Landscape, Life

On the wing

Yesterday, I saw my first swifts of the season. In Plaxtol’s high street, a faint and much-loved cry made me look up, and there they were: three sickle shapes winging overhead. (I’ve written about swifts before.) There was some rain in the night – the most Plaxtol has had for many weeks – and this morning […]

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Away, Landscape, Life

Coherence

April has been a month of profound contrasts. Remarkably warm days a couple of weeks ago have brought wildflowers, garden blooms (many tulips have come and gone) and fruit blossom out much earlier than usual. Apple blossom is not usual in Plaxtol until the start of May, but now the trees are already covered

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featured, Landscape, Life

The glow of September

Autumn has arrived in the valley. Despite record high temperatures this week, the season can no longer be denied.  Blackberries are ripening exponentially, day after day, spiders’ webs glisten with dew at dawn, and there has been a subtle shift in the spectrum, toward a clarity, a purity of tone which does not exist in summer. […]

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Away, featured, Landscape, Life

Gathering thoughts in May

Robert Browning may have craved his homeland in April (and who would not?), but is there any month more urgently, lasciviously, resplendently English than May? The very word drips with subtext; with sappy, fleshy undercurrents of light, warmth and fecundity.

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Landscape, Life

A winter walk

These frosty nights have aroused the fox. I heard him go down the lane, the last two nights, barking Wow-wow-wow on the cold starlit air. But now it is day, the sun high, and I have letters to post.

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Landscape, Life

Fieldfares

The first fieldfares were heard in Plaxtol from the last weeks of October onwards. Fieldfares come here from Scandinavia and Russia to winter among our pastures, turned fields and orchards and will stay until March. They come at first in ones and twos, later in ever-growing flocks, and while their arrival may be delayed by […]

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featured, Landscape, Life

September in Plaxtol

The robins have begun to try out their quiet song, wistful and meditative, quite unlike their bright carolling in spring. Early mornings are softer now, and chillier. The sun’s light is mirrored in the sky before it rises, mist lies along the Bourne valley like woodsmoke and everything is damp with dew. On fine afternoons […]

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Landscape

Morning, after rain

Six o’clock. Everything is wet. This morning’s world is a water-world. The long shaws are silvered with last night’s rain and the beginnings of the May. In a matter of days the treeline will be white with the blossom, each hawthorn tree a plump country girl or sturdy lad in best, fresh-laundered pinafore and smock. […]

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Legacy, Life

‘Summer’s still all to come’ – the swifts’ return

The swallow may be the signal of the season, the red, white and blue ensign of the English summer, with all its bucolic associations of roses and hay meadows, garden fêtes and picnics, but for me the swift’s high cries and the sight of those slender black silhouettes slicing through the sky mark the true […]

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