Easier, better or both?


Walk from Great Comberton to Nafford Lock

We made the most of a gap in the weather today to explore a beautiful section of the Avon valley.

Our walk began in Great Comberton, crossed a gentle valley and a couple of brooks, then headed up the hill, along the ridge above the river towards Nafford.

The views were gorgeous – birds bobbed  on the river, the spire of Pershore Abbey could be seen in the distance, Bredon Hill rose up behind us and the Malvern Hills were spread across the horizon in front of us.

The wind on the ridge was a chilly, so it was good to head down to the sheltered area near the river bank when we reached Nafford. We crossed an impressive little steel weir, stopping to admire the wheels and gates that controlled the water rushing down the river after the recent storms. Then we headed for the relative calm of the lock where we sat for a while enjoying a warming cup of coffee and the sight of a canal boat heading gently down river.

Nafford Lock

Nafford Lock

The return leg to Great Comberton was a lot faster due to the strong tailwind provided by the approaching storm. It was a wonderfully refreshing walk, that certainly blew away the winter cobwebs.

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Frosty Morning Walk

We had a stunning walk on the hill this morning. The air was crisp and clear. The hills were dusted with frost and there was mist in the valleys. Tree skeletons stood out clearly against a pale grey background. The sky was filled with blue, lilac and orange-tinged clouds. Beautiful day.


Springtime in the Costwolds – A Feast for the Senses

We have been enjoying a springtime sensory extravaganza.

Sounds

Each morning we are woken early by the incredibly beautiful the dawn chorus. The birdsong gets more complex over the first few weeks of the spring as a mixture of migrant birds arrive for their summer holidays.

Soon the air is filled with the sound of cheeping chicks, when food is delivered to nests by hard-working parents.

Spring days are punctuated by high-pitched bleats from little lambs, answered by deeper baas from watchful mothers.

Smells

The air smells fresh and is filled with wonderful fragrances.

We pop into Broadway to check on the gnarled old wisterias in the high street every few days, so that we don’t miss the wonderful smell of their divine pastel flowers when they emerge.

Hubby’s favourite is the aroma that wafts over the fence from the buds on the neighbour’s poplar trees.

I love to sink my nose into the blossoms on lilac trees dotted around the village.

Woodland walks are rewarded with the sweet smell of violets – best appreciated by getting a nose close to the ground – well worth the muddy knees.

Sights

It’s wonderful when colour returns to the village after the drab, grey winter.

Snowdrops appear first, followed by bright yellow daffodils.

Then the world erupts into colour as blossoms appear on cherry, plum, apple and pear trees.

Clematis flowers cascade over walls and fences. Wildflowers pop up on verges and across the meadows. Bluebells form a brilliant carpet in the woods.

Birds fly sorties collecting moss and twigs for their nests.

Male birds  flirt with females by puffing up to make themselves look more eligible.

Touch

A mild, warm breeze replaces the winter’s icy blasts.

Nettles along paths need to be given a wide berth, otherwise they sting like crazy leaving an area of skin that buzzes for 24 hours afterwards.

The ground is soft and warm and yields gently when turned to plant soft, new seedlings.

Tastes

In April we start to prowl the farm shops in the area looking for the divine local asparagus – so wonderful that an Asparafest is held in its honour. It’s absolutely delicious and for the next few months is a reliable and consistent fixture on menus at home and in local eateries.

Wild garlic pops up on woodland floors. The leaves add a subtle, interesting flavour to frittatas, omelettes, salads and a host of other dishes.

Fresh chives, mint, nasturtium flowers and the first crop of lettuces form a base for spring salads, accompanied by garlic mustard (Jack by the Hedge), which is foraged by hubby.

We love springtime in the Costwolds – it makes us feel alive again.


Yellow, Orange and Gold

The colour palette in our corner of Worcestershire is shifting again. Over the last few days the colour of the leaves on the trees around Bredon Hill has started to change into the yellow part of the spectrum. Autumn has started.

We popped into the Batsford Arboretum near Bourton-on-the-Hill yesterday. It’s a great place for tea or a light, informal lunch. They have a good selection of hot meals and sandwiches and there is usually a gluten-free option or two in their delicious cake selection. The restaurant is in a beautifully designed modern, wood and glass building. It’s light and bright inside and outside is large deck with stunning views of the Cotswold countryside.

We hadn’t planned going into the Arboretum, as we thought that autumn had not quite got going yet, but as we were there, we decided to go inside anyway. Good decision! It was a warm, clear, still afternoon and perfect for a walk among the trees. The aptly named Golden Mile was a spectacular succession of yellows, golds, bronzes and oranges, with bright red acers thrown in for good measure. The low autumn sunshine filtering through the leaves was quite breathtaking. We left feeling wonderful and so pleased that we’d decided to pop in and have a look.

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Red

Hawthorn berriesIsn’t it fascinating how individual colour palettes predominate at various times of the year?

This week in the gardens, lanes and on the hillside near our home we have seen:

Deep crimson Discovery apples. Their red colour leaks into the white flesh when you take a bite.

Squashy, matt, light red yew berry cups, which stand out against a background of dark green leaves.

Hawthorn trees weighted down by lavish clusters of bright red berries

Columns of opaque, red spheres hanging amongst heart-shaped leaves on bryony vines.

Delicate deep red, translucent bunches of guelder rose berries.

Light red upright clusters of rose hips covering wild rose bushes.

Luscious, tiny, shiny, ruby red elderberry clusters.

Spikes of closely packed orangey-red balls on Lords & Ladies (Cuckoo pint)

Red and purple ripening blackberries

Looks like it’s the Red Season in Worcestershire!


Spring in Worcestershire

Spring is our favourite season, and it’s particularly lovely here in rural Worcestershire.Spring lamb

Each year our spring starts with the first glimpse of snowy newborn lambs. It’s also fun to spot the single black lamb, a standard occurrence in many of our local flocks. Our walks at this time of year are accompanied by little bleats and answering baas from each lamb’s mother. Over the next few months we watch the bouncy, mischievous, skinny babies grow into stocky, woolly, (much less interesting) adolescents.

Malvern Spring Show garden The Malvern Spring Garden Show is another highlight of our spring. This precedes the bigger and grander Chelsea Flower Show. However the Malvern show is friendlier, less crowded and more accessible.  It’s possible to get close-up views of all the show gardens, there are loads of plants for sale and plenty of parking a short stroll across the road from the show grounds. We still love Chelsea, but prefer to see those gardens with our feet up in front of the TV.

It’s the blossoms thApple Blossomat make spring so special in the Vale of Evesham. Blackthorn and plum start the ball rolling, followed by fluffy pink cherry blossom. The apple blossom has been quite spectacular this year – one benefit of the slow, cold start to spring.  May (Hawthorne) trees, lilac and clematis are now providing swathes of colour.  The wildflowers have also been stunning this year – carpets of deep blue bluebells in Dumbleton and Ashton woods, bright yellow buttercups in the meadow behind St Barbara’s in Ashton and pink campion along the paths and hedgerows. The fat, furry bumblebees seem to be enjoying them too!