Despite the weather forecast with its warning of ground frost and chilly nights, Mister E and I know that it is really July. Unfortunately in what has been the windiest summer we can remember, we have all but given up any chance of a spell of settled weather for some longer distance sailing. This week, therefore, found us determined still to enjoy the outdoor life despite the bouts of heavy rain. We may have waterproof gear but there really is no fun (or we don't think so) of trudging up and down hills hidden behind peaked hoods and seeking shelter beyond a dry stone wall to eat our lunchtime sandwiches, the view all but obliterated by low cloud and raindrops.
So yesterday and today, our walks shared a common theme of conservation as we walked first to a local wetlands area, small but of scientific interest as it dates back to prehistoric times when a lake formed after the last Ice Age. It is close enough to home that when the rain clouds began to congregate again, there was almost sufficient time to reach our front door before the heavens opened.
Today we waited until the rain appeared to have dispersed and headed by car to another site also designated of scientific interest, namely the conservation area at Foxglove Covert on Ministry of Defence land at Catterick Garrison. We thought the bird hides would provide the perfect shelter, should we need it.
To enter the area you have to pass through a security gate, vouch for your credentials at a guard house, handing over your passports to the duty officer, after which you are then given a military escort to the entrance to the reserve, the gates to which are locked behind you.
All great stuff and worth the angst, because the conservation area itself was an impressive wet, grass and heath environment providing the perfect habitat for all manner of British wildlife and plants. Moreover it was relatively quiet and to the extent that we had the board walks and pathways very much to ourselves.
Also, it was hard to believe that we were actually in the middle of one of Britain's largest army bases.