Bugwoman on Location – A Cabbage Field in Milborne St Andrew

Heading off on my walk….

Dear Readers, my visit to Mum and Dad was hectic this time – the 60th Anniversary Party is on 21st September, and we needed to decide who was sitting where for the meal. I was expecting this to be a palaver, but we sorted it out very efficiently. We had two guidelines: we weren’t going to ask anyone where they wanted to sit (because experience has taught me that this pretty soon leads to a meltdown) and we were going to try to seat a variety of people on each table so that folk had somebody new to talk to.We have also decided to  accept that we can’t control whether people have a good time or not – we can provide a nice setting, but after that it’s up to the folk involved. I suspect that the party will go swimmingly, but if it doesn’t we can’t have done any more.

And so, after all that, I needed a walk. I headed off, past the church, and through the massive gate posts that lead to Manor Farm. I noted that these are striped with Coade Stone, an artificial stone invented by Eleanor Coade in 1770, and it is renowned for its ability to weather well. It makes a wonderful home for spiders and other small creatures.

And then it was on and over a stile, and into a field so full of young cabbages that there was a faint whiff of school dinners as the sun warmed them up.

The hogweed was still in full bloom. Just look at the number of small pollinators that this one flower head has attracted.

There were still a few bumblebees about, mostly common carders.

As I walked along, it became clear that there was a stream on the left. Great beds of comfrey were in flower, both creamy-white common comfrey and flamboyant pink Russian comfrey.

Common Comfrey





Russian ComfreyThe fallen flowers remind me a bit of the milk teeth that I used to leave under the pillow for the tooth fairy.

I was somewhat less delighted to see the flamboyant flowers of Himalayan (Indian) Balsam. Such a pretty plant, and such an invasive one. This plant loves watercourses of all kinds, and is well established along this stream. Its orchid-like flowers come in shades of deep cerise to palest pink, and they are loved by bees, and I suspect that it will soon be featuring in a Wednesday Weed. People have very strong views about this plant, so I shall have to write it and then duck.

Himalayan balsam

Pale pink Himalayan balsam

At the end of the field, I see a steep, well-trodden path heading down to the water. I find myself in a hidden world, probably used by youngsters eager to escape their parents’ oversight.

Hartstongue fern on the streambank

A calligraphy of roots

Someone plays here, for sure

I see that the stream bed is completely dry, and I realise that I’m looking at a winterbourne – a stream that only runs in the winter. Many of the places around Milborne St Andrew are named for such features – there’s Winterbourne Whitechurch just up the road for instance – but I’d never seen one before.

I go over a stile, and admire the sinous shape of the trees here. And then I realise that it’s nearly time to head home (pancakes for lunch!)

So I walk speedily back up through the cabbages.

I am passed by a happy poodle and a chap with a beautifully  tended beard, who is wearing flipflops. I wonder if hipsterism has come to the village? Has it been ‘discovered’? The pub will be selling skinny macchiatoes next.

The black blob is the poodle

It’s often when I’m in a rush that things happen that bring me to a complete halt. What, for example, is this?

Nothing less than a freshly-emerged, box-fresh peacock butterfly.

There was so much about this insect that it’d never noticed before. There’s the blending of blues and creams and black and russet around the ‘eyes’ on the wings, the stripes on the ‘shoulders’, the hazy, dewy quality to the colours. Truly, I live surrounded by beauty every day of my life and yet I often stride past it, head down, shoulders hunched, on to the next thing. But not today. Today I stopped and was so filled with wonder that everything else went away. What a gift.

As I head back down the hill, I pass the rectory, and notice a fine gathering of rooks in the old tree.

What are they up to, I wonder, with their cawing and their chattering? They must be saying something important, because as I stand there I notice that they are arriving from all sides, a great black feathery spiral pouring out of the sky.

And so I head home to make pancakes, to go with Dad in the car to get some petrol, to look at fridges online and to finalise the table settings, and, much like the rooks, something in my heart has folded its feathers and settled.








15 thoughts on “Bugwoman on Location – A Cabbage Field in Milborne St Andrew

  1. Liz Norbury

    Himalayan balsam is also on the march in Cornwall, and I have mixed feelings about it. What a shame that such a pretty plant is a real threat to surrounding native species.
    My sister and I organised a party for our parents’ 60th wedding anniversary last year. There was a last-minute hitch when we discovered that our seating plan didn’t quite coincide with the way the tables had been set up by the hotel staff – too few chairs on one, too many on another! Apart from that, it all went very well, and 16 months on, Mum still says “Wasn’t it a wonderful party?” I’m sure your parents will also have a lovely time.

    1. Bug Woman

      I know what you mean, Liz….it seems to be such a thug, though. I guess the way that it fires seeds up to ten feet helps with the spreading as well.

      Glad your parents’ party was so enjoyable – it’s what I’m hoping for for the parents as well. And we’re getting there early so that I can head off any problems (in theory 🙂 ). Neither of my parents are very well, so we’re all keeping our fingers crossed that they’re feeling well on the Big Day – I have a feeling that adrenaline and excitement will carry them through. And I’ll be glad to sit down and have a stiff drink when it’s all over!

  2. Jane

    Hope the party all goes off well and that your parents have a great time and lots of happy memories. I am glad you found time for a walk and some peace and relaxation in the countryside as you say there is so much beauty to be found if only we take time to see and appreciate it. I love the idea of one’s “heart folding its feathers and settling” – must remember that when practising mindfulness!

    1. Bug Woman

      Thank you Jane! I shall certainly report back on the proceedings. There’s a garden at the venue, so I may well pop outside for a dose of nature if it all gets too exciting indoors 🙂

  3. Teresa Giddens

    Such a curious-looking butterfly, the peacock. I’ve never seen one before. It’s lovely.

    Looking forward to your account of the party and hoping that everything turns out well. May all the mishaps be small and inconsequential!

  4. Sarah Ann Bronkhorst

    Haven’t heard of Coade stone before and must google it. Do hope you re-read your blogs, months and years later, as they must bring you such a surge of memories.

  5. Toffeeapple

    I did like the analogy in your last phrase.
    I also enjoyed your walk especially the Rooks since I am very fond of Corvids but I don’t see as many Rooks here as I would like. Too many Magpies for my liking.
    Not long to the party now and I am sure that it will all be wonderful.

    1. Bug Woman

      Just off down to Dorset today Toffeeapple (Wednesday). I shall report back! We are all very excited (and Mum and Dad don’t know about their telegram from the Queen yet, either 🙂 )

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