FLOWERS: The Flower Festival that took place over the last weekend in June raised upwards of £1800 pounds in aid of St Laurence Church, which is a fine effort. It is good to know that all our hard work was worth it. There continue to be funds coming in from the plants that are still selling during Sunday afternoon teas and, indeed, anytime. People can help themselves to plants and leave a donation.

SUMMER: Now, in high summer, it is wonderful to take the road down to Mary Farm. I say down, but the beginning of the walk at the bottom of Ridge Road, is a steep climb. You walk up, admiring the view off to the right, of the sweep of the downs all the way to Eastbourne on a clear day. Then the hedgerows catch your attention, alive with small birds. Yellowhammers, warblers, and a family of newly fledged long-tailed tits flit about and chatter amongst themselves. Finally, feeling quite hot, you reach the top of the hill and then you are going down, plunging into the shadows where the trees that grow either side of the road meet overhead. The sunlight flickers through the gaps and then you are out in the sunshine again and looking at the vast field sloping down and then up again to your left. Clouds of butterflies are along the edge of the Beech woods, gatekeepers, meadow browns and marbled whites. Sometimes you will see a Buzzard patrolling the field for rabbits, or there may be Roe deer taking advantage of the grazing. At last you arrive at the little cluster of houses that make up Mary Farm. You could go on to Ditchling Beacon, or up to Streathill farm and circle back or you could just turn about and stomp back up the hill and down again to Falmer. As I write this the rain is coming down and the wind blowing, but I can assure you on a fine day the walk is lovely.

WILDLIFE: We are overrun with squirrels at the moment. The beastly little things are eating all our carefully grown fruit and veg. They are nibbling the courgettes and running off with the apricots, they haven’t tried the chillies yet, I wish they would it might give them a nasty shock. More welcome are the little gangs of new fledged blue tits and the dedicated parent thrushes that have been feeding their young on the ground. I hope they don’t come to any harm.

WORKSHOPS: There are some interesting events listed on the University of Sussex website. I didn’t realise there were so many talks at the Keep on all sorts of subjects. I am also intrigued by the workshops running at the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects. There is one this Saturday (tomorrow) from 1pm to 5pm, on planting the right flowers to attract bees. You can call the University to book a place. If you are a beekeeper you may be interested in the ‘Integrated varroa management workshop’ on August 7 at 1pm. Apparently this workshop is about methods of pest and disease control.

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