At first there seemed very little colour, but again, as we really started to look we found lesser celandine - its yellow petals gleaming like so many fallen stars; then a squint through the trees revealed blobs of white wood anemone; and, just missed by our mud covered boots - the tiniest of purple violets bravely pushing up through the litter. Stephanie spotted our first cuckoo flower or ladysmock - such a pretty, delicate mauve - a spring flower of damp places that is very attractive to orange tip butterflies. The hawthorn and elder bushes were smudged with green. All around us were spiky blackthorn bushes and trees smothered in clouds of creamy white blossom - at its very best in March. Remember - the blackthorn blossom comes first, before the leaves; the hawthorn blossoms once the leaves are out. You could almost plug into the energy growing up alongside the path - a seemingly indifferent mass of green weeds about to miraculously morph into much more - numerous wild arum (cuckoo pint, lords and ladies - seeds like an orange lollipop in the autumn - you must know it), cleavers were crawling everywhere - presumably they "stick" to one place in the end; dog mercury embarking on its woodland invasion, and fresh sprouts of green alkanet which will bloom into wild forget me not type flowers in a week or so. We spotted hart's tongue ferns in the old stone lock and the remains of buddleia flower heads soon to be overtaken by this year's growth.
Up and over sturdy new bridges and through the 30 year old Heusenstamm Friendship Wood we stood ankle deep in mud to admire the Leigh Flood Barrier then retraced our steps to pass by a large meadow, seeded with wild flowers which will be a picture in the summer and came to Barden Lake. Here it was impossible not to "spot" the water birds - swans, tufted ducks, Canada and greylag geese, a pair of Egyptian geese with young, great crested grebe, coot etc. etc . all up to no good by the look of it! As we walked around the lake following a diversion to peep at a pill box and admire the ironwork of the Lucifer bridge spanning the Medway, we heard a skylark high above and found a huge clump of violets (see pic). Spring has sprung and we can prove it!