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Autumnal feeling with Conkers and Acorns Photo: Oak acorns growing on bank of Ounavarra River .

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

There was a discernible autumnal feel to the weather today with a nice fresh dew on the grass and that muggy airless feeling in the atmosphere around us. I listened to the weather forecast and there were forebodings of terrible weather coming in from midday onwards with heavy rain, flooding, hail and thunder and lightning .

One is reminded of Macbeth “ when will we three meet again, In Thunder , lightning or in rain”. Well maybe our group of three walking folk will venture out in the woods ahead of the bad weather.

On arrival at base I saw we had a quorum for walking and there were sufficient other souls who were willing to dare the impending worsening elements and it could a very interesting stroll.

I had been watching the horse chestnut trees for the past few weeks and they have been developing a lot of brown leaf spots .I hoped it would not delay or damage that yearly delight of the horse chestnuts with children and adults collecting them for conker fights .

I was delighted when, shortly after starting on the broad walk I detected some fully formed horse chestnuts . This seemed to be early enough in the season for them and so I snapped them noting date and venue. Down by riverside I met another forest walker with her two children who was examining a chestnut tree and she informed me that a lot of the trees were suffering from brown spot this year and they could not find a reason yet.

All the oak trees looked healthy except where walkers had broken off some lower hanging branches just for the fun of it as a young chap informed me one day when `I had the temerity to ask him why he did it . His parents thought it was hilarious and off they went laughing saying “Now we told you not to do it “ . This was strictly for my benefit and not in the long-term interest of the oak trees.

Anyway, it is nice to report that the oak acorns are still thriving ,with lots of them growing into maturity and for the record I snapped them for posterity noting the date and location.

While walking along the riverbank I have to stop and sit down to view the beautiful Cotton tree standing aloof in all its lofty majestic glory in Courtown woods even if the sky above was not pure azure blue to complement its elegance in the magisterium of the forest. It was lording it over all its underlings and ready to deliver the doctrine of the woods. it looked magnificent while its companions across the stream looked equally well .

It is worthwhile too to look in the undergrowth and to observe the huge variety of fungal mushroom like material that grows on rotting tree stumps, most of it highly poisonous but it’s lovely to admire but never to touch or put on your lips. I snapped some wild mushrooms today for later identification.

Finally, today I observed a beautiful lords and ladies plant which was really putting on a great show, resplendent in all its glory with the full complement of red berries.

A young woman ,pushing a buggy, was showing them to her eldest boy ,when I informed her that they were deadly poisonous and should not be touched by young or old and so she buggied off, having most graciously thanked me for taking the time out to warn her of the dangers lurking in the woods .

And so, after another great couple of hours of rambling through forests, I wander out on to the ever busy Ballymoney Road ,across the chicken farm road I finally found my way on to the Burrow road and headed for the car park and home.

There was an extra pep in everyone’s step when they observed the darkening sky overhead and the gentle drops of summer rain cooling us all down after our physical efforts on another day in the sunny South East. Luckily, we hit the car park before the yellow weather warning hit ourselves, and our beloved Courtown and Gorey.

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