Monday, 20 April 2015

Cherry, Apple and Pear Blossom

"I know very little about the distance between stars or about the motives of Pepys, but I can always smell the Summertime at the latest by early Spring."

This evocative little lyric comes form an obscure song that I enjoyed as a teenager. It has always stayed with me and seems to become more pertinent with time.
Cherry Blossom
We are experiencing an unseasonably warm April, not that I'm complaining. The Cherry trees have been springing into flower and the blossom filled branches are stretching skywards. Pruned Cherry trees are normally kept to a few metres height but they can reach far further when left to their own devices.
It Will be Difficult to Pick These Cherries
Cherries are a native tree in the UK but it never ceases to amaze me how many there are in the parks, woodland and hedgerows. We started spotting the florid limbs poking up through the hedges along the motorway recently, not that I advocate advising picking them from the verges of arterial roads. 
Cherry Blossom
Cherries are the first fruits that we pick in the Summer. There are plenty to be found in the city's lovely parks and the pavements of quiet streets. We even pick them from industrial estates at the weekends, when they become peaceful places.
Pear Blossom (I Believe)
The exceptional Spring weather is also bringing Apple and Pear trees into bloom, which makes me think that I should organise a Blossom Walk at the Mansbridge Community Orchard fairly soon.

In other news... We have finished putting the final touches to the new Urbane Forager book and will soon have an approximate release date for you. This blog has received over 100,000 page views and now contains over 250 posts! A Great Big Fat Thank You to all our readers, please tell your friends and help spread the word...

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Spring into Action

It's 7:15am, my train has been cancelled and it's raining. Another train will come but I choose to cycle the 11 miles to my employment, through April's finest showers. A"man" in a black Audi tries to run me over halfway through my journey; hopefully he is still stuck in traffic somewhere. As I work, I sit in my office in the midst of the massive, soulless industrial estate that is Segensworth, near Fareham. I occasionally gaze wistfully out of my window at what is possibly the least inspiring view I have ever had to endure.
Toward midday the grim grey clouds gradually break and the sweet azure begins to brighten my mood. Suddenly my heart is dramatically lifted as I spot and instantly recognise a Kite, slowly gliding over the drab grey buildings opposite. Lunchtime looms and as always, I get out of the building. I jog out of the estate, dodge the speeding motorists and slip through a hedge. Within 10 minutes I am standing in a field and my tightly coiled mind begins to unwind.
I find a footpath and follow it. I spot Plum blossom and Blackthorn too. Most of the white flowers in the hedgerows now are Blackthorn, so I predict a good year for Sloes. I make a mental note to add the locations to the fruit map. Further into my walk, I spot some old neglected Apple trees, or are the Pears? It's hard to tell in Spring. I also note several Cherry trees about to burst into bloom. After a brisk 10 minute walk I reach my intended target, a ruined abbey that I have noticed on a map, it is pretty impressive. In the grounds I locate several fruit trees, one of which is covered in delightful flowers, I think/hope it is a Peach tree.
After a short explore and a wander about it is time to return. I retrace my footsteps back to my office and work but now I am rejuvenated and refreshed. I'm looking forward to my journey home - It's a Bank Holiday weekend coming up. I'm looking forward to stepping off the treadmill, ricocheting about with the family, cultivating our allotment and hopefully scoffing an Easter egg.
As a sad postscript to this little tale, the large field that I got into via the hedge is shortly to be "developed" into an enormous care village. So, yet another green field site is to be decimated for private profit. I spotted a planning notice pinned to a lamp-post (hidden in a hedge where there was no pavement). I really cannot understand how these decisions can get past the local councillors. Although, we could probably guess...