Sunday, 9 July 2017

Saturday 8th July 2017

And the weekend rolls round again, and I lay in bed until nearly seven, with the dead weight that is Scully between my feet. Should we get up I ask her.

Again the weather was only to improve, so the plan was shopping, chores and breakfast, then out after lunch to north Kent to see the infamous Green Flowered Helleborine; more of that later.

The Crime Scene After early (!) morning coffee, I volunteer to go to Tesco for supplies. I had made a list all week, so, all ready to go and at the store at eight for when the scan and shop feature was due to open. It is obvious that we are now people of a certain age, who get up early to do stuff like shopping, and be back home having breakfast before nine, having fresh croissants and the fridge full of other stuff we felt we needed. THe store was fairly empty, but again they had moved aisles around, with stuff like tinned fruit moving again, this time to the sugar and home baking aisle.

The Hideout Very little "bad" stuff, except for some beer. I would love to have been able to buy some Trappist; Leffe is available, but just the usual blond, and not Royal, which benefits from an extra 2 or 3 % ABV. Perhaps its just for the best that I go back to 4% IPAs and the such, my liver probably thinks so.

Back home having spent over a hundred quid; quite where it all goes, I don't know. Mainly fresh fruit, which we feast on this time of year.

Green Flowered Helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes At home, shopping is put away and JOols warms the croissants and makes more coffee, and the morning passes with Huey on the radio, blasting out top tues, whilst outside the sun climbs in the sky and the clouds melt, meaning that after an early lunch of leftover fishcakes in a roll and a brew, we are off out on an hour's drive to the very north of the county on a date with one of the dullest orchids in Britain.

Green Flowered Helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes We have to take the M20 north, from Folkestone to Ashford to Maidstone and north nearly to Dartford, before turning off, back down onto the plain, and once through a small village, we pull up at a small layby, where the orchids grow. Now, I do now know of other colonies, but these are easy to find, if in an ugly place, beside the layby, on either side of an old bus stop, looking like any other plant, only they are orchids and unfurling like helleborines do. Only these are different, green flowered and self pollinating, meaning the flowers only rarely open, and in the four years we have been coming here, I have never seen one open, but I live in hope.

Green Flowered Helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes Indeed, two friends spotted and snapped a flower open here during the week, but none for me. I did find one which was drooping, which probably was the one they had seen, as the lip was turning brown, as it already goes over, probably already self-pollinated.

One hundred and eighty six Whilst I inspect each spike, Jools hunts for more, and finds dozens of more spikes, all which have to be checked. I am laying in the gutter snapping, and an old boy stops to see if I have had an accident; he sees my camera and so we talk about photography, and decide which camera he should buy. He's a good bloke, local but knows the area well, and talks of having lived in the area l all his life and the changes he has seen, not all good, obviously.

The same old scene I check all the spikes, snap many, but fail to find the one I wanted, but good enough. We drive back into the nearest village and stop to buy ice cream, taking them to stand on a wooden bridge over the river Darent, and to our amazement, we see dozens of Banded Demoiselles, flying just above the surface of the river, sometimes in groups as many as twenty; either fighting or mating. And from the trees on either side, birds would swoop down to snap an insect from above the water.

Green Flowered Helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes We could have stayed the rest of the day, but the day was getting old and we had an hour to go to get home.

River Darent, Kent I drive at 50mph, taking our time in the late afternoon sunshine, enjoying driving back south, while all the other traffic accelerates past us. But we have all day. Or the rest of the day, to get back.

Arriving back at five, in time to feed the cats and make a brew. For dinner I had bought a selection of tapas, which seemed to be a goo idea, which was even better watching a recording of the latest stage of Le Tour on the sofa. I was on the sofa, not Le Tour.

Limoncello and Grappa Tart And by the time I had watched 120 or so KM, it was quarter past ten, and time for bed.

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