I used to be indecisive…

…but now I'm not so sure


Who is sleeping so peacefully here?

Were you correct?

This red panda was snoozing in a fine cooling mist at San Diego Zoo.

Oops I’m a day late I’m afraid, but I’m linking with Debbie’s Six Word Saturday.



Friday letters – the early August edition

Dear August,  How did that happen?  How can we already be at the start of the eighth month of the year?  It seems like only last week that I was commenting that it was nearly the end of July.

Dear shops,  I was surprised to see that some of you have already started selling autumn/Hallowe’en decorations.  Really?  Back to School supplies are filling many shelves, which is understandable, but the autumn items I’m not quite so sure about.

Dear San Diego Zoo,  You really are an excellent facility.  Apart from a wonderful selection of wildlife in interesting environments, your parking is free, there are volunteers ready to answer questions, you have buses that can take visitors around (thus avoiding walking up or down some steep hills) and you have plenty of food outlets with shady seating areas – all making for a good day out. 

Dear koalas,  I know that you like to spend a lot of time up in your tree, snoozing the day away, but please could you snooze with your face towards your adoring public rather than your back?

Dear giraffes,  I think you might be my favourites (but don’t tell the pandas or koalas) and I really enjoyed getting up close to you and watching your antics in the fading evening light.  Oh, and you have very expressive faces.

Masai giraffe

Have a good Friday everyone.


Friday letters – the end of July edition

Dear blog,  Well, hello.  Here I am again with a whole new set of Friday letters.  I can’t believe this will be the last set for July – that went by quickly!

Dear heatwaves,  The good people in many parts of the UK are suffering from a prolonged heatwave (weeks long now) which is seeing temperatures in the 30s, with a record high yesterday of 35 degrees celsius.  Here on the coast of southern California we have a weather advisory situation regarding a three day heatwave where we have seen high temperatures of 28 degrees celsius.  We are advised to stay in air conditioned rooms, drink plenty of water and check on our elderly neighbours.  There are even public ‘cool’ zones where people can go for respite.  I think the people in the UK would welcome a similar set up.

Dear weeds,  Why do you manage to grow so well in the grass, when the grass itself isn’t particularly healthy in some spots of our garden?

Dear Lake Tahoe, You are a beautiful part of California, and I enjoyed a lovely weekend in your company.  Unfortunately the smoke from the Ferguson fire burning near Yosemite, drifting over in your direction created a haze which meant that our views were not as clear as they otherwise would have been, but they were still marvellous.

Dear female Common Merganser duck,  I could not believe my eyes – there you were swimming in Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe with 19 little chicks.  Nineteen!  That’s a lot of ducklings to look after.  I knew they were all with you because they stayed near you all the time and seemed to follow your silent instructions.  I was amazed when they all ‘ducked’ under the water at exactly the same time, as though you had given them a countdown.  During the course of my research to confirm that you were indeed a Common Merganser, I came across a newspaper article which said that it is not uncommon for Mergansers to look after the chicks of other parents in a day care, or creche, arrangement.  The article had an accompanying photo of one female with 76 chicks!  Now your brood of 19 looks quite small, but I was still struck by how well behaved they all were.

And now a photo of Emerald Bay itself.  You can see how hazy the far shore is because of the forest fires, and those clouds that are rolling in from the right provided a huge hail storm the following day, which luckily we missed as we left the day that this photo was taken.

Have a good Friday everyone.


A flower power walk

Today we are taking a walk through the Flower Fields at Carlsbad, California.  There is no need for stout walking shoes, or a backpack with wet weather gear, walking sticks, and a bottle of water in it for this outing, just a hat and perhaps some sun cream.

Every spring, for about ten weeks,  over 50 acres of rolling hillside overlooking the Pacific coast are turned into a multi coloured spectacle with the beautiful shades of thousands of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus.

I don’t think you need me to guide you through this walk, as it is a simple case of meandering at will up and down and along the wide paths between the blocks of flowers, but you will need to be ready to marvel at the expanse of it all as we go.  There’s no time limit for how long we can spend here, so wander at will and stop and gaze.  There are one or two spots where you can go in amongst the flowers and take an Instagram-worthy photo (and there will be plenty of people doing that!), or you can just sit on the bench and admire them.  As you go round you might notice people working in the rows of flowers, cutting them and making them into bunches to be sold in the little shop as you leave.

Look up the slope.

Look down towards the ocean.


I hope you enjoyed our colourful, floral meander.  If you would like to join some more walks, Jo has plenty on offer at Jo’s Monday Walks.



In Search of an Oasis

The last walk I wrote about was a wintery one by Loch Achray in Scotland.  Today I am taking you for a slightly warmer walk in the Anzo-Borrego Desert State Park California.

From the excellent Borrego Springs Visitors Centre it is a short drive or, for those who perhaps have more energy, about half a mile’s walk, to the car park at the start of the 3 mile round trip Palm Canyon Trail.  Walking in February we were just too early to enjoy the full bloom of spring, but a few plants had already started to show some colour.

Without further ado, sturdy shoes on our feet,  hats on our heads and a couple of bottles of water in the backpack let’s set off on what is called a gentle trail with a little scrambling over boulders near the end.  There is a fairly well defined path to follow, but occasionally you just have to use your initiative about which is the best way to go to negotiate some boulders or a fallen tree trunk.

The flat bare area that we come to next is the desert wash where, after heavy rain, torrents of water pour down from the mountain and create a temporary stream.  Luckily today it is dry and we can cross easily.

Along the way we see a few signs of life, but sometimes you have to look really carefully to spot the small lizards that dart about or, as we saw, sun themselves on a stick  or rock.

This lizard had just caught something tasty…

Look carefully at the rocks and you might see signs of Borrego’s earlier residents.  Women ground seeds in the same place for centuries and created these holes in the rocks.  The Cahuilla Indians chose this canyon for a village site because of the flowing stream (which we will come to later).  The canyon walls provided shade from the late afternoon sun and shelter from winds.

As we walk along we see a variety of plants and bushes.  The desert lavender bush flowers from October until the end of May and attracts hundreds of bees.  When the soil is moist the plant grows larger, thinner leaves but just now, because it is dry, the leaves are smaller, thicker and hairy to prevent moisture loss.

There’s a selection of cacti too, which the information sheet we have been given warns that we should look at, but not touch!

As we walk along we can hear the sounds of birds and were very lucky that a few of them stayed in position long enough for me to catch a quick picture.

After about an hour of walking (and stopping to admire the view and take few photos) we start to see signs that there must be water nearby as things are greening up a little bit and in the distance we can make out some palm trees.

As we walk up these steps we can just hear the sound of trickling water, which gets a little louder the further on we go.

Now we can see the stream.

Round another bend and after a bit of clambering over boulders, we arrive at the small oasis of California Fan Palm trees.

I am surprised that the trees look so ‘untidy’ but, of course, these are in their natural state and the skirt of dead palm fronds protects the bark from water loss and insect predators.

Many groves of these palm trees grow along earthquake faults, where geological forces have created conditions that allow water to seep towards the surface.

After a few minutes’ rest in the cool shade, it’s time to set off again on the return journey to make sure we get back to the car park before it starts to get dark.  As we go we enjoy the wide, expansive view of the desert mountains.

Borrego is the Spanish word for big horned sheep, and the area is named after them.  Sadly we didn’t see any – they are supremely camouflaged and may well have been watching us, unseen, from the rocky canyon sides.

If you have the energy for some more walks, take yourself over to Jo’s Monday Walks where there will be quite a selection for you to try.