Pertichor: a phenomenon rare in Britain.
Through the protracted summer heat-wave I longed for rain. Impossible to imagine how farmers felt, watching their crops wither and die for lack of rain. Their cattle being given winter feed because the grass did not grow. Temperatures were still high when the rain came. I opened the windows and relished the sounds of a heavy shower. And from the garden there arose a fragrance, not simply cool refreshing rain but something unusual.
Pertichor: a phenomenon rare in Britain.
Home Secretary Julia Montague is assigned a bodyguard, Sgt David Budd. The calibre of ‘Bodyguard’ is breath-taking. Jed Mercurio’s drama drives fast and clean through terrorist plots and at high velocity through rivalries, power-seeking and machinations within government. There are threats all around. There’s subterfuge and ambiguity, but a powerful narrative arc cuts through it all. Whom do we trust? Not Anne Sampson, the Head of Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, played by Gina McKee. Did she deliberately withhold back-up when Julia Montague’s vehicle came under fire in an assassination attempt? Montagu believes so.
Heavy rain overnight and grasses drenched, but there are Scotch Argus on Kendal Fell and if the sun can break through cloud we should see them.
Here, a golf course is managed in harmony with conservation. Steep and rough ground is managed for flora, and so for butterflies. It's late in the season and buddleia flowers are past their best, but we see their butterfly potential. There's knapweed and thistles that offer nectar. And we head for an area of blue moor grass on the limestone, favoured by Scotch Argus.
The sway of Roudsea Wood gradually took hold. After rain, there was a freshness of almost autumn on the air. And a hint of the sea as the River Leven debouches into Greenodd Sands and out into Morecambe Bay.
Glossy scarlet berries of glowed from the woodland floor. Arumn maculatum, Cuckoo pint, Lords and Ladies- some plants have a profusion of names. Others, like tiny fungi rising on slender deep-red stipes from the leaf litter, are more elusive. Their abundance hints at their mycelium, a spreading network of threads hidden in the earth. A connectivity of trees and fungi.
A fresh approach to Smardale. From Ravenstonedale, we walked north beside Scandal Beck sounding loud after rain. Walking its muddy banks was a novelty this summer. Smardale Gill opened up before us: limestone quarry on its western flank and the viaduct soaring high above the beck. A fresh perspective on Smardale packhorse bridge and the dismantled railway track. The skies were louring and cloudy, so butterflies seemed unlikely.
Heavy rain at breakfast, thunder at tea-time. The morning was humid and still, with rain drops lingering on vegetation. There was time to appreciate different aspects of Smardale Gill National Nature Reserve as we walked the dismantled railway track. Vistas opened up toward Scandal Beck and Smardale packhorse bridge and the sun grew brighter. There are diverse flowers and with the sun came butterflies. We had a range of species, with good sightings of Scotch Argus and painted ladies.
Nature has regenerated along a dismantled railway track, now Smardale National Nature Reserve. Embankments topped with flowers, rank in August, bedraggled after a searing heat-wave and early morning rain. Greater burnet with petals a rich atro-purpurea, so dark and dense they might be mistaken for seed-heads. Mingling by turns with tall scabious, with purple knapweed, with rosebay willowherb and greater willowherb.
Fair-weather cumulus, promised Tomasz Shaferfnaker. And here it was. Patterns of cumulus and sunlit mist over the River Kent, and toward the horizon. Lured by the beauty of cloudscape, I set out for Scout Scar. The air was still and humid and mist soon engulfed me. Trees revenant, nothing for sure. Impossible to tell if I were alone up there. A cough sounded and a couple of collies leapt out of the mist, and away. The Mushroom Shelter toposcope was useless- no fells to name. A pale sun peeped from beyond the mist, and slipped away again. It was late morning before the grand reveal.
The last week-end of July saw a break in the heat-wave, with days of steady rain. Cloud filtered sunlight, with a breeze to invigorate us on the first day of August. Seed-heads of bluebells in the woods above Barbon Beck, its waters low but flowing. A joy to hear the sounds of water in a landscape. Rowan berries ripen and heather comes into bloom. Sphagnum moss has soaked up rain and rehydrated, no longer looking distressed. A pleasant temperature for walking. And that’s news! Talking of weather is not banal, not inconsequential. This coming week-end, Spain and Portugal may reach almost 50 degrees.
Jan Wiltshire is a nature writer living in Cumbria. She also explores islands and coast and the wildlife experience. (See Home and My Books.)