… of the local fauna and flora has been especially rewarding since the sun graced us with its presence.
I think this is a Hummingbird Moth and I remember that there seemed to be an influx of them to Suffolk some years ago. A Jasmine tree around my back door was a regular port of call for this little chap – well, one of his chums anyway.
At the other end of the scale, the Red Kite. This one seems to live a few yards from the house and (when the sun’s out) around lunchtime, a shadow might swoop across the table in the garden where we eat. I mostly have my camera ready but as always, the best opportunities present themselves when I’m carrying a tray or doing up my shoelaces.
Easier to catch are the numerous geckos that scuttle about the garden, darting in and out from under stones. I watched this one for some time but wasn’t able to catch the moment when the fly became wrapped in the gecko’s tongue and devoured. I thought I bolted my food but there’s no contest here.
Another trip deep into the hills and over into Spain took Cook and me along roads that we’d never before travelled until this week. We passed through ancient farm yards and wound our way up into the mountains to discover the Fabrica de Orbaitzeta, an iron foundry nestling in the Val de Aezkoa, 5km from the border with France.
Water, in plentiful supply as it cascaded from the mountains, was the motive force in this vast three storey factory. Aqueducts and tunnels directed the flow of water to waterwheels (long gone) which operated the bellows that kept the furnaces alight and at a high enough temperature for the transformation of the iron ore.
Surrounded also by woodland – the first Royal Arms Factory had run out of forest – a constant source of fuel was to hand. The iron ore was in the mountains on the doorstep so it looked like a win-win situation all round. But being so isolated, it was under constant attack; the French army, Napoleon and the Chartists all had a pop at it.
And if it wasn’t under attack, it was having terrible accidental fires that raised it to the ground more than once. The factory closed its doors for the last time in about 1880 and what you see is pretty much as it was left. The ruin has recently been made a site of Cultural Interest and there’s evidence of restoration work about to gather pace so some of the charm of its neglected state will be lost in the near future. But the real discovery….. to be continued.