Challenging Habitat Blog

Last day of January and heavy rain.

I’m walking my dog.

What is there to enjoy?

First, I’m moving, breathing, my senses function.

Second, there is beauty in detail: texture, colour, form.

Just look!

After long grey day a lighter cloud cover allows an intermittent and welcome view of the moon and stars.

Caradon Hill is just about 7 miles from my parish, and what’s good enough for Boris is good enough for me (well, I’ll restrict that to distance permitted to venture from home during lockdown, nothing else).

So off I went and enjoyed rambling over to the Cheesewring, avoiding paths and and taking a long route back via the Hurlers, a neolithic monument of three circles of standing stones.

Good air, spectacular views and space!

Plenty of industrial heritage, too: abandoned granite quarries with the sleepers of their tramlines more or less intact and engine houses that serviced the metal mining industry of the late 19th and early 20th centuries partially ruined.

The only industry that remains today is hill farming, and who knows how long that will survive now, without EU grants and subsidies?

There are some good things about winter.

One is that you don’t have to get up at 4:30 to see a great sunrise.

And during lockdown, all is quiet at 7:30.


Spring is on its way, even if the cold, damp, grey weather doesn’t make it feel like spring.

This is Cornwall!

The first crocus emerging in my garden

I can’t resist to post a picture of a beautiful sunrise…

… it’s stunning and awe-inspiring and grounding and makes me happy…

…taking in the big sky

…and contemplating details.

Living by the banks of the Tamar estuary is a privilege I am immensely grateful for.

During lockdown, while working part-time from home, it allows me to nip out and spend an hour or two on the water around high tide.

It’s beautiful and calming.

It eases the eye fatigue that relentless online work inflicts on me.

Quietly paddling along, an egret gracefully crossed the river in front of me, brilliant white in the bright sun.

A new dawn, a new Covid-19 lockdown across the country.

On the Today programme (BBC Radio 4) this morning, the question arose how we stay positive in this mess, what lights us up in lockdown.

For one of the listeners, a lady in her 90s called Julia, it is the daily 5:30 pm ritual of poring a G&T and sipping it in the light of a candle while counting her blessings.

For me, it will be, once again, immersing myself in nature and noting abundance and beauty and counting my blessings.

I can’t convey the wonderful scent of this winter flowering shrub Daphne odora…it is divine and that’s why I planted it by my front door.

Some of these moments I’ll share here in Outdoor Daily III.

Snow on Dartmoor in the sunshine is a rare treat, and particularly appreciated on the first day of the new year.

Simply beautiful!


The changes in my life due to the pandemic manifest in all sorts of ways…

… what kind of a world do I inhabit in which today’s entry in my gratitude journal reads: ‘a long relaxed Xmas zoom call with my parents’????

At least I still stop and reflect upon this.

A merry winter solstice to all of you!

It is good to see that the public is reminded of the importance of small freshwater bodies for biodiversity by the Helen Briggs at the BBC:

Having created a wildlife pond in my own garden this summer, I have been astonished by the arrival of invertebrates, mollusks and birds within the first few weeks and months of its existence and the colonisation of pond margins with a variety of mosses, ferns and wild flowers.

Pond beetles whirling in my wildlife pond, November 2020

If you have a little space, I’d strongly encourage you to introduce water into your garden – a tiny space a couple of metres across will add a beautiful dimension to the experience of your space and it will support wildlife, such as newts and birds. It can be such a pleasure to watch evolve, get kids involved and learning as your wildlife pond matures…

I also sincerely hope that the protection of water courses on farmland and common land will be high on the agenda in coming years.

On this sunny and showery December morning, Dartmoor presents itself in dramatic light.

Tucked up in my waterproof clothing, I enjoy the expansive vistas from the top of tors as much as the differences in small details: lichen and mosses here, funghi on a rotting stump, the rocks, spongy bog, puddles or tussock grass underfoot.

It’s so good to be able to come here for a long walk with my dog and enjoy nature!

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