Summer wisps of meadowsweet and thistledown….

meadowsweet and pollen drenched

I can’t quite believe my eyes this morning, there’s a beautiful blue sky outside, a few wisps of white clouds but on the whole it looks like it’s going to be a nice day…unlike the weekend which really I should have known was going to be a wash out being a bank holiday but there’s a rainy bank holiday and then there’s keeping an eye out for the return of Noah’s Ark.

Luckily we went for a walk on Saturday afternoon when it was nice and picked some blackberries and managed to get stung to high heaven by nettles and I’ve been bitten something rotten by marsh mosquitoes so I’m covered in red lumps which itch like the devil.  Because we’d had a lot of rain last week the blackberries were all rather soft but we’ve drowned the firmest ones in brandy and then the rest I gently cooked through before tipping them in a dish and covering with crumble mix.  (the berries were so juicy that I had to strain them but I’ve saved the juice as it’s to nice to throw away and I’m thinking to use it as a cordial…mixing it with something fizzy like a not too sharp lemonade.)…then I spent the rest of the time on the sofa sewing in woolly tails on a scarf (there’ll be pictures and a how to make it as soon as it’s been washed and blocked), drinking pots of tea and having Bernard clamber over me when he was wet so he could cuddle in my lap and nest under my crochet.

Anyway I realized I hadn’t posted these pictures of a bee tumbling around over some meadowsweet from just a couple of weeks ago from a walk over the marshes before everything became rain bashed and battered.

tumbling and bumbling on meadowsweet

The pastures have been really full of meadowsweet this year, huge swathes of it have been growing in most of the fields and it’s been very popular with the bees and butterflies, indeed it’s been quite unusual to watch any and not soon see one of either land and tumble and roll (in the case of bees) like a panda all over the flowers or sit gracefully on the edge before dancing around delicately.

as prickly as a hedgehog

And it’s not just bee the meadowsweet that’s grown  well this year, the thistles have been stunning, some of them have been real whoppers, proper giants in the fields.  We laughed the other year when we saw thistles for sale at our local garden centre in their “wild flower” section, just minutes form home there are so many…I can’t imagine wanting to plant them in my garden though as they’d soon take over, but I enjoy seeing them out in the wild.

prickly and purple thistle

Gorgeous mauvy pinky purple petals held tight and surrounded by prickles, they look so sculptural and otherworldly and faerie landed.  And then they burst open with tufts of the softest silver thistledown (which never fails to make me think of Susanna Clarke’s gentleman with his mass of like coloured hair…)

soft tufts of thistle down

Some of the thistles I’ve seen have towered over me (I’m about 5ft 9) which has felt a little eerie turning round from picking berries to find myself under the shadows of one of these, but equally I find them so magnificent to look at. In the midst of all those spikes and prickles, the softest feeling downy fluff.  I’ve not seen it so much this year but last year there was a bench I used to sit at that was surrounded by thistles and which various little birds would fly over to and pull out strands of thistledown and take off to their nests. I guess even in the Autumn nests need repairing and a lining of thistledown will help keep them warm through the colder months.

soft and fuzzy burdock

Along with the thistles, the meadows and hedgerows are also full of burdock, fat round pods of prickles that aren’t quite as harsh as thistles but which seem to attach themselves better than anything if you’re wearing something woolly like tweed.

After the weekend’s downpour I think I need to leave it a couple of days before heading out over the marshes again, even on Saturday there were some boggy bits and it doesn’t take much to find you’re a bit stuck, squelching through marsh mud is all very well but it’s not something I want to put my foot in while retrieving a boot.

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