Sunday, 21 June 2009

one midsummer morning

Out and about bright and early, to see how the summer is getting along. The wild cherries are getting perfectly ripe now, and, unusually, there were lots of deep red ones hanging there for the picking when Katie and I went out the evening before; usually the birds get there first. As we were happily picking and eating, a man walked by with his dog. He looked quizzically at us.

"Wild cherries," I explained, and presented him with one.

He stared mistrustfully at it and slowly handed it back.

On this early morning sortie, though, the tree was busy with blackbirds, all tucking in.

Here are the damsons, some of which I shall be steeping in vodka later in the season. Last year's damson vodka was really extremely good...

...and so down to the side of the gorge. I passed the avenue of trees which stretches from Sneyd Park (Bristol's poshest suburb) to Ladies Mile, and along which the Sneyd Park dog walkers promenade. Several dogs hurtled towards each other and started fighting.

"Heah! I said HEAH!!" called a woman in a voice accustomed to command, if not to be obeyed.

(This reminded me of the occasion when I was walking in these parts with my lurcher, long ago. A Range Rover stopped not far off; the driver, accoutred in flat cap, corduroy trousers, Barbour Jacket and Hunter wellies, opened the back door and a couple of labradors came bounding across to say hello, ignoring his fruity and progressively louder admonishment: "Purdey! PURRRDEH!!" (Purdey, if you didn't know, is a posh make of shotgun, and of course the name of the character played by Joanna Lumley in The New Avengers...))

...through the wildlife meadow, with the sound of squabbling dogs and foghorning Sneyd Park matrons receding astern. And I hear a chiffchaff singing, though it is fighting for airspace with the massively amplified music drifting across the gorge from Leigh Woods, where an illicit all-night party is still under way.

At Peregrine Point I meet Mandy Leivers, the Education Officer from Bristol Zoo, setting out leaflets in readiness for a family walk around the Downs.

A heron flies over, high up.

I head for the cafe.

Happy solstice!