My morning on Cunswick Fell came to grief when I met the dog Charlie. I’d tried to avoid him. I heard the woman calling and calling and the dog ignored her. So I kept clear and waited for them to move on.' He won’t do as he’s told,' she said. 'Beautiful day', I replied, wishing them away. When I thought they had gone I knelt in the grass to photograph early purple orchids, taking off my sunglasses and placing them by my knees. I was focused on orchids when Charlie came bounding in and snatched my sunglasses and ran off, chomping.
I write to share the wildlife experience and the fun of finding things. I hope you’ll feel as if you are there. My part is to be a listener, eager to learn what matters to you. It’s a dialogue because we all share the countryside, the discovery and the sense of wonder. So, listener and guide, that’s my role whether I’m writing a book or a blog.
The first cuckoo of spring is always reported in The Times newspaper. The letter announcing its arrival is a well-loved tradition. It's a sharing of the good news, and it is competitive. It's never going to be me. The challenge I set myself if to find cuckoo every spring on Helsington Barrows and Scout Scar: to find the bird for myself, to hear it, see it and photograph it. Because you get the feeling some people think you're making it up. Yesterday, when I called cuckoo at Barbon (calling a bird is the technical term meaning you've heard or seen it) I could see the disbelief on five faces around me.
Looking at the ruin of Pendragon Castle, I try to picture the scene when Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, claimed her inheritance in 1649. She had left her estranged husband and his grand houses in London and his country seat at Wilton House near Salisbury and headed north. Her aristocratic, landowning friends in the south must have been bewildered by her decision . Where is Pendragon Castle? Why go north?
Jan Wiltshire is a nature writer living in Cumbria. She also explores islands and coast and the wildlife experience. (See Home and My Books.)