Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Devon rhymes with heaven

Just got back from the county of Devon in the south-west, birthplace of Sirs Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake, famous for its green undulating landscapes manicured by black-faced Merino sheep, and Jersey and other high-fat-milk producing cattle. Much of this milk ends up as Devonshire Clotted Cream, which itself ends up on buttered scones, spread on top of strawberry jam (or as some folks call it, jelly) - all key ingredients in the famous Devonshire Cream Teas that make the county the cholestrol capital of England if not the world.
(Clotted cream folk facts: in Devon you put the jam on the scone after the cream: in Cornwall, the next county, the cream goes on first, ie. before the jam. I’d hate you to commit an unconscious social blunder.)
In both counties, anyone from outside these two is a Grockle.
Devon is also very beautiful. In summer its rain is much warmer than in winter – as high as 18 degrees at times. (Ed R please note) The county is bound on two sides by the sea, and teems with wildlife. There are, at this time of the year, lambs everywhere. (And guess what, I forgot the mint sauce.) This afternoon I had to stop to let a wagtail scamper across the road in front of the car, and as I sit here three white-tailed rabbits are nibbling at the grass outside the window, a robin looks over their shoulders, and in the background a pheasant preens himself, showing off his plumage. I’ll try a photo but it will have to be through glass so may not be worth posting.
(I’m reminded of the time when, strolling in a royal park, my wife heard, then spotted, what we thought was a parrot in a tree. Someone’s parrot has escaped, we thought, but as we approached it took off, and was immediately joined by a whole gang of them – a chattering wave of apple-green breasts and red beaks. Surprised to find such an exotic bird in, not China or India, but Windsor, England, we did what normal people do – we Googled them. Sure enough, at some time in the late 60s, a couple of rose-ringed parakeets escaped from captivity. Being fortunately of different genders, they decided to breed - and there are now around 10,000 of them living unmolested in the woods and trees around Windsor Castle, their squawking surely audible in the Royal Bedchamber. Pity they weren’t there in Henry VIII’s time – they would have made great prey for the Royal falcons.
Google (I haven’t stopped using them in protest about China – I only believe in protests that don’t unduly disrupt my life-style) also provided me with the ornithological gem that in north-eastern England at this time of the year, one can see penduline tits. I thought that only happened on the French Riviera.
The only time you see that sort of thing in Devon is on Jersey cows - and they're not apple-green.


Ed R said...

18 degrees celcius- in SUMMER? That works out to around 65 degrees f...
My kinda place!
Penduline tits , green or not, are a fact of life almost everywhere, in one way or another, aren't they?

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