Groundsel by Margaret Erskine Wilson from Wild Flowers of Britain Month by Month.

Groundsel by Margaret Erskine Wilson from Wild Flowers of Britain Month by Month.

Last night must have been perfect for smuggling. It was pitch black when I went out on my bike first thing, only a thin slither of a moon to be seen. My bike light picked out the edges of the ice that crosshatched the canal. It reflected back at me too from the ghostly mist that hung over the river and crept over into the surrounding meadows and fields. The water in my bottle clipped to the frame had lumps of ice in it when I got home. I half expected a ghost of an 18th Century Customs and Excise Officer to apprehend me as I cycled past the old warehouses on the quay, wanting to know what I’d been up to!

On a different tack, I was given a lovely book for Christmas, which I thought I might post about here as each month of 2017 passes. It’s called Wild Flowers of Britain Month by Month by Margaret Erskine Wilson. Margaret was a schoolteacher living in the Lakes. In order to help a friend recognize the different species of wild flowers in the UK she made watercolour sketches and sent them to her. Obviously the bulk of the sketches cover the summer, when most of our British wild flowers are about but there are a few to be found in winter. Here is her sketch of groundsel, which I was weeding out of our garden wall at the weekend so is definitely around in January. If you have a mind to, others to look out for this month are, winter heliotrope, red dead nettle, dog mercury, snowdrops and aconites.

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