Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Common Spotted Orchid or The road to Little Egypt

Three years to the day since I mentioned in this hallowed blog the appearance of my 1st sighting of the Spotted Orchid for the year. Like surfers I have a secret spot. Not secret any more of course, I divulged the location in 2006, but maybe hidden or even so obvious its a not a spotted Orchid Secret spot but sensible overt lair near a layby of a habitat.
I travelled the same Kings highway daily for fifteen years and know every bump, raised ironwork, fencepost and tree.
I have seen the mighty Bypass built efficiently and on schedule by the workmen of England. I have felt the oozing relief of Reighton Hill as it becomes a viewpoint again. It waits patiently for the 121 bus from Hull to breeze happily through and give a sense of 'being just in the real world 'to the ribbon of cottages and tiny churches, one now a posh cottage complete with garage and tubs.
I have driven patiently behind tractors at dawn and haywains at dusk. I have been bitten by a horsefly arrogantly flying through the car window looking for a horse. I have seen barn owls flying just as the sun sets, just above the bonnet of the car. I have endured the early morning winter sun daring to shine straight into my eyes as I cross the boundary from North Yorkshire to my beloved East Riding, and dazzling my senses and boding danger.
I have seen vistas of sheer Cooks Tour loveliness- Bridlington bay from East Huntow top, a medieval view the same for hundreds of years, the Priory and two trees, one on each side of the road. Ebor flats of course may be overlooked.
In the other direction, the homeward bound , more joyful journey albeit North the view of Filey Bay from Reighton, once spoiled by Little Beirut, now a temple to the holidaying aspirations of the New Butlins folk, The Sands or some such eponymously clever and original name. Time Team 3009 will be perplexed I'm sure, with the post holes showing rows and rows of small dwellings overbuilt with larger ones, and the remains of the huge monastic fishpond lined with tiles.
I have seen the direction of the breeze , the airstrip and the windsock over Grindale way , the gradual transformation of the cafe and garage of Speeton Field, the dead windmill in the Newsham distance and all the ancient hedgerows.
It goes like this in my mind, Snow drops and Primroses at Southfield farm, a flush of green on the hawthorn heralds spring, then the Blackthorn blossom for miles and miles, white and promising sloes. Then the flush becomes a reality, and out comes the May, white, pink, red even and the verges start to grow , I wait for the Queen Annes Lace.
I remember that I have its sport Ravens Wing in the garden at home, and wonder who first thought to collect its seeds and breed it on , selecting and choosing , selecting and choosing , until Chilterns Seeds helped you to forget it had ever been Queen Annes Lace by the side of a road. I am coming slowly to Orchids because I have not finished savouring the Red Campions and the Sweet Cecily, and the Hogweed- I'm ready now

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bridges and houses , hedges and ditches

Great Railway Journeys I have done .
Have to say that the journey from Congleton in Cheshire to Seamer ( Scarborough) is a near perfect rail journey. I had listened to advice and made sure I was on the right hand side of the carriage so as to take in the recommended sights , which did not disappoint. My criteria for a Great Railway Journey were all fulfilled.
  • A seat alone
  • Good conversation to overhear
  • Clean lavatory
  • An unknown crop to identify
  • Clean window
  • A Risk
  • Wildlife to spot
  • Baby lambs in field to spot
  • At least one place of passing needing to be looked up in Pevsner
  • A yearning to bring an OS map next time.
This journey had a tantalizing beginning, and here I give Congleton Station the equivalent of a Richard and Judy Bookclub award, which I will call an Adlesdrop award. For in the tiny Booking Hall was a shelf of Books to borrow , worthy of Boots Lending Library in the 1950's.
I had of course brought one of my Arthur Upfields to read so was replete so to speak.
And so to scenery. No one prepares one for Cheshire to be so picturesque from the train. The Cloud first, and then streams ,and field systems, pales and lambs and water meadows all the way to Bramhall . Here the back gardens of the upwardly mobile beckoned but I have seen it all before in Surrey so it held no thrall for me .
I mention here that the sides of the track between Congleton and Manchester were the cleanest and most rubbish free I have ever seen.
Now Stockport , theres a Business park of a place from the train. Not what I imagined , having only known about a past Bishop , Gordon Strutt from my Aunty Mary, so fondly thought it would be full of gleaming spires, instead - pyramidal multiplexes and ugly walls and chimneys. Made mental note to get off the train here another time and look at the Hat Museum, remembering that 'Aunt 'Ada Watson was a Court Milliner from Cheshire in the Edwardian era.
Levenshume was a ME sort of a place. I could just tell from the names of the businesses and the sort of washing on lines.
Manchester Piccadilly takes some working out. Now I am home I have worked it out. Trains that terminate and trains that go through determine , of course, the platform arrangements and so now I have it . I think. The loos are 30p and the change machine doesnt work . Thank God the Transpennine had clean ones and were easy to use.
The journey across or should I say under the Pennines was magic.
Canals and Mills along the Colne Valley would have looked so different a hundred years ago. I loved it now, without the smoke and the grime.
One businessman was overheard to recount to another a Question on some TV Quiz programme where the contestant did not know that Bread Sauce was an accompaniment to Turkey. 'Well ,I did not know that' said his travelmate, and I with him was silently amazed. I thought everyone knew that. Apparantly , I am naive.
So on past the familiar, Leeds, York, Malton , Seamer -I have travelled these rails a score of times since returning North from Surrey in 1992. The stretch from York to Malton along the Derwent Valley deserves a prize of its own . The best Field Systems I have ever seen are on the North side of the river, and then the glimpse of Kirkham Priory through the trees, as the river upstream to Malton tempts speculation always as to the height of the water. Here my journey took a new twist. Two young ladies from across the pond had discussed their complexions ,crowlines and wrinkles all the way from York. As they decanted to thrill a small agricultural town with their conversation , the carriage discussed the triviality of their very public musings.
On to the hedges and ditches of the Carrs, that great Lake Pickering emptying into the North Sea at Filey, its rich ,alluvial soil almost working before ones eyes to support rows of Potatoes , Wheat, Barley and oilseed Rape. No children clambering and scrambling, no runaway carts , just GLIMPSES GONE FOREVER.