Today J and I went for a little walk. He'll be back at university before long and I'm back at work next week, so we decided to fit one in before the holidays finish. We last went for a walk together in the Easter holidays and I posted about it here. Living in a rural town works well for us - we are on a fairly busy road but less than 5 minutes away is the countryside. So we pulled on our walking boots, turned right, then left at the end of the road and set off across the fields.
Down the valley past the elderberries, already ripening and turning a fabulous shiny black.
The fields were full of pink clover ...
... and bird's foot trefoil.
There were dark, furry broom pods ready to pop open,
purple flowering grasses,
tightly-closed umbellifer seed-head 'cages',
and huge thistles which were taller than us.
After a while we dropped down into the woods. By then a hot sun had come out and it was a relief to walk in the shade.
The trees above us swayed in a soft wind, and I was reminded of Thomas Hardy's description of trees' 'voices' in Under The Greenwood Tree:
"To dwellers in a wood almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature. At the passing of the breeze the fir trees sob and moan no less distinctly than they rock; the holly whistles as it battles with itself; the ash hisses amid its quiverings; the beech rustles while its flat boughs rise and fall."
Today the breeze wasn't strong enough to make the trees sigh, but it was fascinating to look up and see their trunks and boughs moving, creating flickering patches of light and shade on the floor beneath us.
The sloes are just beginning to be touched with tinges of purple. In a while we can pick some to make Sloe Gin with.
Out of the woods and back into the sunshine, we walked past clumps of purple knapweed, a-buzz with bees.
Then came the best treat of all. A common blue butterfly. Looking closely at it, you can see its blue furry body and striped antennae. It feeds on the bird's foot trefoil growing all along the valley.
Its mate was with it, a pretty brown version, dusted with blue and with orange spots. I've been very lucky with butterflies this summer, and am delighted to have got these pictures. J and I share an interest in natural history, although he is much more of a scientist than I am.
On we went through a good deal of mud (it has been very wet this week) past these autumnal-looking seed-heads.
Down to the bottom of the valley to follow the course of a little brook. It gurgles musically under a pretty brick bridge here, half-hidden in the undergrowth.
Then over a little waterfall too, splashing over some rocks. After all the rain the brook was very full and quite fast-moving.
We left the brook eventually and passed some delicious-looking brambles. We wished we'd brought a container, but neither of us had thought of it, so we left them for the birds.
After a couple of hours' walk, we arrived at the next town and bought cheese and onion toasties and coffee for lunch, just as we had when we went on our spring walk, and caught a bus home. It was a lovely way to spend a morning with J, and chatting as we go is as enjoyable as the surroundings. I really appreciate these moments with my now grown-up children, little windows in the lives that they are forging for themselves when we can catch up with each other and enjoy each others' company.
I'm very glad we found time for it.