Sunday, 27 May 2012

Bluebells and Beaches

Hello Everybody,

Well, Britain has been doing its wonderful changeable weather thing recently.

Last weekend, I took my Mum to see the Bluebell Woods at Yoxall Lodge.

Yoxall is a pretty village in South Staffordshire, not particularly far from my house. Yoxall Lodge is a farm with about 100 acres of woodland and fields, and lies within the National Forest. I'm not sure when they first opened their bluebell walks to members of the public, but I've never been before. Mum had been a few years ago. We didn't pick the best day weather-wise, it was dry (just about) but rather chilly. It was an overcast, miserable day full of grey skies without a hint of sun. Gloomy. The bluebell woods normally shut the week before (usually opens between approx. 14th April and 20th May), but since it had been such a cold, wet Spring the opening times were extended to see the last of the bluebells. In all honesty, they were a bit past their best, but there were still some pretty ones to be seen.

There are seven walks in total, all with slightly different views and atmospheres. Some take you through dark woods, others through open meadows. Although none were strenuous (we did them all in a couple of hours at a strolling pace), some were very slippy underfoot and I nearly fell over a couple of times! I think the Foxholes Walk was my favourite.

There was also a walk by a lake, which was lovely and took us by an area where volunteers had been burning down the rampant rhododendrons. Lots of birds were flying very quickly over the grasses in the lake. It wasn't too busy, so we could hear plenty of birds tweeting all around us. We also saw a lot of grey squirrels and a cute little mouse, as well as some cows!

Of course, it wasn't all bluebells! We saw plenty of other gorgeous wild flowers, including white bluebells (? whitebells).

I loved seeing the ferns starting to poke up in-between the bluebells, waiting to uncurl. I am not sure if the white bluebells are white versions of the Spanish variety, or native English bluebells - which are quite rare. Spanish bluebells are becoming quite a pest and are threatening to wipe out English bluebells, because they are more vigorous. The pollen of an English bluebell should be creamy-white

Moving on from bluebells the weather took a turn for the better, from about Tuesday I think, and the sun has been shining like mad. It has been really quite hot and I'm glad I chose this week to have off work. During my time off, I took a couple of days to visit my friends who live in North Wales. 

First stop on the trip was the delightful village of Betws-y-Coed, which was quite busy because of the nice weather. We chose a nice rock to sit and have lunch on by the river, had a lovely stroll around the little shops and a delicious ice-cream.

We then moved on, via a garden centre in Caernarfon, to the seaside! It was late in the day by this point, so we just had a brief stop at Pensarn beach, by Abergele on the North Wales coast. You can see the off-shore wind farm in the distance. Although it looks cloudy, it isn't really - just a bit hazy.

We took off our sandals and dipped our feet in the (freezing) waves. It was quite nice to feel the sand in-between our toes, until we noticed thousands of little jelly blobs lying on the sand. They weren't very big, about a couple of centimetres, and were clear jelly with a brownish-purple streak inside. We weren't sure what they were, so we were careful not to tread on them in case they stung us. I later googled and think they are sea gooseberries. I'm still not incredibly sure what sea gooseberries are, but never mind. You can see one here that I scooped up on a shell.

We were a bit tired after our trip out, so no time for building sandcastles!

So, that was a little summary of some of the fun I've been having this week. Has anyone else been doing anything nice? I hope you've made the most of the weather - it may be our Summer!

Thistle Girl x

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