‘NOVEMBER’, says the calendar. But the Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells beg to differ.
Umber leaves scratch at boughs and spiral from blue sky. Great handfuls are scooped up by laughing children. Fan-shaped, ferns firework skyward to burning beeches.
Blooming berries are sprayed across hedges – yet the fields sprawl green and lush. We even discover a lonely dandelion.
Leaves and lumpen earth mulch underfoot. Muddy puddles hog the footpaths. Bold brassicas march on the sidelines. Weirdly, it’s warm. Dazzled by the sun, we pant past prancing Labradors. Even a hollyhock flowers, outside a shepherd’s cottage. Catkins dangle.
The Winterborne valley’s an elegant vale. The trees in Cliff Wood vault and arch. The shrivelled stream waits for winter, before bubbling back to life. A beetle staggers past. A ladybird hugs a stinging nettle. Holly jostles for supremacy with ivy-clad trunks. Whatcombe House is flanked by red-topped trees. In the neighbouring field, we meet Blobby the horse.
We see mysterious pink berries – does anyone know what these are called?
We repair to The Milton Arms. A haven for travellers between Dorchester and Blandford since the 1600s, it welcomes us too – with a lovely late lunch.