S. Martino meatfeast

For years I’ve been intrigued by all the magic implied by the symbolism around Armistice Day. Not only the numerology of 11.11.11, cranked up to exceptional heights this year when crowds of crystal-bearers had to be turned back from the Great Pyramid, but its dedication to St Martin, patron saint of soldiers.

In pasticcerie across the Veneto this week they sell biscuits in the shape of St Martin on horseback. The shivering beggar doesn’t feature.

This was the day too of slaughter for those animals not to be over-wintered and was the one on which I received bloody bags of beef from a beast so lately, so unwittingly, transforming the coarse indigestible grasses of the Brede Valley into steaks and stews.

The Pett Levellers too were laying carnivorous claim their Bird Race prize with slices of pork, lamb and beef from the carvery at the Brede Red Lion (recommended – friendly, efficient, delicious!) with appetites sharpened by hours in Brede High Wood.

The concluding detonations of the Two Minutes’ Silence, displaced to Sunday, had come to us only distantly down in the valley, followed instantly by a resumption of gunfire from the surrounding pheasant shoots.

Sunshine for a change!! Colour! I’d planned to go to the Unknown Bits but in the end there were few people around so we stuck to the middle section, looking at old lanes and pits, trying to identify fungi, recalling the ghastly consequences of misidentification and searching for Wild Service Trees.

There are now copper-coloured Sussex cattle grazing the recently-created Sedlescombe Heath. By keeping down coarse grasses they permit the regeneration of heather. We met the grazier who told us they seemed very happy and one was even putting on a bit too much weight. From the stands of Birch there twittered up a cloud of about 200 Redpolls. Not only have the Woodland Trust got this scheme under way but have continued to open up rides and thin plantations to let in more light for plants and insects.

The reservoir remains at a low level. A stream of Redwings flew over the Crassula lawn at the silted-up lake head, accompanied by several Blackbirds and then the fluting notes of a Woodlark came down from a single bird flying north – the first I’ve seen here but sadly not stopping. Many Nuthatches and Treecreepers were calling in the woods and we must have encountered at least 10 Marsh Tits, many of which were Showing Succinctly. Crossbills were flying about the whole time but usually hard to see through the branches. However we did get brief, close-up views of about 20 in a Scots Pine plantation when they Showed Explosively.

The desiccated silt, now puzzled up into polygons has been dug up for wallows by Boar till it looks like Paris streets in 1968.

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4 Responses to “S. Martino meatfeast”

  1. Any idea of the species count that sunny morning ….. excluding the chickens in the pub garden?

  2. mike mullis Says:

    Any idea why WordPress merges my name with part of my email address?

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