Sissinghurst in September

The old place is quiet on a hot day; the struggling borders are fading into autumn. The new Mediterranean garden perfectly evokes a dusty, desiccated island in the Aegean except there is no loud, monotonous rasp of cicadas. Even after a long drought of a summer, there is still enormous inspiration from the the planting;…

Whitstable Carnival

6th August 2022 The first Saturday is August has been carnival day in Whitstable for the last 125 years. At 6pm, under a clear blue sky, the road into town from Tankerton is closed, the pavements are jammed and the procession, this year with a theme of all things piratical but with more than a…

February

The cherry plum is in full blossom and at its best; the first shots of Spring have been fired and the dull winter colours of the hedgerows and narrow lanes are lit by the otherwise inconspicuous, small trees. So far, February has been warm and mild unlike last year when ice and snow covered the…

Salt Fleet Flats Reserve

The compensation provided by the construction of a huge container handling facility on the northern edge of the Thames Estuary included a new inlet of inter-tidal mudflats just across the river on the edge of Cooling Marshes. Salt Fleet Flats Reserve as it is called was created by building a new sea wall inland of…

The fox and the field vole

The fox appears in front of the kitchen window; he is in perfect condition with a thick winter coat. Immediately, he steps into the abandoned ground of grasses and nettles that one day may be a back garden. He seems to know it is the right place to hunt and is entirely alert and focussed….

Shellness again…

The tide is forecast high again at 1:30pm and at 10:00am the waters are well up with just a fringe of mud and bays half-filled. The wind is from the north and the blockhouse provides shelter and a view of the shore. The oystercatchers are already neatly regimented on the ness and Brent geese slowly…

The unstoppable sea

On Saturday, the day is warm with a southerly breeze and the oystercatchers gather on their familiar stretch of shoreline at the far end of the ness of shells that gives the place its name. Another spit near the blockhouse is filled with a tight knit flock of grey plover, dunlin and knot. On the…

Sunset on the North Downs

We had a great sunset here here on the North Downs the other evening. The clouds appeared to have been whisked…

Mucking and Cooling

The mudflats at Mucking that run north from Coalhouse Fort support a great flock of avocet as well as smaller numbers of shelduck, curlew, knot, dunlin, redshank and grey plover. The birds are safe from disturbance as the mud is separated from the coastal path by a stodgy stretch of saltmarsh. A peregrine roosts on…

Whitstable perspectives

The tide is well out but running in; beyond the stony beach below the town are the vast ranks of exposed trestles on which bags of oysters are laid or strung. The scale of production is industrial and locally contentious with a planning inquiry shortly set to adjudicate on the fate on the scale of…

October at Oare

A pale clouded yellow dances in the breeze on the sea wall and after many attempts finally settles in the couch grass, small whites are also on the move, nectaring on the last sow thistles. The clear autumn skies and gentle warmth put the wintering flocks of godwits and redshanks at ease; there is no…

Scabious and ivy

As the autumn equinox arrives, the downs are browning and the last flowers support the last insects. The slope at Fackenden is now thick with summer growth; the marjoram and other summer flowers create dense blankets of green growth with a few flowers; the autumn gentian has gone over and only the devil’s bit scabious…