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Take your chances...


The farmer has replanted wheat (I presume) in the field he recently harvested. These seagulls followed the tractor as it disgorged seeds and gobbled up as much as they could, pure highway robbery but they succeeded! Take your chances while you can because life and time wait for no one. PS That doesn't mean steal. The farmer provides extra seed just for the birds but that is his choice.Photo copyright SvD.And can you help?I came across this carcass in the field on Sunday morning. I cannot identify it from my various bird books. The down on its chest was thick and luxurious. The marking seems quite distinctive. The carcass measured around a foot long without the head which clearly is not there...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

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Ripeness is all.


Folklore tells us that Summer ends as the elderberries ripen. Indeed, the nights are cooler and the morning dew has returned. The damp underfoot on my morning walks is a true indicator that Autumn is here. Early Autumn is a time of plenty, ripened fruits must be picked now before the damp and cold wind rot them. I used to be a serious jam and chutney maker converting the spoils of my gardening addiction. For those of you who do make your own preserves, remember to pick fruit on a dry day, early in the morning and away from busy roads. Now is also a good time to collect wild herbs to make herb liqueur (collect the leaves of whatever you can find, except the poisonous ones obviously, soak them...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  359 Hits

Slugs in love...


Two slugs locked in love's embrace and forming a perfect circle, symbol of infinity.This morning on my walk. Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  685 Hits

Memento mori.


My wonderful friend, Gwen, died today and I shall miss her terribly. Over more than twenty years, we laughed riotously, drank a lot of wine, ate a lot of good food and consumed vast quantities of whisky, cognac and anything 40% proof after dozens of suppers shared as we put the world right.There is an expression that one will die peacefully if one has lived a good life. Gwen did exactly that surrounded by those who loved her.Farewell, witty, sarcastic, beautiful and special Gwen. I shall never forget you.Hedgerow Sparrow last Saturday morning flew into my glass door. I put him in the greenhouse to wake up but he never did. Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  683 Hits

Food is fuel......yee ha!


I walked four miles today and I was in the office from 9 to 5.30. There are some days when cooking makes me cringe but if it's so easy I could do it with my eyes closed, I might be tempted. This recipe is inspired by the great outdoors and cowboy films. You fry your bacon, you add your beans. Simple. Now let's watch that sunset together.Cowboy Beans (with cherry tomatoes for colour). Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  451 Hits

Spaetzles to Heaven


I'm not German neither am I an expert on German cuisine but my love of spaetzles came to me from my ex-husband whose first wife was German. Spaetzles are a type of quick noodle made with flour, nutmeg and eggs. I use a flat cheese grater to pour the batter into simmering unsalted water- all Germans are politely asked to forgive me for improvising with a cheese grater. Once cooked, the spaetzles are tossed in bacon fat, butter and sauerkraut and topped with crispy lardons and breadcrumbs. Delicious! My supper tonight. I will walk off all this scrumptious fat when I trot my usual 40-50kms per week.Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  428 Hits

How to Live.


When I see people buying ready-made meals in the supermarket I want to scream. Cooking is easy and if you want to stay healthy, learning to cook is an absolute necessity.I work full time and I cook every day. Why? Because I love the ritual involved plus I need to know what I am eating. I make my own bread because I loathe supermarket bread. The way I live is not extraordinary, it's how I grew up.Tonight I was inspired to make apple sauce from the orchard outside my kitchen window (the dry summer has forced the apples to ripen months early). And pork and apple sauce are a match made in Heaven. This meal took less than an hour.Broad beans in a parsley sauce, pork chop with a homemade apple sau...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  424 Hits

Althorp and the mystery of Diana's resting place.


Althorp, the Spencer family home, makes for an interesting day out. I recently visited but I doubt very much that Diana is buried on the island on the lake. Why? The lake is some distance away from the house and it seems a cold and lonely place to be buried.I'm more inclined to believe the local rumour that Diana is buried in the family vault in the nearby St Mary The Virgin church at Great Brington. Her father is buried there as well and it would make perfect sense for Diana to be with her dad. I have no proof, of course. I can only say what I feel.The Spencer crypt below:The crypt is behind  these blue railings which are fitted with an alarm.The spot (near the window) inside the Spencer cr...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  1032 Hits

Huge skies, endless vistas.


In screenwriting they call it POV when the audience sees something from a specific angle. This shot is perhaps more reminiscent of a cowboy on horseback but it is, in fact, on my daily walk. Tonight as I took this shot, I could swear I saw a face in the clouds. An anguished face looking backwards.Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  424 Hits

Now that the wheat has been harvested....


Mr Badger has lost his secret passage to the water trough in the calves' field.El geriatric dogo feels very small next to the hay. (For townies: after wheat is harvested, the remaining stalks are rolled into bales of hay for animal fodder in the Winter.) In memorium.Photos copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  418 Hits

Forget Summer...


In 23 years I have never seen apples ripen in Summer but our recent drought has forced the fruit to mature too quickly. Apples traditionally ripen in the Autumn when they are picked and stored over Winter. The sun-drenched immature fruit is ripening then falling off the tree from lack of water. A long dry Summer will mean little stores in Winter.Once again nature has a lesson for us: what we do today has an impact on tomorrow. Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  440 Hits

Midweek supper...


Food to me is about nourishing my body. I work hard and I'm getting older so anything processed is out. I cook every day and eat supper at a dining table with lighted candles. This clears my head from the office dramas and allows me to appreciate my meal and to give thanks. As one gets older, a simple, peaceful life is a type of paradise. After supper I might go for a short walk and if I see a badger or deer that will be a perfect end to my day. Be yourself. Be happy with whatever is your lot. Shut out the noise around you. Peace.Photo copyright SvD.Cumberland sausage and kidney bean stew with roasted bell peppers.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  435 Hits

Lucky? Happy? Happy. Lucky.


On my 6.30am walk today, the hound and I came upon a mortally wounded pigeon, its left wing ripped off by a dog. Shame on the dog owner to have a stupid animal and to leave the pigeon to die an agonising death. By the time the hound and I arrived on the scene, the pigeon was conscious but unable to move other than to drag itself on the stomach, a gaping wound where its wing used to be. Another dog walker appeared with his pug, Monty, and we decided to ring the pigeon's neck. I would hold the bird and Monty's dad would do the deed. We debated clubbing the pigeon to death with a stone and went in search of a large enough one. As we discussed the execution, along came a cat who grabbed the dyin...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

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You Humans Are Very Strange....


This morning. Photos copyright SvD.This sheep looks at the hound and I with utter disdain as we walk past every day. I love the black patch which adds to that look of utter antipathy.The local vicar who is a frequent walking partner dislikes sheep and often remarks that they are 'born to die'. That's usually when I remind the vicar that faith is about peace and love...Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  411 Hits

Setting Sun.


Nature teaches us about how irrelevant we are in the grand scheme of things. The sun rises and sets in spite of us. Think about that.Tonight on my walk:  Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  434 Hits

Summer Light.


The summer sun has such intensity as it energises nature with an overdose of vitality to flourish, reproduce and bear fruit. One of my favourite books is L'Etranger by Albert Camus and the scene where the protagonist is blinded by the sun and pulls the trigger is a masterstroke of writing, creating an image that is instantly emblazoned on the brain. I used to live in a village where the only exit road meant you drove right into the sun and because the landscape was completely flat the sun appeared as a giant orb on a very close horizon. One had the sensation of driving into Hades quite literally, and for five or more seconds it was impossible to see the road or oncoming cars at all. The summ...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  491 Hits

The Secret to Happiness.


You'll find it the words above. Look carefully. One sentence will stand out and will change your life forever.Good luck.Photo copyright SvD. Blenheim Palace.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  329 Hits

Blenheim Palace: an exquisite tonic.


Having dropped in to see my doctor on Tuesday and asking him to find a pulse, he informed me that my blood pressure has hit the roof from stress. I must immediately find a work-life balance according to him. Ha, ha. Perhaps I should have asked him to marry me straight away if only he would promise that I could finally have a rest and spend the rest of my life reclining on sable rugs and sipping champagne while draped in priceless diamonds and little else. Anyway, after snapping myself out of a pointless fantasy and having checked my blood pressure maniacally over 48 hours, I then felt courageous enough to drive down to Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill and home of the Duke of ...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  637 Hits

The most beautiful countryside.


Having bounced around the world, I've  learned to be still. Having gone through every bad experience you can imagine, I've learned to understand what is good. Walk. Think. These are ways of giving thanks in silence. This vista on my evening walk today fills me with gratitude. Peace.Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  408 Hits

Perception is everything.


Is this an aerial view of a dense forest in some unspoilt part of the world? No. It's the oxygenators, those plants which oyxgenate the water in a pond so that the fish will not go belly up. Can you spot the blue dragonfly? You thought it was a forest. See how our perception keeps us away from the truth? Believe what you want, see what you want, think what you want but never lose sight of the dragonfly and when you blink he'll  be gone.Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  318 Hits