A full moon illuminated the kitchen at 3.30 a.m. this morning. Somewhat later, but still too early for the sun to have turned the corner, a large fat baby blackbird monopolised the dish on the bird feeder, repelling all other boarders. It confused us by attacking an adult blackbird that had at first been feeding it. Was this the case of a tyro turning on its tutor? Or just an ungrateful child? Later, when it descended onto the lawn, and began calling for food that the parent provided from the dish, we realised it was the latter.
I spent this morning on an ancient tree hunt (see 1st May) with Berry. My friend was very excited because we found and recorded twelve suitable trees in a little under four hours. Walking under the Castle Malwood Farm underpass, we zigzagged across the forest in the vague direction of Sir Walter Tyrrell. So fruitful was the trip that we didn’t quite reach the Rufus Stone car park before turning back for home.
Most of the trees were large oaks, some, like one that was a bit knackered, more notable than ancient. Notable is acceptable. An interesting rarity which almost caused Berry to get her feet wet, was, we think, an alder. Growing by the stream, it proved quite difficult for Berry to get a tape round to measure its girth.
I, of course, did manage to get my feet well and truly wet, not by putting them in the stream, but by falling foul of a quagmire. Jackie, who cleaned up my kit afterwards, had an opportunity to remember the time, during our first incarnation, when she had given my rugby kit similar treatment.
Perhaps the most fascinating example was found in a group of trees that had fallen in a storm. A huge oak branch, at first looking like a whole tree, had brought a beech down with it when it snapped away from the trunk that was more than five metres in girth. My task was to produce photographs for the Woodland Trust website.
So rich were our finds that we began to get a bit blasé, and say things like ‘we’ll do that one another time’, or ‘not really notable’.
There were an unusual number of other walkers about today. In my previous excursions this way I have never seen another person.
After a late lunch we drove to The Firs for a gardening session. Mum had come as well, and Elizabeth was already into weeding when we arrived. Elizabeth and Jackie’s main task was extracting the weeds, and mine was mowing the lawn. Danni helped all three of us in different ways. Before mowing the lawns the edging had to be trimmed, and all encumbrances, like tables, chairs, gardening tools, and Mum, need to be moved out of the way.
Naturally, all were reinstated when I had finished.
Of all the plants which are now re-emerging in the garden, Elizabeth is possibly most pleased with the tree peony which, like others, has benefitted from the soil improvement undertaken last year.
Elizabeth produced an excellent roast chicken dinner for us all, followed by apple crumble. Jackie, as usual, drank Hoegaarden; Mum passed; and the rest of us enjoyed Prestige de Calvet Bordeaux 2011.
As always, when we are all together, reminiscing was embarked upon. Mum reminded me of how Chris and I had collected wasps, drunk on the fruit of our grandparents’ trees, and stuffed them in a matchbox which we buried and kept unearthing to see if they were still alive. This, naturally, led to the tale of the bees (see 29th May 2012). In relating this, now, for the first time I remembered how I had completed the bus journey without any money. A woman in the seat opposite had paid my fare.