Tuesday, 1 January 2019

New Year's Day

Whoops! Twelve stones and five pounds. Not surprising of course, but something must be done about it. The BBC Weather Forecast for Daventry predicted only a 3% chance of rain so I drew aside the bedroom curtains with optimism, only to find that a heavy drizzle was falling. But was I discouraged from walking? Well, yes, a bit. Chris, incidentally, was going out walking with our daughter Jacqui. I tend to walk alone, not through anti-social traits but because, constantly stopping, I hold up my companions. 

A small spider, Tenuiphantes tenuis, had come in to avoid the rain and was clinging to the curtains. I could spend the day going around the house looking for more creepy-crawlies, but we Whites are made of sterner stuff. I decided to wrap up and set forth, only to get my first surprise before even five yards had been covered. A Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, was in bloom in our front garden!

A lone, rain-wet Pasque Flower is in bloom in our front garden at
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 1 January, 2019
It shouldn't be blooming before April but, as I have often noted, flowers and insects haven't always read the books. Its common name of 'Pasque' comes from Paschal - of Easter. Easter is a movable feast - but not that movable! John Clare wrote of it to his publisher:

'I coud [sic] almost fancy that this blue anenonie [sic] sprang from the blood or dust of the Romans for it haunts the roman bank in this neighbourhood  & is found no were [sic] else...'  At the time Clare was living at Helpston, near Peterborough (then in Northamptonshire, now in Cambridgeshire.).

As my photograph shows, our specimen is wine-red rather than blue.

Anyway, I set out, following Tyne Road, on the western edge of The Grange, and then crossed the A45 by means of a footbridge. This carries a footpath following the line of the disused old Daventry-Leamington Road and is now largely forgotten.

This bridge over the A45 is a wheelchair-friendly structure.
Daventry, 1 January, 2019
Part of the old once-metalled road is now grassed over and I was pleased to spot what is undoubtedly an orchid. I am not knowledgeable enough to identify the species simply from a rosette so a return visit in late spring-early summer would be interesting.

An orchid rosette grew in the mown grass beside the old track.
Daventry, 1 January, 2019
A little beyond this point I turned on my heel and returned more or less by the way I came. At this point I almost, on January the First, broke a New Year's Resolution. I was drawn by malign forces to a toadstool and got as far as photographing it when I remembered my vow. I am refusing to try and identify it.

I must be strong and refuse to identify this toadstool.
The Grange, Daventry. 1 January, 2019
At this time of the year trees have lost leaves, catkins, fruits or whatever. If we are to identify them we must rely on overall shape together with bark and buds.

Plane Trees stand out, their bark making them very distinctive, Sycamores can also lose patches of bark but the results are never as striking.

Among the gloomy limes and sycamores a plane tree stands out.
The Grange, Daventry. 1 January, 2019
A close-up view shows the very pale new bark beneath the old. When losing bark in this way they also rid themselves of sooty deposits, making them popular in towns.
The new bark is of a delicate, palest of green shades. Tyne Road, The Grange, Daventry.
1 January, 2019

Another tree with easily recognised bark is White Poplar, Populus alba. This is a native tree of wettish areas but where I was walking today there were several planted specimens. Often - though not always - the bark bears marks of a rhomboid form, making it rather eye-catching.

 White Poplar has a distinctive bark. Tyne Road, The Grange, Daventry.
1 January, 2019

Three miles or so. Barely sufficient but with approaching spring I should be able to do better. It turned out that Chris and Jacqui had tackled Borough Hill, a much sterner task.

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