Riding due East into Aylesham my expectations were somewhat confounded. I had expected the gale to be on my back, but it was on my left shoulder, pushing me towards the middle of the road. There was noticeable relief when there was a hedge on the North side of the road, so it was encouraging to see new hawthorn slips bursting green from their rabbit-proof planting tubes. Relief for cyclists and protection for the land. The soil up here is quite thin over the chalk.
More relief when I branched off on the Southern road into the village. The Spinney shields most of this stretch, a woodland with beech, hazel and sweet chestnut. I stopped to sit on a branch and eat lunch. The bluebells are in fine leaf, as are wild arum and anemones, but what of wild garlic? I hadn’t long to search, I had an appointment in the village and I wasted time watching a brimstone butterfly, happy enough to be out of the wind, under the trees, enjoying the sunshine beaming through the bare branches. I found just one leaf, which I nobly left to grow. And I was happy too.
Let’s change that ‘I wasted time’ to ‘I spent time’, while I was watching the butterfly. Time well-spent!
I read in the Dover Times that the district is suffering from an overdose of litter. These two pictures do little justice to the mess at two local railway stations where snowdrops and violets are blooming among the beer cans and cigarette packets. At least the latter will be less visible when plain packaging is introduced!
To add insult to injury, Dover Council has to pay the Highways Agency to clear the rubbish from the Trunk Road – £1000 a time. CraZy!
To add insult to injury, Network rail sent men to cut back trees and bushes last week, but left the litter.
Spring felt a long way off when I was waiting on Aylesham station with the cold wind sweeping across the field. But down at ground level, among the discarded beer cans and sweet wrappers, peeping from under heart-shaped leaves, a few violets, out of range of fingers or lens.
Nearer home, crossing the old Franciscan orchard, the hazel catkins were reflecting back the gold of the setting sun. On Abbot’s Hill the woodpecker was out of sight but well within earshot, drumming hard enough to give himself a headache but perhaps he’ll charm a hen. Valentine’s Day is said to be the birds’ wedding day. He’s getting into practice!
Yesterday was torn two ways. It had been raining on Tuesday before I photographed the sunset over the Downs. And real Noah’s weather yesterday when I was once more in Aylesham. Then the change: by the time I’d finished working the sun was out in all his glory: 40 minutes waiting for the train or take a bike ride? No contest!
Brompton folders with their small wheels are not designed for country life, but all was well until Bekesbourne. With the ground already saturated there was nowhere for the water to go – except the Bourne, and that could no longer hold it all. The standard advice to avoid driving (let alone cycling) through water was not really appropriate if I wanted to get home. The water was deeper than expected and my feet got wet!
Last winter’s floods were more than a minor inconvenience; let’s hope the water level goes down, and people’s homes stay dry.
This morning, a violet in bloom and a snowdrop impatient to join her, right by the front door.