Category Archives: Uncategorized

Green Cities: Life under the flight path to London Heathrow. People need green cities and wildlife too.

For all of my life and bringing up my children I have lived under the main HeathroSutton Park, West London, Green suasage shape from planes landing and on North side.w flight path as for all those who live in West London near the River Thames and the Great West Road. On my brief return to West London for the course at Kew Gardens I walked around many of the green spaces and streets I have known well. Spring was out with a blossoming vengeance. I took some photos on and early evening walk around Heston.

The first is from Sutton Park which can be seen as a green sausage from planes flying into Heathrow when quite low, only a few minutes to landing. Here this vast green is surrounded by houses and seems to be loved by the Heston Starling community. I saw quite a few in the trees and Starlings like grassy spaces but could adjust to city life if they scavenge more.

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The street trees were full of Cherry blossom and the particular street shown was where we first lived. One of the first notices to come through the door was a tree preservation order. visited a friend and cut a small twig to draw on my course! The magnolias were also out and though short lived there are still many in gardens. It made me think how beautiful Heston could be in the Spring but also how stunning it must have been when everyone cared for their gardens and there were no drives. Heston was developed from orchards in the 1920s into a  garden suburb for those who could afford to move out of the crowded terrace streets of inner London! Now every bit of open space is under pressure for new housing.

Two places and people close to my heart are of course my daughters and many memories of Barnes Common and walking through with my daughters and dogs. This is a borrowed one!Barnes Common is a historic green space kept as common land for all us commoners but now it is not sheep but dogs, people and varied wildlife that need this open space

 

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And the photo below is  the cherry tree in the Brentford and Isleworth Quaker Meeting House garden, a sacred space from the 1700s.  And my daughters under the tree on Mother’s day.  I am now back at Navasola in Spain and miss some aspects of my London life, but not work! ( Also not sure why I had to copy the images instead of adding them and photos not so sharp) And the last photo, now working again and not having to copy is of  a Seville roof garden, from the amazing wooden sculpture of Mushroom design above  the Plaza Encarnacion. A place for great views of Seville.

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Portugal: the eastern Algarve in January and February

Fortaleza in Cabanas with Almonds
3 weeks later, no blossom but look for the almonds. It might take till September for them to ripen though!
Almond blossoms around the fort; January in Cabanas de Tavira
Almond blossoms around the fort; January in Cabanas de Tavira

Here as promised are some of the photos taken recently on short vacations to Cabanas de Tavira on the Eastern Algarve  along the estuary and  lagoons of the Ria Formosa. The area is a protected national park along the sand dunes and beaches but unfortunately some of the cliff side walks are privately owned.
We enjoy an escape to warmer weather and an earlier spring than in the Sierra Aracena even if it is only about 100 miles away from Navasola it is at sea level. Although it is the Atlantic Ocean it is warmer here because of the Gulf Stream and the climate is more Mediterranean.

Walking around the old fort in January I came across this almond blossom tree full of blossom and teeming with bees. It was very noisy as well as beautiful. 3 weeks later in February the blossom had gone and you can just see in the photo of the same tree the beginnings of the almonds.

More rain in Spain

The rocks are so green, with a carpet of moss and lichen.
The rocks are so green, with a carpet of moss and lichen.

How can we complain about the rain when it is filling our well and the pond. Will we be able to be self sufficient in water? It has to be the most essential part of our life here as there is no municipal water supply. That means the only body that can cut off our water supply is Mother Nature.

Here are some photos of the Finca dripping wet in February.

]Dripping trees

Not sure what we do about the mimosa tree and all the suckers it produces. Not a native species?

Our next post will be about our escape to the Algarve and a walk around the fort at the edge of the town of Cabanas. It is our favourite place for bird watching and although only about 100 miles from the Sierra Aracena spring is in full bloom and the swallows have arrived.

Wild in Spain and Spanish: wild violets and really wild birds

These tiny flowers were seen near the well in the very damp ground.
These tiny flowers were seen near the well in the very damp ground.

February on the Finca has seen the rain fall almost continuously for a week. However, on Sunday there was a little sunshine and wild violets were spotted. Thanks to the rain I have finally finished reading Macfarlane’s book about his journeys to wild places around the British Isles. Wild is a special word for him but as he ends up describing many different kinds of experiences of the wild it is interesting to think more about our own relationships with the wild. Here for February are two small wild things; the violet and the chaffinch. The birds in the woodland are so wild and wary I was delighted that even just one came to my table! In Spanish there are two words for wild : wild animals are ‘salvaje’ and wild plants are ‘sylvestre’. How might this division of meaning affect attitudes to the wild?

There really is one chaffinch enjoying some sunflower seeds in the rain.
There really is one chaffinch enjoying some sunflower seeds in the rain.

Autumn and Spring in January: Mushrooms, berries, blossom and birdsong.

This close up could be useful for the course on botanical illustration but as yet we cannot name the beauty that is that berry!

The Finca has so many of these beautiful blue berries and they glisten in the rain and mist.However, one of the bushes was discovered with one flower beginning to blossom. See picture below. So even,on the Finca we can find signs of Autumn,Winter and Spring together! We finally discovered the name of this shrub Viburnum Tinus or more commonly Laurustinus.  Then in one of our old English newspapers we came across a lovely picture of the garden variety. It has been harder to discover the variety of mushroom but it does bear a resemblance to ones that are referred to as hallucinogenic and toxic in our Spanish Mushroom book! Very mixed weather patterns at present but not that cold.

Viburnum Tinus with the first flower seen January 28th:some berries can still be seen behind flower.
Viburnum Tinus with the first flower seen January 28th:some berries can still be seen behind flower.

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Our trip to the Algarve, 100 miles away but down from our 720 metres in the Sierra to sea level,  showed that Spring is in the air. Very warm and even hot in the sun with the almond blossom, bees and birds all very busy. I will feature pictures of Portugal later as I will create a new page for our observations there and along the Ria Formosa. On the road down we did see evidence of Storks in nests and flying around. Possibly just arriving to nest. Apologies for no pics of the storks yet. Might need to update camera for that!

Bienvenidos!

Welcome to Navasola Nature . Navasola is a small U shaped woodland valley in the Sierra Aracena, about an hour from Seville, towards the Portuguese border. The nature part of the blog is part of our aim to help us all connect more with the natural world, both scientifically, and spiritually.

This year 2014 is the beginning of a personal journey to live more closely with the world of nature. I hope to observe the changing seasons, month by month with observations and reflections.