The Countryside Blog of an Essex Born Lady – September 2016 (8)

The copper glow of a stunning autumn sunset reaches far across the empty, lonely fields. The sky is still warm with colour, filled with a multi-hue of orange, pink and violet which for a short time brings an awe-inspiring moment as the sun sets on another fine day. Silhouetted trees are a bold shape on the horizon just before darkness takes hold.

It hasn’t rained for weeks at Wickham Hall and the air here is heavy; clogged with dust particles, created from a productive day on the land. It is hard and dry. Too tough to plough, a skill slowly being lost to modern cultivation technique.

Edith Holden travelled to Scotland for her summer holiday in August 1906, and continued to write her nature notes, recording the Perthshire countryside for her Country Diary. I travelled to Sinemorets in Bulgaria for my holiday, to a region just on the edge of the Silistar National Park. I too continued to observe the nature; flora and fauna which I found surprisingly similar to England and Scotland.

Bronzed oaks, horse chestnuts and maples turned the surrounding scenery into ‘fall’. Leaves and autumn fruits were plentiful; but I was being watched from the tree canopy by a young, timid red squirrel, not used to receiving unannounced visitors on his patch. No amount of encouragement would persuade him down, so I left him content with his own company.
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Herding sheep and goats on tinder-dry pasture, a shepherd passed by. His traditional method was interesting to watch and the sound from the bells that hung around the livestock’s neck was soothing and magical. Although we barely communicated (other than a universally-recognised smile) he was pleased he’d been able to make me understand his puppy’s name Rosa, who was far more interested in the attention I was paying her than working.
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Along the river a beautiful contrast in nature presented itself. An Eurasian Kingfisher, his body bright, brilliant blue, darted with precision between the tall, thick reeds where the river met the sea. Up high, colourful Bee-eaters chattered, swooping low as they plucked insects in flight. Large dragonflies were vivid orange against the golden sand, and an abundance of small frogs and toads leaped into the river when disturbed as I walked the water’s edge. A small snake had caught an unsuspecting frog and I watched as it quietly slipped away with its prey into the damp undergrowth.
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The coastline was wild and rugged, reminiscent of Scotland. A storm developed mid afternoon, which soon swept through the lowlands and up into the national park and the Strandzha mountain. For days the seas had been rough and along the beach I found five tiny sea horses washed up on the shores. I could only save one …… nature had taken the others.

Once home again, I was pleased to still see the swallows but as they fly high over, the weathervane is pointing south to the direction in which they fly. Their long journey home has started, signalling the change in season – despite an Indian summer, autumn is here.

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