A five minute walk is all it took for me to find true peace.
Peace and tranquillity is not something I would have expected from a patch of land in a housing estate, all be it a very pretty housing estate..in the centre of town? A wildlife lovers mirage hidden amongst everyday UPVC doors and the odd pretty net curtain or two.
I only found out about this place last week after seeing it mentioned in the local paper. As you can probably tell I was a little dubious about what I may find but as I walked up the dusty footpath to the gate my senses knew I was about to experience something magical.
The little wooden gate hidden beneath new green leaves told me I had arrived 'Swains lane nature reserve' As I turned to walk in a rusty breasted Chaffinch sat just an arms length in front of me. He didn't seem too bothered by my arrival but after a few moments flitted down to the dew soaked grass to join his mate searching for tasty morsels.
The first thing I noticed was the bird song, It was late in the morning but if I closed my eyes it may well have been dawn. I could have sworn it wasn't this loud on the way. The sound was almost contained in this relatively small habitat, bizarre yet beautiful. I read on the information board that it used to be an orchard and some older trees remain in the lower part with new apple trees planted on the higher ground. As I walked around these young trees I was humbled by their beauty and a little envious of their potential years. Astonishingly Grass had been left to...well grow! The nettles were thick and loved regardless of their protective exterior.
I found myself daydreaming of creatures that may visit at night, log piles had tracks leading out and into the distance, hedgehogs? I could smell fox on the air and surely there must be the flicker of a bat. However I didn't need to imagine for very long as my mind was taken back to what was in front of me. The flick of a blue butterfly on the abundant ivy.
In the lower part of the reserve I sat for a while watching all manner of bumble bees busily collecting pollen from the cowslips. Buff tails and hairy footed flower bees seem like names for a story book but not here, this place needs no bindings or pages. It is a living story.
The cackling call of a magpie broke the softness of my little bumble bee world but I forgave him for it. A feather hung tattered from his body, probably fighting over territory or mates. He seemed eager for me to carry on exploring so I followed his lead.
I traced the sweet falling blossom to the pond. As my eyes adjusted to the murky depths another world appeared before my eyes. Strange prehistoric creatures moved silently and slowly like dragons in miniature. A shiny eye caught in the reflected sun led to a slip of a tail into the deep. I spent time in the presence of these creatures. Very rarely have I experienced the lives of newts but I hope to spend more time with these fascinating amphibians. I fear I may have fallen in love next to that pond.
It took some time before I could tare myself away but what is time when you have treasure? I passed by the stitchwort smiling as I went. A peacock butterfly danced before me and a speckled wood pitched on the cow parsley before a broken wall.
I returned through the same gate richer and happier. A blackbird landed to my left and a sparrow to my right. It somehow seemed appropriate for a hidden gem to have such unassuming gatekeepers.