Thursday, 21 December 2017

Christmas sparkle

A few weeks ago, BBOWT asked me to write a piece about getting outdoors over the Christmas period. I was very proud to see it printed, along with some of my photos, in today's Bucks Examiner.

The article, about a frosty morning walk around beautiful Weston Turville Reservoir, is below ...

The traditional Christmas chaos has well and truly taken over in our house, with a mindboggling array of nativity plays, school fairs, carol concerts and Christmas parties. With school term finally finished though, it’s time to take a deep breath, open another box of mince pies and put our feet up in front of the television for the inevitable repeats of the Star Wars and Harry Potter films. It’s a time to relax and over-indulge, but I give the kids about two days before they start to annoy each other. The answer is simple … wear them out, running wild in the fresh air around one of our beautiful local nature reserves.

Weston Turville Reservoir is one of our favourite places to visit on a frosty winter morning. There’s something magical about the shimmering light that the winter sunshine casts across the water. The intricate metalwork of the sluice gate, set against the frost covered bulrushes and reeds is beautiful. Christmas sparkle has been dusted like icing sugar over everything.

Peering into the ice topped water, the kids are intrigued by what’s lurking underneath. They laugh as a moorhen with enormous feet skates past and watch mesmerised as a grey, hunched heron watches us from a nearby fishing platform. Then a rustle of the reeds and a distinctive squeal alerts us to, not a piglet at our feet as we first thought, but an elusive water rail dashing for cover.

We walk around the edge of the water and make our way through the woods, jumping off logs, poking at fungi frozen solid and spotting the first snowdrops about to flower. Then we follow the trail through the trees to one of the hides on the far side of the reservoir. Peeping out of the windows, we’re hoping to catch sight (or sound) of one the bitterns that occasionally put in an appearance, but our lucks not in this time (or perhaps we’re just too noisy!) We don’t really mind and just enjoy this intimate view of the birds out on the water. 

With numb fingers and pink noses, it’s time to head home for a warming hot chocolate and just one more mince pie.

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