Finished University! Time to enjoy Spring.
Now that myself and Ben (caravan buddy) have finished University, we are able venture out and enjoy freedom. And what a time of year to do so!
Spring has arrived, and we have yet to fulfil our fervent enthusiasm to see the profuse life of the season. It’s 11 am; we’ve spent the morning making a plan of the route; coffee is in our system, the sun is out with not a cloud in sight; and the birds are singing. With our journals and cameras packed, we set off along the fields behind the caravan.
We took the time to get amongst the verges and hedges to try and distinguish the variety of plants that we could identify: Lesser Celandine, Herb Robert, Dandelions, Greater Stitchwort and Meadow Buttercup to name a few. The colours were incredible, and the smells just as tantalising – we’re not the only admirers! The insect life is teeming, and the work of ecology is alive with the sound of buzzing. Speckled Woods and Large White butterflies are fluttering in high numbers. A moment of awe as we stumbled upon a Ruby Tiger Moth. Ben points out a singing Willow Warbler, the first sight of that species of the year for myself. We continue passing through long grass, the bright sun collides with an easterly breeze, creating a contended climate of utopia – a skylark is singing in this utopia.
We arrive at a woodland that we are quite familiar with, the English Bluebells are in bloom and form a blue carpet in the wood, contrasting against the lush green of the tall beech trees in the canopy. We stop to admire the colours, re-fresh our imaginations and senses that the season manifests. The sun bursts through the canopy onto our shoulders as we make our way through a designated path, passing a badger set on the way.
We’re back onto a road, passing more verges on the way with a great diversity of plants and insects; Wood Speedwell, Yellow Archangel, Pignut, Dog violets, Wood Sorrel, Wild Strawberry and Cow Parsley, and inhabiting the flowers, stems and leaves are Nomad bees, Buff-tailed bumblebee, a Green Orb Weaver, an array of parasitic wasps, micro moths and bugs, including a small little weevil that I had some fun photographing.
We’re halfway to Potager now, a café we had planned to visit once we had both finished University, to enjoy a well-deserved lunch. We came off the road to take a route along a public footpath; it was great to explore other sections of our local area, especially because we will be leaving soon and so it feels only right to make the most of our home and its beautiful surroundings. Buzzards soar past against a cobalt sky, chaffinches and whitethroats are calling from the hedgerows, and more butterflies flutter along the path at eye level.
An hour and 20 minutes and we’ve arrived at Potager - a place bursting with life and with unique elements not often endowed to a café! It’s a community space incorporating open art studios, stunning gardens, a ping-pong table, a small climbing wall and a contemporary eco café. We enjoy a coffee with vegan chocolate and salted peanut butter brownie – seriously, it was amazing. Our lunch consisted of a vegan mezze - all the ingredients were locally sourced, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the tastiest meals I have ever had – well worth the money. We walk round to appreciate the many features within the gardens, we note down more wildflowers and add brimstone and orange tip to our journals. After checking out the art spaces and had a small game of ping-pong, we headed back the quicker way along the roads.
The wildlife did not disappoint. We came across a Lackey Caterpillar web with 60+ caterpillars. A few steps later we watched a Blackcap chase of a Whitethroat in a bush adjacent to us – not something you see every day. On the roadside we came across another incredible sight of flowers, occupied with Common Blue Damselflies and a Large Red Damselfly – this one said hello to us as we had fun photographing it. We came across our first Orchid here: Early Purple Orchid.
Halfway back to the Caravan now. We passed someone in their van by the roadside and greeted them with a ‘hello’, and the response was ‘would you like a coffee?’. I think I managed to say ‘yes’ before the kind girl finished her sentence. We ended up having a lovely half hour chat and a tasty coffee, and it even turned out that Ben had a mutual acquaintance with her. I gave her my business card and told her I’d include our encounter in the blog so if you see this Genova (probably haven’t spelt that right, sorry), thank you for the coffee!
The variety of experiences that you can have within just a couple of hours of being outside exploring is immeasurable. Its healthy and an exciting thing to do, particularly this time of year, and I hope people are making time for themselves and to get out and make the most out of it.
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