What an excellent coincidence - a week off timed with fabulous weather! I had a lot to pack in, but think I did rather well.
The weekend was a jam-packed series of social events, featuring a beautiful walk along the Wilts and Berks Canal from Melksham to Seend for lunch at The Barge Inn. The blackthorn blossom was out, the birds were singing, orange-tip butterflies were on the wing, and we were heading towards lunch - idyllic!
Then, on Monday, with the sun still shining, I headed off to Fritham for a walk with a friend. Deep in the New Forest, it is a hub for various routes through ancient woodland and heathland, with some particularly gnarly old trees along our path.
In the afternoon, we headed up into Harewood Forest. It's a large area of mixed ancient woodland and plantation - not a SSSI, it is largely carved up into blocks and narrow strips of woodland bordering arable fields. Nevertheless, pockets of wildflowers remain, although it was interesting to see these bluebells were much further behind than at Garston. There was also evidence of hybridising with the non-native Spanish bluebell - these are the familiar ones in gardens, taller stems, wider leaves, no scent, flowers not drooping on one side, and blue pollen. On our way back I did see my first swallows of the year - a couple perched in a tree looking a bit knackered, unsurprisingly given their mammoth journey from Africa! And again, on our way back we had a fabulous view of another red kite - they seem to be everywhere at the moment. What a brilliant story of recovery.