Friday, 19 May 2023

Friday 19.05.2023

 Carried along on a wave of essence-of-coconut this morning as the sun shone down on the gorse which has been at its very best for the last week, while waiting in the wings is its paler, quieter cousin the yellow broom. And everything just so green, that new optimistic green, reassuring that, for the time being at least, the seasons keep on coming round. 

So many days recently that have been perfect for walking, warm sun, cool breeze, even the cloudy but humid ones with the occasional face-freshening sprays of warm rain: it`s the second best season after autumn. 😉 And of course, on this side of the country - no midges. (Just watched a film, or more accurately six one hour episodes, of someone walking the Cape Wrath Trail in August and can`t see the pleasure of doing  it when there`s clouds of them getting into everything........they are an absolute scourge).

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Wednesday 10.05.2023

 "Relax into the uncertainty" somebody once said and it`s probably the only way to enjoy the days at the moment. One minute the sun, which has real warmth in it, next a monsoon, floods, angry skies and thunder. Turn around and there`s the sun again, the floods evaporate as quickly as they arrived and momentarily there are clouds of steam rising from field and road.

There`s more Spring arrivals: today both housemartins and swallows have arrived, busily preening and shaking out their feathers as they sway gently backwards and forwards on the telephone wires, maybe checking out what if anything has changed since last year (not much).

The beasts are out now on the field adjacent to the woods - looking as always slightly bemused by all the space though they`ll soon get used to it. And if it gets too hot there`s nearly always a handy hoof spa in the corner of the field.

It sometimes felt almost sub-tropical in the deepest part of the woods, the warm air full of moisture and heavy with evocative scents. Butterflies and bees fluttered and buzzed around and the distinctive clumps of wood sorrel were a cheery sight. All in all a sap-stirring day - and the trees are definitely beginning to respond.

Wednesday, 3 May 2023

Wednesday 3.5.2023

Work, gigs, more work - and then a few days away, of which more in a minute.

Meanwhile Spring is trying very hard to take over - the larks are deafening, the gorse is at the peak of its golden glory and when the sun warms the air that coconut scent is intoxicating, there are lambs.  And yet, and yet. It is still unseasonably cold  - the fire is still being lit in the mornings and evenings though it is the merry month of May - and there is still no sign of the lapwings, the oyster catchers and the curlews which not that long ago were the real harbingers of Spring on the hill.  

Still, when we set off this morning in an attempt to get warm without lighting the fire, the bracing easterly kept us marching briskly along. The grass is growing, the first mowers have even been in action, there are catkins and buds and  bright green larch needles are emerging through the grey lichen. 

We took the longer route home which is becoming a regular part of our expeditions even though the woods it takes us by are still displaying the destruction of storm Arwen from all those months ago.

 Getting back into regular walks with the dogs has been a delight but last month there were six days away with different companions only one of which was canine. So another long distance walk completed, this time The Great Glen Way, not as challenging as last year`s West Highland Way but pretty demanding neverthless.

I completely failed to marshall pictures of the WHW or even write about it last year. I am currently trying to make up for that with this year`s expedition but there is such a thing as too many photos and too little energy (on my part) to keep an ongoing diary as we walked. I`m thinking of opening a new blog to try and record these events especially as I have a sneaking feeling that they are becoming slightly addictive: the pains and joys, the ups and downs - literally and metaphorically - the occasional injury (🙄) and the huge satisfaction of completing the journey even if you have to hobble into the final pub - it takes some beating.

For the time being here are a few random pictures while I go and continue trying to work the whole into some sort of cohesive account.

r two

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Wednesday 15.03.2023

 The weather app promised a day of blazing sunshine but fortunately not: the "busy old fool" only shows up the grubby windows and layers of dust after all.

Instead we had something a bit subtler: the sun a pale, more modest, version of itself trying to peep through the blues and greys and white, plenty of still-lying snow and ice, bare branches, winter silhouettes, and snowy garlands. Winter is hanging in there for a bit longer.

Monday, 13 March 2023

Monday 13.03.2023

 Weather. It`s been all about the weather and we`ve had just about everything possible in the last few days, apart from a full on heat wave. Never quite sure what`re going to wake up to. First thing this morning it was pure "dreich" - if that wonderful onomatopoeic word hadn`t existed it would have been necessary to make it up. To summarise: grey cloud, slushy underfoot in the remaining snow, rain/sleet/snow and a  bitter northerly wind. occasionally the cloud descends and we are in a whiteout, impossible to tell where the cloud ends and the snow begins.

But! We have had mild weather, we have had winter wonderlands, we have had storms that have brought down yet more trees, we have had still, icy evenings, the occasional blizzard and drifting snow catkins on bare branches, daffodils buried in snow but ready to flower the minute the sun comes out while the gorse just doesn`t care and flowers anyway. Snowy dogs, red sunsets...........

.....while yesterday lunchtime the phrase "blue-remembered hills" sprang to mind, though not perhaps as Housman* envisaged them, speaking, as he was, of hills several hundred miles south of here where
 the still air was glacial and the landscape had an icy blue tinge to it under clouds of pale grey and white. 

*A Shropshire Lad

Into my heart an air that kills 

  From yon far country blows: 

What are those blue remembered hills, 

  What spires, what farms are those? 


That is the land of lost content,

  I see it shining plain, 

The happy highways where I went 

  And cannot come again.

A. E. Housman  1859-1936             

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Monday 21.2.2023 (2)

 P.S. Not just calm but mild and still on the back field which I`ve just trotted round with the dogs before going to work. The larks are responding, giving it full laldy overhead, which is a delight but had me wondering when or even if our other erstwhile spring visitors will arrive - peewit,  oyster catcher, curlew. Seem to be fewer and fewer each year. 🙁

Tuesday 21.2.23

 Two hours yesterday afternoon on a gentle stroll round the woods (and the little bit extra I`ve found to tag on the usual route - in training for another long walk - maybe). It was possible to think of Spring though only too aware that we`re not even out of February yet.

Indeed, a blog is a useful reminder not to take anything for granted - this was us this time last year:

Could hardly have been more different yesterday - warm sun, gentle breeze and pretty, mackerel skies.

Similar Spring-y vibes down in the beautiful Cotswolds last week where the snowdrops are further on than ours and the catkins are burstin` out all over.

Also lots of this which doesn`t seem to be such a thing in our neck of the woods but is a blast of nostalgia from a childhood in Kent where it was everywhere.
We called it Old Man`s Beard but having checked see it may have other names, is also seen as a weed and I`m not sure if it`s a sign of Spring, a hangover from Winter or neither. Love it anyway. And the Cotswolds on a fine gentle day is a splendid place to stroll (even if I miss my companion canines. 😉)

And back up north, in between all the Spring stuff came Storm Otto, taking out the electric and phone signals, attempting to rip the garage roof off - again - and tipping over yet more trees, those already precariously balanced from Storm Arwen, some blocking off the path usually travelled. 
Felt quite exciting walking through the woods that day as the trees thrashed about, sounding - and feeling a bit - like we were out on a wild sea.
Today all is calm again and there`s a small bunch of reassuring bright yellow, sweet smelling daffs on the table next to me. February may not be over but we`re over halfway through.