Slow Mellow Days of August

The hope  of early summer has drifted past and August brings us ripening fruit, migrants getting ready to move South and the beauty of the hedgerows, with berries, hips, haws ,sloes and  fat fungi in the woods. I love this time of year.  It’s mellow; nature is beginning to think of darker days and the rhythm of the year begins to kick in. If we think of Autumn as a natural end to Summer, it makes it easier. Here in the Blackstairs  , small flocks of Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps are feeding on insects and  fattening up for the long journey South. Last week I counted 12 Willow Warblers feeding on a lovely rose, called Bloomfield Abundance,  then they moved onto a Myrtle Tree and  in a flash, they were gone. A sure sign that Autumn is coming.

Dew is heavier on the grass in the mornings and Swallows are  beginning to get that sort of look , that says, “It won’t be long now”

We lose our migrants for the winter but we gain  the fantastic crops of sloes on the Blackthorn, Rowan Berries, Crab Apples and fungi all waiting to be pickled, bottled, preserved or made into chutney.

Killedmond  is filled with the smell of Runner  Bean pickle, crab apple jelly and green tomato chutney. The larder is beginning to look fat and full for the lean days of winter ahead. I am using my Mother’s old recipe books, Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David and Maura Laverty for inspiration.

I have also got to think of  my walkers and what they would like with their afternoon tea! Already I have made Loganberry  Blackcrurrant , Plum  and Gooseberry jam .



On an Ecotrail last week I saw several Jays in an oak wood, no doubt  getting ready to hide acorns for the winter.

I’m worried about the Curlew. Numbers are declining. It needs  more protection and to be safeguarded from shooting. I am going to  get active on  the campaign to  help save Curlew numbers. One of the most poignant sounds is the cry of the Curlew, particularly at night when it  heads for the mountains and it’s breeding areas.

On our Ecotrail next week we are going to look at food for free to be made into jams, jellies and Chutney; we will look out for groups of warblers and if it is sunny, marvel at Dragonflies and Damsel flies. Kingfishers are on the River, we should see some.


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