On Friday Mr Stoatie and I went down to Hertfordshire to visit his Grandad at the Old Folk’s Home. When I rang our usual campsite it turned out to be fully booked because Duxford had a flying weekend. Doh! I never thought to check that when we picked which weekend to go down. Luckily we knew somewhere in the middle of the countryside where we could Stealth Camp!
I started ‘one of Janes’s heads’ on the way down but manfully struggled through a visit with Mr Stoatie’s Nana, and then the trip with her to see his Grandad. After another cup of tea at Nanas afterwards, we set off to find somewhere to eat. We finally settled on a pub in the centre of Royston and sat down with a couple of drinks. By this point I was feeling like death warmed up and was so nauseous that I had to leave, which was a shame for Mr Stoatie who was sat drooling over the menu. We just managed to get to the ‘campsite’ before I barfed! Of course I was then given a night long guilt trip for starving the OH!
When I woke up in the morning it was wonderfully clear and the sky was covered with stars. There was a magical sliver of crescent moon rising in the east, with a beautiful earthshine which I tried to capture on camera, but failed miserably! I set off on a walk, and as the light increased the autumnal colours began to appear. Since we had arrived in the dark it was fascinating to see what the black shapes of trees and bushes turned out to be in daylight.
I was excited to see that there were spindle bushes in the hedgerow. When I was doing the Ovate Grade and studying the Ogham, this was the only tree I couldn’t find locally. It is a tree that prefers a chalky, limey soil which is something that’s impossible to find in the North West. I noticed there were a few dead branches on one of them and asked nicely if I could take a piece for my Ogham vase. It seemed to spring off the bush so I took that for a yes with knobs on! The spindle has really unusual and rather glam berries.
There was also a bush of Old Man’s Beard which is something else we don’t get up here.
As it got lighter we started to get dog walkers and joggers arriving and so we packed up and set off to find somewhere to eat, by then we were both ravenous. So it was back into Royston where we followed the smell of bacon to a greasy spoon, and a full English Breakfast. On leaving the campsite we were lucky enough to spot a deer by the wood edge and a couple of hares in the wheat stubble, which were only topped by a Red Kite I spotted on the way home!
We called in at Mr Stoatie’s Uncle on the way back and in the garden I spotted something that I have only ever read about – a Humming Bird Hawk Moth! These are daytime flying moths which hover at flowers and suck nectar out of them with a long mouth piece. They do look like tiny humming birds. These moths migrate from North Africa and Southern Europe to Britain although there have been reports of them overwintering in Southern England and breeding over here, which is thought to be an effect of climate change.
Photo of Humming Bird Hawk Moth by David Anderson