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NORTH DOWNS WAY DIARY - JUNE
Work commitments and the pretty atrocious weather prevented us from getting out much in May so it was good to be back out walking in the sun on the first weekend of June, for at least one weekend - unfortunately due to holidays and continuation of the really miserable weather this would be our only opportunity this month to get out on the downs.
Following all of the rain we had in the south during May it was not surprising to find ourselves walking through rich lush grassland, along paths surrounded and overgrown by green shrubs and bushes.
Unfortunately not all as pleasant as they appear, nettles had also flourished, lurking in the undergrowth and waiting to sting the unsuspecting passer by. It is a sad fact that just as the sun shines encouraging you to wander around in T-shirt and shorts, nature provides an invasive plant that makes you want to be covered up again. It is a great feeling to de-stress after a hectic week by scything away at them though!
Despite their hypodermic qualities we shouldn't really forget the value nettles have in providing food and habitat for moths and butterflies as well as providing us with clothing dyes a variety of homeopathic remedies and drinks including nettle beer. Although competitors in the World Nettle Eating Championships who have to eat their way through as many leaves they can in an hour might be taking things to an un-palatable extreme.
Thankfully it is not all nettle tea out on the downs in June, the notable flower of the month is a flower that is a symbol of England, the rose. Hedgerows that had, in the past few weeks, been full of hawthorn blossoms are now glowing in shades of pink, decorated with the soft, delicate petals of dog roses.
While the fields were
starting to look like they would be providing a good harvest later
in the year, after walking through field after field of rape seed
oil it is heartening to see traditional crops such as barley and
wheat still being grown. Dread to think though how they would be
looking at the end of June after a month of almost constant rain.