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Massive Summer Photo-Post!

It’s been some time since our last post, but this isn’t because things have been quiet at Juniper. Quite the opposite. And while I’ve diligently been capturing events on camera, we’ve all become rather enamoured of (or should that be ‘with’?) Twitter, and we’ve been posting most of our pictures there. Twitter is great because of its immediacy: virtually the moment you see something cool you can capture it and share it with the world. Which is great. But sometimes I long for the space of a blog post… and the time to be able to write one… and the luxury of being able to write for more than 140 characters! So here, belatedly,  are some shots and text to let you know what we’ve been up to these past months.

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Early in the summer we acquired a ride-on mower, here being modeled by yours truly. Aside from keeping the grounds looking neat, it allows us to move sticks about the site in enviable style.

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While cleaning out what was once known as the ‘Dark Room’ (in preparation for making it into our lovely new Bebbington Room), we came across some interesting fragments from Juniper’s past, including these impressive landscape drawings by previous Head of Centre (they called ’em wardens back then) Geoffrey Hutchings, who was an extremely skilled draughtsman (its nothing to do with draughts, look it up!), as you can see from these sketches here.

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Another sketch by the talented Mr Hutchings.

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Back in late spring we hosted the first Juniper Hall Acoustic Folk night, which was extremely successful. I recruited two local bands, and one not-so-local band, which featured someone you might recognise! I decided to forego using equipment and keep the sound fully acoustic. Fortunately the acoustics in the Templeton room were more than up to the task, and for once just one night, old Templers sounded as good as it looked!

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Charlie Menagh started off the night for us with some of his own material as well as a few well-chosen covers to mix things up. Charlie really has a lovely, sensitive style both in his playing and his presentation and I was delighted that he was able to be there. It was a great opening.

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My band the Gill Family got things going in a more raucous, Americana-type direction after Charlie finished, but I don’t have any pictures of the act as i was too busy playing double bass. Do check the link above though to see a video of the performance. After that, the final act was R&R, who are a fixture on the local scene and well-known to Surrey audiences. Richard and Ron always do a slick, fun show with a real mix of song types that always include something for everyone. They also update their set constantly, often doing different themes throughout the year so that there’s something new each time.

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Here, Ron gets his rubber chicken out for one of the stranger numbers.

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There was no shortage of instruments on the night.

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In June we hosted the Surrey Wildlife Festival, during which we were pleased to host wildlife organisations big and small from around the county. My favourites, as always, were the invertebrate groups. Here’s a poplar hawkmoth (Laothoe populi). We left ourmothtraps out the night before the festival so that the exhibitors had some extra animals to display. Now, experienced moth-trappers tend not to get excited about hawkmoths. They’ve seen them all before; what they really want are tiny, hard-to-identify micro-moths. But the big ones still impress the crowds.

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Here’s Louise hanging out with some tortoises. One of them was named Socrates.

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Here’s Chris continuing Juniper’s mission to show the children of the world that snakes and spiders can be just as safe and friendly as any other animal! Mind you, our boa constrictors are getting rather large and strong! Always a firm favourite with guests.

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The grounds were alive with the sound of crowing as several attractive but noisy breeds of chicken showed up. I distinctly remember the birds crying out every time the band stopped playing. Coincidence?

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Sarah and Chantal enjoyed themselves on the bouncy castle.

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Catches of invasive American crayfish during fieldwork were definitely down this year, though students did still catch the occasional fish fish to distract them! Students of all ages always get very excited when they catch a fish. And many frequently become obsessed with the idea of catching a crayfish.

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Can some clever person tell me what species these caterpillars will turn into?????????????????????????????????????

Ah, now this one I know! It’s a lovely peacock butterfly, or Inachis io. In Greek mythology, Io was a nymph and the daughter of Inachis, and there’s a great story associated with her. Zeus lusted after her (as he did most nymphs) but turned her into a heifer and had her guarded by a watchman with one hundred eyes to hide her from his jealous wife. After Hermes, messenger of the gods, slew this watchman, he placed his eyes on the tail of the peacock, which is why peacocks have eyes on their tails!

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Unless I’m mistaken, this is the silver-washed fritillary, Argynnis paphia, and sadly there isn’t any story associated with its name, except that it’s easy to remember its name because Argynnis sounds like Guinness.

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And how could I forget? This lovely big enclosure is now housing our latest animal acquisitions: pygmy goats.

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Here’s one of them feeding. Pygmy goats are a breed from west Africa, and they don’t get much bigger than this no matter how old they get.

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Since you asked, the goats’ names are Chive, Liquorice (a very dangerous word to attempt to spell), Clove and Treacle. Younger students really love them but they’ve been a hit with students of all ages.

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And that’s it for now. Hopefully it won’t be long before the next post is up, and meanwhile do keep an eye on our Twitter for regular news as it happens.

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