We met in the car park and we stayed in the car park for quite a long time! The banks near where we left our cars held an enormous array of material, for the lover and student of wild plants.
On the bank in the photo above we identified campion, crosswort, yellow vetchling, stinging nettle, dead nettle, wild garlic, garlic mustard, wood woundwort, cow parsley, giant hogweed - and there were plenty of others we didn't stop to inspect. Most of these plants were not in flower, but there's where the learning process comes in. We couldn't rely on the bloom, we had to check out the shape of the stem (square, round), how the leaves were arranged along the stem, was it hairy or not, and was the plant monocotyledon or dicotyledon? And we didn't even start on the grasses! It was some time before we moved off, to walk along the path to where we hoped the bluebells would be flowering.
At the beginning of the path there was a notice advising the walker to watch out for adders lying on the footpath. April and May is when we might expect to see them. I rather hoped not. I hate snakes. Luckily we didn't come across any, despite some nice warm sunshine which should have lured them out into the open. Phew!
Walking along the path we stopped to look at the two types of primroses, dog violets, pignut, wild angelica, barren strawberry, and common sorrel (which for some unknown reason, I used to call tomato soup when I was a little girl!). Apart from the flowers themselves, I love their names.
There is something incredibly reassuring and peaceful about standing around in a little group, focussing on the minute details and extraordinary design of a minuscule flower or leaf. Examining it closely with an eyeglass, and talking about the family it belongs to, and all its unique and immaculately worked out detail. Designed to ensure its survival and whatever the elements may throw at it. And at no point today was the election mentioned, not once. All those people holding rallies, and rocking around the UK on party political battle buses were just lost and had no place here.
Ah, but, sadly, they should. Over the past weeks, with manifestos being brandished everywhere, words spoken at us, 'promises' made, conflicting figures and statistics chucked at us with the intention of impressing, the politicians and their flunkies, spin doctors and groupies, have made virtually no mention of the environment. They haven't addressed the crucial importance of the balance of nature and why we need to keep the biodiversity of our countryside healthy.
I went on this walk today with a clear mind. Having deliberated, cogitated and digested all the words I have heard over the past weeks, I knew that the only way I can be true to myself is to vote for the Green Party. I reckon if they care about the environment - which unquestionably they do - then they will also care about people. The two have to be inextricably linked. The environment isn't something you just engage with, maybe, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, when you drag yourself and your family out for a walk. The environment is our world. Everything else follows on. So, all this lovely green stuff around me this morning served as an affirmation that I have made the right decision. And anyway, I don't believe in tactical voting. In my view, it is not a democratic vote.
The very cold weather of the last week has not encouraged the bluebells to come out, so there were very few to see. But at least those we did see are our native bluebell. Not the Spanish interlopers.
Our training session over-ran by about an hour, and we could have gone on and on. But there will be another on Saturday. I'm looking forward to that, rather more than all that is going to take place in between times!