In this darkest of winters, one of the pleasures has been discovering local walks. One of my favourites has been to Ashow, along the lanes to Chesterton Grange, and through the woods below Hill Wootton. It takes a long time for all the leaves to fall, and the woods though bare, are never boring. When the political news is grim, the woods provide shelter and comfort. Trees seem to take life as it comes, adapting to the changing seasons and during 2020, the advent of more visitors.  In the winter weeks  I’m usually alone. At weekends there are a few walkers like myself, joggers and the occasional horse rider. The paths accommodate us all.

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Among the beech trees in the woods below Hill Wootton

note the silver birch protected by the beech.     

On Christmas Day, the walk across the bridge to Ashow, was halted by the Avon having burst its banks. Houses and farm land were safe so it was good to watch the power of the water sweeping up dead branches and debris. At Chesterton Grange the view was similar, farms having being built well back from the river.

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River Avon flooded its banks by Ashow so we couldn’t cross the bridge

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This duck has lost its perch on the river and has found a new one on a branch from where it can watch the water subside

During the summer 2 ducks, which might be muscovy, perched on a branch lodged on the river bed and just poking above the water level. That branch may have moved on, and this preening duck, has found another home. In the coming weeks I’ll look out for its mate.

Blackdown bridge is regularly flooded. The houses close by have their own defences. The fence on the right marks the boundary of a rather large property. The road and the path alongside is totally waterlogged. In the distance is the submerged bridge. Blackdown Mill with its waterwheel has recently been sold, its new owners, aware of the risk of flooding, will probably use the upstairs rooms.

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River Avon by Blackdown Bridge off Kenilworth Road

Perhaps because I have walked close to home, and paid more attention to my surroundings, I have discovered and enjoyed the details of my surroundings. Of course, I noticed if the path was frosty or muddy, but probably didn’t look down other than to walk more safely. This winter I have taken greater interest in the pattern of leaves, where they fall on the grass and their markings accentuated by the frost.

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This leaf was among several along the verge of the main Kenilworth Road into Leamington.

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Blossom in the depths of winter

The Rugby Club ground isn’t noted for its trees though it’s bounded by firs. Through them I spied this beautiful blossom. It looks Japanese. If any of my tree-loving friends read this and can identify it, I’d love to know.

What, I wonder, has helped you during these later weeks of lockdown, when contact with friends has becoming increasingly restricted? I’d love to hear.

In the meantime, A Happy and Healthy 2021!

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