Calves in the cow shed at our friends’ farm. The blurring is caused by the calves’ steamy breath.
On Saturday, Richard and I went to the church coffee morning held this month at our friends’ farm instead of at the Rector’s house. Our Rector had his heart surgery last week, and will be off work for some time while he recovers. We wish him a speedy return to full health. As usual we listened to all the gossip and news. I bought some delicious home-made Bakewell bars which we ate later that day and Richard won a tin of sweets in the raffle.
Saturday was cloudy and chilly but there was no frost and the birds were singing lustily. I heard the chaffinch’s spring song for the first time this year.
Sunday was a much brighter day. The church service was held at our church in Rumburgh so Richard and I got there early to get things ready. The church didn’t need much tidying as I had helped another lady to clean it thoroughly on Friday and there had been a wedding on Saturday afternoon after which Richard had tidied up again.
After lunch we went out for a walk. We decided against driving somewhere and also thought it better not to walk across the fields as everywhere is waterlogged. We took our usual circuit of a couple of miles, walking along the lanes. I have photographed this walk so many times now, so I will just show you a few of the new and/or interesting things I saw.
A part of the ditch in our lane has recently been chased out. Regular ditch maintenance is necessary to ensure proper field drainage and to stop flooding on the roads.
This field has been newly ploughed. For years probably, it has been rough grass with heaps of old rusty farm implements alongside the hedge.
Italian Alder tree (Alnus cordata) There is a row of these trees along the roadside.
Italian Alder catkins
I found that Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) was already starting to flower.
This plant is found in woodland often forming carpets, also under hedges and in other shady places. It has a fetid smell and is poisonous, being a member of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). Male and female flowers are found on separate plants and are small and yellow in spikes. It is pollinated by midges.
Bright green Dog’s Mercury.
Lords-and-ladies (Arum maculatum)
Another woodland and hedgerow plant. I was surprised that these leaves were matte green – they are usually glossy. Another plant that smells of decay when in flower, the berries are poisonous and the roots have a high starch content. In Elizabethan times the roots were gathered to make starch for stiffening the high pleated linen ruffs that were then in fashion.
The white spots in the photo are midges or Winter Gnats flying in the sunshine.
This dead tree at the end of a hedge and at the entrance to a field is covered in lichen. The bark of the tree has started to fall off taking the lichen with it.
Our long shadows and that of the hedge behind us can be seen on the field as I took a photo of the beautiful cloud patterns
The Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) twigs were blazing in the low sunlight.
A hollow tree. In spite of its hollow trunk and all the ivy growing up it the tree, an oak I think, is still alive.
Jacob sheep. They will be having their lambs soon.
Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) growing along the roadside verge near someones house. The flowers are vanilla-scented and the plant spreads quite quickly preferring damp and shady places. It is a naturalised garden plant.
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) in the churchyard
Primroses too! (Primula vulgaris)
St Margaret’s church porch has an upstairs room.
White lichen on a gravestone
A daffodil bud in the sheltered churchyard.
Celandines (Ranunculus ficaria) flowering on the roadside verge. I was so surprised to see these as they don’t usually appear until March. They were everywhere I looked, though as the sun was setting they were closing up for the night. I should have got there an hour earlier.
We got home as the sun sank below the horizon.
This week Elinor is taking her mock GCSE exams. She has already taken Psychology and English. Maths is on Wednesday and Thursday and Art is all day on Friday. She is coping very well indeed though she is exhausted already with the strain of it all.
Richard stays away from home only one night this week; Wednesday night is spent in Gloucestershire. On Friday he goes back to the specialist to find out more about the lesion/tumour on his pituitary gland and what is to be done about it.
I am disappointed at not being able to go to Sheffield to see Alice perform in ‘Emma’ especially as she is taking the leading role. I would really have loved to see her and support her but the performances are at the same time as Elinor’s exams and Richard’s hospital visit. I also don’t have much money to spare for train travel and hotel rooms after Christmas and Elinor’s birthday in January.
My mother is fine. She went to the eye specialist on the 30th December and had to return the next day for an injection to stop a bleed in her eye. We went back last week for a check-up and fortunately all is well again. The next appointment is in mid March. My brother has filed for divorce and is in the process of selling his house. He is moving to Suffolk to be near us and Mum and especially his daughter and has got a transfer to work in the open prison in Suffolk and continue his teaching. My sister is working hard as always as a paramedic practitioner. She got her degree and will be getting her certificate at a ceremony in May. My mother-in-law is out of hospital and in a nursing home. This is a temporary arrangement as she hasn’t yet been assessed but we all know that she won’t be able to go back home. She has a weak heart, breast cancer, problems with her thyroid and has lost all her mobility. All so sad. She understands the situation and is making the best of it; such a sensible woman.