Ophrys apifera

July 28, 2013

Otherwise known as Bee Orchid


40-odd years ago, there was a school class competition to identify as many wild flowers as could be found. A copy of the Rev Keble Martin’s ‘Concise British Flora in Colour’ was the ‘Bible’ to rule out garden escapees. I later was given a 1/3rd size paperback copy of the book, which I still have.

Then you were supposed to pick a flower to show you had found it – mostly illegal these days, but also just about everyone has a camera with their mobile phone (as the picture above) so there is no need to pick the flower (although I have seen evidence of picked flowers).

Over that weekend, my family went to what is now my favourate location, and there, in the middle of the path, was a Bee Orchid. I could not believe it, but nor could I say anything about it.

The path had been diverted away from where the orchid had been many years ago, and in any case there were many years in between when wild flowers that I knew used to be there – cowslips, for example – had disappeared.

After the death of my mother, my brother and I went for a walk there, partly as a memorial walk. Walking along what is a new path, provided by the landowner in order to enclose much of the land, I suddenly noticed a rather familar form – it was a bee orchid, post flower, with seed pods – again, in the middle of the path.

So last year, at about the expected time, and now spending time at the weekends rather closer to it than in the week, I made weekly visits. So, at the appropriate time, I found eight plants – the one in the path, and another seven around or just beyond the fence put in by the landowner.

This year was different. The one in the path has disappeared; the other seven were again flowering (as above), but a load of bushes have been planted staight through where they were in order to form a future hedge. But further along, on the fence of the next field, I found two more.

BUT last week I found only one. All those others that had flowered had disappeared. I had checked my location carefully, as I had recorded their location by landmarks – well, fenceposts.

I had kept quiet about this while the plants were thriving, but it seems that they have been removed – before the seeds could have ripened.

Because of an expected rainstorm – which came rather later than predicted – I didn’t visit the site this week.

There are plenty of other orchids in the area in the past few years – Common Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii and Pyrimidal Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis, again they appeared to disappear for so many years after those visits 40-odd years ago, but there were hundreds if not thousands of these at this site.

I do remember another site, where we were taken by my father, where a crowd of people were watching a farmer plough up a meadow full of orchids, but I have no idea where that was, it is just a memory of sitting in a field surrounded by orchids while the tractor got closer.

However, I do wonder if these flowers (and the cowslips that are present again) are not botanical analogues to the Red Kites that circle around above – recent re-introductions from populations from other countries.

Tescoville (2)

July 22, 2013

I had been so astonished by the site of the oh-so-familiar blue painted barriers around the car showroom, which I reported for the first time yesterday, I didn’t record that it was next-shop-but-one from an independant of the ‘Costcutter’ chain, and a couple of minutes walk from a Marks & Spencer’s Simply Food. (There is also a food hall in the centre of town M&S).

The ‘Costcutter’ is going to struggle, but I’d suspect that most of the business at the M&S Simply Food will remain there.

The motivation behind these two recent blogs is that it always seems to be Tesco. I’ve just remembered a third already existing ‘local’ Tesco in the town, cannot imagine how I could have forgotten it until now.

So this town has two major Tesco stores, three (at least) existing ‘local’ or ‘Metro’ Tesco stores, and at least two under construction. Rather a lot for one town. I’m surprised Sainsbury’s haven’t put one in.

Now OK, the total floor space of all the Tescos probably don’t add up to the hypermarket sized glass-sided warehouse branch on the A4 in Slough, but then this town is no-where near the size of Slough, either.

I must vary my route from now on, keeping my eye open for all the closed down pubs and other shops in the area, to see if this town really is becoming Tescoville.

It is interesting to note that some of the satellite towns in the area house a Sainsburys, and/or a Waitrose, plus M&S, but I’m unaware of even a converted telephone kiosk into a micro-Tescos in those towns.

I was in one of the Tescos – for research purposes – and I saw some goods branded ‘Fresh & Easy’, that is the Tesco-owned brand in the western US that hasn’t done well. Since it was fresh produce, it did seem hard to imagine why they were using the US brand on the goods.

Becoming Tescoville?

July 21, 2013

I have commented on more than one occasion on how public houses are converted into ‘local’ or ‘Metro’ branches of the big supermarkets.

I also comented on the failure of the ‘Golden Fleece’ as a public house, how it was thought that it would become a local Tesco.

That work is now well underway. But within two miles, an old car showroom is also being converted into another local Tesco.

So in this town, there are: Two big Tesco stores, in the town centre and by a motorway junction, and now at least four ‘local’ Tescos. A big Sainsbury’s. There is a ‘local’ branch in a nearby village – on the site of an old pub which it demolished, as I recorded – but to get to that village by whatever route, you travel through countryside. That branch appears to have forced the closure of the established Budgens within a stone’s throw.

Back to the main town, a biggish Morrisons. A large Asda by the other motorway junction, an area that is becoming a town-on-the-hill, but somewhat separate from the rest of the town. A load of independant or small chain small supermarkets, often being forced out of business. Some of them are terrible (I have personal experience), lacking stock, service, and possibly are only really servicing a particular segment of the local population in the area – although I fail to see how they can even manage that.

I don’t mind that there are one or more ‘local’ style supermarket brnaches, but why are they all Tesco?

This ever greater dominance of Tescos in the town remindes me of the ‘Shoe Event Horizon’ in the Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s series – an economy where it becomes economically impossible to open anything but a shoe shop. Here, it appears to be impossible to open a ‘local’ supermarket anything other than Tesco’s.

I hear that Waitrose decided against opening a branch in the town, despite having significant present in the area. There is an Aldi or Lidl somewhere hidden away, but it cannot be a large branch – is the established dominance of Tesco showing?

As a brief note on Public Houses, the George V has had yet another round of advertising for a new ‘mine host’; others also have such advert up outside. Many public houses are now being converted to housing, other commercial premises (other than the supermarkets I have gone on about).