Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Monday 17th April 2017

Bank Holiday Monday

In a perfect world, on a perfect Bank Holiday Monday, it would be like it was seven days ago; wall to wall sunshine, no breeze and all day to chase orchids. As it was, the forecast was mixed, with at least in Dover the weather improving after lunch, but near to the Medway Towns, might see no sun at all.

So, what to do?

Have a coffee.

Have breakfast.

Have another coffee, and all the time check weather on the BBC like every five minutes. In the end, it was time to decide, so we, or I, choose to go out anyway. The plan, as it was; bluebells and Early Purple at Stockbury and then Green Wing at Marden. And maybe, we get lucky with the weather.

Of course, being on the main roads in the county on Bank HOliday is asking for trouble, however, we were not in a hurry, so once joining the motorway north fo Canterbury, we could relax and just enjoy the drive. Although I did get tense as we passed through an area of sunshine, piercing the clouds. But for the most part there was just dark clouds overhead.

Blue for you We arrive at Stockbury, and there is sunshine, although it is fleeting, and by the time I get my camera out of the boot and walk to the bluebells, the sunshine had gone, and did not return. I wait and wait, but I coulod have waited all day and might not have happened. I thought I saw a bright spot of weather coming from the north, but just brightened the light in the wood.

Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula So I take shots, both the wide angle and macro, from high up and low down, hoping that I could brighten the colours in processing.

Blue or white I walked along the top of the reserve, knowing that further down I would find Lady Orchids out. These are just about the earliest flowering, and having seen shots taken by friends the day before, I was sure I would find open orchids. Among the bluebells there are groups of pure white ones; very rare, so I stop to snap them, getting a contrast in the frame between the blue and white.

Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea Down the slope to the lower meadows, and I find the first partially open Lady, and further along more and more, though not any fully open. I take may shots, close ups and shots of the whole spikes. My heart sings, as this is the start of the main season really, the Lady standing in groups in light undergrowth.

Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea I guess there were some 50 spikes, all partially out, and many more to come. Hard to know where to start to photograph to be honest.

On the lower road, we find some Helleborine spikes showing. They might be Whites or Broad Leaved, only time will tell. Or both I suppose. Stranger things have happened.

Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea From Stockbury, t was a drive to Marden, and the easiest way, at least on the map, was through Maidstone. The reality was different of course, with shops about to open, traffic was heavy and there were queues at traffic lights and junctions. But we got through, out of the town on the other side, through Loose where we stopped a couple of years ago, then down the down (yes, really) to Marden. Now, which way?

I was sure the meadow was to the east, so I check the map and agree with myself, if I'm right I declare, then we follow the road beside the railway, and when the road comes in from the left, there is a right turn soon after, and the meadow is on the left.

One hundred and five And I was right, quite amazing really. But what is this, the gate to the car park locked?! Seems like the early season has the wildlife trust off guard too. So, we park on the side of the road, climb over the rickety stile and into the meadow.

Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea As a stroke of luck, the sun broke through the clouds at that moment, and so I got down to take a shot of the nearest, dark purple spike, getting perfect results. Already, the trip here was worth it.

I walk round the meadow, looking at many of the spikes, trying to find a pure white one, but none out as yet. I take some more close ups, but after half an hour, I am done and have the shots.

Green Wing Orchid Anacamptis morio It was by now midday, and thoughts turned to lunch. I was hungry, and pretty sure we should find a country pub in which to have a meal. I take the road east, and following various signs pointing the way to places to eat, we end up at a Shepherd Neame pub, off any main road and should have plenty of room even on a Bank Holiday. But it is rammed. They have a huge car park which means we can at least get out of the car and find a table in the beer garden having found the inside all full or reserved.

Green Wing Orchid Anacamptis morio I order fresh fish and chips, Jools has chicken curry, and we can relax and once again think about how lucky we are to live our life. The food comes, and is good, and even the sun comes out as we finish making it feel like a fine spring day after all.

Green Wing Orchid Anacamptis morio I have spoken with some of the locals; is this your local I ask. No, I own it says the owner, Did I want to buy it? Me, behind the bar? We'd never make any money, tempting though.

We are done, and drive back to the motorway, then back to Dover in light traffic, as sunshine played though the broken clouds, casting patterns in the fields on either side. Back home, the football had just kicked off, but it is also the 10th birthday edition of the Radcliffe and Maconie show on the wireless. So I listen to that and follow the football on Twitter, with the season now petering out, City romp to a 3-1 at Preston, and the thousand fans who traveled think why didn't they do this two months back?

Anyway, once home we have another beer. And finding I'm still thirsty, have another beer, Belgian beer at that, instead of a brew.

Never a good idea, but I do manage to stay awake in order to listen to the Arsenal game on the radio in the evening. And somehow the weekend, all four days, has slipped by. But I think we did enough over the four days to feel happy with that.

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