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I went to Flixton St. Mary’s Church yesterday to celebrate Candlemas – the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. The church was prettily decorated with very many lit candles on all the window ledges and other surfaces. I went to church on my own as R was in Manchester visiting his family and E doesn’t usually come to the local services. Snowdrops and aconites in the churchyard.
Making my way home afterwards, I had to find a passing place very quickly as a police car with flashing lights was driving towards me on the single track lane. A rare sight in this part of the world! In driving through St. Peter’s washes I saw that the Beck had recently flooded the road. The water had gone down quite a bit but had left the lane very wet and muddy. Our little river is called the Beck. One usually thinks of Yorkshire or Cumbrian brooks being called becks but as the danes took over East Anglia in King Alfred’s time and it became part of the Danelaw many place-names are of Viking origin. Washes are low roads prone to flooding – best avoided in times of high rain fall. Because they don’t often dry out for long in winter they can be very slippery in icy weather. The Beck is a very pretty brook and used by lots of wildlife. E and I had to walk home from Flixton after my car broke down the autumn before last and in stopping to rest at the bridge we saw not only a kingfisher but a watervole in the space of a few minutes.
I didn’t do much gardening yesterday afternoon as I had washed all the gardening gloves and my warm coat and despite the weather being quite mild and sunny yesterday the soil was still very wet. The birds were all singing very loudly, dunnocks, robins, a song thrush, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits gold- and greenfinches. A third greylag (a female) had turned up and kept being chased off by the male of the original pair. They were all quite noisy. I had forgotten how loud they can be – we will soon be used to it I am sure. The females are less suspicious than the males and will come closer to us. Greylags in this part of England are descended from feral birds. Owners of country estates brought wild birds from Scotland, I think, to stock their ornamental lakes and the birds liked it here and stayed. They prefer to nest on islands in lakes away from predators and East Anglia with its Fens, Broads, old gravel pits and abundant ponds provides ideal sites for them. Greylags are also ancestors of the domestic goose. Lag is an ancient word for goose and Greylag means ‘grey goose’ – to call them Greylag geese is tautological. Lag is also, in origin, a word used in farmyards to call geese – ‘lag-lag-lag’. The goose in our garden has already started laying her eggs on the island. I am so sorry they have arrived so early and the work we have planned hasn’t started yet.
Today has been spent in doing a fair amount of housework. In the garden, I only had time to pull up a few stinging nettles, dig out some cow parsley seedlings and dig up a few tussocks of grass under the large crabapple before R arrived home from his travels. We have had four beautiful days – frost this morning but no ice. The roads are beginning to dry out but the ponds are still filling as the land is still draining in to them.