Monday, 21 July 2014

Holiday time!

The school holidays are here! The busiest time of the year at the library, with a huge national promotion called the Summer Reading Challenge. It encourages children to read six books minimum during the holidays in return for rewards such as smelly stickers, zip tags and wrist bands. If they succeed they get a medal. It's been going on a while now, over 12 years, and is thought to prevent the summer holiday drop in childrens' reading levels before they go back to school.
Several thousand children join up on the Isle of Wight alone!

Anyway, I have just returned to work after a very relaxing fortnight off. First week spent up in Leicestershire visiting parents. They have never moved house since I was a baby, and we visited some old stomping grounds such as Bradgate Park. It is a haven for the people of Leicester and the surrounding suburbs to escape to and get some fresh air. Lady Jane Grey, the Queen for nine days lived here, and the remains of her house still stand.

These deer were trying to keep cool in the marshy ground by the river.

There's a genuine working police box in the car park, and a police man had pulled up outside to use it.

Lots of ancient oak trees, including this one that was still growing despite losing a lot of it's bark

Then it was off to a tea room for a cuppa, and we tried out a new one just opened in a nearby farm. Lovely cup of tea, and this beautiful bantam was strutting about outside

Extra large photo to appreciate his beauty!

His name was Brian, and he was given to the owners of the farm. He was very friendly. How I would love to have some bantams!

Back home to the Isle of Wight, and the village was holding the annual Scarecrow competition.

This was my favourite!

In the pub garden!

Money raised goes to the Royal British Legion. Some of the scarecrows look slightly familiar!

Finally, here's a tip for bird lovers who happen to own cats, and I know there are a lot of us out there! I feed the garden birds religiously all through the year, and this year we seem to have had no less than three broods of sparrow chicks from the same nest under the eves of an outbuilding. I know because I walk past the nest site daily, and the noise the chicks made was really loud! Then they fledged, and it was quiet again. We saw the brood in the garden, waiting to be fed from the fat balls.
Then the new lot hatched, and the noise started again! Talk about Sparrows 'r' Us! Then theyt left the nest and we saw them following the parents around.
Now the cheeping has started again! The third brood?

Anyway, back to my tip. We have an old bird table attached to the telephone line, which is in the depths of a nettle bed. A few years ago we put a garden tray, the type without holes, on the bird table and filled it with water. It is a very popular bird bath, on account of it being safely high up and easy for the wet birds to fly to a near by tree after the soaking. In this hot weather we have been filling it twice daily, (usually getting stung in the process) as the blackbirds love to spread the water everywhere. Some of the small birds just perch on the side of the tray when a blackbird is bathing, and get a free shower.

My perennial sweet peas are amazing this year. They grow outside the kitchen window, and the sunlight shines through them in the evening.

The bees love them, but unfortunately they don't have the smell of the annual variety. 

You can't beat sitting in the garden on a summer evening watching the sun go down. We've only had rain once in four weeks, and that was a mighty thunder storm.