The seasons beautys

April so far has been a lovely month, and although there is still a chill in the air, it’s lovely to walk round with bare arms and bare legs and in sandals and shorts. In our little village, the bluebell field is more glorious than ever, I can’t remember seeing it so blue, so very blue, with just a dappling of cowslips and late primroses. My featured photo is from last year, by the way!

It’s poetry month, so more from John Clare’s Shepherd’s Calendar:

The seasons beautys all are thine
That visit with the year
Beautys that poets think divine
And all delight to hear
Thy latter days a pleasure brings
That gladden every heart
Pleasures that come like lovley things
But like to shades depart

Thy opend leaves and ripend buds
The cuckoo makes his choice
And shepherds in thy greening woods
First hears the cheering voice
And to thy ripend blooming bowers
The nightingale belongs
And singing to thy parting hours
Keeps night awake with songs

With thee the swallow dares to come
And primes his sutty wings
And urgd to seek their yearly home
Thy suns the Martin brings
And lovley month be leisure mine
Thy yearly mate to be
Tho may day scenes may brighter shine
Their birth belongs to thee

The Bluebell Field… full of bluebells!

As you come into our little village of Uphill from our neighbouring town of Weston-super-Mare, just a mile or so away, you pass by a small wooded area called the Plantation. It is quite undulating, maybe early sea defences built by the Romans, maybe part of a dyke and drainage system built by monks from Glastonbury Abbey; whatever its history, the little wood with its winding paths among the broad-leaved trees and the ups and downs, bumps and lumps, dips and strange channels, is a favourite place for children and dog walkers.

Once you pass the Plantation, you come to a lovely meadow, surrounded by low cast iron railings; in the spring time a succession of wild flowers cause passers by to stop and look or, like us, take photos. First come the snowdrops, then the crocuses, then buttercups and aconites, and then there is a dark shimmer on the grass which becomes bluer and bluer until all is revealed – bluebells! Thousands of bluebells, made bluer by the lovely cowslips growing among them.

donkey field april 2016 (15)

This is the Bluebell Field… I read somewhere it is also called the Snowdrop Field, well, I’ve never heard it called that, but I do know it is also called the Donkey Field. Apparently the ‘lord of the manor’ had a little donkey which pulled a cart round  the Knyfton estate; he was Thomas Tutton Knyfton – the self-styled lord of the manor that is, not the donkey – I don’t know what the donkey was called! All the passers-by and villagers petted the donkey, and when he died he was buried somewhere in the field. It’s also thought that other donkeys, those which had worked giving rides on the beach wintered in the field, but I’m not sure that is true. As part of the management of the Bluebell Field, sheep and cattle graze in the summer – last year we had some lovely little Dexters who, when they arrived, were hidden by the long grass. It didn’t take them long to eat it down to hoof height!

donkey field april 2016 (19)

Weston’s donkeys

Many holiday makers and day-trippers coming to Weston-super-Mare look forward to seeing the famous donkeys on the beach. They are brought each morning in horse boxes which drive down onto the sand and then they are unloaded with bales of hay and buckets of water for the children to come for rides. Some donkeys, and ponies, pull little carts and carriages; in the summer if we’re going to the shop or on some other mission it is quite common to be slowed down behind a donkey or pony and carriage, trotting down to the beach.

Donkeys have been here on the beach of what is now Weston Bay, what was Glentworth Bay, for over two hundred years. They weren’t always just for riding, in early times thy would leave the beach with their carriages and take visitors on a ride round the burgeoning town and out to the local villages. This was decades before the first railways came to Weston in 1841; the first trains on that railway left their engines outside the town and the carriages were pulled in by horses as the townsfolk objected to the noise!

Obviously donkey rides are summer activities, but if there is pleasant weather over the winter, at weekends a few donkeys might be brought to the beach for the day-trippers who mostly come from south Wales, the Black Country and the Midlands. In the past, donkeys were valuable animals, and used as pack beasts when they weren’t on the beach. Some were taken to the coast of south Somerset and Devon to carry seaweed harvested from the beaches.

As you enter our village, Uphill, south of Weston, there is a lovely meadow which is full of spring flowers from January onwards; it is called the Bluebell Field, but also the Donkey Field. Local legends say that the beach donkeys lived there during the winter, however it is more likely that there was a single pet donkey who lived there, and was buried there when he died.

2015 APRIL 23 (3)The Donkey Field this year

Candles in the Donkey Field

I wrote last week about a lovely little meadow, the Donkey Field or Bluebell Field, in our village which from late January onwards is just a delightful carpet of spring flowers. There are also some magnificent trees, which please the eye through every season. Now it is spring and they are bursting into leaf; because there are different specimens there is a continual show of new green from late winter to early summer. From time to time through age or weather there are casualties, and a little while ago a magnificent chestnut had to be felled as it was rotting from the inside. Fortunately a new little tree was planted and this spring it’s showing off its candles – the long white blossom spikes which will develop into horse chestnuts, ‘conker’ for fun and games in the playground.

The Donkey Field

In our village of Uphill we have a meadow which you pass as you enter the village; it’s called the Donkey Field, because donkeys used to graze there, but it is also called the Bluebell Field, and the reason is obvious! The meadow is now managed by the Woodland trust, a charity which cares for trees, woodlands and forests. Occasionally there are a few cattle put in there to graze, and sometimes a few sheep, to ‘manage’ the grass ad keep the brambles and docks at bay.

In the spring there is a procession of flowers blooming, first the snowdrops, then the primroses and crocuses, then the daffodils, and now it is the bluebells and cowslips. As I photographed it today I was struck by the number of wild flowers I could see, just in a brief survey; daisies, buttercups, dandelions, errant primulas, whitebells as well as the blue, wild geraniums, cow parsley, celandines… and they were just the ones I was able to see and identify.

DSCF6651 A carpet of bluebellsDSCF6658 The old railings keep everyone out so all canenjoy!DSCF6632 Cowslips smell divineDSCF6638