Birch Knight Fungus
Birch Knight Fungus

‘It really is almost perfect, you ought to see it.
‘Yes, just the bedrooms we wanted. The girls won’t have to share anymore. You can imagine how they’ll feel about that, can’t you?
‘No, they haven’t really complained that much about sharing their bedroom, mostly they complain about having their clothes borrowed.
‘Oh, they’re both as bad as each other! The first hint of an outing of any kind and they’re scrabbling through each other’s clothes looking for something to wear.
‘I’ve no idea! They go shopping together and, as far as I can see, they buy almost the same things, yet the minute one of them picks something out from their joint clothing, the other insists it belongs to them and they were about to put it on.
‘I don’t imagine that having their own rooms will solve the clothing problem, but we can hope.
‘Yes. There are two big reception rooms downstairs.
‘Mmm, I’m hoping we can have computers and TVs in the one room and keep the other as a technology-free zone.
‘Oh well, I can dream.
‘There’s just the one problem really, I’m sure we can learn to live with it, though.
‘No, I wouldn’t say it was a deal breaker.
‘Well, it’s the location.
‘Oh no, quite rural. It’s not that. It’s just that, you know, tradition and all that.
‘Call me old fashioned if you like, but fairies are supposed to live down at the bottom of the garden!’

Think Ahead

Speckled Wood Butterfly
Speckled Wood Butterfly

Today’s butterfly is yet another marvel of nature. When the butterflies emerge from caterpillar-dom, they adopt one of two lifestyles. Either they take the local option and set up shop in the nearest sunny spot, relying on passing footfall to put bums on seats. Or they take the commercial traveller option and set out to book as many miles as their expense account will bear.
Now, I’m sure you can see where this evocation of Evolution might be about to come unstuck. While local services might seem a safe bet at the moment, particularly in our rural area, modern technology lies, biding its time, in hiding.
Surely, however, it is the more adventurous life that will feel the bitter bite of blockchains and big data first. Those (mostly males) whose life seemed to attain perfection in the romance of the road, the flitting up and down the woodland fringe, welcomed with open wings in one sunny patch after another – each of the local entrepreneurial establishments eager to sample their wares – are those who will be first to have their Utopia undone, their sandcastles stamped on.
Surely, it cannot be long before all who chose to be stay-at-homes realise – they can get all that stuff on the internet these days.

I Talk To The Trees

Sweet Chestnut
Sweet Chestnut

‘Of course, I’m just a baby, speaking in Sweet Chestnut terms. A few of my family are more than 2000 years old, and still going strong.
‘Well, I suppose our recent history started at the end of the last Ice Age, we were living in what’s now Turkey, then, once the ice melted, we made friends with the local people, in no time.
‘Not many of us, but, you know, we are so useful.
‘We coppice well, for starters. That means you can have a constant supply of poles and posts. And they won’t go and rot in the ground, like some other woods I can name.
‘Oak? Such a stodgy old fellow. We’re just as tough – but lighter and easier to work.
‘Yes, indeed, they did like the nuts. Very useful they found them. Cook them and eat them like that – or make bread and cakes with the flour, yes, very useful.
‘First, it was the Turks, then the Greeks turned up. They were everywhere in those days.
‘Naturally. We’ve always been interested in travel. We went back to Greece and spread ourselves around.
‘Then once the Romans took over we set our sights on Europe and hitched our wagon to the Roman star, so to speak.
‘Yes, turned up here in Britain soon as they did. They loved their Chestnut porridge, the Romans did.
‘Well, must get on. I’ve got nuts to ripen, you know.
‘Exactly. Who knows where they’ll end up?’

Golden Ratio

Hen Pheasant
Hen Pheasant

We were just about to open the front door and set off for our daily commune with the natural world when a glance out of the window revealed that the natural world had, in fact, come to find out what was keeping us. Parading past the doorstep was a male pheasant and his harem. Naturally, by the time I’d found the camera, switched on and managed to direct its attention to their progress the male, with his striking plumage, had moved on and was presenting his rear to us.
He is brightly coloured and his hens are a dull brown. At one time this probably made evolutionary sense – it made it easy for his wives to keep an eye on him when there were other females around. But, times change and brightly coloured plumage is not such an asset when a major part of your life is spent dodging shooting parties. I’m pretty sure that, by now, it must have occurred to many hen pheasants that, while it is undoubtedly easier to manage one male in the family, the current evolutionary challenge supports a greater ratio of males to females.
Or perhaps they’re just not that fussed – maybe it’s easy enough to get another male if this one doesn’t make it through the shooting season.