Returning the egg boxes

I think it is fair to say that most of the UK got a wake-up call with David Attenborough’s BBC documentary series Blue Planet II.  The image of the pilot whale carrying her dead baby around will, I hope, stay with me forever.

I am using that dead baby whale to remind our children not to waste resources, not to put clothes in the wash before they need it, not to put biros in their blazer pocket because I can’t get ink out of clothing…  All I need to say to them now is “Baby Whale.”  and they know I mean business.

There is a myriad of ways in which we can reduce waste, food miles, use of single-use plastics…  One change we have made is to shop local where possible.

Eggs are easy.  One of houses down the road keep a few chickens and ducks, and keep a little honesty box of eggs outside their gate.  So each week, we go and see what is there, and take back the box from last week.

In early spring the colour down the lane is lime green.  In the cow-parsley and hawthorn phase it becomes apple-green.  There comes a day close to midsummer when things become blue-green.  It has reached that point now.


The oak leaves are more opaque now, and have the lumps and bumps that characterise maturity.

There is deep shade along the lane, rather than the light dappling of spring.  I love it when trees meet overhead.  It is like walking through a snake.


I often see a woodpecker here when I drive down in the morning.  He was hiding from my camera today.

The cow-parsley has been replaced by other, taller umbels.  I think this is hogweed (not the Giant version, which caused headlines a couple of years ago when a child’s skin was burnt from contact with the invasive species).


‘Umbels’ are sprays of tiny flowers, which insects go crazy for, because they are a rich source of pollen and nectar.  Apart from cow-parsley and hogweed, other umbels include wild carrot and parsnip, the adorably named pignut and not so adorable hemlock.  I find it very difficult to tell them all apart.

The little bugs on this umbel will be food for birds.


The fields are full of grasses, but on the margins are umbels and thistles, nettles and brambles.


You can see a bee feasting on this thistle.


This field was rich in swishing.  There were rings of different grasses, like contours on a map.  First these tall, arching ones:


Then some softer, diaphanous reddish tones:


And then, in the middle of the field, golden corn*:


It is impossible not to pass your hand through grass seed.  It’s ok, I’ve had my hayfever tablet.

The loudest rustling came from the goat willow high up above.  The leaves have a silvery shimmer, and are constantly dancing, even though it was a still day.


Overhanging into the lane are some garden escapees.  Here’s a honeysuckle.  It smelt and tasted exactly as it should.


And another one here, with a rambling rose.


And here’s some angelica (another umbel) with a geranium, perhaps oxonianum.


And then I reached the honesty box.

Here’s a duck egg and a hen’s egg. Simple pleasures.

*At least that’s what we used to call it.  Now ‘corn’ generally refers to maize (sweetcorn for cattle) and what we (and The Little Red Hen) used to call ‘corn’ is now called ‘wheat’.  There is also barley.  I think that has stayed the same.

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors.

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30 Comments Add yours

  1. Lovely post with a very ‘Country Diary’ feel to it! And I didn’t know the corn/maize thing either. The things you see and learn when buying eggs!

  2. I love it when trees meet overhead too. I’d never thought of it being like walking through a snake, what an interesting thought !!!

  3. Tish Farrell says:

    Lovely post. And I took almost the same grasses photos last night too!

    1. Ali says:

      I am really noticing the grasses this year! Does blogging make us open our eyes?

      1. Tish Farrell says:

        I think it definitely puts us on the alert. It’s in your strap-line of course – ‘mindful’ 🙂

  4. janesmudgeegarden says:

    A lovely bucolic post. Not sure about the snake analogy…you wouldn’t entertain the thought of going through a snake here!

    1. Ali says:

      No! I remember once listening to the radio when I was in Sydney and a woman rang in to say she had just seen her cat being swallowed by a snake!

  5. Claudette says:

    Simple Pleasures are the best.

  6. shazza says:

    What a lovely walk to the honesty box. I can never tell the difference between all the umbels. There are so many in my wildflower books that I get very confused. X

    1. Ali says:

      ‘Umbel’ is such a lovely word, I will stick with that!

      1. shazza says:

        It is. Also Umbellifer , which they are called in a flower book of mine. X

      2. Ali says:

        Another fabulous name!

  7. Jane Lurie says:

    Wonderful post and important message, Ali. Your images gave me a warm feeling of being on a lovely walk. Love the grasses image.

    1. Ali says:

      Thanks, Jane!

  8. Heyjude says:

    Your lanes look like my lanes. I too like to wander through the tree tunnels especially on a hot day. We have a honesty box in a farm stall up the road, I haven’t yet walked to it, but I suppose I could (about 1 mile, but uphill on the way back) never bought eggs there, but potatoes and asparagus and cauliflour [sic]

    1. Ali says:

      When we’re on holiday I walk to the bakery to get bread, and get so much pleasure out of it; it makes me wonder why I don’t do that at home. Love the cauliflour. We get Christmas reeves.

      1. Heyjude says:

        Heehee… if there was a bakery within walking distance I would. Miss Ludlow from that point as I could easily walk up to the square for the market, or the butcher or the baker. Sigh…
        If only I could find a small market town near the coast without houses costing over half a million.

      2. Ali says:

        Wouldn’t that be nice? I love a fantasy lifestyle!

  9. Just curious: how old were your children when you introduced them to the baby whale scene? I’d love for my six-year old to be more conscious about the environment, but I’m worried she won’t get it yet, and I’d be upset with her, even thou she may simply not be old enough…

    1. Ali says:

      Ours are 13, 12 and 10, so a bit older. I must admit, I cried. There are other images that are as powerful but less distressing – miles of floating plastic. This clip is really powerful, without the baby whale.:

  10. I really love how you so often find a way to integrate various meditations (on feminism, on nature, on personal growth) with your posts about your garden and nature in general. You are always so thoughtful, Ali.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Shelly. That means a lot to me.

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    What a pleasurable walk, Ali. Thanks for taking us along with you. 🙂 The fresh eggs are a bonus!

  12. Valonia says:

    ‘This field was rich in swishing’ is the most delightful description! What a lovely post. 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Aw, thank you! I was quite pleased with that. Thank you for noticing it!

  13. bcparkison says:

    Lovely walk.I especially like the tunnel of trees.

  14. Robyn Haynes says:

    A lovely lovely post! I didn’t know what umbels were until you enlightened me. Such gorgeous photos. I felt like I was there with you in the beautiful sensory moment.

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