Tuesday 28 April 2020

To Woods....

Make haste if you wish to see Bluebells this year; in my area they are already past their peak - far earlier than normal.
However, whilst wandering through the wood, I was lucky enough to spot some prime specimens of Early Purple Orchids, which were much taller, and more elegant than the shorter, stubbly ones, found on our Common.
I make a point of visiting our local bluebell wood every year as I recall the words that A E Housman wrote in A Shropshire Lad, in his case regarding seeing the Cherry blossom;
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score, 
It only leaves me fifty more.
Unlike Housman I do not have fifty more, so every year is a bonus.

Friday 24 April 2020

Nurturing Nature.

We are known as a nation of gardeners - we delight in our flower gardens filled with colour. We enjoy growing and picking our own vegetables. We wax lyrical about their flavour and how delicious our own tomatoes smell and taste compared with produce from the shop.  
Now, I am suddenly questioning why is it that the Government has deemed Garden Centres as non essential, and yet Off-licenses have been allowed to remain open? It appears that it was a move to bring cheer to millions of hard-pressed consumers shut-up at home with the pubs closed, but what consideration has been given to those of us that want to spend time in our gardens growing our own flowers and produce!
Keeping the recommended distance apart would be very easy in a garden centre and nurturing plant life must surely be of help to us during this difficult period.
I heard a hospital doctor talking and he said that currently there has been an increase in alcohol related problems in A&E along with domestic violence which often tend to go hand in glove.
Even people residing in flats and apartments can grow plants on their window ledges and balconies. Flowers, herbs, tomatoes - can you imagine just how much pleasure that could give to those looking out on nothing but windows and brick walls?
Interacting with Mother Nature is an essential part of our well-being.
Faced with a similar crisis during WWII everyone was encouraged to have a Victory garden, also called war gardens or food gardens to supplement rations and also to boost morale. 
via wiki

Sunday 19 April 2020

Daily Walk

My corner of the world is situated high up on a Cotswold escarpment, surrounded by several valleys, and gives far distant views across to Wales. The area is made up of several small scattered communities resulting in a large variety of different walks immediately on the doorstep.
Come! climb the stile and let's see what we can find on the Common. It is a designated SSSI (site of special scientific interest), a European Special Area of Conservation, and known for its rare flowers, butterflies, and prehistoric remains. 
In the dip beyond the trees lies a deep valley; the far distant blue hills are situated on the Welsh/English border, and on a good clear day it is possible to see a pyramidal shaped mountain in the Brecon Beacons called Sugar Loaf.
There are literally thousands and thousands of Primula veris - cowslips currently flowering on the Common.
Primula veris - sunset - these cowslip is not commonly found, but if you look really carefully sometimes you will manage to spot one.
But, these are the much rarer Primula elatior - oxlip, which are now beginning to go over. An oxlip is a hybrid between a cowslip and a primrose.
Arum maculatum - lords & ladies, cuckoo-pint, are reasonably common, and whilst not strictly poisonous they do contain oxalate crystals which are very sharp and can penetrate and irritate the skin.

The Orchis mascula - there are plenty of these tiny early-purple orchids in flower. There are over twenty different wild orchids growing on the Common throughout the year, a few of which are exceedingly rare and difficult to spot.

The Blackthorn blossom has been flowering continuously since March. It looks as if there will be plenty of sloe plums to pick this autumn to make some sloe gin for Christmas. Long ago the shrub was associated with witchcraft and it was thought that the wood was used to make witches' wands and staffs.
This old milestone is a reminder that once upon a time there was an ancient highway crossing over the Common carrying stage coaches down to London.
I have no idea what tree this is - do you know?

Time now to return home for a cup of tea,

but as we turn into the garden we suddenly notice that our Camassia qumash is in flower.

Friday 17 April 2020

Simply Food.......

The Easter goodies and hot cross buns are all finished, not wishing to go to the shops, what little treats can I make from the back of the cupboard?
Ginger Oaty Biscuits
150g butter, diced if cold
1 tbsp syrup (I substituted runny honey instead)
175g granulated sugar
125g self-raising flour(I used plain flour plus 5g baking powder)
100g porridge oats
2 tsp ground ginger
1. Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/ Gas 4. Line a couple of large baking trays with baking paper. 

2. Place the butter, syrup/honey, and sugar into a large saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved and well combined

3. Remove from the heat and add the flour, oats and ginger. Stir until well incorporated, then tip onto a clean flat surface, flatten out and leave to cool for 10mins.
4. Scoop up teaspoonfuls of the mixture (which will be slightly crumbly and buttery) and roll into small balls. Place on the prepared baking trays, spaced well apart and lightly push down to flatten. Bake for 10mins until golden colour. 
5. Leave until cool on the baking trays. 

Monday 13 April 2020


In Greek Mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth - the primal Mother Earth goddess. Today the Gaia theory or principal, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated with one another and form a single but self-regulating complex system, which maintain the conditions for life on our planet.
During this quiet Easter holiday whilst taking my daily walk around our Common, I reflected on just how quickly things have changed for all of us this year 2020.
The bulk of 2019 manifest itself in continual processions of protest around our globe, whose populations, young and old called upon our governments to change course. Protect the world from climate change, the environmental impact of plastics, and damaging vehicle emissions. 
As recently as December 2019 the United Nations Climate Change Conference met in Madrid, but following two weeks of deliberation and talking, most of the issues raised remained unresolved.
Why am I having these ironic thoughts? My thinking leads me on to consider "could this be Gaia's revenge?" Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen considerably already right across our world as countries try to contain the spread of Covid-19. Is this simply just a fleeting change, or could it now lead on to longer lasting falls in emissions, and a much cleaner planet? We all now know that sustainability is in fact a possibility.   

Tuesday 7 April 2020

William Wordsworth

On this day, two hundred and fifty years ago, William Wordsworth was born at Cockermouth in the Lake District, Cumberland. 
Reading Wordsworth's familiar line "I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vales and hills" holds an added poignancy today as we enter into our third week of 'lockdown'. 

The last of the late daffodils are having a final flourish before taking their leave until next year. Natures restorative moments are all around for us to appreciate and enjoy.
Currently life does feel like being trapped in a dark place with no light to be seen, but we must all slowly move forward. Soon we will reach the light and be in a better place.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Fritillaria meleagris

I was very surprised to see the snake's head fritillaries in flower  - the end of March beginning of April feels too soon.  
I shall now have to be extra vigilant, their arrival marks the return of the naughty red lily beetle, the bane of any lily growers life.
And then I came to a field where the springing grass
Was dulled by the hanging cups of fritillaries,
Sullen and foreign-looking, the snaky flower,
Scarfed in dull purple, like Egyptian girls
camping among the furze...
Vita Sackville-West (1892 - 1962)
When light slants before the sunset, this is
The proper time to watch fritillaries.
They entered creeping; you go on your knees,
The flowers level with your eyes,
And catch the dapple of sunlight through the petals...
Anne Ridler (1912 - 2001)