Monday, 17 March 2014

Birthday at Badbury

It felt like the first day of Spring, and we made the most of it. The incessant rain and relentless wind had abated and, as if by arrangement (it was February and my birthday), the sun came out. You could feel the warmth of it on your face or back... What a blessed relief.
I had often wanted to visit Badbury Rings, an ancient hill-fort with archaeological antiquities dating back over 6000 years. It is fairly close to the small town of Wimborne Minster and has very well defined, steep embankments. The central area is now wooded with Oak, Pine and even the odd Walnut tree. Badbury is magnificently well preserved and it’s easy to see why it is a very popular spot with local dog walkers and children.
When we arrived we ran straight up the central axis of the fort, clambering up and tumbling down the banks. Once we reached the central area, where the trees are, we also found a couple of ponds. The children wandered off, to find a suitable tree to carve their names into. 
I took a scenic route and wound out in the opposite direction to the encircling rings. I figured that if I walked the circumference, I would find them eventually.
The children and I also explored the set of three barrows nearby. On the way over to them we found lots of empty walnut shells, presumably collected by rabbits. Curiously, we also found Walnuts on St Catherine’s Hill near Winchester, a couple of years ago.
After we had eaten our picnic lunch we set off to see another interesting site that I had spotted on the map. Knowlton Henge did not disappoint. It is a considerably smaller and a much more kept site than Badbury, but no less impressive. A low bank surrounds the area and in the centre is a tiny ruined Norman chapel. Very atmospheric.
At one end there is a yew tree that hippies have decorated with ribbons. And nearby is a large mound with trees on it, it looks too big to be a barrow, but not on the same massive scale as Silbury. Apparently, the visible Henge is only a small part of a much larger structured landscape and barrows that existed before the local farm was established.
I spotted a chap with home-made dowsing rods, something I had not seen or even heard of since I watched Blue Peter as a child. I asked him if he would explain what he was doing, to the children and he kindly let them have a go… Soon my son was scampering about tracking ley lines and getting caught in power vortexes.
Pretty soon though, I grew tired of Michael’s post-modern grab bag of internet based conspiracy theories and slipped off to take some photos; here though, I found people apparently worshipping trees! 
Finally we popped into Wimborne Minster, for a quick look around before going home. It is a lovely little town stuffed full of independent shops and smiling people; maybe the ley lines and energetic chakras keep them happy. Either way, the henge site and town look well worth a return visit at some point. Obviously, I will need to make some dowsing rods first...

Friday, 7 March 2014

Plum Blossom and Blackthorn Bloom

You know Spring is on the way when you spot the first bloom of white and pink Plum Blossom in the hedgerows.
The white Blossom with its small, delicate five petalled flowers, suddenly brings life back to the city roads and countryside.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between Plum and Blackthorn blossom. The Blackthorn will, of course, bear Sloes next Autumn.
The simple way to tell the difference is to plunge your arm vigorously into the bush and wriggle it about. 
If it is covered in bloody scratches when you retrieve it, odds are it was a Blackthorn... The clue is in the name ;-)
Of course, you could simply marvel at the beauty that nature brings and remember where the plums will be in a couple of months. 
It always brings a smile to my face, when the warmer weather finally takes hold...