Wednesday 31 July 2013

Bunch Of Flowers

We have just returned from our latest jaunt, a trip that has provided us with many remarkable memories. And one of the most remarkable was the sheer variety of flowers encountered along the way.

When it comes to identification, I’m certainly no botanical expert (hence the lack of names in most cases) but I always enjoy all the wildlife we see – flora as well as fauna – and, in this instance, the quantities were phenomenal – testament, in no small part, to the lack of pesticides used in local farming methods.

With the exception of the last picture (the Edelweiss) all these photographs were taken on a single walk. For every species pictured, there were at least three or four other species not photographed – such was the profusion encountered. And those were just the ones I could vaguely discern from one another.

That’s one of the rewards of travel: the possibility to encounter something unexpectedly special.

Monday 8 July 2013

And Then It Was Summer

Bright sunshine, blue skies, soaring temperatures and the strawberries-and-cream-flavoured media-fest heralding Andy Murray's success at Wimbledon can only mean one thing: all of a sudden, summer has arrived.

Finally, it seems, the calendar and the climate have reached some sort of alignment.

Hare taking shelter from the heat
This weekend, we did a couple of short walks around the local lanes and fields. In part this was for exercise, in part to exercise some of our Path Warden duties. Either way, we were glad of the sun and the presence of the heat at last. OK, so heat an hiking are not always the happiest of bedfellows, but it's not long now until our next walking trip abroad, and the thought of going from the teens of degrees we have experienced so far this year to something approaching 40° Celsius without any real acclimatisation was, frankly, a bit of a concern.

Having walked a few times before in high heat, I think we have gained some practical experience in dealing with these potentially debilitating conditions. Through a mixture of preparation and precaution, I feel we are able to handle the temperatures now as well as we ever have done. Even so, it's a big ask to cope with such conditions (and the attendant risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion, dehydration, etc) without building up to it, so this weekend’s mini heat wave has proven judicious.

In the space of a couple of weeks, the local countryside has changed quite noticeably. Despite the belated arrival of this year’s summer, crops are maturing, and the hedgerows are flourishing: not unlike the fields and boundaries we came across while walking the Camino almost two months ago. It just goes to show what an influence climate and latitude can have on the development of quite similar vegetation.

Camino in May

Northamptonshire in July
And yet, despite the long, wet spring we have experienced this year, the ground in places is parched. Is it due to global warming, is it over-use of the land or is it just the result of a few hot days? Who knows?

Cracks in the path

In the end, whatever minor nuances there may be from one year to the next, the world still turns, and the seasons still come and go. The passage of time is incontrovertible. But as well as marking what has been, the advent of a new season heralds the arrival of something exciting to look forward to, with new experiences waiting to be enjoyed, and a chance to embrace the future as well as measuring the past.

Red and yellow and green and blue