Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Re-encountering an old friend

By a happy chance I have renewed my acquaintanceship with the Fritillaries, a butterfly family which prompted my first appearance in print. You can read the story here, in a much earlier post on this blog. I always think with great affection and thanks of John Armitage, curator of natural history at Leeds City Museum, who is central to the tale.

Our re-encounter took place in a forested ride at Ditchley Park, a wartime refuge for Sir Winston Churchill, apparently because the estate is so richly planted with trees that the vast mansion was hard to spot from the air. Penny and I were more struck by the number of formal avenues of trees - beeches, cherries, conifers and much else - which seem to have appealed to owners in the past.

It is excellent in Oxfordshire how close you can get to the grand houses on these estates, even when they are in sensitive ownership so far as security is concerned. We had a fascinating walk earlier in the summer between Kiddington and Glympton Park, estates which belong respectively to Jemima Khan and the Saudi Royal family. You can go right up to both mansions, although doubtless you are not only watching yourself but being watched.

This is by way of introduction to my continuing, dogged process of photographing the butterflies we get round here. The fritillary, a female Silver-washed I think, is a bit of a cheat as Ditchley is five or six miles away from us but the Ringlet, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown which follow are all regular visitors to the garden.

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