Before lunch, which consisted of a vast amount of yesterday’s food with the addition of more cold meats, pies, and cheeses, Jackie drove Don and me to Bank where we sampled the beers and sussed out the food, which looked very tempting, in The Oak Inn. The beamed pub was very full and catered for numerous families. Don and I drank Gale’s Seafarers Ale and Jackie had Staropramen. This naturally led to a rather soporific afternoon until Don returned to Bungay early in the evening.
I had to rather force myself to walk the Shave Wood loop after this, but it was a beautifully clear evening, which was encouraging.
Jackie was talking recently about escapees from Victorian gardens, which is her term for the ubiquitous purple variety of rhododendron. In the past week I have learned that there are far more varieties of this Chinese import in the gardens of The New Forest than I had previously imagined to exist (see those featured in posts of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of this month). Those loose in the forest all seem to be standard sized and shaped purple. Apparently they have periodically to be culled because they take over and ruin the ecology. Some years ago notices were put up whilst the work was going on, in order to explain to dismayed visitors why this was necessary. Stapleford Woods near Newark had an even greater problem with this invader. It is fascinating how one’s attitude towards nature varies according to one’s perspective. Town dwellers encourage the foxes that countryfolk regard as a menace. Everyone knows that squirrels, deer, and rabbits are sweet little creatures. Until they begin to steal your bird food or devastate your flowers and vegetables. Jackie battles against the first of these and does her best to keep the others away. Suddenly they are not so endearing after all.
Cycling families were out in force this evening. As I walked up the road from Football Green to Shave Wood a couple of young teenagers pedalled past me from behind, chatting away. A short while afterwards, I turned at the squeak of a brake and the slap of a foot upon the tarmac. A middle-aged man, silhouetted against the background of sunlit trees, white hair glowing, looked behind him, as if waiting for someone. I continued on my way. He then called ‘put some effort into it’. I continued without turning round. Soon he came past me, followed in his wake by a little older teenager who, as she struggled to catch up, said ‘I’m so glad I’m not an Olympic cyclist’. It seemed to me that she may have benefitted from a bike that was big enough for her. Further on, the other two stopped and waited for the man and girl to catch up. The last I saw was tail end Charlie wobbling into the sunshine.
Don had, this morning, identified for me the cry of a buzzard which circled over our garden. He had been familiar with this from his Gaeddren years in North Wales. In the forest I looked up as I heard the same sound and watched one of these raptors swoop across the clear sky, settle for a while at the top a tall oak tree, and take off in the opposite direction. I heard others I did not see.