Saturday, 15 April 2017

Friday 14th April 2017

Good Friday

And the four day weekend begins. It feels like a Saturday, shopping like its a Sunday, but in fact it's Friday. Outside it is cloudy and cool, but there is no wind to speak of. And the BBC suggests that there might even be sunny intervals later on.

And as Jools had been shopping on the way home from work the day before, it means that we don't have to do it, just as well as the shops probably won't open until ten, if at all. Years gone by there used to be no newspapers on Good Friday, meaning a lay in for the schoolboy me, mostly its like any normal day now. There are even ferries running.

Downland Lane After coffee and croissants I go to Kingsdown to check on the Early Spiders. Again. I think this is the 4th time I have been here in the last month, and clearly each time the spikes get slightly taller and nearer flowering.

Early Spider Orchid Ophrys sphegodes The main road through Kingsdown is very narrow, and the modern world dictates that each houseowner has at least one car, so driving up and down it, one my twist and turn like a slalom skier, as well as dodging pedestrians and cyclists. At the bottom I park near to the site, grab my camera and go to check.

I find about ten rosettes in all. The spikes are slightly higher, and clearly nearer to flowering, but not this weekend, or maybe next.

Above, the skies are beginning to clear, and I sense some orchid chasing possibilities. So, I drive home, jabber at Jools and we are back in the car and driving past the docks and up out of town, en route to one of Kent's premier orchid sites. Last week there are been colour on some of the Lady spikes, maybe they would be open this week?

Yellow Archangel Lamium galeobdolon Or so I hoped.

Fields of yellow and green As we drove, the skies cleared more, but I could see that the wind was blowing darker clouds towards us: the weather window was closing. We park in the small lay by, and after grabbing my camera, I stride off. Odd for someone who ambles when orchid chasing, I can stride out when on a mission. Especially an orchid inspired mission. It is a long climb from the car to the glade, then downhill until the path crosses the road, and up again the other side to the top meadow, where I hoped to find an open spike or two.

Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula More Early Purples were out, almost lost in a sea of blue from the bluebells. I walk on. I pause at the meadow, to scour the grass to see if I can see a green shimmer showing where a Green Hairstreak might be. But there is no shimmer. We check the two sheets of corrugated iron, underneath there can be slow worms and grass snakes. But again, not today.

Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia Up the winding track, not stopping to look at the orchids and other plants, until I come out in the meadow, and beside the path are three advance Lady spikes. One has one lip nearly open. Nearly, but not quite. We check along the path, find several more Lady close to opening, and Fly too, but not actually open. All around us, Orange Tips and Brimstones fly by, not settling, just tempting me with their bright colours.

Lord and Lady Arum maculatum I walk back down the path, checking the orchids and other plants on either side of the path. So much new life to see, and take in. Back on the other side of the reserve, I find dozens of Fly spikes, two with spikes just beginning to open. But not quite again.

The weather window had closed, or so it seemed. So, we made our way back home, going back through Bridge and along the A2. Needless to say, once home the skies cleared again, and that is the way it remained pretty much all afternoon.

Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea Before leaving that morning, I had made a batch of saffron bun dough, it had been proving all morning. So back home I make the dough into buns and wait for their second rising before popping them in a hot oven. Soo, the house was filled with that unique smell of yeast and saffron. Nothing really quite like it.

Once cooked, they have to cool, a bit. So I make brews and lather two of the buns with fresh butter with quickly melts. Lovely.

Saffron Buns And so happy Easter.

Being a Friday, it means there is the Don on TV, and for a full hour too. But watching it as the clock ticked towards nine, our eyes began to droop and so once the Don had said his last, we went to bed.

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