"The February fair maids are out for Imbolc, for Candlemas. Imbolc is the Celtic pagan cross-quarter day, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox; Candlemas is the feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary; and the fair maids are snowdrops. In the churchyard of St Peter's in Stanton Lacy, Corvedale, jackdaws and rooks rattle from the high trees – and beneath them, around the headstones, are sheets of snowdrops.
The story goes that the beautiful Saint Milburgha, the Saxon princess who founded the priory of Much Wenlock in 680AD, was being chased by a Welsh prince, "a would-be suitor" in the coy language of the story. On her flight back to Wenlock, Milburgha had to cross the river Corve. With her pursuers gaining, she knelt to pray for deliverance and the little river suddenly became a raging torrent, saving her. In gratitude, she established a church at the river crossing"..............
"The sound of the chain saw penetrates the peace of Acklands Coppice and trees are being felled at a steady rate. Meanwhile, a large digger has removed the face of the badger sett. This area will never be the same again. This secluded stretch of water and woodland has for many years been an undisturbed habitat"
"At wood's edge, on a rabbit-scrabbled bank, a patch of white sweet violets, five yards square, glows under trees. There is so much energy in the air: a flash of sunlight catches the flowers and is gone under heavy cloud; in a matter of minutes there's rain, then snow. I take cover against an old field maple on the wood's medieval hedge bank.
Laid centuries ago, the maple's trunk grows in a right angle, protecting the violets for many generations. I watch snowflakes blow over violets and, as the two become almost indistinguishable, air and earth fill with white flowers".
Country diary: Wenlock Edge: This fern in a crack between evolutionary forms, in the ruins of a quarry wall, in a grey wood under a lowering sky, is the kind of hybrid which subverts our fixed view of nature
The extraordinary sight of a dugong, a sea mammal closely related to elephants, surrounded by a group of snorkellers – as well as rain-soaked lions in the Serengeti and toads emerging from hibernation – are some of the striking images to be...