I had an hour or so spare while Frankie was working and as there was water nearby I was drawn inexorably towards it as all fishermen everywhere always are. We are the men you see standing suspiciously on bridges staring myopically into the sun glazed water looking hard for the sign of movement; a drifting fish, a lazy glide or weed fronds waving in the current.
Finchale Abbey lies on the River Wear not far from Durham and very near the Frankland Prison which holds the infamous Soham Murderer Ian Huntly, but I gave that man little or no thought as I drove towards the water.
Set right on the banks of Durham's famous river, the Priory oversees a small woodland area which, on the morning I found it, was carpeted with a large array of wild flowers, carpets, chinks and surprises of petal'd packages to be found all over the small wooded area - and it wasn't really Spring yet - not this far North anyway.
On the drive through the North East we had been struck by the huge beds of dandelion that lined the roadsides and fields. Not just the scattering of these ubiquitous plants that one normally sees around St George's Day, but almost acres of them, which will soon be scattering their unwanted seeds miles and miles, if this chilly Easterly wind keeps up for much longer, and upsetting gardeners everywhere.
In the woods, the first flowers I came across were the anemones, barely opening their petals in the lackadaisical sun. Nestling against the trunks of oak and beech their bright green leaves and ever so slightly pink flowers brought a smile to my face, they just look so cheerful when they open up and I love seeing these little flowers scattered among the trees. And, of course, they only open up fully in direct sunlight and the sun always cheers us up.
Anyone who reads my blogs regularly will know I love wild garlic, the scent often reaches the nose before the sight meets the eyes, but not only do their almost plastic spear-like leaves and spiked white flowers look good, they taste good too. I was chatting to another walker I discovered on the bridge trying hopelessly to capture a photograph of the wheeling, acrobatic house martins that effortlessly fed on the spring ephemera launching off the idling river. He is a chef and was extolling the virtues of wild garlic until he discovered I shared his enthusiasm, so we shared a few recipes and ideas and talked about the abundance of bird life and flaura before heading our separate ways.
Discovering beds of wild garlic is always a delight for me, Spring is near, Summer just around the corner and longer days filled with walks and warmth beckon. Whilst I enjoy all the Seasons, there is certainly a promise given with Spring that lifts the heart.
I came across comfrey, cow- parsley, tiny dog violets nestling like lilac gems in the grass and footpaths and lady smock peering through the undergrowth. Wild cherry blossom drooped from the trees and smiling daisies spotted the lawns around the Abbey. Everywhere I turned there was colour splashed around as if by accident - as if God's paint palette had been thrown across the countryside