Monday, 27 January 2014

Bell, Brook and Blindle

The early morning sunshine enticed me out for a stroll around the pocket park but conditions were deceiving and I was glad of warm gloves. 

Were snowdrops yet in bloom? Not quite, but in a couple of days the swelling buds could be open - as I'm sure they already are in England's south-west. 

Snowdrops almost in flower, Byfield churchyard.
27 January, 2014

The Snowy Milkflower would be a crude translation of its scientific name, Galanthus nivalis, with the Greek element 'galaktos' (milk) referring to the whiteness of the flowers. 

Greater Periwinkle, with ivy and goosegrass.
Byfield, 27 January, 2014
Already showing a few blooms was Greater Periwinkle, Vinca major. Despite its attractive flowers I would not entertain it in a garden of mine as it can become far too invasive. Seeds are rarely produced in this country but it readily spreads by vegetative means. It belongs to a largely tropical and subtropical family, the Apocynaceae, most of whose members - such as Oleander - are poisonous.

A couple of days ago I had been examining this small lake, formed by damming a stream a little to the north of Byfield. The stream, the Cornbrook, flows on to pass through the village, running alongside the playing fields, an open area known as the Brightwell. 

The Cornbrook stream, Byfield.
27 January , 2014

The Blindle, passing through our
back garden. 27 January, 2014

This stream, even in a prolonged dry period, generally flows strongly, whereas the stream passing through my back garden can be reduced to a trickle during a drought. Currently (no pun intended) the flow is strong. The oldest name for this latter stream is probably the Blindwell or Blindle. It is also known as the Westhorpe Stream, forming as it does the boundary between Westhorpe and Byfield. More recently it has become known as the Bell Brook, presumably on the grounds that it flows near to the Bell Inn (now a care home). Shortly after leaving our garden this stream passes beneath Byfield's playing fields via a conduit, with the two watercourses meeting at the edge of the pocket park.

The rather unexciting confluence of the Blindle (aka
Blindwell) and the Cornbrook. 27 January, 2014

The combined streams form an important tributary of the River Cherwell, itself becoming a major tributary of the Thames. In this photograph the Blindle is entering from the left.

I carried in for a while, conscious of the fact that the temperature seemed to be dropping and my hands were getting numb.

A hybrid Witch Hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia.
Byfield Allotments, 27, January, 2014

Pausing only to photograph the spidery flowers of a Witch Hazel at the edge of Byfield's allotments I scurried home for a hot coffee - and to unpack a new camera which had just been delivered.


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