toadstool on chippingsThat Late Summer Look

Thursday, 18th August 2005

earthball type fungusfungus on loghoney fungus on logThe warmth and wet have brought out the fungi: honey fungus on a log by the woodland path, a pale toadstool on a pile of wood chippings and some earthball type fungi, broken at the top, puffing out brown spores.

rosebay straw rollsThere's a look of late summer about the countryside. I feel as if I've been away too long, stuck by my computer, working on my book. Things have moved on; the slope beyond the canal is dotted with rolls of straw, there are tall spikes of rosebay willowherb by the towpath and the blackberries are starting to ripen.

cyclistI realise how much I've missed walks, not just the natural history but the pleasures of moving through a landscape; the way the view opens up as we walk down the Balk, with the towers of distant power stations far over to the east, towards the Vale of York and the Humber. A reminder that there is life beyond the desktop.

And I like the little incidents that punctuate the walk: the tatooed cyclist and his friends who make their way along the towpath, pausing every few hundred yards to cast a line.

jack russelAnd the little Jack Russel who is friendly to every angler, walker and passing dog he meets. He, and his owner, are walking along a short distance in front of us. When he gets to the Bingley Arms, the canal-side pub, another almost identical Jack Russel comes out to meet him.

'I hope you've counted the spots,' I say to the owner, 'and you take home the right one.'

'They're friendly so far, but that could soon change,' he says. Next Page

Richard Bell,