Friday, September 10, 2004

Legs, travelling light and spindle.

1. Beech woods. Beech trees (Fagus sylvaticus) grow very stright and if they were people, I always think they would have beautiful legs. They look as if they are wearing silvery pale silk stockings. The cheery green leaves dim the light in a way that is particularly pleasing on a hot day. I'm told the trees somehow poison the soil so nothing grows on the forest floor, except blue bells (hyacinthoides non-scripta) in spring. The rest of the year the ground is a beautiful crunchy red-brown.

2. The teeny-tiny youth hostel at Bradenham. It has fiendishly complicated opening hours. Just the way a youth hostel should be - I bet the door is locked at 11pm sharp and anyone trying to sneak into the other dorm for a little flagrante delicto is tarred and feathered and run out town on a rail. No really, I'm sure it's a lovely place to stay. The village is like a calendar come real.

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3. A spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) with berries on it. We found one in the woods below Pulpit Hill, but there were no berries. This one, growing out of a hedge by a stile, was covered in three-cornered silk-pink berries. In a while, they will burst open to reveal seeds the colour of 1970s orange squash. The last time I saw a spindle tree in full glory I was being taken for a walk in my pram. It was such an extraordinary sight that I have never forgotten it. Picture from Antiquariaat Jan Meemelink flower books & prints.