Adders on the meadow

There are just a handful of traditional lowland hay meadows left in Southern England. On a land use map of Kent, Marden Meadow looks like a short line of postage stamps stuck on a large, white envelope; a remnant from a time when the only implements to work the land were scythes, carts and barrowsContinue reading “Adders on the meadow”

Agios Dimitrios to Trachila

Trachila is a small fishing village, virtually empty in March at the end of the road from Agios Dimitrios. The narrow road runs under great cliffs and past olive groves and coastal scrub and was only recently constructed so access was previously only by boat. It is a place of wide views across the seaContinue reading “Agios Dimitrios to Trachila”

Pech Bely in late May

The land is dry, the barley fields are high and field margins and fallows full of colourful plants. The vines are putting on their light green leaf. A distant woodlark sings its fluting song in the cloudless dawn, later joined by a weeping tree pipit, wheezing black redstart and the dull rattle of a cirlContinue reading “Pech Bely in late May”

Downland Impressions

The long view of the downs is sharp greens and cobalt blues. Cold details are picked out by the evening sun across the sloping panorama. The short view is warm, out of focus and welcoming. The orchids, buttercups and trefoils beneath a shower of quaking grass create an impressionist watercolour. The downs are an art galleryContinue reading “Downland Impressions”

Shoreham on the Verge

The A225 sweeps the edge of the downs above the Darenth, passing Lullingstone’s long history; the railway runs the same route, switching sides on Victorian brick bridges. On a sunshine-filled evening, a little after the first Wednesday in June, riders in black leather lean low into the curves and cars run for home in long lines. The riches of the roadsideContinue reading “Shoreham on the Verge”

Denge and Eggringe Wood

May 28th. Denge and Eggringe Wood is part of the great East Kent forests, much of it ancient with oak Quercus robur and sweet chestnut Castanea sativa. It contains two small open patches of scrub and chalk grassland, each renowned for supporting a colony of Duke of Burgundy fritillaries Hamearis lumina. The woods are dry in the open valleys and damp inContinue reading “Denge and Eggringe Wood”

Le Plateau d’Argentine

The small village of Argentine, so small it is now linked with nearby Rochebeaucourt as La Rochebeaucourt-et-Argentine, sits peacefully at one end of a long limestone plateau above the river Nizonne looking over the rolling hills of the Charente to the west. The plateau is a great grey whaleback with ancient, wooded Argentine at its head, an openContinue reading “Le Plateau d’Argentine”

Up Fackenden Down

The change in the meadows at Fackenden Down over the last two weeks of June is marked; the fragrant orchids (Gymnadenia conopsea) are in their prime in mid June but tiring by the end of the month whereas the pyramidal orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis) were emerging and now are at their best. Some are a deep purple in the evening light. FragrantContinue reading “Up Fackenden Down”