Tag Archives: swans


Well, it has been a long time since the last blog post. So long, in fact, that one of my oldest friends, who lives in the USA, emailed me last weekend to ask if I was still alive! Shamed by my lack of diligence I scrambled for excuses: I had spent a hefty part of March/April working 12-hour days 7 days a week on a project in London. We have had family visiting before the house fills with summer guests….. and, and, and. And so, too tired and lacking in enthusiasm when I wasn’t too tired, the blog fell by the wayside, along with about half a stone, which seems to have melted off me over the last few months.

My stint in London left me wondering how I used to whip through full days of work without batting an eyelid. True, I hadn’t commuted to work for 26 years or more, and that’s no fun. But it was only a year ago that I started my day at 5am and finished at 6pm, or thereabouts. Clearly, I must whip myself into shape!

So, what has happened in the last 2 months? Spring has sprung, that’s for sure. I returned from London to find pollen coating everything. It reminded me of the chalk dust we used to rub from the blackboards at school, collecting in thick yellow rills along the quai-sides and gutters after rain. The birds and bees have started doing birds and bees stuff. For a while tiny eggshells garnished the pavements as sparrows hatched in their nests in trees and the eaves of buildings. That first rush is over, and now the swans and ducks are starting on their annual courting rituals and the swifts and house martins have returned from southern climes to nest. The lonely cygnet of 2 years ago returned to the riverbank opposite. He is still alone, and was recently hounded out of town by a mating pair. The turf war was fascinating to watch, and we were reminded of just how aggressive swans can be. Looks can be very deceiving!

I have enjoyed watching new life flourish in the hedgerows and along the towpaths too. March saw carpets of tiny wild violets in both purple and white spangling the ground and scenting the air along with miniature hyacinths and primroses, while catkins and pussy-willow, apple and cherry blossom have scattered petals and pollen from on high. Bright yellow sticks of forsythia stood out from the greyness of bare twigs and dull winter-green grass.

wild hyacinth
Tiny wild hyacinth

These were followed by wisteria. I have developed a bad case of wisteria envy. I covet a lush vine dripping with tender lilac blooms. A couple of weeks ago, when the wisteria was at its best, Ian and I were walking along the quais in the later afternoon sun. We passed beneath an old wisteria vine and stood sniffing the lovely scent of the flowers, and I realised that we must have looked like the kids from the old Bisto adverts, noses tilted appreciatively in the air! Ian kindly gave me a bag of seed pods he has collected, so now I must see if I can get any to grow.  The down-side is that I have read that it takes 20 years for wisteria to flower.  I don’t think that I’m that patient!

Now flag irises and calla lilies have replaced the violets along the towpaths, and the roses are in bloom.  I have only recently realised how much I enjoy flowers, and how happy they make me.  Not the cultivated varieties, but the wild ones, although I won’t turn down a bunch of stargazer lilies or harlequin tulips if they’re offered!  No, it is seeing the first hints of what is to appear in the verges, followed by the flourish of seasonal splendour tied with the fragility of so many wild flowers, such as poppies, cornflowers, and cosmos that I adore.  These are things that can’t be recreated in pots on the terrace.

What are your favourite flowers, and why?