28th April Our annual Bluebell-fest (see here and here). We're at Dockey Wood by 6-45am and we have the place to ourselves, except for two hard-core photographers. It may be my imagination, but I think the display is marginally less spectacular this year. Perhaps the recent hot weather or yesterday's heavy rain and high winds have taken their toll....nevertheless, the colours are still breath-taking. As is traditional, we wander around looking like rank amateurs, taking a few snaps, before leaving the Wood for The Coombe via Ward's Hurst Farm. The smell of the wild garlic is strong as we walk through The Coombe and we have the place to ourselves.
You've probably not heard of the Battle of Berkhamsted Common...it doesn't rank high on the National Curriculum. However, without it we'd not be walking on Berkhamsted Common today. During the 1860's wealthy landowners raced to enclose the common land on their estates. In February 1866 Lord Brownlow enclosed Berkhamsted Common, erecting a 5ft iron fence to keep out the great unwashed and infuriating the locals. Augustus Smith and George Shaw-Lefevre, local Liberal MPs, responded by chartering a train from Euston at midnight on 6th March. It left crammed with 120 'beered-up' Irish Navvies, rounded up from the East End. The train arrived at Tring Station at 1-30 in the morning and under cover of darkness the Navvies dismantled the fence, leaving it stacked in neat piles on the Common. The ensuing rumpus resulted in a legal battle that was finally resolved in favour of the commoners in a court judgment of 1870. Do you need a better reason to vote LibDem?
A Chilterns highlight-the Spring bluebells at Dockey Wood, Ashridge Estate. We got up early Sunday morning to catch the sun rise and the bluebells before church...and frankly, it was worth the effort! As we arrive at Dockey Wood it's clear we're not the only people with this idea, the car park by the Wood is almost full and it's 7-30am.