The Old Man of Calke

ENDURANCE…..that is the topic for this weeks Photo Challenge (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/endurance/) and there can be nothing more enduring than the natural world that is all about us.
The tree above is a very special tree. So special that it has been give a name “The Old Man of Calke”. Calke Abbey is a very old English Estate, this Oak tree is one of many veteran Oaks across the parkland. Experts reckon that it is over 2000 years old. It has survived time, storms, winters and summers, rains and of course even the Oak Beetle that has been feeding on it for centuries. No doubt over all that time it provided shelter for cattle and sheep whilst Deer will have grazed below its canopy.

 In more recent years a fence has been erected to provide some protection in the hope that there are many more years of life to come. Each year its crown is covered in leaves, sparse now in comparison to its earlier years but still very majestic.
In those 2000 years the world has changed…what stories it could tell if only it could speak

20th September

(C) David Oakes 2014

Experts……..or know it all’s!


As many of you will be aware, large parts of the U.K. have been underwater.  The record rains of the winter have flooded many places never flooded before.  It has to be devastating for those directly effected and thankfully help is finding its way to those in need, whether it is enough help I suspect not.  But the blame game started weeks ago together with a long queue of politicians, media and of course experts from every discipline from conservation to planning….as always much of the advice conflicts with the advice of others.  I suspect it is a mix of solutions that is needed and no magic bullet exists. But until common sense prevails each will climb his soapbox and preach their own solutions.

So what about the veteran Oak tree above.  Well one statistic quoted last week was that each mature Oak tree drinks 80 gallons of water a day……so may be the solution is to plant more Oak trees, though I guess it would be many years before they each drank the stipulated 80 gallons!  The Oak above no longer produces leaves or acorns but still provides nutrients for insects and in turn food for the birds…a Treecreeper was much at home this morning seeking his lunch. 

At this time of year the stumps of many veteran Oaks do look lifeless but don’t be quick to condemn…. This stump of an Oak still produces a head of growth each year, admittedly like most old men it is a little thin on top, but it isn’t giving up just yet, the spring buds are already swelling ….


More signs that spring is on the way can be found by the Lake.  A Weeping Willow is now starting to flush with early spring colour.  The new leaves are ready to burst, at the moment showing a yellow tinge but soon a that fresh bright green with drape the tendril like branches……


Today there is no rain, the sun will have brought a little respite for those with flooded homes, but I fear their joy may be short lived as more low pressure is heading our way.

22nd February

© David Oakes 2014

A Door to……… Somewhere – But where ?


I must have passed this tree at a thousand times and more, yet it is only today I had my eyes wide open enough to spot this ‘Doorway’.  Admittedly it is a very small door, about 2ft high, but none the less this is a tree I often stop by to survey the morning light through the woods. I guess its for the little folk….. pixies or elves, but I have no idea if there is a significance to the Number 5.  If any one should know of a Fairy Tale or Rhyme that would give us a clue…then please let us all into the secret!

8th February

© David Oakes 2014

A little more like Winter….A Misty Start


A misty start to the morning, a morning much more in keeping with November. It was one of those cloying mists, damp and dark with a hint that up above the sky would be blue if only the mist would lift.


The sun did do its very best to warm the morning and break through the mist and for a short while it looked as if it would win, sunbeams enticingly bright between the Pines….


and likewise across the fields shafts of early sunshine teased us with what might come if we waited…..


But that hope soon faded as the mist descended once again and cloud cover increased to bring a darkness that would last for most of the day.  But for December it still is a bonus compared to normal winter weather…..


10th December

© David Oakes 2013

December 1st……..Advent Sunday


Advent Sunday and a reminder that Christmas is now only 24 days away.  Our Christmas Cactus has also produced its first flower of the season hopefully one of many more to come over the next few weeks.

And just to get you into the Christmas mood here is what I expect will be your first Christmas Card.  This is one of several Victorian Cards I have in my collection. I selected this particular one as I thought it continued the autumnal feel for just a little while longer…..


As to the weather, well December is continuing where November left off (well for only a little while longer I guess ).  Frost still lay on the ground in the shelter of the woods but our lane was still looking just like a sunny autumn day……..



It is now only 20 days to the winter solstice, so I think that may be now that the Ash trees across the meadows have  lost all their leaves, they are stark indicators that winter must be on the way…..


1st December

© David Oakes 2013