Going Roaming, Going Retro - A Nature Walk for Carers

by Dave Higginson-Tranter

A relaxed stroll was enjoyed by a Signpost for Carers gathering in the tranquil surrounds of Vernon Park with the aim to stroll, see a few snippets of the natural world, finishing the day at the nearby Vintage Emporium with a spot of tea and cake.  We met up at 10am sharp, the sky was azure blue and the thermals rising by the minute.  A cup of tea was an ideal way to start and the feeling was one of quiet contentment as we chatted away before beginning the wander.  A latecomer was welcomed by all and looked mighty relieved to see us still sat and in no hurry.  Tea was ordered for our new arrival and after a further chill we eventually got the cogs turning and wandered a weaving path towards our destination.


Flowers were discussed and I put my argument forth that none of these natural wonders deserves the tag ‘ weed’ – think on Catherine!  Pignut, Bush Vetch, Meadow Buttercup, Creeping Buttercup and Cow Parsley were among the early finds with a genuine interest shown by all as to the intricacies and beauty of each vegetative structure.  It was particularly pleasing to note people’s joy at seeing 4 species of Veronica (the Speedwell family) with Ivy Leaved, Thyme Leaved, Slender and Germander all examined close-up and compared with one another.  Such subtle beauty found all around and, if the eye is distracted, easily overlooked – what a tragedy that would be.   Due to the area we were walking being a public place and a somewhat manicured park our finds would be limited but during the first part of the day we had enough to keep us occupied and chin-wagging.  A few bugs defied the heat with Alder Leaf Beetle; Pot Bellied Emerald Beetle, a Marsh Snipe Fly and the Batman Hoverfly making brief solar-kissed sorties.  A Holly Blue butterfly flapped powdered wings and headed for shade and a Speckled Wood did as it says and frequented some, ahem – Speckled Woodland.  What a fine creature, my favourite butterfly of the British Isles and one that is actually expanding its range – a rare thing indeed.


Eventually we were on the road to Vernon Mill but a few stragglers, myself included, found time to spot a couple of extras – ‘Bird’s Foot Trefoil’ aka Bacon and Eggs was a fine showing, one gentlemen was highly pleased with the find, collected a bloom on a stalk and put in one of the vases in the café at Vernon Mill so as to give it a boost of extra life – what a gent!


Talking of the café, tea and cake for all, a recap of the day, a time to cool down and enjoy one another’s company and then…the day was done.  Personally I thought it had been a success – great company, stunning weather, some lovely things seen and a good bit of honest grub too – what more can one ask.  The main bonus for me and my fine colleagues, is that we had organised a trip, delivered and seen some wonderful folk relieved of the caring role for a small while and given the chance to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, ones that many take for granted or never consider.  I went home happy with that thought – Signpost for Carers had done its bit, let there be many more occasions when we can do the same.


The day's species count:

Ivy Leaved Speedwell; Thyme Leaved Speedwell; Slender Speedwell; Germander Speedwell; Brooklime; Wood Avens; Herb Robert; Meadow Buttercup; Creeping Buttercup; Common Mouse Ear; Daisy; Cow Parsley; Yellow Flag Iris; Thale Cress; Common Nettle; Broad Leaved Dock; Pignut; Cuckooflower; Meadowsweet; Red Campion; Goosegrass; Bush Vetch and Bird's-Foot Trefoil.

Other plants pondered were a Copper Beech; Pendulous Sedge; Cock's-Foot Grass and Common Horse Tail.

A Holly Blue and Speckled Wood were seen along with the Pot Bellied Emerald Beetle; Alder Leaf Beetle; Marsh Snipe Fly and the Hoverfly (Myathropa florea).