Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Spotty, green leaves in winter and glorious mud.

I am proud to announce that I have completed the last part of the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk.

Southborough quarter -- 30 December 2005 -- 8.25 miles
Sussex quarter -- 3 June 2006 -- 15 miles
Pembury quarter -- 10 November 2006 -- 13 miles
Speldhust quarter -- 1 January 2006 -- 10 miles

1. A flock of 16-spot ladybirds. Almost every fence post for half a kilometer has a little cluster of these tiny insects that look like varnished clockwork toys.

2. We round the end of a wood and then I stop in surprise. 'Look!'

Rosey and my father look, and at first they don't see what has made me exclaim.

Then they see a 300-year-old oak tree in full leaf, bright and tender as if it was 1 May, not 1 January. It's an evergreen Lucombe oak, but the leaves are soft and fresh, not leathery and dark. My father says that if he had one in his garden, every Christmas he would deck the halls with boughs of oak.

3. Small boy in red wellies: mumble mumble psssp-psssp?
Father: I'm sure there will be mud, yes.
There is a fair bit of mud around. Particularly... well anywhere that isn't under concrete, actually. It creeps up our trousers and splashes on our faces and hands. And it squelches in a very satisfying way under our feet.


  1. How wonderful! Now that you've completed the walk, will you do it again? It might be interesting to see the changes wrought in a year, don't you think?

    My father and I took the train from Kowloon to the Chinese border when visiting Hong Kong many years ago. Heading north we passed a huge tree on some farmland. Heading south we passed it again, but this time it was FULL of beautiful large white birds. Since then I've always remembered to "see both sides of the tree" if I can.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Clare,
    The word imp in me is wondering whether a "flock" of ladybirds is the correct term. Not because I'm overly into correcting people (although some would say that's true). But more because when I read that I thought, huh? I wonder what you do call a gathering of ladybirds. Because of the bird bit, I guess flock is as good a guess as any! I must say I don't usually see more than one at a time, so I've never had to think about it.

  3. the seasons are all bonkers. pretty though ...

  4. Kimono hime: I probably will do the quarters at different times of the year. And like you, I like to see both sides of the tree by walking the circles in different directions.

    Word Imp: I don't know what the collective noun for ladies is, so I thought I'd better use the one for birds. I think ladybirds look like farm animals of some kind -- so perhaps they could be a herd, too?

  5. According to this site http://www.hintsandthings.co.uk/kennel/collectives.htm it's a loveliness of ladybirds. Admittedly that hasn't been authenticated. But another puzzled writer has decided on a scrum of ladybirds, as per his photo of such a thing:


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