28 Sept 2022

Wild About Wildlife: Taking time out for nature

Wild About Wildlife: Taking time out for nature

Enjoy the great outdoors before the weather gets too bad

IT had been long day, we were all tired and hungry and this is not a good combination for any family. I was in no mood to cook when I got home so the kids were glued to the car windows and keeping a watch out for the nearest takeaway. They saw the neon flashing sign even before I did and being dinner time they was a big crowd with lots of orders in before us. The owner, with a practiced busy and apologetic look, informed us that in would be at least 40 minutes of a wait.
I could hear the groans from the kids and rather than wait in the car the beautiful autumn evening enticed out of the car to stretch the legs and discover wildlife.
We were first drawn to a very tall and imposing building and I had a hunch it was military in nature. This was confirmed by a well-informed and friendly shopkeeper who explained that it was the old RIC barrack. It had been abandoned for years and it is such a pity that a fine building had been left go to rack and ruin.
The only residents we could see now were pairs of jackdaws who had taken over the large and spacious chimneys and rooks, perched on the roof and keeping a close watch on the takeaway for any discarded food.
The gardens were sheltered by tall hedges and full of colourful flowers. One of my favourites was a clematis climbing on a wooden trellis. This had showy purple flowers with a beautiful scent. Sweet pea had also been planted but these were finished up and the seed in the pods were ready to save. These climbers had been planted by the path side of the garden for all to enjoy.
Blue and pink hydrangeas were also flowering and the colour of the flowers depends on the ph of your soil. If the soil is very acidic, or sour as my grandad would call it, the flowers are deep blue. On slightly acidic soil the flowers are mainly pink.
An old gardener told me that he planted hydrangeas around his vegetable garden and if the flowers started to turn pink he knew it was time to add lime. This helps sweeten the soil as most vegetables like their roots in a slightly acidic soil.
Hydrangeas also represent grace, beauty and gratitude and it flowers love, harmony and peace. I hoped the latter would prevail in the car for the rest of our journey home.
The hedgerow is lush with berries from the red haws on the hawthorn, blackberries and rose hips. This is an old hedgerow and you can tell by the wide variety of plant species. The ivy flowers are just finishing as the temperature continues to drop, but they have fulfilled their role by providing nectar and pollen for insects.
The ash trees in the hedgerow look healthy even though they have lost their leaves. Ash is one of the last native trees to open its leaves and it drops them very early in the autumn.
The road passes over a railway line and we paused on the bridge with arms resting on the railing to get a better view of the countryside. The fields are bordered by hedgerows that have grown into liner woodland after years of not been managed.
The house must have been the old railway station as the platform is still there. It is slowly crumbling away and trees have started the slow process of turning concrete into a woodland.
With food nearly ready we retraced our steps back over the bridge. Soon we were all enjoying our meal with the car windows open while being serenaded by the singing of an evening robin.

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