Indian Summer in Beetley

The weather continues to be very kind to us here. No rain for a few days now, and chilly nights are followed by glorious sunny days. Even though it is now dark by, the benefit of the pleasant afternoons more than compensates for the onset of autumn.

Walking across to Wensum Way this afternoon with Ollie, I was pleasantly surprised by this display of sunflowers. They have been planted by the local farm, to provide ground cover for pheasant breeding, and with some accompanying deep blue wildflowers, offer a colourful break from all the greenery. This photo only shows about 10% of the area covered by the sunflowers.


I walked carefully into the centre of the area above, to get a single flower in close-up. If you enlarge this file, you will see that the detail has been nicely preserved.


On the way back from Gingerbread Corner, I was struck by the blue sky and fluffy clouds of this pastoral scene, across local fields. I still find it hard to imagine that this is just over the road from where we live.


The good news, is that this weather is expected to continue well into next week. It will hopefully provide many more photo opportunities, and allow Ollie and I to get out to some new places.

A Windy Walk

Saturday didn’t start too well. On a routine trip to the shed, to get a fresh light bulb, I noticed that almost half of the floor was under water, once again. Presumably, the recent torrential rain has raised the level of the ground water, and it is finding its way inside, though it is impossible to work out how. This meant a complete evacuation of all the stuff stored out there, to gain access to the floor, so as to be able to ascertain the extent of the small flood. Sodden cardboard packaging had to be thrown out, and numerous things re-packaged, in plastic containers that will resist the worst of the water. Many items had to be found a place in the adjacent garage, which is now almost full, with only a narrow access passage left.

Once the space had been cleared, the mopping up process could begin, using any old towels, dust sheets, and paper. When the area was dry again, I resolved not to put anything back there that could be damaged, so a complete sort out was necessary. I know that this is insignificant, when compared to the devastation caused by severe floods in the South-West of the UK, but when it is in your shed, and causing a nuisance, it still seems like a big deal. After almost two hours of this chore, it was time to get ready to take Ollie out, for his later than usual walk. I decided to reward his patience, with a walk along the Wensum Way, to the back of the large pig farms, and around the plum orchards.

After ploughing through some muddy paths in Mill Lane, we emerged into the large area of open fields, home to a large plantation of recently pruned blackcurrant bushes. It was here that I discovered a new ‘enemy’ of the dog walker. Wind. Not a breeze, you understand, nor even something described as ‘blustery’, or ‘windy’. This was serious wind, a north-westerly coming at us like the back-draft of a jet engine. Flattening my long parka against my body, and whipping up stones and twigs, which clattered into and around me, as if hurled by some unseen poltergeist. Forward movement felt constrained, as if wading through deep water, and my eyes were soon streaming too. Turning my back for a brief respite, I felt that it would almost support my weight, if I leaned into it.

Ollie was oblivious, as he usually is. No extremes of weather ever seem to faze him, and his demeanour is the same, whether in torrential rain, or thick snow. If he noticed this wind, he certainly didn’t display any reaction to it, and carried on looking for rabbits, peeing up bushes, and trotting around, as if on a mission, only known to him. When he got thirsty, he took a drink from one of the pond-like puddles, and he ran on far ahead, sometimes looking back, to check that I was still there. When we reached the pigs, they sauntered over to the fence, no doubt hoping that I was a farm employee, bringing them more food. They all lined up to look directly at me, as their huge ears point forwards, and shade their peripheral vision, like blinkers on a horse.

When we finally arrived at Gingerbread Corner, I took the opportunity of a break. There is a large copse of tall trees, and they stop the wind from having the same effect that it enjoys across the open fields. Retracing the route towards home, I at least had the wind in my back, and this made walking much easier. I arrived home, pleased to be away from the constant buffeting. One hundred minutes seemed so much longer, when it was hard to hear yourself think, and each step felt like I was wearing diving boots. I am looking forward to a time of less extremes, ‘normal’ days, windy, or otherwise. The good walks will return, their time is just around the corner.

Seasonal changes

The arrival of the cattle on Hoe Rough signals a real change in the seasons here. Despite the weather, it means it must officially be Summer. The young cows in the herd are not good with dogs, and can easily be distressed. This means that the dog-walking pattern has to change, and other areas have to be explored in greater depth. Besides, the gnats, midges, and biting flies, are all out in force at the moment, flourishing in the damp and humid conditions. I returned with nine bites after a walk on Monday, and that is enough to be going on with.

Across the Fakenham Road, is Mill lane. This is one of the most desirable places to live in Beetley, a few individually styled houses, all with gardens backing onto the River Whitewater. It is one of those short country roads, where the quickest glance will tell you that the residents are well-off. Walking Ollie past the houses on his lead, they are soon behind us, and tracks alongside farms and fields mean that he can run free. We still have to be careful of farm traffic, as sprayers, mowers, and other strange agricultural devices are around in abundance.

The path begins to open out, running South, to eventually join up with The Wensum Way, a public footpath stretching the width of Norfolk. On both sides are endless rows of stunted blackcurrant trees, their crop destined to fill the Ribena cartons of small children. They stand in perfect symmetrical avenues, like guardsmen on parade. Continuing past a sprawling barn conversion on my left, and open fields await, left fallow and grassy, to be cut for fodder, or some other unknown (to me) purpose. There is less cover here, so little or no wildlife, apart from the ubiquitous crows and magpies. The next feature of this walk, is the plum orchard, belonging to Gorgate Farm. Their Victoria Plums are famous in Norfolk, and the short season attracts buyers from all over. The plum trees look like forests in miniature, rows like headstones in a large cemetery, a model village orchard.

Out onto more open and untended land. Signs warn of Private Property to my left and right, and reiterate that dogs should be on a lead. Luckily, Ollie is very obedient, so I feel no pressure to diminish the enjoyment of his walk with a lead around his neck. Turning a small bend, we encounter a large black Labrador, and his lady owner. This dog is called Gilbey, after the famous gin, and we have seen him before. He and Ollie are great pals, and they rush around playing, jumping on each other, and chasing tails in the long grass, I exchange pleasantries with his owner as they romp. Like me, she is not local, and is originally from London.

Once the dogs are tired out, I continue along the path, which now opens completely, to reveal hundreds of small semi-circular huts, in huge dusty fields. Like an Army Camp, though much larger, it is home to countless pigs, all rummaging in the dust, or queuing impatiently at their troughs in the distance. Ollie pays them little attention, so we can safely walk alongside their massive home. Traffic is now audible from the Holt Road on the left, and occasional glimpses of larger vehicles mean we are approaching the end of our walk. We could turn right, head West towards Swaffham along the Wensum Way, but that would take too long.

We make a u-turn, and retrace our steps to home. Ollie has been somewhere new, at least a place he had probably forgotten, and we can look forward to watching the weather change in a different place, for a while.