As I mentioned last year, I am not in any way, shape, or form a morning person (although that may be changing … more on that next week). But the siren song of bluebells is enough to lure me out of bed every spring as the small patch of West Woods near Marlborough erupts into a sea of blue.
During our recent travels to Winchester and Rousham, we noticed the bluebells were beginning to bloom a little earlier than usual due to the mild April weather. This was our sign to set the alarm for the crack of dawn so we could venture forth and, armed with a flask of tea and our cameras, we kick started the Bank Holiday weekend with an early morning visit.
Why so early? Although this trip was on the grey side (so not many good photos), usually it’s about catching the first rays of sun and the golden hour light that makes the woodland glow with different shades of green and purple. Sunlight streaming through the rows of trees, perhaps with a spot of morning mist, leads to far more interesting photos and enhances the already impressive spectacle. There are also fewer people willing to get out of bed at this time of day, and therefore fewer people to ruin the shot!
Then there’s the dawn chorus. In a place like West Woods it is non-stop as the birds delineate their territory, call for a mate, and in general make a beautiful racket. I am absolutely rubbish at identifying birds by their song, but I was thrilled to hear my first cuckoo, whose eponymous call cuts through the higher warbling of the smaller songbirds. This migrant species—considered a herald of spring—has been in sharp decline over the past few decades and is on the list of Britain’s most endangered birds. So it was a privilege to hear that there is at least one enjoying the bounty of West Woods.
Another reason to head into the woods before the sun gets too high is that you still have the rest of the day ahead of you once you’re done. You also feel like you’ve earned breakfast! After our wander around West Woods, we had worked up an appetite and headed into the market town of Marlborough to visit Polly’s Tea Rooms.
It was amazing what a bit of walking and a bit of nature can do for creativity. While chatting with MrElaineous about his busy week performing in Bristol Opera’s Carmen, we realised that there was a potential market for a new set of cards … or at least a way to make the last minute scramble to buy cards for cast members a little easier.
Many amateur dramatic groups have the tradition of giving out cards on opening night to wish each other well, and in opera “Toi, toi, toi” is the equivalent of “Break a leg”, so I have put together a set of postcards to have on hand for the next performance. Bluebells and opera may not seem to have the most obvious connection, but there is a reason I named this blog MissElaineous!