It's been a bit of a whirlwind of socialising, of course, always featuring the Great Outdoors!
Last Friday I introduced a good friend of mine (and her one year old in a push chair) to Martin Down - I should be getting commission on the advocacy of the place! Although a bit overcast and with ominous clouds gathering, the light seemed to pick out the mass of colour in the 'purple season' that is upon us. I'm not quite sure why this is, but it also follows the 'yellow season' - cowslips, hawkbits and yellow rattle give way to knapweed, scabious and harebell, and with them come the butterflies such as dark green fritillaries and marbled whites. The Down is looking absolutely stunning this year, so made an excellent impression on my friend - she can now understand why I keep raving on about the place! We encountered a trio of intrepid mobility-scooterers, who had negotiated their way through the rutted tracks to the very top of the reserve - admirable that they wouldn't let decreased accessibility get in the way of a good view!
I also spent a day out on the Dorset Heaths, on a mini tour around the outskirts of Poole, hearing about the restoration work to sites, through hard negotiation with landowners, the complex politics and history, and how they join up on a landscape-scale. Some of the sites had good heather growth in under 5 years - quite staggering, and a testament to the resilience of the natural environment, if given the right conditions. This year seems to be particularly good for the heather, with a vibrant swathe of the different purple tones of bell heather and common heather.