Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Magical Forest

Standing in the green wood, I looked up at the chinks of sky where the sun slants through the canopy
and felt a desire to hold my arms spread wide, slowly turn on the spot soaking up the wonder of the majestic trees as the branches and leaves moved above me like the patterns in a kaleidoscope.
Watching the wind blow through the leaves, just the same as it blew through my hair, it seemed as if the trees were laughing, were singing, inviting me to join them in their dance like the the wood dryads and faeries in stories of old.
On a magical autumny day like that who couldnt be inspired to jot down a few words?....

If I were a tree I could feel the breeze blowing through my hair, 
I could wave my hands madly in the air and say horrah! look at me!
I could giggle as a tickly squirrel runs up my bark and throw nuts at people passing by!
I could bask in hot sun and soak up the rain, and bend in the wind with a sigh.
If I were a tree I would grow tall and strong and give shade to flowers
that grow round my feet, that I feed with leaves dropped after last of the summer's heat

Saturday, 22 September 2012


Each morning, at approximately 9am, my garden bird feeders are invaded by a mob of starlings. Noisy and argumentative, messy and greedy they are non-the-less beautiful and very amusing. Their calls always make me wonder if they have seen Star Wars and are pretending to be Jedi Knights and Storm Troopers! The local pairs had a reasonably good breeding season and it is mainly a group of young birds that visit us at the moment, a few brown feathers remaining on their heads and necks revealing their age. The morning sun shining on their feathers inspired these few lines...

Sequin studded satin, ruffled and creased.
Black dagger-beaks a-gape, begging, threatening.
Hanging and twisting, a flap and a flurry.
A rattle, a squabble, and a whistling song.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Heathland Through the Ages event, Iping Common nr Midhurst, 15th-16th September

Warm golden sunlight bathed the heathland, illuminating an unusual scene. Between the purple ling and cobweb strewn gorse, painted tents arose, flags and standards saluted the sun, against a backcloth of far reaching views where bracken and birch studded lowland heath stretched into the distance toward deep ancient woodland, above which rose the rolling slopes of the South Downs. Forgotten music floated across the landscape, mingling with laughter and the smell of wood smoke and cooking. A Victorian butterfly collector stalked through the heather, whilst medieval knight and Roman centurion shared a joke, unaware of the highway-woman on her black horse waiting silently in the trees. The clash of sword blades and the rattle of armour rang out from the arena to the delighted cheers from the gathered crowd. A stone-age man working the old ways of flint knapping, a story teller with a moral lesson to teach and a gypsy caravan with lucky heather completed the scene. Alongside the history, the modern day uses and values of heath, the wildlife found on them and the conservation work that is ongoing, were all patiently explained to visitors whilst lizards and hairy caterpillars, beetles and whirring dragonflies amazed young and old alike.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Cloud Appreciation

Visited Uppark House and Gardens, a National Trust property near a small village on the South Downs, near the western border of West Sussex today.
I found it to be a charming place, clearly once full of life and fun with a characterful history, but in a setting that fills the visitor with peace and calm. Enjoying the gardens, I meandered along the paths and across the grass, photographing anemones and other late summer flowers and soaking up the atmosphere. My wandering led around the side of the house onto the open lawns and suddenly, there before me stretched the most beautiful view of the wider landscape. The house holds a commanding position looking out across a wide panorama of the south downs countryside, spreading over two counties, rolling downland with wooded hillsides and patchwork fields, and in the far distance, a magical glimpse of silver sea. Racing clouds chased each other across the almost never ending sky.

It is evening now and as autumn settles in the nights are noticeably drawing in earlier day by day. The sweet song of a robin is floating through my half open window from the garden below and the sky is tinted with patches of violet-grey and peach. A damp drizzle is drifting on the air and occasional gusts of wind swirl the leaves between the garages and in the gutters. Mysterious moths, all movement and blur, are hovering around scented flowers in the gathering dusk. The smell of September lingers on the senses: autumn grass freshly cut, distant bonfire smoke, new rain and damp foliage. Latest magazine editions sport front covers portraying squashes and pumpkins or autumn leaves, there is talk on each page, on social media and in the street, of conker championships and autumn fashion trends, of foraging for hedgerow bounty and of wind and drizzle and and the final garden or allotment harvest before the frosts.

Friday, 7 September 2012

My favourite time of year

September. My favourite time of the year! Mornings, cool and misty, fill our heads with thoughts of autumn as the berries ripen and geese migrate across the sky, but by noon, woolly jumpers and coats are shrugged off as the land basks under blue skies and warm sunshine, whilst from dawn till dusk the harvesters work every hour of daylight and beyond to bring in the crops before the weather breaks. Some of the leaves are starting to show signs of wear and greens are dulled by summer dust. In the hedgerows wasps and bees buzz between swelling fruits of varying hues and flower buds are forming in the ivy. Rowan trees are already heavily laden with fruit, their boughs bending under the weight. Autumnal country pursuits are getting under way with the game shooting and hunting seasons approaching whilst country shows provide ample opportunity for a spot of networking, shopping and of course some friendly competition and showing off. The countryside in autumn has always been a source of poetical inspiration to me, and at this time of year there is nothing better than to take a walk along the lanes or past the local allotments, or potter in the garden and soak up the beauty of the season, whilst still enjoying all the benefits of gloriously warm summer sunshine, the company of bees and the late-blooming flowers.