The Countryside About Us - January 1994

posted 2 Jan 2014, 10:07 by James Mansell
Are you looking out of your January window   on to a snow covered parish ? More likely, if you enjoy a walk along our footpaths, you are cleaning your very muddy boots or even muddier dog, at the end of a walk because of this wet and mild mid- winter. As well as looking ahead as you walk, looking skywards, weather conditions permitting, there is a new feature.
 In the countryside above us, gone are the “whining and weaving” American A10 “whart hogs” and instead the “chunter” of an Army Air Corps Gazelle or Puma helicopter catches your eye and ear. One touched down close by a wood recently and I half expected to be asked “which way to Wattisham please?”

As attractive to the eye as many of our old houses are, a watchful eye must be kept on them for deterioration. A neglected slipped tile or damaged thatch is best attended to before a small problem becomes a big headache! Such was the intention, I am certain, when a local farmer noticed a small hole in the outer wall of his 15th century farm house.  A more thorough investigation was called for. Although only a small hole the correct technique for repair was necessary. Probing into the gap further came the surprise. To discover crumbling mortar or wattle was one thing but a substantial horde of hazel nuts was quite another! Several hundred nuts, perfectly stored must have represented many hours of industry by a pair of grey squirrels.  These were often seen in the vicinity but never actually caught, storing away the nuts in the wall. Often squirrels will bury nuts in differing locations, and then forget where they have placed them. Some oak trees probably had such a start in their long life this way.  Squirrels have a “bad press” for their egg stealing but even rogues can have an appealing side to their characters, and this I felt, was theirs.

Roger Sykes