A morning of showers turned into an afternoon of rain. We donned our boots and waterproofs and defied it. We weren’t going to let it stop us going for a wander in the riverside woods.
We started with lattes in the coffee shop at Attingham Park, our closest National trust property and they set us up for defiantly walking into the wood.
We had hoped that a few minutes indulging in our favourite pastime of coffee drinking would give the rain time to stop or at least subside. Our hopes were dashed as we carried on into the woods towards the river the rain fell upon us. We were waylaid by these pretty cows who demanded attention by looking at us under their long eye lashes.
After giving the cows a stroke we moved on alongside the riverbank where the woodland started.
This woodland contains many unusual and non-native specimen trees but there are no labels so we find many we can’t identify. Several seem familiar especially their fruit and leaves, so we presume they are related to natives such as oaks, chestnuts and alders. One of these days we shall be wise and remember to pop an ID book into a pocket.
Even as the rain was falling and dark clouds skidded across the sky patches of woodland were lit up. They acted as spotlights drawing us to the pink of the foxgloves and the pale creamy fungi.
This strange but delightful light had a brightness we did not expect. Underneath the dark canopy of thick foliage the trunks of the trees seemed to attract light and they appeared more patterned and textured.
The ferns enjoyed the darker areas and the moisture brought by the rain, but their enjoyment was not shared by the wood’s mammal residents. The usual squirrels and rabbits were nowhere to be seen. Every rabbit burrow we came across showed no sign of life.
Rain drops landed on the purple, glossy leaves of the copper beech and light glowed through the “helicopter” seeds of maples. Overhead thrushes sang enthusiastically. The loud powerful song of the Mistle Thrush overpowered those of the more tuneful delicate Song Thrush.
Although no thunder rumbled above the tree tops today it has done so recently as witnessed by this tree displaying lightning strike burns. While studying this damaged tree our attention was drawn to movement in small trees close by, where a pair of tree creepers fed on the bark, moving like scurrying mice head first up the trunk. The blue tits fed differently as they searched for their insect prey under the wet leaves of the same tree.
As we continued along the path below the trees we took a short detour through the walled garden where the herbaceous borders on either side of the wide central path made a colourful picture.
As our woodland wander came to an end we had to stop and enjoy another couple of lattes just to check that they still tasted so good. They did! As we enjoyed our coffees we were entertained by a very intelligent ladybird who was reading the label of his orange juice checking its ingredients out to make sure they were fully organic.
We were not the only ones out and about enjoying a walk in the rain today and certainly not the only ones enjoying coffees. As educationalists in our pre-retirement days, we were pleased to see several young families out exploring the woods. Two families enjoyed their coffees as their toddlers enjoyed playing in the courtyard driving ride-on John Deere tractors in the mud and on the slippery grass, even revelling in falling off. They jumped in the puddles and splashed each other. Real childhood treats!