Spring Reigns Eternal

Alexander Pope’s hope springs eternal, is so often misquoted as hope reigns eternal that I thought I would take the misquoting one step further with the title of this blog post. Over the years, having witnessed more change of seasons than I care to admit to, the transition from winter to spring has to be the one that I long for the most. As the frosts and snows melt and the sun’s rays warm both the soil and the soul nature and humans alike are energised.

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A Comma Butterfly, fresh from hibernation, warms itself in the spring sun

There are so many aspects of spring that bring joy: the intensity of colour in the chartreuse green of new shoots; the translucency of the young leaves as they filter the strengthening sunlight before it reaches the forest floor. The first bluebells; the starry golden celandines; the skylarks tumbling song all vie with the myriad of new life crying out the same positive message.

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The intensity of spring colour feasts the eyes after months of grey

Autumn, of course, also gives moments of pleasure with the splendour of its glowing oranges, tawny browns and fiery reds but, compared with spring, these are but fleeting and only serve as a reminder of the dark, cold days of winter to come. Spring offers not just new life and beauty but also the hope of better days – perhaps this is why Pope is misquoted. Hope springs eternal is such a positive message.

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Bluebells and beech woods in spring – can there be a more joyous sight?

Richard Jefferies, the Victorian naturalist, wrote eloquently of the joy of watching spring move towards summer in his book The Life of the Fields. “…every blade of grass, each leaf, each separate floret and petal, is an inscription speaking of hope…there is so much for us yet to come, so much to be gathered, and enjoyed.”

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Poor-man’s-weather-glass, the scarlet pimpernel, opens its flowers on fine days

The cup of spring is never half-empty, neither is it half-full. It is always overflowing. Let us drink from it whilst we can.

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Ablaze in the spring, gorse hedges are at their very best

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2014 in Review: the first six months

So another year is almost over and it certainly has been a busy one for me.  Living and working in the spectacular Cotswold countryside, a classified area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a great treat and one of which I never tire.  It’s also nice to go off exploring other places so 2014 found me in other parts of the UK and  Ireland too.  One of the first places I visited, however, was only twenty miles down the road but light years apart in reality!

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typical Cotswold countryside

Like many people that live close to tourist attractions I don’t often visit the ones on my doorstep but last January found me walking the streets of Oxford.  I hadn’t come to explore the colleges but the covered market which dates back more than two hundred years.   The history of the market and the building is fascinating and is well worth making the time to visit – especially if you like a bargain.  To read more about it and to see other photos click here.

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One of the fathers of ecological writing died tragically young and in February I matched quotations from his work to images I had taken (to see them, click here).  My favourite was noticed by the Society that bears his name and reprinted in their journal.  I felt very honoured!

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Wild and rugged scenery is often best appreciated over cake and coffee and at Watersmeet in Exmoor National Park you can do just that.  Two rivers collide spectacularly besides the Victorian fishing lodge that is now owned by the National Trust and run as a café. March found me walking through beautiful scenery as well as indulging myself and the link to this remote but very accessible place is here.

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Dublin, the capital city of Ireland is a favourite place of mine and in April I visited the Casino Marino, one of the most impressive and perfect neo-classical buildings in Europe.  Everything about it was designed to deceive so although you only see one window on each side you actually have – well, click here to find out what plus all the other deceptions the Georgian architect managed to fit in.

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Planting trees is a long term project for they rarely mature during the life of the planter.  Of all the hundreds I have done in my professional life none has given me as much pleasure as this particular one.  I have waited for years for it to flower and in May it did so for the first time.  I felt quite emotional – it was a case of finding a handkerchief.  Take a look by clicking the link here.

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The Cotswolds are world renowned for their ‘chocolate box’ village scenes and Lower Slaughter must be one of the contenders.  Despite its name it is a beautiful and tranquil place to visit for it has everything from crystal clear trout streams to olde-world stone cottages to a mill complete with working water wheel. If you choose the right time to explore you can have the place to yourself.  To learn more click the June link here.

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