18 Jun A Short Stay in Spring
Bluest of blue skies over Homildon Hill
The female lesser spotted flycatcher remains watchful from a nearby branch
The Homildon Cottage secret seat - can you find it?
Even time for a quick watercolour sketch from the secret seat.
The well beaten path to Wooler and a warm welcome at the Black Bull pub
Gardens in High Humbleton looking their best
Spring lambs are becoming more confident
A cheery wave from a male grey seal on the Farne Islands
The elegant Mistlethrush collects a beakful of juicy worms
Guillemots beyond counting nesting on the Farne islands
Fresh fern fronds in the dappled shade
Throughout the year there is never a shortage of jobs to be done to keep Homildon Cottage in good shape and ready for our guests. In those gaps between visitors there is usually a hive of activity with tradespeople coming and going; windows cleaned, garden tidied, decking repainted, oil and log stores replenished; house cleaned and restocked with essentials (and some treats!) as well as a host of other tasks which build up over the year. However, even in those short stays with much to do, there is still time to enjoy the cottage and my last visit was no exception.
It would be easy to spend the whole week just chatting to those who pop in or just whoever happened to be passing, tradesperson, hiker or farmer. The welcomes are warm and it seems everyone has a moment to pass the time.
Across the UK, it has felt as if Spring let alone Summer has been struggling to arrive. But, whilst London was drowning in torrential rain and flash floods, the weather in Northumberland was glorious with sunshine and warm temperatures. We got a peek into nature at its best in the garden with birds thronging the trees, including a pair of lesser spotted fly catchers nesting in the bird box on the outdoor games room. The valleys soothe the eyes with colours of vibrant green with the sound of sheep and their lambs drifting back to the cottage.
So good was the weather that the thought of jobs was set to one side for a quick visit to the Farne Islands on one of the many boats trips available from Seahouses. The nesting guillemots and puffins – did you know a young puffin is called a puffling? – are a wonder to behold in their countless thousands, crowding the precipitous cliffs of the islands. The boats can pass by the cliffs for a grandstand view without bothering the cacophanous birds who splosh into the water all round and swim at high speed underwater like silvery fish.
Back at the cottage the weather finally turns for an unseasonal day of torrential rain, but we hunker down indoors listening to the rain thrumming on the conservatory roof. The cloud rolls down from the neighbouring hill to wrap us in its cotton wool embrace. At Homildon, there is never a dull moment. You feel part of nature and the weather is part of that too. When it rains, there is a feeling of renewal and cleansing and then the sun breaks through the clouds and the countryside smiles as one.
After our all too few days, we walk down the lane to catch the bus back to Berwick and our train home. The flowers in the hedgerows take me back many years to walks in the countryside as they used to be.
As ever, we leave Homildon with one thought in our mind – when will we be able to go back?