Sunday – Leominster – Rain fell at dawn but has since stopped. Everywhere is wet, leaves shine in the morning greyness. The recent rain has had no effect on the water level of the River Lugg, which if anything is lower still. The water splashing over a small rock weir (which seems to have been recently built, by children I assume) is the only sound to be heard, all birds are silent. Finally there is some twittering and tweeting from Blue Tits and a Robin emits a burst of song. Tiny corpses of flies hang in a large spider’s web attached to the metal framework of Butts Bridge. Burdock is about to come into flower, their spiky heads waiting for a dog to brush against and carry them away. Wood Pigeons start coo beside Easters Meadow. Something has set off the seagulls away to the south; their noise often continues all night.
Round to Pinsley Mill. Swifts are notable by their absence, but of course as soon as I observe this one flies over. Into the Millennium Park. The cider apples are swelling and gaining a crimson blush. In the strips of Meadow the Meadow Cranesbill and Greater Knapweeds are coming to an end but the bright pink Red Hemp-nettle is still in flower. A bee visits but appears to find nothing to detain it. Small four-chambered fruits, still green, are appearing on a Spindle. The water level in the River Kenwater remains low.
A good number of young Blackbirds are seeking food in the churchyard grass. The Minster bells toll the hour followed by the Compline bells.
Home – More Kestrel potatoes are dug, not a bad crop. I harvest a couple of carrots and beetroot for dinner. Some of the gooseberries on the straggling bush on the western side are ripening, so I pick a few and leave the others for a few more sunny days.
Monday – Ashperton-Munsley – The main A417 road to Gloucester is still closed at Stretton Grandison. So I take the long way round to get Trumpet and turn back towards Ashperton from the opposite direction. From the church I return to the A417. Most of the houses in the lane are modern. On the main road a house faces the junction at an angle. It was formerly the Box Bush Inn, a late 18th century building possibly with an older core. Towards the school, again there are a number of modern houses but also some older timber-framed buildings, including one which is possibly from before the 15th century. Opposite the school is a Heywood lane which heads towards Bosbury. Hedge Woundwort, Greater Willowherb, one of the Hawkbits and a few umbellifers flower on the verge. A field of golden winter wheat has has a sign indicating it is lot 1a of straw.
The lane passes a pair of modern houses and a cider orchard. A thatched timber-framed 17th century cottage has been divided into two dwellings. Behind them is a large field of maize, opposite another large orchard. The lane begins to descend and turns southwards. East of the bend is a cricket pitch and pavilion. Beyond the roof of Walsopthorne, a farmhouse of around 1600, can be seen. Although named Walsopthorne it is also known locally as “Wassington”. In the Domesday book Walsopthorne warranted a separate entry as WalesAlpedor meaning Waltheof’s Appletree. After the Conquest it is recorded as land of William son of Baderon (the keeper of Monmouth Castle). In early mediaeval times, the Criketot family were the resident sub tenants. They can be traced until the mid 14th century, though for a time the land was forfeited as a result of the Criketots participation in the rebellion of Roger Mortimer. After changing hands several times, Walsopthorne was owned by the Philipps family and by their heirs, the Stocks of Putley court until 1823 when, by arrangements with the Hopton estate of Canon Frome, it was exchanged for Hall Court Kinnerton. It remained part of the estate until 1961 when it was bought by the then tenants, and current owners, the Davies family. On along the lane. Yarrow flowers on the verge.
Tunnel Cottage has a plaque stating “Tunnel House, Munsley, Hereford and Gloucester Canal 1841”. To the east of the cottage is a deep drop down to the canal where it enters a tunnel under the cricket pitch. Across the fields to the west is a hopyard. The next field has black and white cattle. A Yellowhammer calls. Back on the eastern side is a considerable vertical drop down to the canal. The lane comes to a modern house at the entrance to Moorend Farm which has a large 17th century timber-framed farmhouse, altered and extended late 18th or early 19th centuries. The lane turns east and crosses the canal by a bridge. The canal to the south can be barely seen through the thick growth of Willows.
Another Yellowhammer sings from the top of a corrugated iron barn fabricated by F H Dale of Leominster. A hidden woodpecker is hammering at a large Ash. Upleadon Court is a fine three storey Georgian house. Beyond the lane rises to Hansnett Wood. A large flock of Rooks flies up from a wheat field. The Malvern Hills dominate the view to the south east. Across a field is a strip of woodland of Oak and Ash with a large Weeping Willow in it.
The lane divides and I head along through the strip of woodland to Munsley. Whitethroats make a tapping sound in the hedgerows. Over a small stream, Stoney Brook, that was once beside the canal. A large house, Swinmore Farm is hidden in trees. A large red brick barn and oast house has been converted. Opposite is a small water filled quarry. Meadow Brown butterflies feed on thistles. One has a lump out of its wing. Past a patch of woodland busy with Blue and Great Tits, Wrens and Chaffinches. A large number of broken Hazelnut shells lay in the road. A timber-framed cottage, Shirkway Farm, has a splendid garden.
The lane joins a larger one, the Munsley to Bosbury road. It is getting warm despite the clouds. Munsley Court is a farm with a brick farmhouse, oast house and artesian well, not working sadly. A Victorian postbox is in a barn wall. A small lane runs northwards. A red dragonfly, Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum, rests on the tarmac. A little further on is a similar dragonfly with a blue-grey body, a female Common Darter, I think. The lane comes to Lower Court and Munsley church.
The church of St Bartholomew is 12th century. “Moneslie” can be found in the Domesday Book, so the present church was probably built on the site of an earlier timber Saxon building. The building was restored in 1863 but retains many original features. The windows are typical Norman, small slits, splayed inside to admit as much light as possible. The chancel arch is a simple Norman arch. The font is 15th century as is the doorway. The original Norman doorway on the northern side has been filled in. The church has a mid 19th century bellcote. Some of the glass is mediaeval. There are a number of monuments on the walls, including a stone inscribed “‘HAMLET XHETI’ or Hamlet the Jute with the date AD 362”. A pair of mediaeval gravestones with pre-Christian crosses are fixed to the wall of the chancel arch.
The Lower Court is a large house, A mill with a pond surrounded by Weeping Willows and sleeping Mallard. The house is built on what is thought to be a motte. A track, Nupend Lane, runs around the side of the house and through the fields. A lake lies hidden in trees. The track becomes an overgrown path on the edge of a field of oats. Into the yard of Nupend farm. A large farmhouse had an oast house attached with a set of sandstone steps rising over an arched entrance to an upper level. Three large corrugated iron barns of White House farm stand by the lane. A large timber-framed 17th century farmhouse had a converted oast house attached. The lane leads to the A417 past an orchard.
Up the main road. The large Royal Oak pub has closed and is for sale. The school has been extended in the late 20th century and rather ridiculously called a Primary Academy, as though there was something wrong with the word school. The old part has fine blacksmithed hinges on a door. Opposite, Linnets sing in the hedgerow. Route
Tuesday – Home – Another row of Kestrel potatoes is dug. Again a reasonable crop. Now another search of the cabbage leaves for Cabbage White eggs and caterpillars. I find a few of the former but none of the latter. One of the cucumber plants in the greenhouse is happily rambling all over the place and fortunately some cucumbers are beginning to swell. As usual there are some already oversized courgettes to be picked. I need to start using the glut, I am thinking of courgettes in a tomato sauce in large quantities and into the freezer. The summer raspberries are nearly over now but hopefully there will be an autumn crop.
Wednesday – Bodenham Lake – The morning is getting warm as the sun shines down from the sky which has just a few wispy high level clouds. Blue Tits chatter briefly in the woods, one comes down to bathe in a puddle on the track. It is joined by a Garden Warbler, the first I have actually seen, as opposed to heard, here for some time. A Green Woodpecker yaffles quietly in the Lombardy poplars. A Brown Hawker dragonfly flashes past. The Dark Mullein have finished flowering leaving long stalks with hard green balls of seed pods. Mallard are swimming around and resting on the islands. A few of the drakes are beginning to regain the dark bottle green heads. The family of Mute Swans glide past. A Cormorant is on the most westerly of the new Islands with a Great Crested Grebe in the water beyond.
The notice board has more information on the history of the area. The valley was deeper before the Ice Ages when the Lugg and the Teme were joined to the north and flowed through here as a larger river than today. During the Devensian Period the Teme cut the channel through Downton Gorge reducing the Lugg’s flow. Gravels built up during the late Ice Age. Mammoth and Woolly Rhinoceros remains have been found in the gravels. After the Conquest, the area was part of the manor of the Devereux family from whom it passed by descent to the Marquis of Bath. Devereux Court lays to the east of the lake. The road running under the eaves of West Field Wood was an enclosure road of 1813. Another road, West Road, now the track from the car park crossed the site running through what is now the lake and big island. The present meadow and down to West Road was called West Field. Below West Road, at the east end were Upper and Court Meadow, the main area below West Road was Lower Meadow, the area to the west was Water Galls. The car park and large barn are on the site of Our Lady Close which was the property of the chantry of St Mary. In 1814 a small house was built and it became Lady Close farm. Gravel extraction started in a minor way but became a large enterprise finishing in the 1980s.
Into the meadow. A pair of Bullfinches fly down the lakeside trees. A Blackcap makes its pebble tapping call. A Raven croaks in Westfield wood. There are at least 26 Mute Swans in the herd today. Another Great Crested Grebe is with them at the western end. Coots are squabbling. There are a few Mandarin and Tufted Duck around the water. Unusually, there does not appear to be a single Canada Goose on the lake, the only sound are Wood Pigeons cooing. A Ring-neck Pheasant is hidden in the grasses in front of of the hide just its head appearing occasionally. A calling raptor is on the osprey platform. It is hard to see it clearly but I think it is a young Common Buzzard. A female Blackcap is just in front of the hide, “tapping pebbles”. A Reed Warbler is moving energetically through the mints on the scrape. A House Martin passes over in the distance.
Back to the meadow. A Comma butterfly is on nettles. Another couple of Brown Hawkers hunt along the hedgerow. A Peacock butterfly rests on brambles. Meadow Brown butterflies move through the long grass by the edge of the meadow. Sheep are in the cider orchard. There are no ripe apples in the dessert orchard yet.
Thursday – Kenilworth – The town of Kenilworth is in Warwickshire, lying on Finham Brook. It was recorded in Domesday as Chinewrde, meaning “farm of a woman named Cynehild”. Geoffrey de Clinton (died 1134) began the building of an Augustinian priory and Kenilworth Castle in the 1120s. We start by visiting the castle which is very busy. Large numbers of families taking their youngsters around this magnificent, historic site. This is, of course, an excellent thing, even if I prefer my castles quiet and atmospheric. The castle stands on a hill of Kenilworth Sandstone Formation, laid down in the Permian, 272-299 million years ago. The Normans constructed a causeway across the valley of the Finham and Inchford Brooks creating a mere to the west. This was enlarged by King John in the early 13th century. The castle is made up of a number of different buildings within the walls, reflecting the changes in how castles were used over the centuries. De Clinton built a great keep, King John added walls to create one of the strongest fortifications in the country. It withstood a full-scale siege in 1266 when the supporters of Simon de Montfort, who had just been killed at the Battle of Evesham, held out against Henry III, until a compromise was negotiated via the Papal legate Ottobuono. Henry granted Kenilworth to his son, Edmund Crouchback, in 1267. He passed on the castle to his eldest son, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in 1298. The castle returned to the king, now Edward II, who in turn was deposed by his wife Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer. Edward abdicated in the great hall of the castle. The castle was returned to the Lancasters. Henry of Grosmont, the Duke of Lancaster, inherited the castle from his father in 1345 and remodelled the great hall with a grander interior and roof. On his death Blanche of Lancaster inherited the castle. Blanche married John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III. John constructed a grander great hall, the Strong Tower, Saintlowe Tower, the state apartments and the new kitchen complex. Elizabeth I granted the castle to Robert Dudley. He employed William Spicer to rebuild and extend the castle so as to provide modern accommodation for the royal court. Dudley sold the castle to Charles I. It was slighted during the Civil War.
After a strenuous tour of the building, climbing various staircases to have vertiginous views over the surrounding countryside, we visit the Elizabethan Garden. This is a large reconstruction of the garden created by Dudley for Elizabeth. The garden contains obelisks, formal beds, a fountain displaying two Atlas figures holding up the sky and an aviary containing Lizard Canaries. We take refreshments in the stables as the sky grows ever more threatening.
Into the town and our hotel which is in the High Street. The street contains many fine buildings, just about every one listed. There is a former bank in rich red sandstone built around 1890 in the Jacobean style. The majority of nearby buildings are 18th century, although some have earlier cores. We take a path into the graveyard of the church of St Nicholas.
It is not known when the church was founded; it is possible it was in the 13th century. The present church is an extensive rebuilding by Revd William Bickmore in 1864-5. There is an intricately carved chancel screen of 1913. An heraldic window in the south transept is dated 1832. The other glass in the church is Victorian. The graveyard lead down to the site of the abbey. Founded as a priory by de Clinton in 1124 for Augustinian canons it became the Abbey of St Mary in 1447. It was dissolved in 1538 and much of it was dismantled for its stone. Now just a couple of pieces of wall, the gatehouse and barn remain.
It starts to rain so we retreat to the Virgins and Castle pub in High Street. The site was recorded as an inn, the Two Virgins, in 1563, but the present building is largely early 19th century around an older core. Our hotel, opposite has an 18th century frontage on an older building with modern developments at the back.
Friday – Kenilworth – After a night of rain it is a grey morning and everywhere is wet. From the High Street I head to Bridge Street. On the junction are an older house, now a shop, timber-framed but covered in stucco in 1907, Fieldgate, an early 18th century house and a later Georgian house. Kenilworth Hall, a very large late 18th century house, stands a short distance down Bridge Street followed by 20th century housing to one side and Abbey Fields to the other. The double arched Stone Bridge crosses footpath and Finham Brook. Rosemary Hill rises past late 17th or early 18th century cottages and the Priory Theatre Studios, which are in the National School of 1836. The old Market House is an early 16th century red sandstone house. Past the Priory Theatre and a Victorian house with ostentatious castellation and tower. At the top of the hill is a junction with another large Victorian house with a castellated tower, formerly The Abbey Hotel.
Into Abbey Hill. A number of 17th century houses line the road. Abbey Hill United Reformed Church has a founding stone of 1872. A number of Georgian houses lead to the top of Abbey Hill and the War Memorial, designed and sculpted by F W Doyle-Jones of Chelsea, and dedicated on Sunday 26th February 1922. Down Abbey End into to the modern shopping centre. The Clock Tower stands on the site of the old market cross, probably damaged in the Civil War. It was built in 1891 at the expense of G M Turner in memory of his late wife. He then passed it on to the Kenilworth council in 1906. Lord Leycester’s Lodge stood nearby, a large timber-framed building which may have had been Robert Dudley’s hunting lodge or may have had nothing to do with him at all. It was destroyed in November 1941, taking a direct hit from a Luftwaffe parachute mine. There are joggers everywhere. Along firstly The Square then Warwick Road, a mixture of modern shops and Victorian houses converted into shops. A greengrocer occupies a fine Art Deco building. Sir Walter Scott stayed at the Kings Arms and Castle Hotel, built around 1800, where, it is said, he was inspired to write his novel “Kenilworth”.
Back up to Abbey Hill and across the Abbey Fields. A path runs through a long avenue of Lime trees. White fungi grow under one, one of the Inkcaps I think. Back up Bridge Street there is the bricked-up entrance to one of at least 12 air raid shelters built by Kenilworth Urban District council in 1940.
Sunday – Leominster – A dull grey morning with a sky threatening rain. A few Wood Pigeons and Jackdaws fly about. Up onto the railway bridge. Rabbits are on the railway track along with a Wood Pigeon sitting on a rail. The wind growing stronger. A Lesser Black-backed Gull, with missing wing feathers which have moulted, is having to work hard to fly into the breeze. The water level in the Lugg remains the same as the last few weeks. The grass and Dock in Easters Meadow has grown rapidly again. A Common Buzzard flies up into to trees beside the bypass.
Into the Millennium Park. A Robin ticks and a Chiffchaff wheeps. Just a few Meadow Cranesbills, Red Hemp-nettle, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Yarrow are still in flower. Through the graveyard. Four Carrion Crows fly off noisily.
Wednesday – Bodenham Lake – Just a few patches of blue sky peep through the cloud cover. A gentle wind keeps the air cool. The tall Teasels have turned brown and lost their mist of purple flowers. Blue Tits cheep. Further on a flock of them with Great and Long-tailed Tits feed in the Lombardy Poplars. Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot and a Great Crested Grebe are scattered across the sailing bay. Several Mandarin Ducks are in the meadow bay. Into the meadow. Few flowers are around now, just some Birdsfoot Trefoil, Yarrow, Red Bartsia and particularly small flowered Lesser Bindweed. A Common Buzzard soars out from Westfield Wood.
There appear to be just a dozen or so Mute Swans on the lake today. A white bellied Cormorant flies around. A pair of Mallard sleep on the scrape. About 40 more Mallard and a couple of Mandarin Ducks are at the west end. Two more Cormorants, one drying its wings, and a Little Egret are on on the long gravel spit. An adult Cormorant passes over, high in the sky. Three Moorhens creep around a reed bed on the south side. Five more Mallard fly in. As last week, there appears to be no Canada Geese present meaning it is uncannily quiet bird-wise, although a tractor is growling and clanking away on the fields across the river. A Grey Heron drops in, whiffling side to side to lose altitude.
Back to the meadow. For some reason the donkeys in the field that leads up to the road start braying loudly. A Brown Hawker dragonfly flies up and down the hedgerow searching every nook and cranny for prey. At the other end of the Odonata scale, a tiny damselfly is flying through the same hedgerow. Sheep are in the cider orchard. One rises onto it back legs to snatch apples off of a tree. I taste check a few apples in the dessert orchard but none are ripe.
Sunday – Leominster – Grey clouds cover the sky, patches are glowing as they catch the rising sun. Jackdaws chack and Wood Pigeons coo. Two Jackdaws are exercised by a Wood Pigeon that is refusing to move from “their” chimney pot on the Chequers Inn.
The water level in the River Lugg has fallen slightly. A Dipper disappears downstream. Into Pinsley Mill. All the vegetation between the fence and the railway has been cut down. Muted ticks come from several places in the hedges, probably Blackcaps. The water level in the River Kenwater is, like the Lugg, very low. A young Moorhen, flicking its tail, disappears into thick undergrowth overhanging from the bank.
Into to the churchyard to the chorus of Wood Pigeons. The Crab Apple now has dark red fruits. A Robin sings fitfully.
Home – The lawn is cut. I am lucky, I forgot to buy some more petrol and I just manage to finish all the patches of grass before it runs out. The broad beans are removed. It has not been a great crop. The dwarf French beans are even more pathetic, but there are still enough for a meal and there should just about be enough coming on to do for another. Dozens and dozens of Gladstone apples are falling. Most are badly damaged by Blackbirds – there are usually several in the tree at any one time, all feasting on the soft flesh. The hens are also rather partial to them too! Sadly, Rocket the Rhode Black hen had to be despatched last week. Her condition was getting worse and she could barely walk so it seemed the best thing to do, but hard nevertheless!
Monday – Home – The last of the compost in one of the big wooden bins is removed and tipped onto the bed vacated yesterday by the broad beans. It will mulch the bed by several inches. The contents of the other bin are then turned into the now empty one. The little door flap that fits one of the plastic bins is found buried deep in the compost. Unfortunately, I have not got the energy to transfer the contents of the plastic bin into the empty wooden bin – next week maybe. The very few plums and damsons are beginning to turn purple. The greengages are still rock hard. Some of the Conference pears have rot in their necks and are falling. Hopefully there will still be a fair crop. Another tray of large courgettes are placed outside the house for anyone to take. They have gone by mid-afternoon.
Tuesday – Home – The compost deposited on the beds yesterday is raked over and a packet of green manure seeds are sprinkled on and the bed is raked again. Several branches are chopped off the Bramley apple and walnut trees where they blocked access to the greenhouse. Inside the greenhouse tomatoes are ripening. Several twittering House Martins fly over. A dead shrub is removed from behind the rose bower. A start is made on removing another dead shrub, a Flowering Blackcurrant, but it will be a long job. Much time is taken chopping up the cuttings for taking to the Council compost bin.
After lunch I discover that having carefully removed Large White butterfly eggs from the cabbages, I had neglected to check the kale crop, which is being ravaged by caterpillars. I squash these, a nasty job. The outdoor tomatoes are further tied up and side shoots pinched out. A Skyvan aircraft out of Brize Norton flies over. The gooseberries near the pond are picked, a very good crop indeed.
Wednesday – Bodenham Lake – The smallest patches of blue peep through the grey clouds overhead. Wood Pigeons are noisy in every direction; a Robin sings his song, a weak imitation of the lusty spring outpouring. A Grey Squirrel lopes across the track. Nearby a Dunnock searches the dust. Chiffchaffs flit around trees searching branches and leaves for invertebrates. Great and Blue Tits do the same. More and more Himalayan Balsam is in flower along the track. A splashing is coming from behind bushes on the edge of the lake. As I move around to see the cause, 32 cormorants splash and clatter into the air. A Gatekeeper butterfly, wasps, bees and a ladybird are on Hemlock. Mallard, Tufted Duck a Great Crested Grebe and Coot are on the water. A Grey Heron is on one of the new islands.
Into the meadow. Young Blackbirds are investigating the ripening blackberries. Sheep graze the grass. One scratches its backside on the steel hawser holding a telegraph pole.
A dozen Mute Swans and a similar number of Canada Geese are on the water. The flotilla of Cormorants is now in front of the hide. They dive and move eastwards under water. A Little Egret flies across the lake. Just a single Mallard is on the scrape. The wind is rising. A mewing Common Buzzard circles high above. The flowering of Black Knapweed and St John’s Wort in front of the hide is coming to an end. The Canada Geese reappear from behind the island, now 28 in number. Another eight appear from the eastern end of the lake. A Red Kite appears overhead. A Common Sandpiper is on a distant patch of mud, its bobbing tail the only way to identify it. Two of the Cormorants are washing themselves by rising up in the water and flapping their wings and splashing furiously.
Back to the meadow. Field Maples are beginning to take on their autumn colours turning pale lime green and yellow. The Skyvan aircraft is back flying low overhead. A Green Woodpecker yaffles nearby. Haws are turning scarlet on the Hawthorn hedge. A few apples in the dessert orchard are almost ripe enough to eat.
Home – The compost bins are emptied into the vacant big wooden bin. Just the job for an overcast, humid afternoon!
Sunday – Leominster – A belt of heavy rain moved through yesterday and into the evening but this morning sky is almost entirely blue and sun shines down brightly. There are still plenty of large puddles in the street and pathways. On to Butts Bridge. The water level in the River Lugg is slightly higher than last week but still very low. Robins are in good voice in the trees. A Green Woodpecker yaffles in one of the Black Poplars. It is a short tentative call and not repeated. A tiny black and white fly walks along the tubular steel railing on the bridge, probably one of the Tephritidae – Fruit flies.
Large bunches of balloons are being carried into the garden of the White Lion. The cider apples are swelling in the Millennium Orchard. More and more red berries of various kinds are appearing on the railway side hedge in the Millennium Park. Two Carrion Crows sit and preen at the top of two dead trees beside the Kenwater. The water level in the river is much the same as previous weeks. The large umbellifers, Hemlock Water-dropwort, lay with their heads rotting in the stream. The shell of a Wood Pigeon’s egg lays on the path. The greengages are approaching ripeness, still a little hard and a little sharp.
A Nuthatch calls and Robins sing in the churchyard. The Minster bell starts tolling, calling people to the early morning service. Several minutes later a true peal of bells rings out.
Monday – Leominster – A grey cool morning. The kale in the garden is being devoured by numerous Large White caterpillars, much to my dismay but granddaughter Kitty’s delight as she picks them off to feed to the hens. Tomatoes are ripening including those in one of the beds.
Down the road and over the railway. A Milford Haven bound train draws into the station. Hefty white beef cattle are grazing Lammas Meadow. They appear to be British White, one of the oldest breeds in Britain with direct links with the ancient indigenous wild white cattle of Great Britain. This breed originated from Whalley Abbey, Lancashire. They trot off across the field at my approach. Over the River Lugg and round to Mosaic Bridge. An umbellifer grows along the base of the hedge beside the by-pass. I think it is Upright Hedge Parsley. Forestry work is underway in Easters Wood. Two large horse boxes have managed to get in here. A new gas pipeline sign has risen from the bank. Himalayan balsam is everywhere. The large Butterbur leaves are beginning to decay. White flowers seem to dominate now with Hogweed, Enchanters Nightshade, White Dead Nettle, White Comfrey and Bindweed. Red Campion, Great Willowherb, Red Dead Nettle, Himalayan Balsam of course, and Creeping Thistle put a bid in for the pink flowers. Yellows are infrequent a few Ragwort in the horse paddocks, the last of Agrimony and some Hawkweeds. A Magpie chatters by the river.
Off of the path and onto the A44 at Eaton Bridge. A small flock of House Martins race over. Up Widgeon Meadow. A Rowan has a heavy crop of bright vermilion berries. Up the drovers’ steps and onto the slope up Eaton Hill. A small patch Common Centaury has bright pink flowers. Two Greenbottles rest on the blacksmithed gate. The Crab Apple tree has a good crop. The path at the top of the hill is almost overwhelmed by Burdock leaves. The crop in the field has been harvested. Large patch of thistles in the corner has gone to seed. A Whitethroat and Wren fly out of it into the hedge. Through the woodland beside the solar farm. A Chiffchaff wheeps. The bird scarer noises have been switched off.
Down the track from the top of the hill. Some of the scrub beside the track has been cleared away and grubbed out although this is simply allowed Stinging Nettles to take over. Much more clearing as as been undertaken further down the slope behind the new chicken sheds. A Common Buzzard, probably a juvenile, is calling persistently from the trees. A Treecreeper scurries up a trunk. A family of Wrens moves through the newly cleared ground. The trunk of a sawn down Beech lays on the ground, the blade cutting it has made it difficult to read the tree rings but I guess there are at least 70 or 80 meaning the tree was planted sometime in the decade after the last war (a misnomer if there ever was one!) The grain crop at the foot of the hill has been harvested and the stubble is being sprayed by goodness knows what. The field of potatoes is yet to be lifted.
On to the A49. The traffic is heavy. Cheaton Brook is very low. Pond skaters are in the usual place under Ridgemoor Bridge.
Sunday – Leominster – My Sunday morning perambulation this week is a little different as Kay, Brigid and Ken join me. There is a coolness to the air as we set off down the street. Just a few Wood Pigeons are cooing. Over the railway bridge and on to Butts Bridge. The water level in the River Lugg had not changed over the past week. All is quiet. Easters Meadow has been mown. Brigid points out the hay needs turning, her experience of being a youngster on an Irish farm showing! The footpath south from beside the site of the water syphon that was on the Pinsley Brook as it passed under the station has been mown. So we follow it down to a gate and onto an open field, Lammas Meadow. The British White cattle herd is in the adjoining field. Unlike last week when they ran off when I approached, they run over to us and let out some loud bellows. After a while, the magnificent bull ambles over to see what the fuss is all about.
We head back and down the alley to the White Lion. Apples are ripening on a tree that is in the compound by the path. On to the Millennium Orchard. All the apples are coming along, although the Herefordshire Redstreak have failed completely. Through the Millennium Park. Fruits have emerged on Spindle. The water level in the River Kenwater remains low. There are ripe fruits on both the greengage and plum trees which we gather. Back through the churchyard.
Monday – Home – A very grey morning. The path to the garden shows there was just a sprinkle of rain last night. A Chiffchaff is calling in a disjointed manner. Lettuce seedlings planted out a few days ago need watering and the bird bath is topped up at the same time. There are still more Large White caterpillars on the brassicas. However, there is an abundance of crops. We will not need to buy greens for quite some time! In the afternoon, I check the tomatoes and discover the outdoors plants are getting blight. Very disappointing. It looks like a lot of green tomato recipes are going to be needed.