019/20) ensures that travellers arrive in West Penwith weary of sitting in their cars for hours on end.
My Surrey family limped in during the second week of the month, wisely they chose to travel mid-week to avoid the Friday/Saturday changeover days. I say limped because their car developed a fault on the way and could only travel slowly and noisily. Fortunately the VW garage in Helston came to the rescue and I loaned them my car for a few days so they could get out and about. It felt very strange to be without a car.
The weather during the first week was grey and cloudy, but the second week improved with only one damp start that quickly disappeared to leave the glorious summer-blue skies. Beaches were packed, car-parks were packed, roads were… well I think you get the picture.
I stayed mainly at home, pootling in the garden, cooking dinner for when the sunburned, salty, sandy holiday-makers arrived home. The Olympics were there to tune in to, Murray gave me palpitations as usual and it seemed as if ‘God Save the Queen’ was playing constantly.
Sunsets were glorious, walks up the hill a given, though on one evening when my daughter, grandson and I cut through the closest (empty so we believed) field we were discovered by a herd of boisterous young bullocks who were plotting just around the corner of a wall. They were very curious. As they started walking towards us, we started walking calmly, but quickly towards the stile, talking loudly as talking is supposed to calm them. They move pretty damn quick and I was cut off behind a bush with one bullock watching me closely. Heart fluttering as the rest of the herd gathered around I made a dash for the stile, my daughter grabbed my hand and yanked me up, my grandson bravely waved his arms – from the top of the stile! This was not a dignified experience. We took a longer route home.
Meadowsweet and Hemp Agrimony have attracted bees and butterflies to the garden and the flowering mint is popular with flies and other pollinators. Orange crocosmia lines the lanes and although I have some in my garden it is a bit scruffy. The Japanese Anemone open – they are pink – chocolate cosmos and agapanthus start to bloom and I spend hours in the garden with my camera and secateurs. Nasturtiums run wild in the veggie plot and my borage is in flower.
Plaintive mewing overhead signifies buzzards in the area and one afternoon four of them were directly overhead. Practically impossible to get a photo as they are so far away, but so exciting to hear them. Hanging out the washing has never been so much fun.
Swifts or possibly house or sand martins also arrive to devour the insects in the courtyard. Large and small white butterflies, red admirals, painted ladies and one peacock butterfly have been seen. The whites have been laying eggs on my nasturtiums and kale which has been all but destroyed by the emerging caterpillars. Bright green in the case of the small white, yellow striped are the large whites. I have removed several hundred, but allowed the larger ones to continue to munch their way through the nasturtiums. I love butterflies, but concede that these are very much pests.
I also seem to have a thornless blackberry at the rear of the garden so all I need now is an apple tree and I will be all set for blackberry and apple crumble! Meanwhile the rhubarb and the blackberries provide me with breakfast with the addition of yogurt and a sprinkle of locally made granola from the farm shop.
Speaking of farm shops, when visiting with my granddaughters this month we went for a stroll around to see the animals they keep there. The piglets were the cutest, playing chase around their house, butting and scrambling over one another and being boisterous. One was pushed through the low fence and yells of “grandma, help it” rang out whilst they moved quickly away! Why me and not their mother? I have no idea, but have you ever tried picking up a squealing, squirming piglet? Anyway I did manage to get him back into the field. Youngest granddaughter was not happy that we eat them (the farm make their own sausages and bacon which is VERY tasty), I explained that if we didn’t then farmers wouldn’t bother to breed them so in a way eating them is a good thing. She wasn’t very convinced, but plaintively conceded that she does rather like sausages.
One weekend we were subjected to a day of shooting as the farmer hired help to shoot the crows. I question whether this is even legal, but apparently it is. I hoped they wouldn’t shoot my magpies. The crows kept out of the way most of the day, and cloud cover helped, but they do appear to have moved on since, despite the fact that I don’t think that many were shot. Someone must have spread the word…
My sweet peas have eventually grown and are in flower at the moment. Pale pink, white and some flushed with a deeper pink all smelling deliciously like sweet peas should are a change from my usual darker colours. Next year I’ll start them off earlier. Now waiting for bulbs to arrive so I can plant some pots of tulips for next spring. There is always something to look forward to.
And finally, even the ‘bird bath’ got a makeover as the girls decorated the edges with beach pebbles.
The house sparrows seem to like it and even a Siskin (I think) popped down for a drink.
(I shall be away most of September so there won’t be much happening on the Cornwall blog, but I may manage to post on the others if I have time and if I have wifi – otherwise I shall see you all at the end of the month.)
The Cardinal is continuing his photo project throughout 2016 – a blogging event, a monthly photo challenge. Read his blog for the new rules this year (he is running two versions) and to view his interpretation and those of other participants.