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Let me take you back to the 1st of January…….

We don’t celebrate New Year in this house; we usually (but not always) stay up till midnight on New Year’s Eve, listen to fireworks being let off in the surrounding farms and villages and then make our way to bed.  We have a relaxed New Year’s Day with a late breakfast and then watch/listen to the New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna on the kitchen TV while we read, drink coffee, do the ironing, chat, think about lunch etc. Often, we go for a walk and this year yes, we went for a walk.

We left it too late to travel to a place to walk so we set off from the front door and did our usual circuit of the lanes round St. Margaret village.

After just a few yards I turned around and looked back the way we’d come. We have such long shadows in January!

Richard and I enjoy this walk as it is familiar, is only a couple of miles and gives us plenty to look at.

Looking across the fields to our left as we walked along we saw All Saint’s church.

There were still plenty of leaves on the brambles (Rubus fruticosus agg.).

I enjoyed seeing the bright pink and apricot colours on this leaf while many of the other leaves were still green.  The stems of bramble are grey and lavender and very prickly.

White Deadnettle (Lamium album) in flower.

Our post box. It is growing quite a good crop of lichen on it.

Cattle shed

Our very muddy lane.

A dead tree fell during one of the recent storms and has crushed part of the hedge.

A glowing rose leaf (Rosa canina).

Holly (Ilex aquifolium) growing in the hedge.

Ash saplings (Fraxinus excelsior) with their black buds.

White Bryony berries (Bryonia dioica) decorate the trees.

A close-up of the bryony berries; a little shrivelled and past their best.

Cottages on the lane from Bateman’s Barn to St Margaret, looking back towards Bateman’s Barn.

The reeds (Phragmites australis) at the side of the lane have been cut recently leaving just these few at the base of a telegraph pole.

Ivy (Hedera helix) climbing up tree trunks in the hedgerow.

A view across the fields to distant woods on a slight knoll.

I love the muted shades of the countryside in winter.

Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) in flower with myriad Goosegrass or Cleavers (Galium aparine) seedlings.

Winter Heliotrope has the most delicious scent!  On a mild winter’s day the air is filled with its sweet perfume.  It is an invasive alien and takes over large areas of hedgerow to the detriment of all the native plants but…. nothing else has such bright green leaves and such flowers at this time of year.  One of the books I am reading currently is ‘Down the Garden Path’ by Beverley Nichols written in 1932.  He enthuses about Winter Heliotrope!

‘If you want to begin with something that is quite foolproof, you cannot do better than invest in a few roots of Petasites fragrans which has the pretty English name of winter heliotrope.  Some people sneer at the winter heliotrope.  They say the flower is dingy, and that the roots have abominable habits, being inclined to spread indiscriminately into the garden next door.  The people next door should be grateful if the roots do spread into their garden.  For the flower is not dingy at all … it is a little pale and humble … that is all.  Besides, one does not grow the winter heliotrope for its beauty of form.  One grows it for its beauty of scent.  It has a most exquisite fragrance.  If you cut it and carry it indoors it will scent a whole room.’

Quantities of Beech mast (Fagus sylvatica) covered the path to the church.

Young primrose leaf-whorls (Primula vulgaris) with a few Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) seedlings in the churchyard.

St Margaret South Elmham church. I have been cleaning this church regularly since last February.

A large beech tree in the churchyard.

A very twisted Ash tree in the churchyard.

Richard waiting for me at the church gate.


Some small mushrooms discovered on the grass verge.

The fern-like leaves of Cow Parsley waiting for spring.

Our house seen across the field.

Home for a cup of tea!

As many of you will have realised, I have been trying to catch-up with all of your posts.  I considered missing all the posts out and just starting afresh but then I found I needed to know what you have been up to for the past few weeks.  I wanted to admire all your photos and read your poems and stories.  I haven’t commented very often for which I apologise, but I have definitely read all you have written and I have enjoyed it all!  I am nearly caught up and I will be back to commenting regularly again.