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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Friday, 1 May 2020

TED Walks in the Time of Coronavirus Pt 4

We managed another walk in a different place this week, and without illicit or even extra driving, by taking Ted and Colin with me when I did the Asda shop, then leaving the car in the car park for an hour while we walked up to Splatts Abbey Wood. 

I knew the wood as a child, when it was on farmland, long before the then Bristol Poly (now UWE) started building there and the MOD stuck itself on top of the coal tip. Some years ago we went back there to find it sandwiched between the latter and the Hewlett Packard site, and as we were leaving, we saw a roe deer leaping through its understorey. That was the miracle, and, in due course, the poem. I knew I couldn't expect any more of it. 

Except that walking into it took us from this ... 

... to this. A balm for the eyes and the spirit. We might have been in the Forest of Arden.

I've been a bit sniffy in the past about the wood, and how it has a Committee of Friends and a Downloadable Management Plan, but the hard work has really paid off. 

It made me wish that the same could be put in place for the little bramble-choked wood that leads down to Charlton Common, itself situated hard up against an industrial site.

The weirdest thing about Splatts Abbey Wood is when the path takes you abruptly to the MOD itself. 

This is where we turned and retraced our steps. 

A coppiced hazel and a holly tree

The last of the wood anemones, yellow archangel and bluebells, and poppies in April on the walk back to the car

Otherwise we've been up over the golf course to the edgelands beyond ...

... or marauding on the golf course itself. 

With a change to cloudier, cooler weather, the sunsets have been less frequent but more interesting. 

Feckin' monkeys, we're supposed to be on a walk

We've found more magnificent oak trees ... 

... and lots of venerable ashes.
We thought the one in this photo was dead, but it just turned out to be late in the better sense. We've called it Gordon, because Gordon's alive.

But the most amazing of all the trees have been the whitethorns. There are whole hedges of them, the scent of which is extraordinary ...

... and also some isolated ones, dotted about on the kempt lawns of the fairway and looking as out of place as Granny Weatherwax at a Royal garden party.  

Because it's been warm and sunny for much of the month, I've seen them blossoming alongside early elder flowers for the first time and it's amazing how much creamier the elder blossom is. 

Though what I love best is when they're blossoming but still holding onto last year's berries. A tree for all seasons. 

Even when there haven't been sunsets, the sky has often done interesting things ...

... and the wildlife hasn't let us down either. Aside from the foxes, we've seen an early arriving swift - always a hopeful moment, even during a pandemic ...

... and this very loud robin that had the decency to stay still long enough to be photographed. 

Also staying quite perfectly still against the wind was this kestrel, which we watched for at least quarter of an hour, as it hovered and wheeled away and hovered again, clearly after something it could spot in the scrubby grass on the edge of a bramble patch. 

The Northerner mistook the name of these flowers - Lady's Smock, now covering the rough field beyond the golf course - for Raven's Snot. We think it's probably a better, more descriptive name. 

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