Tuesday, 5 May 2015

We see astounding bluebells at Foxley Wood and stock up on culture for May

There was rain here overnight and this morning, plus strong winds that
Bluebells and bracken curls at
Foxley Wood 
made the taking down of our awning quite entertaining. We only nearly had it blow away once! Both the zips on one of the doors are completely knackered though so I spent an hour or so yesterday evening sewing the door panels closed on one side. The rest of it is ok, so we still have three more doors to wear out before we will have to splash out on a new one. Hopefully it will last until summer's end because I have a theory that new ones will be discounted more significantly in September.

Yesterday morning was bright and sunny so we cycled out from our campsite on a pretty route, devised by Dave, which took in several local villages, a short stretch of National Cycle Route 1 and finished up by returning along The Marriott's Way practically to our gate. This photograph shows a view of our campsite, The Siding, from The Marriott's Way just at the point where we left it. Chatting to owner Tim a couple of days ago, we were both interested to learn that his father had been the Station Master here in the 1960s before the Beeching cuts closed the line. Tim can remember exactly how the station used to be and it sounded like it had taken a lot of work - and hardcore - to transform The Siding into the beautiful place it now is.

The Siding from The Marriott's Way 

I finally got around to taking a couple of nice photographs of rape fields yesterday. There are so many around here that are in full flower at the moment that I think those bright yellow expanses will be my abiding memory of North Norfolk.

Beautiful yellow rape flowers in North Norfolk 
Lunch over, we decided to visit another of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserves, this one being the closest to us and very different from Hickling Broad. Foxley Wood is an ancient - 6000 year old - deciduous woodland that covers 123 hectares. There are small car parks off the entrance road, but it looked like everyone else had chosen yesterday to visit as well because we had to join lots of other cars out on the roadside. Once parked up, several paths lead around so the site wasn't crowded and we were able to appreciate our peaceful environment.
Bluebells are the main attraction at this time year and the carpets between the trees are unbelievably beautiful, almost ethereal. There is a delicate aroma in the air too and butterflies attracted to the flowers. This cabbage white stooped to drink nectar close enough to my camera. We also saw tortoiseshells, peacocks and orange tips.

Cabbage white butterfly on a bluebell 
We could hear birdsong almost continuously, but didn't see any birds closely enough to identify them. Several different flowers caught our eyes though including swathes of yellow celandine, white wood anemones and these gorgeous purple plants which look like a type of hyacinth to me but I haven't identified them yet.

The bracken curls pictured at the very beginning of this post gave the area a primordial feel. I think I know that they are one of the earliest plants? Triffids sprang to my mind and we joked that they might suddenly uncurl to grab us!

We are moving on again on Thursday. A few days exploring Lincoln will be followed by the rest of May in Hope in the Peak District. Hope-related puns will probably be mostly directed at the weather because Dave has printed lots of pages of Ordnance Survey walking maps from his special software. We have also lined ourselves up with no less than three cultural nights one - a play and two Americana gigs. NTlive emailed about their next broadcast which is Ralph Fiennes in Man And Superman by George Bernard Shaw. Coincidentally, we recently saw him in a very different role when we watched The Grand Budapest Hotel in Stratford. Our nearest Man And Superman broadcast is Tideswell Cinema which looks to be in the upstairs room of The George Hotel in Tideswell. Possibly a bring-your-own-cushion type venue? Then two gigs within four days, both at The Greystones in Sheffield. Our Chris Smither tickets have been booked for a while, then yesterday we saw that Slaid Cleaves is playing there too. And he's bringing Scrappy Jud Newcomb who we saw playing at the Saxon Pub last time we visited Austin. I whinged on Slaid's facebook page a year or so ago that he was touring the US with Scrappy Jud but not bringing him to Europe. Now he is!

After Hope, we have a few nights booked just outside York and then two weeks on the North York Moors. York's Railway Museum has been highly recommended to us and we'll no doubt spend hours just walking the city. Other 'must-see' tips welcome so please comment below if you know the area! In the meantime, I'll leave you with some more bluebells ...

Bluebell fairy path leads away through Foxley Wood 

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