A Thousand Unimagined Pleasures

With a little free time yesterday afternoon, I decided to head off in the general direction of the Pepper Pot. I stepped out of the front door to be regaled by this blackbird. He was too busy singing to mind me taking a few photos. In fact he was still there warning off all-comers when I returned just over an hour later. And what an hour it was, packed with interest and incident. This is W.H. Hudson writing about getting to know the South Downs:

No sooner had I begun to walk on and to know and to grow intimate with them than I found they had a thousand unimagined pleasures… – a pleasure for every day and every hour, and for every step, since it was a delight simply to walk on that elastic turf and to breathe that pure air.

W.H. Hudson Nature In Downland

I was intent on Eaves Wood, but I found plenty to distract me before I got there. The verge on the corner of Elmslack Lane was peppered with flowers…

…honesty, forget-me-nots, dandelions, daffodils, celandines and blackthorn nearby in the hedge. Each is beautiful in its own right, but what I enjoyed, and what is much more difficult to capture in a photograph is the overall impression – the total picture formed by the juxtaposition of colours and forms.

Garlic mustard…


…and dandelions…

…were all flowering in the hedge bottoms.

Whilst in the hedge itself new sycamore leaves were unfurling like creased, leathery dragon’s wings…

This is yellow archangel…

…which is a native plant, although this variegated variety must be a garden escapee.

On the drystone wall behind – the tiny flowers of ivy-leaved toadflax…

…which is not native, but which grows without interference or assistance on lots of the drystone walls in the area.

Green alkanet…

…is another naturalised plant, which flourishes on many verges and in tucked away spots…

At the edge of the wood, bluebells…

…beginning to open. The dog mercury is also in flower. Not the most prepossessing of plants, it is however ubiquitous in local woods, and I decided to try to capture its essence for this blog. I took several photos, none particularly successful, but whilst I was messing about, I spotted this specimen on the dog’s mercury…


I was most excited. I received the Collins Complete British Insects for Christmas and here was a first opportunity to use it in anger. Apparently, this is a green shield bug – “unlike any of our other shield bugs”. “This bug usually darkens before hibernation and may be deep bronze in late autumn.”.

He was very agile and I followed him as he began a journey through the dog’s mercury..

Meanwhile the violets have been flowering for a while…

A large and rather haphazard nest  in a tall  and slender tree was penduluming back and forth in the strong breeze.

Intrigued, I abandoned the path and followed a slender trod uphill hoping to get a close look at the nest. In fact I soon lost sight of the nest, but I did find this discarded ready-cooked pancake…

…which was actually some kind of fungus.

Amongst the more mature beeches, little light gets through and the floor is generally carpeted with old beech leaves, here thrown into some relief by the cuckoo pint leaves growing through the leaf litter…

The point in the year when the new beech leaves appear is a special one. For just a few days the leaves are soft, limp and downy. If the sun shines they even shed a lemon light in the woods.

Almost immediately, the leaves begin to darken and toughen up on their journey to becoming the long-lasting brown husks which on saplings and low branches will cling to the branch through an entire winter (known as marcescence apparently). On the full-sized version of this picture the detail of the patterns within the leaves is quite impressive. It’s possible to imagine that somehow the secret structure of the leaves is revealed.

Cuckoo pint flower.

A Thousand Unimagined Pleasures

7 thoughts on “A Thousand Unimagined Pleasures

  1. I like the Hudson quote about ‘a thousand unimagined pleasures’.

    I transplanted a tiny piece of ivy-leaved toadflax from the church wall to the rocky edge of our pond some years ago. Now it’s rampant everywhere.

  2. Looks like a great place to ramble. You have noticed so many different plants and got lovely sharp photos of them. I really must start looking down from time to time. Unfortunately, unlike you, I doubt that I could actually name more than one or two.
    The shield bug is an unusually shaped creature. Last year I had a brown one which stayed a while on a towel on the washing line. They are so small the detail only shows in a photograph.

  3. dragonmage06 says:

    These are all such wonderful pictures, I don’t think I can pick my favorite! I am partial to fuzzy leaves and flowers in general, though, it’s such a neat adaptation. I commiserate with the limits of photography to capture an intense scene, though. There’s just such a difference between seeing the picture and standing there in person.

  4. Great observations. Shield bugs have such colour and texture. The ivy leaved toadflax flower is a character. Your walks seem a bit like mine – as much stopping as walking!

  5. beatingthebounds says:

    Thank you all for stopping by! ‘As much stopping as walking’ is a very fair description Rob. It amuses me to think that a younger me would hate the stop start nature of my walks now and would be chomping at the bit to get going.
    John – I’m learning flower names (and bird songs) slowly, but I’m painfully aware that my ignorance far outstrips my knowledge. Still – it’s the learning that’s the fun!

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