How wintry everything looks, and how damp and dreary everywhere is. in spite of the lovely sunny day. There is a brilliant blue sky with white puffy clouds and very little breeze to disturb the trees. But it is cold.
Along the hedges there is little green to be seen apart from the leaves on the blackberry briars, which cling on as the briars stretch out into the fields. Here and there blackthorn has a few yellowing leaves, but other than that the hedges are bare. Along the lane-side tall ash sticks look quite incongruous. I read somewhere the other day that these sticks, if left for a couple of years, make very good walking sticks. Ours will disappear when the hedge-cutter comes round to trim up the laneside - and when that is will depend upon the weather conditions. A heavy tractor going slowly along the hedgeside creates havoc with the grass, so it is best done in hard, frosty weather.
Where a line of mature alders mark out the course of the beck their tops show a deep red in the sunshine - this is the tiny cones which form and if you look closely there are also small catkins - evidence that although the sap is not rising at present, it will do so before too long.
Where our beck goes under the lane and out into the fields on the other side, we stop for Tess to investigate the smell of a stoat, which has just crossed the road in front of us. All the beckside foliage is dead or dying and the beck is still very full of water from the recent heavy rain.
At last we find something in flower - the ivy, which looks so pretty in the afternoon sunshine.
Under the scots pines there are hundreds of fungi, many of them snapped off and upturned from where the dogs have run about. And in the front garden a helleborus argutifolius is just coming into flower with its yellowish-green bells.
Gina on BT blog has a picture of a daffodil in bloom in her garden. Our tete-a-tete daffodils are pushing through optimistically - time and the weather will tell whether they flower early or not
And Dark Lady rose still has one last bloom. I can see her from the kitchen window. I did think of putting her in water on the sill but decided not to - quite rightly as she has lasted a good fortnight and I have had pleasure from looking at her every day.
We are not back from our walk long before visitors arrive and then the farmer returns from his day shooting with his friends. He tells me to go outside with the camera as there is a splendid sunset: How well the skeletal trees show up against that blazing background.
##If you enlarge the bottom picture on the right you may be able to see a pheasant standing in the grass towards the bottom left of the picture. He was, of course, down here to escape the guns.