I’m afraid my life isn’t very interesting at the moment. I’m spending most of my free time hidden away in an outbuilding writing the final entries in my professional logbook. Once I’ve submitted this at the end of the month, assuming I pass, I’ll be a Chartered Psychologist; and then I’ll be Badger Watching Man BSc MSc CPsychol, thank you very much! In the evenings it’s just me, my laptop and a mouse that lives up the chimney and keeps me company (for the interested, I think it’s a Mus musculus rather than an Apodemus sylvaticus, but it’s a bit shy and I never quite get a good look at it).
It’s been glorious weather today so, like Mole in The Wind in the Willows I said “bother chartership logbooks!” and took Scarlett out for a short walk around the fields. Despite the sunshine it’s definitely autumn now. The trees are starting to turn and the vegetation is dying back. The hedgerows are still fruitful though. There are late blackberries still to be found. Now, you’re not supposed to eat blackberries after a certain date (either Michaelmas (29th September) or 11th October, depending on which version you follow) because allegedly the devil comes up and urinates on them. It is true that they don’t taste great later in the year, but I had a few today and they were quite nice, so perhaps the devil is waiting until tomorrow. Scarlett took no chances and refused them all.
The hedgerows were also full of hawthorn berries and rose hips. I know you can make rose hip syrup, which is a good source of vitamin C for the winter, but I don’t know if you can eat hawthorn berries. I’ll check it out sometime. I’ve never heard of anyone eating them, so either they’re not edible or just not very tasty, but there were a lot of them so it’s something to think about. There seems to be a good crop of sloes this year too (hence the dreadful and inexcusable pun in the title). As you’ll know if you’ve ever tried one, Sloes – the fruit of the blackthorn – are so tart as to be inedible, but I picked a bagful with an idea of making sloe gin. Apparently the trick is to put them in the freezer so the cell walls burst and the flavour comes out into the gin more easily. As an alternative you can prick them all over, but that sounds like far too much work. We have some chestnut trees in the spinney down the road, but the squirrels seem to have eaten all the best ones, just like they ate all the nuts on my hazel bushes earlier in the year. Perhaps I’ll take a walk one weekend up to Aspley woods, where there are lots of chestnut trees, hopefully enough so that the squirrels can share their bounty with me.
My short walk took me along the sandy field where I do a lot of tracking. It seems to be planed with wheat already and there weren’t many tracks to be seen, but I did find something mysterious. In a couple of places there were ridges of earth running out about 15 feet into the field that looked like something had burrowed along just under the surface and pushed up the soil.
There are lots of rabbits in this field, and voles too, but I’ve never seen anything like this before. There were no molehills in the immediate vicinity. I assume they’re tunnels made by an animal, but I don’t know which one.
I like a good mystery. It’ll give me something to think about as I toil away in the evenings working on my logbook.