Thank goodness for my friend Caroline who came round to drop something off yesterday afternoon. I was not at my best with a stinging eye infection, and when she asked if I wanted to accompany her on a walk I felt so grim that I wasn’t at all sure it was a good idea, but I was so fed up of being stuck in the house that I simply grabbed my sunglasses and bag, and went with both gratitude and relief. As it happens, the salty breeze did my eyes a power of good, and by the time I returned to the house, things were amazingly improved.
As we walked down the hill, maintaining diligent social-distancing, which we did for the entire walk, the weather looked iffy. Although there were a few white fluffy clouds and some blue patches, the sky was dominated by deep blue-black monsters that were edging closer all the time. We were lucky – it didn’t rain, and even though the wind got up it was relatively warm. We started off with an ice cream each from The Sweet Shop, and then headed to the beach. The lighting was stunning, with the sun blazing intermittently through gaps in the clouds, and the colours were wonderful. As we threaded our way back towards Aberdovey through the sand dunes, the wild flowers were stunning. The highlight was probably the wild orchids, which Caroline knew where to find, but there was so much else to see too.
Pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis). I had never seen one before, but apparently it is one of the most common of the wild orchids, and can be found on just about any calcareous soil, including any sand that contains at least 1% CaC03 (calcium
carbonate) by weight. Insanely pretty.
Viper’s-bugloss (Echium vulgare). The flowers change from pink to violet as they mature. There were lots of them in the more open ground near the car park, which fits in with their preference for dry open spaces, sand and disturbed soil.
Common restharrow (Ononis repens). The flower looks like a member of the pea (vetch – Fabaceae) family, but the leaves seemed all wrong. It is in fact a vetch, creeping along the dune floor with small hairy leaves. According to the Wildlife Trust website, “common restharrow has extremely tough, thick roots that spread in a dense network and, during the days of horse-drawn cultivation, could stop (‘arrest’) a harrow in its tracks.” Apparently, when eaten by cattle it taints dairy products. The roots are reputed to taste like liquorice when chewed.