Out to Garston Wood in Wiltshire, reached via the back roads htrough rain varying from drizzle to downpour with slaphead hurting hail.
Met a lovely OAP couple, Lois and Sheila whose front and back gardens are totally taken up by a fabulous selection of windmills. All of them are made from recycling practically anything and I had to photograph them and have a natter. Bycycle wheels, Snoopy toys, plastic bottles, United football action figures, cats [!], balls making a brilliantly creative scene. I wonder what the neighbours think. If you want to see them then go to Bishopstone on the minor road off the Salisbury to Blandford Forum main road and they'll be on your right.
Another excuse for a rest was for another natter with a local. This time with Wes, a trout farm owner who told of blackbirds taking his young fish.
Two young ladies at a bus stop warned of a coming hill. "You won't cycle up that," one said. She wasn't kidding yet the ride down the other side was worth the climb.
Garston Woods, lacking the soon to be there bluebells but there were closed up flowers of lesser celandine; the first I've seen this year. Also my first daffodils in flower away from a garden. Sad to see a dead sheep in the field opposite. Looked as though it died giving birth to a lamb. Took photos of the RSPB noticeboards and went for a walk along a section of conifer next to deciduous trees. Can't wait for the Spring to bring woods into their own for at the moment, with this weather, things are quiet. Mind you I love trees and here there's a beautiful selection. Down in the southern corner a worker was coppicing hazel but as it was downhill and the rain was particularly heavy I cycled past on the way to Wimbourne.
Next stop was at a place where I'd hitched to in order to see breeding Montagu's harriers 30 years ago. High on a hill, along one of the best Roman roads I know I remember being there on a very hot sunny Summer's day to see the pair with, if I remember right, 2 flying youngsters. I met the gamekeeper whilst there then who had helped protect the birds. Wonder if they still breed in the area?
To Wimbourne and into the Minster. Impressive tombs and 'Moses'. The chained library was closed unfortunately until April.
Now every few weeks I return to Warwick to see family, catch up with the post and basically collapse. So a train was caught from Poole in Dorset and I'll be returning there on Sunday to carry on with the journey. Rain to snow, just north of Banbury the scenery became white and picturesque.
Home. Warwick. Mum and Dad and phone call from my son, Joshua, whose 23 tomorrow. Happy birthday son. I Love You!!!
A letter from Bill Oddie. A lovely letter saying that he was off for a holiday to Guatamala and that he'd been keeping up with my blog. He wishes me success and will be sponsoring me so much a bird. He also said how much he loved birding at Upton Warren in the '60s; "rarely saw another birder!" Maybe I should say here that one of the big motivations for what I'm doing is to find my own birds and Bill's philosophy, mentioned so often in his autobiographies, on doing so helped formulate the idea. Thanks Bill for the ltter. means a lot to me.
My pannier cover has not been found. Thanks Al of the Great Bustard group for looking. Now to find the photographs of Gordon Barnes with the Fair Isle bird.
Time for sleep.
Thanks for all the donations, including Yvonne on the train tonight.