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Sunday, 1 April 2012

It seems I have a pretty busy week coming up. I still have to go through four more Mike Pannett books listing locations to be photographed for the coffee-table book; and I have to get serious about the Nebraska e-book, which should be ready to be  launched into the ether (or is it cyber-space?) over Easter. I need to decide once and for all on a cover illustration, a blurb, an author profile, a marketing strategy…. Then there’s the small matter of a title, over which I am still dithering. However, that’s for the coming week. Right now it’s Sunday, and despite the dire warnings from the weather forecasters we have had another day of glorious spring sunshine, albeit one with significantly lower temperatures than of late. So, a quick Nature ramble, and a lot of pictures….

We got out for a short walk this morning, a gentle affair with A’s grandson in his buggy (stroller). Yes, I am still being kind to the young fellow, even though I am sure he gave me this cold.

We walked across the disused railway line, down a steep slope to cross the Browney, a narrow, gentle little river that rises in the hills west of here and joins the Wear south of Durham. The bridge over which we cross it is just a few hundred yards from the main east coast railway line (London to Edinburgh), but it’s a delightfully quiet spot, bordered on one side by woods, on the other by a sloping cornfield, its banks covered in a mass of butter-burr at this time of year.


After you’ve crossed the little bridge, there’s a narrow path that climbs alongside the field, a dense overgrown hedge on one side, a boundary fence on the other. Each stout post is home to its own colony of lichen and mosses, and in close-up looks like a miniature garden.


The trees are still a little way off coming into leaf, but in sheltered spots, down at the base of this sycamore, for example, a few buds have opened…


...and not far away I came across this young oak that had put out a few leaves.


We’ve all enjoyed the mild winter - certainly in terms of reduced heating bills - but there’s always a downside to unseasonal weather. I don’t know whether it’s true, but we like to think that a good hard frost kills off a lot of garden pests (and cold germs). I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of this sycamore bud. I don’t believe I have ever seen aphids so active at this time of year, and have to take this as a sign of problems to come. I shall hope that the snow showers we are promised, later in the week, will slow them down.


On a brighter note, the wood anemones are out…


…. as are the maple flowers. 


I never know what my readers think of these ruminations on the flora of Britain. I receive so few comments. But then I am no wiser as to whether they (you) are remotely interested in the musings of a writer, or a football fan. I started this blog when I went out to Nebraska a year ago, and for six months that was what it was about: Nebraska. I’ve read a number of articles about blogging, and they all seem to suggest that a person should get to know his readers, focus on a particular subject. In other words, do what they tell all writers to do, and study that darned market. I’m afraid I find the idea very dreary indeed. I am fortunate that the books I write currently seem to suit the market, and the royalties ought to keep me in bread and jam until my state pension kicks in in a couple of years. So, within this context, I allow myself the luxury of writing about whatever I fancy. If that is not to everybody’s liking, I apologise. But I don’t think I’m gong to change. I can get very enthused about football, or cricket, or western travel, or wildflowers, or beer, cycling, cooking, hiking, literature, cinema (mid-1930s to mid-1980s), camping out sous la belle etoile … and I can converse or write about any of this subjects at some length. But stick to one and make a writing career of it? Sounds like hard work to me.

Right. Monday: it’s but a few hours away. I shall gird my loins and prepare to face it like a  man - after feasting my eyes one more time on this blackthorn thicket.