But the photo was taken yesterday and today, as I write this, it’s raining, Ramsey Island has disappeared into the mist, the St David’s lifeboat just launched and I hope no-one’s in trouble out there because the sea is fierce in a brisk SW wind.
The idea was to take a break from the allotment, and so we watered thoroughly on Sunday afternoon and set out first thing Monday morning to come to the most westerly point in Wales. I’ve got bit of a thing about West. I’ll compromise with Devon and Cornwall which are South West, but North and East don’t do it for me. This is a favourite campsite, not least because the wildlife is so rich. In fact the gauntlet was thrown down as we parked when I spotted a whole group of Woundworts growing three feet away. I’ve still yet to find Betony, and yet the plants in question shared the leaf shape but that made it most likely taht they were/are Marsh Woundwort. It’s taken 48 hours to establish that this apparently dry hedgerow is actually quite wet at times, wet enough to support several specialist plants.
I’ll just check out the plants in front of the van.
The road to hell being paved with good intentions I thought I’d make a start with the grasses – principally because I’m not very good at them and since they’re ubiquitous it would immediately up my success rate. This is one everyone will recognise – it’s the grass that you pull the seeds off between thumb and finger when you’re a child, and it’s called False Oat Grass – Arrhenatherum elatius – and when I pulled a bit up because I was curious about how it spreads I discovered these beautiful bulbules at the root. Of course five grasses in and my appetite was well and truly whetted and so I started listing all the plants in the hedge – which brought it up to 32 before Madame threatened to throttle me.
Since it was raining when we got up, I was searching out my waterproof jacket to pack, and I discovered my favourite pen inside the lining. I lost it three weeks ago and it’s been bugging me. Quick confession time, my obsessive traits don’t end with gardening and botany. I’ve also had a lifelong thing about stationery and I reckon I have the perfect tools for field botany, bird/butterfly watching, and shopping lists. The pen is called a Space Pen – designed for US astronauts, and writes upside down in rain or snow and at any temperature. It even writes underwater. The notebook is another American invention called “Rite in the rain” and I particularly like the 973T size and the combination means I can take notes at any time regardless of the weather.
And so today when we went for a walk I had a bit of a spring in my step and managed to get the total number of identified plants up to over sixty. It might go up or down when I finish double checking tomorrow – I had no idea there was more than one Hedge Bindweed because I’ve never really looked at them that closely before. I have to go back and check whether the epicalyx overlaps ……. I told you I was obsessive. Back at the van I double checked and then filled in a County record card for the first time in my life. There are probably over a thousand plants this county, but to have found 6% of them in one day feels like an achievement.
I didn’t photograph what, for me, was the highlight of the day – a very small pink umbel of Upright Hedge Parsley peeping through the gorse, neither the Smith’s Pepperwort which I’d never even heard of, but I like the mundane just as much. Here’s some Water Mint and, on the right, part of an enormous flock of sheep a farmer was moving to another field. He had three dogs working and he simply put them into the field and let them gather the sheep and and take them into a lane without uttering a single command. It was magical to watch, just as it was thrilling to see Cormorants diving in Ramsey Sound. The sky has finally cleared and the sun is dazzling across the water.