Badbury Rings & Bluebell Woods at Pamphill

This morning I took a trip up to Badbury Rings to have a look for some Early Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula).  I did manage to find a few, with the best examples being on the northern side of the site on the middle ring, but they really aren’t too abundant.

After leaving Badbury Rings, I drove across to Pamphill, and had a wander around the woods next to the church, and met a gentleman who’s father “Harry’s Walk” in these woods had been named after.  Anyway, I was pointed in the direction of the Bluebell woods just off All Fools Lane.

I have to say that I think these are the finest bluebell woods that I have ever seen, they were a complete carpet of blue, and certainly give the well known Micheldever Woods in Hampshire a run for their money.

Here are some photographs from earlier today.


Orchid Season Starts at Corfe Mullen Meadows

I’ve missed the Early Spider Orchids at Dancing  Ledge this year, so my orchid season has started with the Green Winged Orchids (Orchis morio) at Corfe Mullen Meadows today.

There is a good show of fresh looking orchids this year, and I successfully located one of the all white forms this year, which I failed to do last year, so I was pleased.

The best of todays shots are included below.

Birthday Present Arrives

This birthday, I’m sorry to amit was a landmark birthday, and I’ve spent the last month or so trying to work out what to put my gift money towards.

I’ve wanted an astronomical telescope for a while, and after several discussions with a work colleague I decided to opt for a dobsonian telescope for the following reasons:

  1. Ridiculously simple Dobsonian mount requiring no set up
  2. Dobsonians offer more aperture for your money
  3. I decided to heed the warnings on the forums and steer clear of Astrophotography

I did a lot of research on various forums, and decided that I could afford a 8″ (200mm) diameter Dobsonian telescope, whereas I could only afford a 6″ (150mm) diameter telescope on an equatorial mount.  Given that I wanted a scope that I could literally unload and start observing with, I discovered that Dobsonians could not be beaten.

After several weeks of deliberation, I’d narrowed my choices to a Skywatcher Skyliner 200P or a Revelation 8″ F6/M-CRF.

From the reviews that I read, I gathered that the Revelation scope was slightly better specified including:

  1. A Micro 10:1 Crayford style focuser;
  2. Mirror cell with cooling fan;
  3. Roller bearing heavy duty wood base with handles; and,
  4. Slightly better eyepieces.

But the scope was out of stock at and the scope was more expensive than the Skywatcher Skyliner 200P.  I was going to wait for a while, but then this deal appeared at Jessops and so I decided to take advantage and take the plunge there and then.

Anyway, the scope was delivered this morning, and I took about an hour to assemble it during my lunch break, and here is the fully assembled item.

I have to confess that its a lot bigger than I thought, but I’m lookg forward to taking it out for a test drive later this evening or possibly tomorrow.


New Binoculars

I’ve been re-igniting my interest in astronomy lately and have been struggling with an old pair of Helios 8 x 30 binoculars of 1980s vintage.

The vintage of the binoculars does not really matter as the optics will perform well if looked after, but I’ve found that the 30mm diameter objective just doesn’t have enough light gathering capability for stargazing, and although they are fine for daytime use I’ve found it near impossible to get a sharp image of the stars, as the points of light tend to flare quite badly.

So, today I placed an order for a pair on Helios Naturesport Plus 10 x 50 Wide Angle binoculars which got a Sky At Night best in test award.

I’m looking to get a scope as well, but figured that these binoculars would be significantly better than what I hve at the moment, and will be put to plenty of use in daylight hours too.

With a bit of luck they’ll be delivered tomorrow, so we’ll see how good they are when they arrive.

The Golden Circle, Iceland.

Today, we took an organised trip around the well trodden path of The Golden Circle, which included a stop at Geysir, Gulfoss Falls and finally, and most interestingly to me a stop at Þingvellir National Park, which is one of the few places on the planet where you can see the Mid Atlantic Ridge above sea level.



The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

As this birthday was a landmark one, Manda and I treated ourselves to a trip to Iceland for my birthday with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights.  The holiday didn’t start well, with the flight from Gatwick of Keflavik being delayed by 5 hours due to high winds in Iceland.  This essentially wiped out our first day in Reykjavik, which was a bit of a bugger to say the least.

Today, the weather wasn’t great, but as we were booked in for a trip to the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, this wasn’t a deal breaker.  The trip to the Blue Lagoon had a late pickup at 12:00, so we had a bit of a wander around Reykjavik in the morning and found a number of large murals painted by Guido Van Helten on the ‘Loftkastalinn’ building.

I have to confess that a day at a spa is not my normal thing, but being a geologist, the fact that it was a geothermal spa meant that I did find it a bit more interesting.

Here are the best of the photos from today.

New Photo Project

I’ve been fascinated by a series of cottages that I pass every day on the way to work since I moved to Bearwood a couple of years ago.  The cottages I pass are at at Longham, near Ferndown, and comprise two sets of semi-detached cottages, one of which was the old Longham Post Office, and a terrace of three cottages.  All are built in the same style, and looked like they might have been estate cottages, but I didn’t know any more than that.

Recently, I discovered that these cottages are locally known as “Lady Wimborne Cottages” when I discovered a book entitled “Lady Wimborne Cottages – The Story of the Canford Estate Cottages” in the local library.

The book suggests that there were 111 cottages originally built together with a number of other properties built in the same style.

I’ve decided that over the course of this year that I’m going to track down each of the remaining cottages and photograph them.

Apart from the above book, there is little information available on where the cottages are located, and I’ve managed to get quite good at identifying the buildings using Google Earth and the general location published in Pat Clark’s book.  So I’ve decided to write a separate page on this blog which is dedicated to the Lady Wimborne Cottages, and I also intend to pull together a custom Google Map showing the location of all the remaining cottages to help other hunters to locate them more easily.

Watch this space.