Saturday, 26 March 2011

Spring Snap

After a long, bleak winter it is fantastic to see some bright spring colours out and about.

Daffodils on Rack Isle

Rack Isle is the area of boggy ground which lies in the middle of the village, immediately in front of Arlington Row.  In the Middle Ages as part of the fulling process they hung the wool on racks on the isle, hence the name 'Rack Isle'.  It is actually an isle too as it is completely surrounded by water. 

The racks have long since gone and the isle is now owned and managed by the National Trust, who endeavour to maintain it as a protected wildlife area.  Looking at old photos of the isle it appears to have been treated like any other field and stocked quite heavily as the grass is grazed into well trimmed neatness.  And I'm told that there used to a fun fair held there as recently as the 1960s. 

I had a chat with the NT warden the other day who said that he disapproved of the daffodils that have sprung up on the edge of the isle.  They have no doubt been planted over the years by people living in Arlington Row.  The warden viewed them as a suburban intrusion into a wild landscape.  I thought this a little excessive as we are after all in the middle of a village and not an uninhabited wilderness.  Each to his own, but I think the daffs look rather jolly.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sumer is icumen in

Life may well have been short, nasty and brutish in the thirteenth century, but they appreciated spring as much as we do.  I love this thirteenth century poem and [perhaps rather sadly] can't stop reciting it in my head at this time of year:

Sing! cuccu, nu.  Sing! cuccu.
Sing! cuccu. Sing! cuccu, nu.

Sumer is icumen in -
Lhude sing! cuccu.
Groweth sed and bloweth med
And springth the wude nu -
Sing! cuccu.

Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calve cu,
Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth,
Murie sing! cuccu.
Cuccu, cuccu,
Well singes thu, cuccu -
Ne swik thu naver nu!

[Sing! now, cuckoo. Spring has come in - sing loud! cuckoo.  The seed grows and the meadow flowers, and now the wood is in leaf.  Sing!  Cuckoo.  The ewe bleats for her lamb, the cow lows for her calf, the bullock leaps and the buck farts.  Sing, tunefully! Cuckoo, cuckoo, you sing well - now don't ever stop!]

The only problem is I've yet to hear a cuckoo this year, nor for that matter a deer break wind.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

More About Voles..........

A water vole expert came into the shop this week and shared some fascinating facts about them......

1.  Males have a territory of around 100m up the river bank, and females of around 60m.
2.  They have a gestation period of two weeks and breed up to five times a year.
3.  From a litter of eight babies only one is expected to reach maturity.
4.  They love apples.

Water vole spotters continue to visit the village in surprisingly large numbers.  Thankfully the mink population has now been all but eradicated on the Coln and the water voles are making a comeback.  One problem now is that the swans are killing them.  Feeding the ducks and swans makes them very aggressive apparently and so they attack the voles as they see them as competition.

I've had an absence of a couple of months from this lark, mainly because I've been distracted by expansionist plans.  Hopefully, they will come to fruition next week and I will be able to focus on the blog once more [if anyone is interested that is].