Friday, 27 June 2014

Summer Evening at Keyhaven

Early on a warm June evening, we came down to the sea to walk. 
               In the harbour at Keyhaven, sailors in small boats were setting off for an hour on the sea before dusk. 
Swans preened and fed on weed in almost-still water.

Beside the shore path, wild flowers flourished amid tangles of long grass.

Birds foot trefoil.......

......and tufted vetch.

The tide was low. Beyond the harbour, Hurst Castle stretched along its spit of land, out to the sea approach where English Channel meets the Solent. This narrow gap of sea between mainland and the Isle of Wight, is the way in for ships approaching Lymington, Southampton and the eastern Solent coast. 

Hurst Castle was built by Henry VIII to defend the Solent ports from invading fleets. It has been extended and used as a defence through Napoleonic times and into the wars of the twentieth century.

Across the salt marsh and the blue sea, rise the wooded hills of the Island.
The small sea port of Yarmouth is on the left of the photograph. There is a car ferry service from Lymington to Yarmouth. 

This short sea crossing is The Bar. Tennyson`s poem, Crossing the Bar, in memory of a friend, 
was inspired by his regular crossing of this water on the way to his Island home at Freshwater. 

As we walked eastwards along the raised shore path, we saw sea birds and waders, feeding in the mud and marsh. Without a long lens, they are almost hidden in muddy creeks and grasses.
Lapwing, shelduck and black headed gulls fed in wet mud. Pairs of oyster catchers whirred past us, calling......

 Herring gull, still as a statue.

Behind the raised path are wide, shallow lakes where birds feed and make nests in reed beds or on shallow gravel scrapes.


Canada geese, their goslings and an egret standing, heron-still in the water.

When we came to a special, hidden place, I looked for orchids that I have found there in other years. 
The pyramidal orchid was there again. Two flowers on its stem. Resilient to storm and salt spray. A beautiful survivor.

Samphire grew through the sea wall......

....and a glaucous rose bloomed against the blue of sea and sky.

Turning back as the sun began to dip in the western sky, we were glad of the peace as this great digger slept on the bank. This stretch of coast was battered by the Valentine Night`s storm  and work to repair and defend it goes on.

Sea campion 

Wild carrot 

Sparkling of the dipping sun on harbour waters. The tide was coming in.

 Late bees still fed on a wild white rose.........

........beside calm sea, quiet boats and swans feeding by the old sea wall.

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Monday, 23 June 2014

June Tree Following in a Midsummer Garden

A late Tree Following post this month. The crab apple is in full leaf, casting dappled shade beneath it.
All around, the garden is in bloom,  full of the scent of roses, pinks and philadelphus.

Looking upwards, the crab apple`s canopy allows the light to shine on lower branches.

There are precious few crab apples ripening this year. Last year`s crop was the heaviest we have seen.

Grasses and wild flowers grow in the strip where daffodils are dying back.

The crab apple mingles its leafy branches with its neighbour, a red flowered horse chestnut.....

....which is growing a good crop of conkers for  squirrels to bury in the autumn.

In a nearby border, a beautiful peony is at its best.

Self sown foxgloves, woundwort, teasel and soapwort mix with  roses and purple clematis.

The white cranesbill geranium is growing on an old ant hill, which gives it a rounder, higher shape than usual.

Rosa Gallica and a visiting honey bee.

Self sown feverfew, foxgloves and poppies among roses and rhubarb in a raised border.

Poppy in sunlight

The Seagull Rose that is almost at the top of its host, a conifer tree.

White dusty Miller with its silver leaves....

....and its vibrant pink cousin, Rose Campion.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Remnants of D Day at Lepe Beach in Hampshire

These photographs were taken months ago, when we walked on Lepe Beach on the southern shore of the New Forest in Hampshire. The beach is peaceful now. A nature reserve with wonderful views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and across the entrance of Southampton Water to the coast from Warsash to Portsmouth Harbour in the east.

Seventy years ago yesterday, on 6th June 1944, the Allied Forces began Operation Overlord, their assault on Nazi German occupied France. A huge water borne force travelled from the south coast of England to the Bay of the Sienne in Normandy, where the landed troops fought to free occupied Europe from tyranny. 

Lepe Beach was just one of numerous points along the coast from which the D Day Forces embarked on their hazardous journey across the English Channel. The eastern end of the beach is littered with the remains of buildings, pontoons and the bases from which the floating Mulberry Harbours were launched on their journeys to provide landing pontoons at Arromanches in Normandy.

There are also the remains of the old pipelines of Operation Pluto, which provided undersea pipelines for oil to reach the Isle of Wight and later, Normandy itself. 

Seventy years ago today, these waters would have been thronged with vessels taking men and supplies to Normandy. The beach would have been a hive of activity and, for many of the fighting men who would die in action, the last of England.