Bertha, black bryony, blue flax, bread-making, clouds, clover, fields, fleabane, gates, grasses, great black slug, greenbottle, hen and chicks, Kestrel potatoes, marsh ragwort, phacelia, Rain, red bartsia, René Magritte, rice, the Beck, thunder, tub-thumping priest, walking, wild radish, willow, wind
I had hoped to be able to stay at home on Saturday as the weather was so nice. However, when I took a loaf out of our breadmaker and saw that, for the second time in a row, the bread hadn’t risen very much I realised that one of two things had happened. I knew that I hadn’t made a mistake when measuring out the ingredients or when setting the programme. The problem was either a faulty batch of yeast or, even worse, a faulty breadmaker. I went into Halesworth and bought a very nice looking loaf from the health food/delicatessen shop as well as some new yeast. I had been experimenting with a different brand-name dried yeast and thought that that may have been the problem so I bought some of the old tried-and-tested yeast. While in town I also got some more vegetables and a couple of newspapers – The Saturday Times so that R could do the crossword (most of the rest of the newspaper usually goes straight into the re-cycling bin) and a Beccles and Bungay Journal. This had a very nice account of our Requiem Eucharist last Sunday with a photograph and also a double-page centre-spread featuring Dolly and her memories of living in a village which is doubly thankful, in that all its people going off to war in both the Great and the Second World War came back safely. As I drove home I noticed such wonderful clouds in the sky! The wind was picking up already so I decided to trot back down the lane and photograph them before checking round the garden to make sure all was well battened down and tied up before the high winds that had been forecast arrived. One of my favourite artists is René Magritte who painted clouds like these.
I also saw that one of next-door’s chickens had had some chicks and was taking them for a walk on the grass verge of the lane.
R was mowing the grass when I got home and he also made sure everything was ready for the storm so I didn’t have to. What a kind man! We had some very heavy rain and thunder over-night and while we were in church on Sunday morning the rain came on again with more thunder. The Rector is currently having a well-deserved, two-week break from us so the service was taken by a retired clergyman who lives in our benefice and is a great friend of ours. The bible readings for the day were very apt – the earthquake, wind and fire from which God was absent and then the quiet whisper that was God, and the story of the disciples being tossed about in the boat on the lake and Jesus walking on water to join them and calming the storm. I was waiting for a stormy sermon and got one though not quite the one I expected. In fact, we all got a lecture about the current terrible situation in Gaza. We were told that a lot of what is going on there was our (the British) fault and that we cannot wash our hands of it. The priest even struck the edge of the pulpit with his hand! Twice! Our Rector might grumble and nag but I cannot remember him ever beating up the pulpit during a sermon! I think we have been lucky and haven’t had such bad weather as others around the country. The rain didn’t last that long really and by mid afternoon the sun was coming out. It was, and still is very blustery but the wind hasn’t been as damaging as we thought it would be. We have lost a few apples and pears from our trees and some of the plants look a little sorry for themselves but on the whole, nothing to worry about. Once we saw that the rain had stopped, R and I decided to go out for a walk. We chose one of our walks across the fields.
Before we had walked more than a few steps along the path we saw such a mass of fleabane!
‘Pulicaria’ refers to the plant’s power against fleas (pulex = Latin for flea) and ‘dysenterica’ recalls a time when fleabane was used as a medicine against dysentery. When dried and burned, the leaves of fleabane were said to give off a vapour which drove fleas away so the plant was highly prized when houses were plagued with them. The plants were used in an unburned state as an insecticide too. Culpeper, the 17th century herbalist, didn’t think much of the flower itself – ‘an ill-looking weed’, ‘the flowers are a dirty yellow’, but he commended its effectiveness against insects. ‘The smell is supposed delightful to insects and the juice destructive to them, for they never leave it til the season of their deaths’. I believe I have photographed this gate before. It is in an even worse state than the last time we were here.
R and I were quite surprised to see that the normally fallow field was full of plants and flowers. We haven’t been this way for some weeks.
The purple flower, Phacelia tanacetifolia or scorpion weed, is often grown as a green compost but is dug in before it flowers. It is also grown as a butterfly and insect magnet as the flowers are full of nectar. It is not a native plant. I spotted all sorts of plants that I recognised, for example…
It also appeared as if a trial crop had been planted here. We did not recognise it at all. After some research I have decided that it may be rice. The kind of rice – arborio – that is grown in northern Italy.
I think it looks very much like it. Can anyone confirm this for me, please? Near to the hedge we found some red bartsia but my photo is very poor as you will see. I also found some ragwort which I think may be marsh ragwort. We walked past another field of dried peas and continued to admire the enormous clouds on the horizon. We were now approaching the Beck and we could hear all the ditches and little streams that join it gurgling and bubbling. We saw this Great Black Slug in the damp grass.
We decided to walk a little further to the top of the hill and look at the view from there.
After all the humid weather recently it was lovely at the top of the hill with the strong wind blowing. It looked as if we might have some more rain so we headed back down the hill. On the way I noticed some shiny Black Bryony leaves in the hedgerow. Another view of a field, a gate and some clouds. The wind and rain had made patterns with the dried grasses. We got home and I started preparing the evening meal. I used some of our home-grown Kestrel potatoes which are very tasty indeed.
In fact, the clouds passed us by without shedding a drop of rain. The skies cleared by nightfall and we were able to see the enormous full moon as it rose and then a couple of shooting stars as well. A beautiful end to the weekend.