Welcome to April and my new Blog. Like me I expect you have enjoyed the transition from the cold days of February and March to the hint, and more, of warmer days to come. Let's hope that the Victorian poet Robert Browning, whose opening line to "Home-thoughts from Abroad" I've used and adapted, will not mind being slightly misquoted (his there becomes my here). He was writing from Italy about 175 years ago and described the gradual changes in the natural world that you will only truly see at this time of the year by getting out into the countryside. Click here to hear it read. OK that's enough of the English Lit.
So I wanted to tell you about Blackthorn, Prunus Spinosa, which is in full blossom at this time of the year and exercising himself's mind (or what passes for it – in reference to his poor showing in Jeanne's excellent Zoom Quiz earlier this evening). And what do we get from the Blackthorn other than deep wounds from its long thorns (hence the Spinosa part of its name)? Well done you hedgerow scavengers, we get sloes for making sloe gin, and the wood was traditionally used for making walking sticks. Anyway the whole point of bringing the subject up is that as an early flowering shrub/ small tree it is a valuable source of nectar and pollen in early Spring, and without pollination natural (and our) life is in grave danger. As Blackthorn flowers in spring on last year's growth the present agricultural habit of field hedge cutting in winter removes a lot of the flower buds. The Blackthorn is starting to flower within the hedgerows but without the natural exuberant shoots that characterise this time of year. If you want to see a fantastic display then drive along the A500 Shavington bypass between Nantwich and Weston. Boris having given themselves special dispensation to meet (no hugging, mind!) the mainland grandchildren, we drove back along the A500 yesterday (end of March) afternoon, where the huge drifts of white Blackthorn blossom were inspiring. Probably not so good for Sloe gathering himself muttered from the driver's seat so it will be back to his secret source in the autumn!
Now that it looks as if you will all be able to start meeting again in some form or other I'm hoping to see my pal Dexter quite soon. His people, Sue and Roger the Dodger, have a motor cycle and side car and apparently Dexter looks quite the part in his flying helmet and goggles (no wet celery). Mind you as an excitable Terrier sort of chap he has to be fastened down with a harness. This month's prize goes to the first respondent to make the wet celery link, a beating with an egg whisk to the rest of you.
So before finishing I just have time to encourage you to sign up to Carole's litter picking Million Mile Mission, here on our Village Website home page. Yes, I know that people shouldn't drop litter but they do, and it's not going to pick itself up. I've asked (told actually) himself to add some pictures of their litter pick from the roadside between Minshull Lane and Village Farm from 2 weeks ago – only 3 weeks since they'd previously cleared the same stretch. So why don't you have look at the roadside verge outside your gate or business and clear some of the litter away? Make your village environs a neater place.
Now that you can meet each other in gardens I'll sign off with this link to Rick Nelson's 1972 song Garden Party – himself is guessing that 1970's music may be familiar to many of you!
Madai your rovering reporter
PS – just in case you're wondering what on earth we are on about with wet celery and egg whisks think "Allo Allo". He was going to put a link to a representative sketch but you can look that up yourselves