Now that the nights are getting longer the sun has been coming up just as we're starting our working day. One morning last week there was a deep coral-peach sunrise, which lit up the factory chimney behind next door's garden wall, like a rose-tinged Lowry painting minus the bustling throng of matchstick figures. I hurried downstairs as quickly as my stiff morning joints would allow, grabbed my cameraphone and raced back up to get a picture from the back bedroom window. I still missed the best of it, and couldn't zoom in as close as I wanted to either, but managed to capture the final fading moments before daylight arrived.
I hate the lack of light in winter - travelling to and from work in darkness and being stuck indoors all day really gets me down. Weekends are never long enough at the best of times - when daylight is in such short supply it adds insult to injury how little time I have to be out in it. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's Seasonal Affective Disorder but I always feel happier once we pass the Winter Solstice and I know the days are getting longer again. So roll on December 21st! In the meantime my one consolation is the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets I'm more frequently witness to. My route to work takes me up a big hill, with quite a panoramic view at the top, and I'm often tempted to pull over to get a photo of the sky before heading indoors for the day. So watch this space...
Last weekend we had a couple of walks at the park, where the leaves are starting to fall and the berries are ripening..
On the second day I found a near-perfect horse chestnut fruit, it's spiny yellow/green flesh gently splitting to reveal the conker perfectly nestled within.
It's rare to find the whole fruit when children are usually so quick to harvest them. Photographed against a white background I think it has a real sculptural presence.
In other prickly news, a few nights ago the XXSCat dog alerted us to the fact that there was something unusual in the back garden, discovered during one of her routine patrols of the perimeter fence. A hedgehog, doing its best to masquerade as an old scrubbing brush, had attracted her attention and was cornered behind some flowerpots near the hedge. We have seen hedgehogs in the garden before, so I'm guessing it's quite a good habitat for them - semi-shaded and sheltered, with lots of slugs, snails, worms and insects to feed on and plenty of overgrown ivy and dead leaves to burrow in. As previously mentioned, I'm not a 'slash and burn' style gardener - I prefer to give nature plenty of free rein.The only problem (from a hedgehog point of view) is that last year we had to fill all the gaps that weren't fenced with chicken wire to stop the XXSCat dog escaping when we first got her, which slightly limits the scope for free range hedgehog foraging. We decided that the safest thing to do for this one was to relocate it at the back of the garden in the undergrowth on the other side of the chicken wire barrier where the XXSCat dog couldn't disturb it further, but where there were hedgehog-sized gaps to permit re-entry if desired. So I had a really brief but very special opportunity to meet a hedgehog up close and personal for a portrait photo. What a dear little face, straight out of Beatrix Potter!