The Eternal Teenager

Speckled Wood Butterfly

Speckled Wood Butterfly

The world is a strange and intriguing place, is it not? Today we have a Speckled Wood butterfly. It is speckled, as you can see, and it flies around the fringes of woods. Or, as in this case, when the year grows older and the population of aphids in the tree tops declines, it is forced to scrabble around amongst the hedgerows. As a caterpillar, it liked nothing better than a patch of damp grass – Cocksfoot will do but Couch Grass is preferred. This enthusiasm wears off as soon as it emerges from its chrysalis and it flutters away to the trees, convinced that it is bound for greater things.

The male adopts one of two courting procedures. Early in the year he is most likely to find a nice warm sunny spot on the woodland floor and just hang out – do dumb stuff, and wolf whistle at every passing female. His other option is to get a smooth motor, then cruise up and down the edge of the wood and see what he can pull.

The females are well aware of this of course, and either make straight for the guy in the nearest sunny spot – or hang around on street corners to see what turns up.

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It’s Been A Berry Good Year

Elderberries

Elderberries

It’s been a strange year. Spring arrived early, bustling Winter out of the door with flapping duster, rushing round pulling the furniture straight, and hurrying off before Summer had a chance to stand and chat.

As Summer was so early, she sat comfortably sipping her coffee for ages before she got into her stride. But then she left early, too – she needed to get her hair done before her appointment down in the southern hemisphere, she said. This has left us in a sort of seasonal hiatus. Autumn is only working a short week, and has mentioned that he feels a little put upon by Summer’s lack of commitment, so we are having to fill the days he isn’t available as best we can.

The sweet blackberries are all gone and those left on the bushes are tasteless or bitter, the holly berries are still green with only tinges of red, but the elderberries have done very well this year.

Elderberries are slightly poisonous and need to be brought to the boil and allowed to simmer for ten minutes – to make them safe. You then add an amount of sugar equal to the amount of liquid and you have a very nice syrup – said to be effective in warding off the coughs and sniffles.

On a more practical note – planting an elder bush near your house will keep The Devil at bay. Useful to know.

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Flooded

Spiders Web With Dew Drops

Spiders Web With Dew Drops

In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen, or so we’ve been led to believe. These facts are of little interest to those of you out there, in the path of this years individually identified, ferocious, weather patterns. There have been, and there will, no doubt, continue to be, fingers pointed and wise heads nodded, but, to be honest, I can’t see that blame for the past or predictions for the future are of much interest to you either. In fact, it’s hard to think of anything that matters to you at the moment, except the immediate issue of just getting through another day.
Out here in no-hurricane land, we feel frustrated at our inability to help. We wish with all our hearts we could tell it to stop. We wish we could promise you that we won’t let it happen again, but we can’t – and it will. All we can share with you is your helplessness in the face of the inhuman power of nature.

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The Village Under The Hill

The Village Under The Hill

The Village Under The Hill

Word spread quickly. Although many spoke, few paid heed. Even should they be moved to action, none knew what action to take.
“We should prepare to defend ourselves!” some declared.
“We should flee!” others urged.
But flee where? Defend, how? Most stood, wrapped in a comfortable cloak of indecision, isolated from the urgency – and the urging to chose between heroism and cowardice.
Rumour abounded, but news was scarce. At last, those who favoured uncertain flight over uncertain dependence on the valour of their neighbours, would delay no longer. In the quiet hours before sunrise, they took their leave.
Those who remained, viewing their own diminished numbers, boosted their resolve by redistributing those personal belongings left behind in the haste of departure. They spoke bravely of building barricades, but each thought his own property should be behind the strongest fortification, and in common disagreement they built nothing.
Food became an important issue and there was much discussion on the sharing of resources. The next day it was found that those, who were considered to have the greatest stores, had decamped in the night. On examination of their, now vacant, premises it became obvious that they had taken their food and valuables with them.
This engendered much rage and one amongst their number, a hefty fellow named Brugg, declared himself to be in command and that his rules were to be obeyed – at risk of his great displeasure.
When the next day dawned, Brugg, his wife and children found themselves to be the sole occupants of the village. His wife became fearful, so a disgruntled Brugg and his family departed, on the heels of those who had just left, to seek safe refuge.
And did The Dragon ever come?
We can ask, but who will answer? The village stands empty.

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This Isn’t The End

Knapweed And Bee

Knapweed And Bee

We are coming to the end of Summer. Strange isn’t it, to think of something cyclic as having an end, nor is this the end, even if we could think of it linearly. Perhaps it would have been better to say – Summer is winding down.
It isn’t Autumn yet though. I find Autumn relaxing, we walk our highways and byways through a palpable aura of a job well done – a feeling of the table cleared, the dishes washed, and the kettle on.
But we’re not up to that point yet, there’s still plenty to be done. The Hawthorn berries are starting to turn red, and the Rose Baywillow Herb pea pods are splitting, sending blasts of filigree-fine, seed-carrying fluff off with the wind, while Dandelions and Thistles are doing their best to keep up. Blackberries are ripening in the hedgerows and the Hazel nuts are ready to drop off their bushes. Buy, busy, busy.
The Knapweed is a late summer visitor – I think he’s trying to avoid the crowds the school holidays always bring. Still, at a time when most plants are too involved with their seeds, berries or nuts to be bothered with pollen – I’m sure the bees are glad to see him.

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Hard to Swallow

Greater Celandine

Greater Celandine

When we come out of the gate, if we turn left we go down the hill and over the beck – along the road that takes us to the next village about half a mile away. Once there, we are faced with a tee junction. We normally turn round, at this point.

Just before the tee junction the road passes through a narrow gap between ancient stone walls. At one time these narrows formed a toll gate, but the old-time need to manage the passage of man and animal does not fit well into modern day traffic patterns.

Just there, where the road is at its narrowest, a clump of Greater Celandine clung tenaciously to the slender verge. Celandine gets its name from the Latin for a swallow – it was believed that the flower bloomed when the swallows arrived in spring, and stayed in flower until they left again at the end of summer.

In a midsummer clear up the Greater Celandine bushes were cut away completely, and I was left hoping that the swallows had some form of backup calendar. Today, on our way through the narrow gap – I found a few straggling plants who had fought back and were even in bloom. I was quite awed by their strong sense of duty – I hope the swallows appreciated it, too.

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I Love A Lassie

Harebells

Harebells

– August 4th is the birthday of Sir Harry Lauder, his one hundred and forty seventh birthday, in fact. Worryingly, I can remember him. This doesn’t seem possible. Unless you are young enough to think that singers have always been able to record their songs – even if only on LPs or heaven forbid, on 78s. But, that I can remember hearing songs, on the radio, sung by a man who was born 147 years ago gives me a real pause for thought.

Sir Harry wrote most of his own songs, and one of his most popular, sung in his Scottish accent – suitably toned down until even the English could understand the words – was, I Love A Lassie. I mention it here because, in amongst the song’s various, complimentary and complementary, descriptive phrases, he tells us that his lady-love is none other than ‘Mary, my Scots bluebell.’

The spring flower we call the bluebell in England is called the wild hyacinth in Scotland, and the, much more delicate, late summer flower we call the harebell in England is called the Scots bluebell north of the border.

So, if your name is Mary, or you know anyone called Mary – today’s picture is not harebells – but Scots bluebells. Happy Birthday Sir Harry!

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