The Countryside About Us - January 1995

posted 9 Jan 2015, 11:32 by James Mansell
Maybe you have seen the Taj Mahal by moonlight or marvelled at the Grand Canyon or even sailed through the Three Gorges on the mighty Yangtze River, but may I suggest that a vision I witnessed from the edge of our humble parish could be mentioned in the same paragraph. My words will, I fear, be somewhat inadequate to portray the scene.  I was standing on the high ground, known on the 1841 map as Great Hill, overlooking the valley, in which lies Brandeston Road, towards Cretingham Lodge. It was late in the month of November; the sun was setting creating a blaze of red and orange flecked sky behind the house and farm buildings of the Lodge. In the immediate foreground a field of green wheat shoots were illuminated by this last light. Fog had rolled into the low ground but the roadside houses were in sharp and black silhouette. The Low Meadows just beyond were shrouded in mist to about mid tree height leaving the tops of the trees illuminated by the last sun’s rays. As the final backdrop to it all stood The Lodge as though it had been there for ever.  In a few moments all had changed as the sun continued its daily progress towards the New World. The ingredients for that delightful moment are unlikely to come together again for a long time. Sadly the images of the mind fade quickly but I think I will long remember the sunset on that winter’s evening.

Now is the time to position new nest boxes in the garden. This gives likely tenants plenty of time to become accustomed to them before the serious business of breeding begins. Position the box well away from bird tables. The entrance should face NE. It is also a good time to clear out the debris of old nests used this year and sterilize with boiling water to kill off parasites that will harm the chicks. The next two months will probably see hedge trimming underway. This should not be confused with hedge removal! That is quite a different matter. The hedge bordering Brandeston Road was coppiced about 15 years ago. Now well established young hawthorn, oak saplings and blackthorn providing sloes make for a lovely boundary to the roadside and High Bridge Field that it borders.

The sugarbeet crop will soon be safely in the factory. By all accounts the percentage sugar is very satisfactory. Wet growing seasons produce high weights and low sugar content and hot sunny days the opposite. The 6 row beet harvester makes a quick job clearing the crop unlike those long gone days of farm workers lifting the whole crop by hand. Who would turn the clock back to those days? No one I imagine!

Roger Sykes

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