Some observations of Gilbert White, all made on 26th April, the day of the ramble:
1771 : Wheat begins to mead : redstart whistles. Cuckoo sings this year long before ye leaf appear.
1776 : Pheasants crow. Ringdoves coo... Birds are never joyous in a dry spring. Showery seasons are their delight for obvious reasons.
1781 : A pair of nightingales haunt my fields : the cock sings
nightly in the Portugal laurel & balm of Gilead fir.
1784 : Sowed a crop of
onions. Several sorts of cabbage : pronged the asparagus beds. Radishes
Once again, the last Saturday of April proved to be a glorious
day for the Spring Walk; a real beginning of spring itself. We were a large
group of walkers : 20 in all, with very welcome "guests" outnumbering
homegrown Ockendon Rd. locals. The 9.23am train from Waterloo to Alton in
Hampshire was perfectly on time. After a brief burst of urban road walking
and a life-threatening mass crossing of the A31, an easy tramp across open
country gave place to the delicious woods (the "hangers") and gorgeous
valleys that surround Selborne, our target village. Trees just bursting into
the freshest green foliage, a succession of alluring views, plus some sludgy
paths that took the shine off nice white plimsolls and the dog: delicious!
The frisson of being turned away from one garden pub at ten to kitchen
closing time was soon replaced by a heroic if elongated lunch service in the
garden of the Queen's Hotel. A creative parting of the ways after lunch :
some walked back to Alton via Jane Austen's House, some took a taxi, and
some spent the two hours before the next bus exploring the Rev G. White's
wonderfully restored garden. Secluded, spacious and watched by his
extraordinary eye for the detail no-one had noticed and written down before
him, this is the place where the science of the naturalist began. It has
lost none of its magic. Rumours of only a tiny bus for Saturday service
proved unfounded, and the bus driver was willing to accept Freedom Passes
from the aged, inspiring in some Ramblers the temptations of venturing
further afield for no money, maybe to John O'Groats or Land's End. Back in
Islington, the Angel was roped off because of a bomb scare; back to normal.
Next walk on the last Saturday of September : the 27th. (After that, it's
the second Saturday in 2009.) Do come!