What a difference a week makes at this time of year. Warm sun and little wind makes for a perfect spring day. Inside Penrice Estate, most trees are still without leaves, the snowdrops have gone, and just a few withering crocuses hang on, and in their place a great mass of celandines, wood anemones and primroses carpet the parkland floor. A handful of violets hide in the shade of some trees, and dandelions are starting to spread. More snake’s head fritillaries are out, but this is just the beginning; in a week from now they’ll be at their best.
In wetter places, clumps of marsh marigolds shine vibrant yellow in the afternoon sun, in normal years they would be growing out of water, but this year many are surrounded by dried-out mud. Yellow flag, now about a foot high, won’t be out for weeks, and the reeds are beginning to poke green shoots above the water. Flying insects are few, and I wonder how the distant singing chiffchaff is faring. A Cetti’s warbler calls from deep inside the marsh; they’re resident here, and he too may be finding food difficult to locate.
The sluice at the end of the great lake drains out into a tiny waterfall creating the only sound save for a few birds in the trees above. The path to the Jack Pond tells me that badgers were here last night, and at the pond a little more spring has arrived. Willows are showing bright green leaves, and groups of tiny flies dance in vertical circles above the water. The footpath ends at a stile leading to an old wet meadow. I could walk to Oxwich village from here, but prefer the secret world of the Jack Pond. Looking back through the bare trees to the great house I see water, reeds, woodland and the elegant Georgian house. I’m back in the reign of George III.