The spiky ornamental grasses, the shrubby purple hebe and the tete-a-tete daffodils have all bulked up but the stars of the show are the primulas. They’ve been no more than a bedraggled rosette of leaves all winter but over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen more and more flowers appearing.
12 noon: When we arrive at Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, Whitley Lower, there’s a clear view across Mirfield and the Calder Valley to the hills beyond, with patches of sunlight scudding gently across the landscape.
On the highest ground in the distance, there’s a white brilliance, which appears to be a powdering of snow.
A buzzard circles over Liley Wood, below us to the west.
Grey cloud and misty rain obscure the view for ten minutes or so, as a shower passes over.
Charlotte’s used to be a regular weekly destination for several years, when we’d head here on a Thursday morning for coffee and scones with my mum. She died a little over two years ago but, had she lived, we would have been celebrating her ninety-ninth birthday last Sunday. In fact, she once suggested that for her one hundredth birthday she would like treat all her family and friends to a gathering at Charlotte’s.
Her latest great-grandchild, Henry, is making his first visit here today, but he’s far too young to appreciate the ice cream.
A large spotted pig is contentedly snoring in its pen.
Also taking a break, there’s a pochard on the duck pond, sleeping with its bill tucked under its wing.
7.55 a.m.: A male reed bunting perches on a dried up purple loosestrife stem then flies down to the edge of the pond and stays there for a minute, not apparently finding anything to feed on.
If it’s checking out our small pond, it isn’t impressed, as it flies up into the crab apple, joining the regular tits and finches for another minute or two before flying off towards the lower end of the wood, perhaps to drop in on Coxley Beck. It takes no interest in the bird feeders.
We can’t see an accompanying female.
Reed buntings are regulars in the marshy fields by the river half a mile away but it’s a rarity for us to spot one in the garden. In fact, I don’t remember recording one before; if so it must have been over twenty-five years ago.