Enjoying the Spring Sunshine

I’ve been struggling with the blog recently. Regular blog subjects, like visiting the beach, eating scones at local cafes and taking part in knit and natter groups have all stopped. I threw myself into some knitting and craft projects, but it didn’t seem the same. I’m not a walker – I use a disability scooter to get about, and have other health issues so I hadn’t been leaving the house. This week I reached the point when it was time to pull myself together and, as the weather was so good, I got the scooter out and joined K on a couple of walks with Buddy, the Labrador. I’m so glad I did.

The little Amelanchier tree in the front garden has finally come in to flower and is looking stunning

As we walked through the village I saw a few rainbows, painted by children and stuck in windows.

There’s also this sign, which has been placed at the entrance to the little garden of remembrance, which is known as Green Hut Corner.

It’s a lovely gesture – the village has applauded loudly for NHS staff and other key workers every Thursday night – there were even fireworks last week!

I enjoyed seeing all the spring flowers. This garden wall was festooned with aubretia.

Here in Shilbottle, the grass verges are full of daffodils in Spring. Until now I hadn’t noticed that some hyacinths had been planted with them in one spot. I wondered if they had originally been indoor ones that someone had planted out after they finished flowering. They had a beautiful fragrance that we could smell as we went past.

There’s a really quiet lane that winds through farmland – we can let Buddy off his lead there. He’s not bad at avoiding other dogs and people if you tell him to “leave” . We met several people out for their daily exercise or walking dogs but all were cheerfully observing distance guidelines. We are lucky to live here where there is the space to get out safely.

One of my favourite spots on this route is a by a gate at the top of a bank- there’s a wonderful view towards the sea from here. It was very hazy on one of my walks this week but yesterday was beautifully clear.

It was good to see the wildflowers in bloom as well as the garden plants. These primroses are one of my favourite signs of spring.

The blackthorn is also in full bloom. We hope that the sloe berries this autumn are as profuse as the flowers – we always make a batch of sloe gin if we can pick sloes. Some years, if there are late frosts that stop the fruit forming, there are none to be found.

Of course the newborn lambs are one of the signs of spring we love to see and there were plenty in the fields.

We doubled back and came back up the hill, stopping for a little while to take in that view again. Buddy seemed to be glad of the break. I had forgotten just how important it is to get our in the fresh air and I felt so much better for it.

On the Coast: Ponies, Eider Ducks and Signs of Spring

We had a drive up the coast today and came across these ponies on Annstead Dunes , a Northumberland Wildlife Trust nature reserve north of Beadnell. This was a small herd of six Exmoor Ponies, one of our native breeds. They were brought here some years ago as part of the reserve’s management plan. Several groups of ponies graze on the course grasses, which allows wildflowers to grow, improving the biodiversity of the site.

The Exmoors are very distinctive: bay with a pale “mealy” muzzle, pale underside and ring around the eye. We catch sight of them regularly when we drive up this stretch of coast, sometimes grazing, sometimes trotting along the dunes in a tight herd. It’s always lovely to see them.

We drove south to Howick, where there is a place to park by the Northumberland Coastal Path. K took the dog for a walk while I looked around to see what I could see and did some knitting.

The sea was quite calm, so conditions were reasonable for spotting whales and dolphins but nothing was about, and not many birds either, just a few gulls and a pair of eider ducks.

You can just make them out as dots on the water: the striking black and white male and the drab brown female. Eiders often mate for life. It’s too early in the for this pair to be breeding yet though.

With nothing else about, I got on with my knitting. I’m still making my socks -it’s a very compact portable project for knitting on the go.

There are some definite signs of spring about. We saw these winter aconites growing under a hedge on our trip out today.

All of a sudden there are clumps of snowdrops everywhere, including these in our garden. We do often get snow in February or even March, so winter will be with us for a while yet, but it always feels positive to see the first flowers of the year.

What is your favourite sign of spring?