Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Our Stream Has Run Dry

8:15 pm and I'm sitting out in the garden. It's way too hot in my study for me to work up there. Thank goodness we bought this laptop and have a wireless network!

I have lots to write about, but only a limited amount of energy - so some of it will have to wait for another posting. Here's a summary of the news for the last month!

The warm spell we experienced in Sweden continued in England for a while. We were able to catch up on some gardening and get the house ready for our visitors - Chuck and Hazel from the U.S.

I also took my first horse-riding lesson. One of two booked as part of my 60th birthday present from John. I really loved it, as you can see in the photo, and I have now had my second lesson and have booked 4 more. I just wish I'd learned when I was a teenager.

We had a great time with Chuck and Hazel and did a lot of fun stuff. As soon as I stop sweating I'll do a special posting on that visit. The highlights included a July 4th trip to Hay-on-Wye, with an outdoor perfermance of MidSummer Night's Dream at Ludlow castle to end the day, a day in Wales with a ride on the Llanfair Narrow Gauge Railway and a visit to Powys Castle, the Church Stretton food fayre and ale trail, and a visit to Ironbridge Gorge.

We're now preparing for our next set of visitors. Ric and Jan from Australia are arriving on Friday for about 10 days. We're hoping to do a lot of walking with them, so I'm praying for cooler weather.

Today temperatures got into the mid 30s (well over 90). This is supposed to be the warmest day, a cooler air-mass is on it's way. Unfortunately, it's only predicted to bring hit or miss showers overnight. This is too bad as everything is really dry and parched. A lot of the flowers are rushing to seed as quickly as possible so they can propagate before they die and the whole place is looking green and brown without much colour.

The stream that runs through our garden dried up completely a few days ago. I'd only just discovered life in the stream, too - in the form of fresh-water shrimps hiding under rocks. From the fishy smell coming out of the stream bed I reckon they're mostly demised at this point.

One brilliant point of life and color is the Buddleia bush. I'm sitting beside it right now and it still has a few butterflies and bees sipping nectar. The smell is very pleasant and it's loaded with big purple spikes of flowers. When the sun was on it during the day it was loaded with butterflies and bees, including dozens of peacock butterflies and red admirals. It was a glorious sight. I missed this bush when I was pruning in spring and it's this one that has produced the flowers in abundance. I'm a bit puzzled about that as the accepted wisdom is to prune buddleias back hard each year.

The wind has just picked up a bit. It's still warm (about 27 C or 84F), but the wind helps quite a lot. I can now see some vertical development in the clouds to the east, but since the weather is supposed to come up from the south-west, this isn't very helpful...... John just came out to say that a new batch of storms is developing over Birmingham way. They will be the ones I can see. Come on, guys ..... head this way, please!

We're lucky here as there is no hose-pipe ban. We're being pretty careful, but we have been doing a bit of watering of the things that seem to be the most stressed. Our general philosophy is to let the garden plants sort themselves out. Since these conditions are likely to become more frequent in the future there's no point trying to keep plants that can't tolerate dry conditions. We're letting the lawns go brown, for instance. In this country they'll soon recover when we do get some rain.

In the southeast they have very strict rules about water usage because there is a severe shortage. The problem is not the rainfall of the last few months, which has been adequate, but the loss of water from the chalk aquifers which supply most of the southeast. People here are really annoyed, however, because the water companies are wasting so much water through leakages from the aging pipes. What really irks everyone is that the water companies are making vast profits in spite of the shortages.

Time to go in and watch a telly program.

Talk to you soon ...... bye for now .......