Isn't it strange how places you think you know really well can throw up surprises sometimes? This is the field at the back of our house. It used to be a cow pasture, but over the last ten years, it has been left to go wild. There is so much wildlife here. Barn owls, deer, fox and rabbit, red kites and buzzards. I waded through the nettles and thistles on Sunday to pick some blackberries. It was a beautiful afternoon and I felt like having some solitude as life is quite hectic at the moment, and full of impending changes with my son preparing to go away to university in ten days time. I really enjoyed zoning out of all that, and doing battle with brambles instead.
Almost exactly two years ago, when I came out of hospital in a very weak state after a nasty bout of colitis, I would come into this field every day, pottering around the edges at first, and walking a bit further every day. I always feel very grateful now when I am striding across it in my wellies.
Although the field is in close proximity to our village, this is a wild area where dog walkers don't go. There were rabbits at my feet, and I was just reaching for this bunch of berries, when there was a tremendous crashing in the undergrowth. I wondered what was about to emerge. Well, it was a stag. Honey coloured with a very impressive set of antlers. He was too fast for my camera, as he charged off through the undergrowth. I was quite thrilled, but in my excitement, like Alice I fell down a rabbit hole, sprawled on the ground with my berries held high.
There is outline planning permission on this land. It is supposed to be a green belt area, and it is very marshy too with poor road access. But I have noticed recently that buildings are springing up in all sorts of places where I don't think they should be. I believe that the present government relaxed the planning laws, and I think we are possibly feeling the effects. I'm not a Nimby, and I know we need more houses and agricultural buildings, but it pains me to see the few wild places that are left being eaten away.
Okay, stepping off the soap box, here is my haul, complete with dandelion down on top. They are now residing in a blackberry, apple and almond traybake, recipe from the August issue of Country Living (the recipe is also on the website - thanks Karen :) )