Bugwoman on Location – A Damp Birthday in Somerset

Dear Readers, last Saturday was my 58th birthday and I would very much like to know where the past twenty years have gone. It seems as if everything has speeded up , the days whizzing past like hailstones, and no sooner have I put the Christmas decorations away than it’s time to put them up again. But I do have a secret for helping time to slow down, and it’s this. Walk along a country lane very slowly on a damp day, and exercise your five senses to their utmost.

It helps if you are witnessed by a lone magpie, who chucks away at the top of a tree without ever launching into a full cackle.

And it also helps if there are hazel catkins about, and if they are sulphur yellow and shell pink. Perhaps some are fully open, exposing their pollen to the breeze, while some are still emerging and are tight speckled sausages.

The hedgerows are full of chirruping birds, and occasionally one stops on the top of a twig to survey the scene, like this great tit, before flying off in a flurry.

And while you’re standing there, you notice the small, damp world created by moss on a dead branch.

There is a new robin singing every fifty feet, defending their tight territory.


The snowdrops are already out in the small field by the stream.

The lane is alive with harts tongue and male ferns, giving the feel of a temperate rain forest.

The wild garlic is already showing through with its shiny green leaves.

Some long-tailed tits are feeding from a peanut feeder hanging over the fence, until seen off by a robin.

A female blackbird is harvesting worms, an easier job when the weather is damp.

And the snowberry still goes unmolested, as if the birds are working their way through the berries from black to white.


Ivy berries

And here, of course, is a splendid horse. He was in the mood for a chat, but I sense he would much rather be trotting up the lane.

The rooks are building and repairing their nests, and chatting amongst themselves. Like so many country birds, they take off as soon as I raise my camera.

The stream is high, so it’s over the bridge for me….

And look, the sun popped out for a few minutes, warming up all the colours.

Back in Aunt Hilary’s garden, there were naturalised cyclamen and snowdrops everywhere.

And, as the rain came in again, pure white periwinkles glowed at the base of the shrubs.

I think that I’ve noticed more in the past hour than I have in the previous seven days combined. It’s so easy for me to live in my head, thinking about the past, planning for the future, without ever paying attention to what’s actually going on. Creating this blog  reminds me that wherever I am, there is always something interesting going on if I just open up to it. And if life is richer, time seems to go more slowly, which is one explanation for why the days seem so long when we’re children – every thing that we see and do is filled with novelty, and piques our interest. There’s much to be said for spending at least part of every day in a state of ‘beginner’s mind’, as if everything is new. Because, in a way, it is.





22 thoughts on “Bugwoman on Location – A Damp Birthday in Somerset

      1. tonytomeo

        Was it planted? It seems like an odd species to plant. I got rid of most of mine where it was sparse, but kept the best part of the patch because I sort of like the white berries.

      2. Bug Woman

        It was originally introduced as cover for pheasants and other game birds, and kind of escaped (as plants do….) plus some folk plant it as an ornamental. It is a striking plant, but I’m afraid the berries always remind me of lard.

  1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    Many happy returns for last Saturday! (Another week gone already!) You are absolutely right that time seems to fly by much quicker as you get older. So that’s all the more reason to stop and look and enjoy your surroundings. A lovely post as usual. 🙂

    1. Bug Woman

      You’ll be skipping around like a good un’ soon, I know! Glad you enjoyed the walk. I spend time getting muddy and soaked so other people don’t need to 🙂

  2. Fran and Bobby Freelove

    You’re quite right, there is always something interesting to see every day.This week alone we’ve noticed how the bluebell leaves are showing through, Lords and Ladies and the wild honeysuckle leaves are really shooting. The Great Tits are one of the most abundant birds we see on our walks, we find them very tolerant of our company, probably because they know we bring the monkey nuts they love, they take them, wedge them between the branches of the hedge and hammer the shells to break them open, lovely little birds. Happy belated birthday.

    1. Bug Woman

      I love Great Tits, they are such bold, busy birds…mind you, I never met a bird I didn’t like :-). And thank you both
      for the birthday wishes x

  3. gertloveday

    Thank you. I loved sharing your walk, especially the robin’s song. Happy Birthday…you are approaching the best time of your life….as my 90 year aunt said to me when I was approaching that age with some trepidation,’ I was at my PEAK when I was in my sixties.’ I have found it to be the case.

    1. Bug Woman

      You know, Gert, I think you’re right. I am relishing the way that I am less and less concerned about other peoples’ opinions about what I should and shouldn’t be doing/wearing/saying. I think I am growing into my skin at last. Hooray for approaching sixty! I just need to thing what I’m going to do to celebrate….

  4. Katya

    What a lovely post-birthday post. While riding the arc toward 60 can sometimes be just as chaotic as going from 20 to 30, the idea that one can also be as introspective as one likes without feeling guilty about it, turns out to be its own most welcome reward. Just wait until you hit 70; it’s a gas, as we said in the 60s. Happy Birthday!

    1. Bug Woman

      Thank you, Gubbinal! I get my Freedom Pass for the tube and the bus at 60, so I shall be having some cheaper adventures very soon. And 65 is a most venerable age.

  5. Liz Norbury

    Belated birthday wishes to you! I used to feel sorry for people with January birthdays, but I no longer do. This January, as the mornings grew lighter, I felt a renewed desire to explore the world beyond the bedroom curtains – even though it has meant getting up earlier. I do agree that a stroll down a country lane in the rain, while tuning in to everything that is happening around you, can seem to slow down the passage of time. It also works when you wander through the sand dunes on a sunny day. I’m thinking back to my own birthday walk in September and remembering bright clumps of ragwort – favourite food earlier in the summer of the cinnabar caterpillar – the brilliant blue of the final viper’s bugloss flowers of the season, and geese flying in formation just above my head as the light began to fade. And a welcome abundance of blackberries!

  6. Andrea Stephenson

    A Happy Belated Birthday Vivienne. I love to walk on a damp day and it’s so true that paying attention to all these little things helps slow us down and appreciate the passing days.

    1. Bug Woman

      Thank you, Andrea! I’m on holiday at the moment, and the days seem to be creeping past – not because I’m not enjoying myself, but because every day is crammed with novelty. There’s much to be said for trying to notice something new every day, I suspect.

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