Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Devon in June

There is nothing I know more like heaven than walking through Devon footpaths and country lanes on a warm breezy day in mid-June.  I took some photos and videos this morning as I walked down to Uffculme.

My mother asked me to count the female alpaca herd on the way.  They will soon number 23 and she wanted me to check that hadn't happened yet.  Here they all are having come down to meet me in the race, a long thin field which provides access to a lot of other fields:
Beth is indicating pretty strongly that it would be a good idea if I opened the gate and let them all into the adjacent field, where the grass is long and plentiful, since they have been in the lower field at the far end of the race for a couple of weeks now. I saw Beth being born -- she was actually the first alpaca born at ours -- and she was bolshy from the start. Now she's herd matriarch. I told her she'd have to take it up with my mum.

These fields are badger territory, crossed with lots of badger tracks and full of little holes they've started digging and then abandoned. I took some video of one of the tracks:

Beth was not that impressed by my attitude concerning the field.

Here is the hidden cost of beer festivals:
This was the field my parents lent for the parking. It's not as bad as it could be, but it's still going to take some time to recover. And here's a view back down the hill. The field with the pinkish tinge is the one Beth's so keen to get into.
You can see her point.  Actually I expect my mother will let them in there sometime this week.

The footpath to Uffculme goes through one of the fields my parents are keeping back for hay.  Everyone's been moaning about the dry weather, and what will the animals eat this winter, etc, but actually it looks pretty good to my ignorant eyes.  It was very beautiful waving in the wind so I tried to video it.  I'm afraid you'll have to forgive the noises the wind makes on my camera's microphone, and also that Youtube doesn't always play these things back very well:

This is everyone's favourite tree.  A lot of people consider sycamores to be weeds because they're hard to get rid of, but even those people love this tree.  There's a photo of it in the pub.  It's not unusual, it's just a really really good tree. 
Sometimes I worry that we're all too fond of this tree.

Down Corks Hill the hedges on either side of the lane are even taller than in most places, about nine feet high instead of about six.  Here's some cow parsley with bees, seen just as it looked as I walked underneath it.
The smell on Corks Hill was particularly ripe, a mixture of cow dung and meadowsweet, with a hint of a dead creature which I came across liquefying on the tarmac halfway down.  That's the countryside for you -- everything's very alive except for the things that are dead and even those are alive just in an unpleasant way.

Here are some ducks napping by the side of the river Culm, just at the edge of Uffculme.
The Culm joins the Exe further down.

Actually today was my birthday so I made like the Culm and headed into Exeter (only by bus not by flowing). I had lunch at Strada because it's a place where sometimes it's a bit like eating in Italy. Every now and then I miss Italy quite intensely for a moment but I'm rather ashamed of this because it's always to do with food, and even when I try to think of something non-food-related that I might miss my thoughts end up wandering back to some amazing aperitivo or fantastic little biscuits.


  1. Happy birthday! Sounds pretty perfect, even down to Strada - hope you had a glass of something pink and fizzy.

  2. Happy belated birthday! :) :) Hope to see you soon in Cambridge....? S x