Winter Wonderland

Gorka, in January

There have been some years, since adopting Gorka, when I’ve slightly dreaded Winter, with the anticipation of drudging with the dog through mud, rain, darkness, cold, and the relative seasonal lifelessness of our local woods, day after day after damp, dreary day.

But the reality is never as bad as the expectation. I’ve never even minded the cold or rain that much.

And the thing that’s made Winter even more enjoyable more recently is my increasing realisation of the wildlife that does abound in what may appear to be a dead season, even in December and January, way before the obvious Spring flowers adorn our verges and woodlands.

Foe example, I was amazed to find these daffodils already in bloom on 5th January this year.

Early daffodils in Cornwallis Gardens, Hastings

I learned since then that different varieties of daffodil emerge at different times, explaining this delightfully ultra-early appearance.

A week later, on a more-Springlike-than-wintry, sunny day, I spotted my first Celandine of the year…

Celandine near Bewl Reservoir, 12th January

…and Three-cornered Leek flowers around the same time.

On 1st February, in our local woods, these first Spring Snowflakes of the year caught my eye. I returned with my camera on 3rd Feb, to find them glistening with morning raindrops.

Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum), in Newgate Woods, Hastings, 3rd February

All this flora, not to mention fauna including foxes and migratory birds, truly light up the darker days for me and put a pre-Spring spring in my step.

There’s so much to love about Winter!

Thank you Nature, Earth, Flowers and God for your gifts.


(All photos taken by me, but not copyright – i.e. feel free to use them, with my blessing!)

You might also be interested in my book:
Coming Home for Good (available on Amazon) is autobiographical, describing my journey out of spiritual, psychological and physical homelessness into a spiritual, psychological and physical home and a career managing a homeless healthcare service.


April Come She Will

After the beautiful but short-lived heatwave we had this week here in England, lasting a mere two days, it’s a little disheartening to see such a cold forecast for the week ahead, with night-time temperatures as low as -3C.

But despite the fluctuating weather, Spring moves forward. Although she seems slow in her arrival this year, like April (in the Simon & Garfunkel song) come she will.

I love the resilience of nature and the dependability of the seasons, like a faithful lover or spouse.

As the old hymn goes: “Summer and winter and springtime and harvest…join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

The divinity of nature and God entwined as one.

Today was the first day this year that I saw wild bluebells (in our local woods).

Every year, the first day of bluebells feels like a landmark moment.

Perhaps signalling the end of winter.

An auspicious icon of something new and beautiful.

A promise fulfilled.

On the way home, after taking these photos, I bumped into a friend and told him about the bluebells.

He pointed to his head and said, “It does something good to the mind – seeing these things.”

Indeed. The eternal spirit of Yahweh in nature bringing healing balm to mind, body and soul.

(The following photos are of Spring Snowflakes, also adorning the woods….)

Small is Beautiful

While land conservation efforts are usually, understandably, focussed on relatively large areas, sometimes just the smallest local patch of wildlife takes on what might seem to be disproportionate significance.

When our local Council cut the grass verges around the law courts here in Hastings recently, I was so relieved they didn’t stray over on to this little area on the edge of Summerfields Woods that was delightfully overgrown with long grass and wildflowers.

This is where I photographed the Red Campion for ‘Champion Campion’, and the Ribeye Plantain for ‘Weed or Wildflower?

It’s also saturated with all manner of other wildflowers, including Oxeye Daisies, Horseshoe Vetch, Foxgloves (pink and white), and Clover (red and white).


As for butterflies, this week has seen Large Skippers, Common Blues and Meadow Browns enjoying this rich diversity of flora.

Common Blue

Then a few days ago I learned that this wild patch was left alone by the Council only because it in fact belongs to Optivo, the housing association that also owns the neighbouring block of new flats.

I’d been chatting to a fellow dog-walker who lives in the block.

Red Clover

He told me that residents had been complaining to their landlord about their communal garden area which had overgrown; that Optivo had responded and were soon to cut it back.

Large Skipper

My fear was that the housing association would mow down the wildflower patch at the same time. In my experience, Councils and other bureaucratic landowners generally have far less regard for wildlife than they do for keeping green spaces neat and orderly or concreting planet Earth.

I was genuinely worried and even considered contacting Optivo asking them to preserve this mini-wilderness.

Thankfully, however, it was left alone. Another reprieve for one of my favourite little patches of land. Phew! Another answered (unspoken) prayer.

One to watch in future years, though, I reckon.

Horseshoe Vetch