"Out of the rain and mist Spring has now risen full-grown, tender and lusty, fragrant, many-coloured, many-voiced, fair to see, so that it is beyond a lover's power to make even an inventory of her lovely ways. She is tall, she is fresh and bold, sweet in her motion and in her tranquillity; and there is a soft down upon her lip as there is a silken edge to the young leaves of the beeches." Edward Thomas ("The South Country").
As we walked through the woods towards Edward Thomas's memorial, we came across this tangle of Old Man's Beard, and WHAT Old Man's Beard! Look at the thickness of those vines. They must be dozens of years old.
Yellow Archangel and Germander Speedwell beside the path.
A tangle of climbing creepers writhed like spaghetti,
and hugged tree-trunks in an embrace.
Ramsons - wild Garlic. I have never seen so many. (See heading picture). There were acres of them.
The pathway led along the top of the hangers. Hanger is the name given to the very steep heavily wooded slopes. It derives from the Old English word hangra, which means steeply wooded slope.
I think this is a Dryad's Saddle Beefsteak fungus (Polyporus squamosus).
A fallen tree stretches new branches parallel to the light, which stripes its fallen trunk.
Then there was a gap in the trees and we had reached Leg of Mutton hill. The view ahead of us was breathtaking, looking out across the fields and woods to the distant Surrey Hills and Sussex Downs . . .
We clambered down the steep hillside to the sarson stone bearing the memorial to Edward Thomas, put there on the centenary of his birth in 1978.
A close up of the plaque with a line of his writing: And I rose up, and knew that I was tired and continued on my journey . . .
We sat for over an hour, just talking, taking in the view and noticing the carpet of wild flowers - Cowslips, Sun Spurge, Speedwell, Bugle, young twiners of Old Man's Beard reaching out for support, blossom on Guilder Rose and Hawthorn. Insects flew from flower to flower - Orange-Tip Butterflies, my favourite Blues (for we were on chalk downland), a Cardinal beetle on the wing, lesser - blacker - insects . . . and a lullaby of birdsong cocooned us from reality.
Flotillas of young Beech leaves danced on the breeze above our heads, peridot green . . .
Hazy in the hot sun, a grand house sunbathes.
A truly magical afternoon I will never forget, made even more special for being in the company of dear friends.