The seasonal clock is running late.

Spring clockAlthough I am not a farmer, one is still influenced by the seasons when one lives in the countryside. Farmers, be they agricultural or livestock based are reliant on the seasonal clock being accurate for lambing, sowing, moving livestock into fields, harvesting, milking and so on. Unlike regular employees who can guarantee a regular income, the faming community must bear its own losses.

Certainly Somerset like many other counties has received more than its normal share of rainfall this winter, coupled with”The Beast from the East” cold weather. This has led to waterlogged land still unfit for sowing. Cattle unable to be released into Spring pastures meaning winter feed has either run low, or become completely exhausted, forcing farmers to dig deep into their own pockets to buy feed at inflated prices. Overall most farmers say they are running about a moth behind time, precious time that is difficult to make up.

I probably like most of us have been craving for better weather for those more open-air pursuits one associates with non-winter months. A few weeks ago was the Easter Weekend break when it feels as if whole nation is on the move like a sudden uncoiled spring. Everyone is seeking to escape the long winters clutches for a few day. From my home, I can observe in the distance the A303, one f the main routes from London to the West Country. The continual flow oh headlights throughout the night could be seen from cars with their urban escapees. Unfortunately to accompany this flood of headlights was a even heavier deluge of non-stop rain that lasted the entire Easter break. It was almost as if Mother Nature was saying that she will tell everyone when they can enjoy themselves and not before.

Well today eventually feels at long last like something of a Eureka moment with the long awaited arrival of warm sunshine. Suddenly gardening chores that have been on hold finally become doable like mowing the lawns. Up until today the grass had already started its Spring spurt, but was still soaking wet not allowing cutting. Now after a few hours work the garden suddenly looks transformed and awaiting ‘Teas on the Lawn’ weather.

Ford Kuga 03I shall also be taking possession of a new SUV car later this week. My present car although still very reliable, I have had for a long time and finally it is time to move on. My first impression when taking the model of car I am buying out for a test drive from the dealers was similar to that what pilots must experience entering a air-line cockpit. I am impressed though by all the safety features in modern cars, even those that cannot be seen but never the less help drivers avoid getting into trouble. All far removed from more basic vehicles I have driven years ago with crash gearboxes and the like.Vehicles where the only hint of modernity was an open-glass temperature gauge   stuck on the outside radiator.

The new vehicle should however allow me io get into a few more off-road location than present, something I am certain my dog will appreciate. I just hope todays pleasant weather now continues onto into the Summer. Not only for my say but also for the farmers and all those seeking some form of away break.

.

April 2016

Stonebarrow

Spring has sprung and the grass has ‘riz’, I wonder where the fairies is?, as my dear old mother used to say.

Well Spring is certainly now here, and the daffodils brought on a month early by a mild winter are still in bloom. I like daffodils and after a drab winter even if it was mild, they do add a welcoming touch of colourful freshness to the environment. The fields that abut our home are also full of new born lambs at the moment. It is amazing to watch how such creatures so frail at birth, have found their legs within minutes as they first suckle from their mothers. It only takes about two weeks for these new born lambs to “gang up” together with other lambs and go chasing around the fields in groups. The moment one of their mothers moves though, the group breaks up as they go scurrying back.

Easter, now already come and gone was not particularly welcoming to those seeking a long break away after the long indoor months. Rain and wind just about sums Easter up and true to form, as soon as the holidaymakers had returned home, the winds abated and the sun came out spreading its first noticeable but much looked forward to warmth of the year.

Fortunately I am now retired and as such,my wife and I are no longer tied to routines governed by early morning alarm clocks, commuter rush hours or daily routines. It is nice when the weather suddenly turns into a fine day to be able to say on the spur of the moment, “Let’s Go”. We tend to avoid going out much during Bank Holidays as we tend to find everything is a bit of a crush when millions of other people are intent on doing the same thing during their brief public holiday break. But then being retired, in it’s own way, every day is now something of a holiday break providing good use is made of it.

One such day occurred last week and on the spur of the moment we decided to go on a picnic. Out chosen destination was Stonebarrow Hill on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast which is about a 50 minute drive from our home.. Stonebarrow as everyone refers to it locally is open countryside owned by the National Trust of which we are members. It consists of a 148 high metre hill with fields rolling down to the sea. It is also adjacent to the renowned flat plateaued Golden Cap Hill which is the highest point of the large bight of coastline that forms the extensive and sweeping Lyme Bay. Stonebarrow is something of one of the National Trusts “hidden in plain view” gems.

Stonebarrow Hill is accessed by the aptly named Stonebarrow Lane which starts just before entering the small coastal town of Charmouth. Motoring skills come very much to the fore when driving up Stonebarrow Lane. It is very steep, Normally first or second gear only.for a considerable distance. The lane is narrow with insufficient room for two vehicles to pass, so a bit of give and take using depressions in the hedgerow is essential when encountering oncoming traffic. The upper sections of the lane fall away to a deep ravine type hill as well. The effort is well worth it for the spectacular view from the top. Although National Trust property, there is no charge for access or parking.If you have a pair of binoculars or even a telescope, they are well worth bringing.

The lower half of the land is part of the Coastal Path between Golden Cap and Charmouth and occasional hardy walkers can be seen traversing it. It is also a very dog friendly area and our Labrador “pup” Lou Lou now 18 months old and fully grown enjoyed racing up and down the slopes as she stretched her youthful limbs letting of steam in the process.

The drive to Stonebarrow is quite pleasant too. Either via the A3066 from Crewkerne through the charming small town of Beaminster nestled in the northern Dorset hills, and with its narrow roads and market place, or back via the B3165 north of Lyme Regis towards Crewkerne once again..

In all it was a sudden and unexpected day out but one that holds the promise of many more such days in the forthcoming months.

%d bloggers like this: