Apr. 5th, 2017

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April 5th was my father's birthday - in my mind I still say 'is', but it's twenty years today since the last birthday of his lifetime. When I can, I like to mark the date by visiting Finchale Priory, where he and his family spent holidays during his childhood, in a hut which his father had built. That's where we went this afternoon:

A place for reflection

At the top of the path we met a pair of walkers coming towards us, a woman of our age and a much younger man in a dog collar: did we know these woods well, they asked; was there another path that went down to the river? We told them the path they were on would take them to the river, if they persevered, and they turned round and set off again. They weren't walking very fast, but I was dawdling, taking pictures of the carpet of windflowers under the trees:


and the very first spears of wild garlic just beginning to bloom - in a week or two its white stars will have replaced those of the windflowers. Where the path reaches the river, and turns right along its edge, there is a little beach, and that's where we met the duo again. He was looking without much enthusiasm at the water, and we pointed out the notice that warns of strong currents. He was resolute: he was an Anglican vicar, it seems, and he was due to baptise someone "from a culture that requires total immersion" so he was scouting for a suitable location. He had previously baptised someone in the sea, but that was so cold (even wearing a wetsuit) that he thought he'd try the river...

A little further on, I spotted these alien growths:


I'd never seen anything like them, but [personal profile] durham_rambler photographed them with his phone, and tweeted the picture to @SeymourDaily, who tweeted right back that they are toothwort (Lathraea squamaria). A new-to-me plant identified by living-in-the-future technology.

So then we went and walked around the ruins, and stood on the bridge to laugh at the ducks. The female was just rootling around in the shallows, but the male was doing the full upside down dive, and they look so funny when all you can see is the tail and the feet paddling like mad.

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