A second year of lockdown walks

It’s the first of April, and spring is in the air: blackthorn, fruit-tree and other blossom and leaf-buds are bursting out everywhere, daffodils are thriving, and our first tulips opened in the warm sunshine yesterday. The national mood is still sombre and resigned to restrictions, but there’s hope with the successful vaccine delivery, and the heart-warming sight of nature reviving with the warmer weather.

I looked back at my April posts last year, when we were in the first weeks of the first UK lockdown, and I started to post pictures of the sights I encountered on local walks – especially the wild flowers, blossom, gateposts and holy wells – so there will be more of that as the anniversary of that time arrives.

Prunus blossomLast week we went to the local National Trust gardens, newly opened, and near enough to count as ‘local’. A lovely prunus was outdoing the beauty of the showy magnolias around it. ‘Oh,’ said a lady admiring it, and reading the label on the trunk: ‘It’s a prune tree.’

Magnolia bloomThe warm, late-March weather had encouraged the bees to explore what seemed to be every flower in the tree. I hope you can see the one in this next picture: it had stuck its head right inside the flower.

Prunus and bee

Late last week my walks were shorter; I’d injured tendons in my hip. So I revisited the path across the valley opposite our house.

This follows the river along the bottom of the valley. Two splendid horses graze in the third field. They are obviously used to the many people who pass by – they didn’t even pause to watch as I walked by.

Early this week, in the hedgerow of a lane I often walk along, I saw the first bluebell of the spring.

Bluebell

I think this is an English bluebell – the flowers seem to be clustered all round the stem

Next time, more blossom and a holy well. I’m also thinking about my next book post – on a Rose Tremain novel that I enjoyed very much, after a few depressing reads.

Horses

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22 thoughts on “A second year of lockdown walks

  1. Every day I count myself as very fortunate to live somewhere which enables me to get out of the house for a walk. I’ve loved exploring our neighbourhood over the last few months and spotting signs of spring

    • I feel for those who are cooped up in gardenless urban places – but even in the city there will be signs of spring renewal. But yes, we’re lucky to be able to live and walk in such lovely places.

  2. Hi Simon! I haven’t clicked by in awhile — busy packing/unpacking and recovering after my second move in a year. I’ve missed your photos and accounts of your lovely walks. I think I started reading your blog about this time last year; I remember thinking then, as now, that I’m quite envious of those tulips (they’re among my favorite flowers but my new house is too far south for them to grow). I was totally thrilled BTW by your photo of a bluebell, which I’ve never seen “in the flesh,” so to speak. But — I HAVE actually seen a real hedgerow, albeit an English rather than a Cornish one!
    I look forward to the holy well & the Rose Tremain (somehow I’ve never gotten around to her novels) . . .

    • Janakay:good to hear from you again. Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you like the pictures- I find a great deal of solace in observing how the natural world transforms over time. There are micro developments every day. It’s cheering at this time of year to see all the spring flowers, blossom and leaf buds appearing. Moving house can be pretty exhausting- hope you’re settling in ok.

  3. Lovely images, Simon. Blossoming and flowering trees and shrubs really lift the spirits and seem appropriately to symbolise the gradual easing and opening of lockdown. I’ve also been inspired by the sights and sounds of the season and have been recording a number of the former on camera. We have a National Trust property within easy walking distance from where I live at Greenway and it is especially fine in the spring with its wonderful collection of magnolias, azaleas and camellia (all flourishing on a volcanic seam there), along with a rich variety of daffodils with many unusual miniature forms, some with diffferent shaped, slim trumpets and blown back petals. We’re fortunate to have these green spaces on our doorstep certainly, though Spring expresses itself everywhere – and in the courting songs of birds.
    Novels I’ve enjoyed in the past months include Maggie O’ Farrell’s ‘Hamnet’, which is wonderfully imagined and felt and I’ve been reading quite a bit of poetry, returning to Seamus Heaney’s excellent ‘The Redress of Poetry’, especially with ref. to his essays ‘John Clare’s Prog’ and ‘Joy or Night’, on Yeats and Larkin.
    Continue to enjoy your spring walks!

    • Helen: I should have mentioned the birdsong- it echoes in the valley below my garden in the mornings as in a cathedral. I’ve heard a lot of praise for Hamnet – I shall consider it for future reading. Poetry is maybe a better option during this disjointed time – especially Heaney. More walk posts to follow.

  4. Re the prunus: maybe the woman you heard was extrapolating from the French
    system of naming the tree from the fruit it bears, e.g.
    Une orange, un oranger = an orange, an orange tree
    Une peche, un pecher = a peach, a peach tree
    Une pomme, un pommier= an apple, an apple tree
    Une prune, un prunier = a plum, a plum tree…
    Though she should have known that a prune is a dried plum!

          • Sorry to be so gnomic. I was replying from a hand-held device. The Prunus is not a family (which is what I said) but a genus that includes the plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and almonds. So it’s not surprising that Fr. prunier means ‘plum tree’ and that the Fr. prune means ‘plum’. (It. prugna) The phrase for ‘plum orchard’ in Fr. is ‘Verger de pruniers’. And our actual word ‘prune’ in English becomes (guess what!) ‘prunes séchées’ in Fr. In fact the words ‘prune’ and ‘plum’ are cognates. The change from ‘r’ in prunus to ‘l’ in plum is through the process called ‘rhoticization’ (switching between the liquids ‘l’ and ‘r’. It’s what we tease the Japanese about but in fact this is common in all the IE languages). The switch between ‘n’ and ‘m’ is a common one. So far, so pedantic,
            Best!

          • Robert: not pedantic at all – very illuminating. It hadn’t occurred to me that ‘plum’ had rhoticized from ‘prune’. It’s similar in a way to the process whereby French ‘raisin’ for ‘grape’ has become the dried fruit in English (I did a post some time ago on the origins of the words for such dried fruits…I do like etymology.) I believe the French for ‘raisin’ is ‘raisin sec’?

  5. Some lovely images Simon – thank you for sharing them. As I always say, I do envy you have such wonderful places to walk to. The budding and flowering of nature is always so cheering, and spring is one of my favourite seasons!

  6. I count myself very lucky to have five or six parks nearby, with varying degrees of wildness (I found a previously unknown to me path in my local, pretty manicured park just this morning) and have a “patch” for birdwatching now which has been lovely to watch through a year.

    • One of our local parks has become a favourite haunt of mine, too – the one with the blossom and magnolias at this time of year, but also the river beside it is the haunt of grey wagtails and dippers. Egrets, sometimes.

  7. Lovely photographs, thank you. I’m a week late so now have seen some bluebells opening near me and lots of wild garlic so will make some pesto too!

    • I’m pleased you liked the pictures, Jane. I’ve even got some bluebells flowering in my garden now – and the primroses are gorgeous everywhere this spring. I love wild garlic pesto; Mrs TD is less keen.

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