Friday, June 09, 2006


As I walked into town this morning via the old St John’s churchyard my senses became aware of the heady pungent smell of elderflowers. They were in full bloom around the vicarage and although my view, as I walked was that of the railway line with the large buildings of Next and Argos looming behind, my mind wandered back to my childhood. The elderflower has such an evocative smell, not entirely pleasant but rich and earthy. It took me back to the small village I grew up in where in the spring and summer we would be taken on nature rambles by the teachers along the lanes down to the brook, through the woods by the sheep dip and back again to the school. In spring we would come back with specimens of flowers and leaves for the nature table, things like cowslips, violets, primroses and daffodils. Also small branches of pussy willow, catkins and sticky buds. These would be put in water, in jam jars and labeled in nice neat handwriting and displayed on the table. In the early summer we would collect bluebells, dog daisies and lilac and later still red poppies. We would spot birds and butterflies and I seem to remember we always had a little tank with tadpoles collected in jam jars from the brook along with sticklebacks and minnows to create our own little pond in the classroom.

As I stood in the queue at Tesco, I felt somehow distanced from the crowds struggling with their bangers, burgers and beers for the weekend’s festivities as I was once again in Scarcliffe woods in the soft shade, under the trees near the derelict gamekeeper’s cottage enchanted by the sights, sounds and smells of summer.

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