“As high as we have mounted in delight,
In our dejection do sink as low ...”
by William Wordsworth
All the indredients were there for a perfect week – clear blue skies; wall to wall sunshine; gardens coming into bloom, and Tigga abounding in energy, yet a cloud shrouded all.
A beautiful drive into the countryside, or a brisk walk is the finest tonic, but though they helped, the shadows prevailed.
Driving by way of Sawdon with its popular Anvil Inn, we entered Wykeham Forest with its viewpoint at Baker’s Warren. The hedgerows were radiant, amassed with foaming elder blossom and delicate pink and white-petalled dog roses in full bloom.
It’s strange that the ancestor of our garden roses, and the symbol of British monarchy should be so-named. The word ‘dog’ suggests ‘of no worth’! Apart from its royal connections, the dog rose was a valuable medicinal plant. Thousands of children were brought up on the syrup, rich in vitamin C made from rose hips.
Hedge bindweed now entwines most hedges, flaunting its large white and almost luminous trumpet-shaped flowers. These are rivalled only by the honeysuckle, with a scent that perfumed the air as we inhaled summer’s pot-pourri. The 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys called it ‘the trumpet flower’, whose bugles blow scent instead of sound.’
Tall, stately foxgloves, added colour to the woodland glades, their purple-pink ‘bells’ hanging from a single stem.
In the fields, bales of hay awaited collection. The air has been heavy with pollen this year, and must have caused distress to sufferers of hay fever. Pollen grains themsleves are miracles of nature. Beneath a microscope, each grain can be seen to be not only a specific colour according to the plant, but a different shape and design too!
Driving slowly down a lane warning, ‘unsuitable for motor vehicles’, it was our fault we met a car coming from the opposite direction of the single track. Eventually problems were resolved and proved beneficial. We were soon entering Wrench Green – a pretty little hamlet near Hackness, when we experienced the highlight of the day.
Amongst tall grasses beside the hedges flourished the flower we’ve recently been researching – the Blue Sow Thistle! What a glorious show they presented, with tall two metre stems bearing leafy spikes of sky-blue flowers. One had no need to search for these specimens!
Returning home through the little hamlet of Suffield, one has to stop near the road junction to read about Tree Top Press. Hillcrest Cottage is the place to call, with its cider press and farm shop, selling juices, cordials and craft cider, all picked and pressed by hand. We can recommend it too! What is more refreshing on a hot summer’s day to refresh both body and soul?
Ah – that’s just what we needed!