Oxhill News

www.oxhill.com / www.oxhill.org.uk

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

May 2012

This months News



Nature Notes

“All the young men and maides, olde men and wives, run gadding overnight to the woods, groves, hills and mountains, where they spend all the night in pleasant pastimes; and in the morning, they return, bringing with them birch and branches of trees, their chiefest jewel they bring from thence is the Maie-pole, which they covered all over with flowers and herbes, bound with strings of variable colours, having two or three hundred men, women and children following it with great devotion.  And thus it is dugge into the ground and then fall they go to banqueting and feasting, to leaping and dancing about it, as heathen people did at the dedication of their idols.” 

Philip Stubbes, 1580

And next month we have the Jubilee to look forward to !!

While working in my workshop at Upper St Dennis I have been much amused recently by the antics of a pair of jackdaws.  In a dutch barn alongside, there is an owl box set up on the roof beams.  This box has a landing tray and an entrance hole measuring approximately 5” x 5”.  The jackdaws had spent some time investigating the box, landing on the tray, going inside, peeping out, then both going in and popping back out again … obviously a good next site.  The following day they started to arriving carrying sticks, which naturally they carried horizontally.  The sticks averaged 8” to 10” long, but the entrance was only 5” wide, so you can see the problem.  Each bird in turn would stand and try and get its stick through this hole.  This went on for quite some time, but to no avail – if only they had turned their heads sideways.  One bird then made a concerted effort; taking several strides back he ran at it, but with so much force he fell over backwards and dropped his stick.  At this point they both flew off, not to return again.  A great shame, I would have liked to see them master the art of “square peg into a round hole”. 

Survivors of the shooting season, a cock pheasant and his three hens have taken up residence at the top of our garden.  I suspect at least two of the hens are nesting.  Every day he brings down one, two, or three of his harem to feed from under our feeders.  Of course these game birds are now protected by the close season.  We tend to think of game nowadays as being pheasant, partridge, woodcock and wild duck, but up until the early 1950s that wasn’t so; it was quite legal to shoot cormorant, heron, jay, lapwing, golden plover (I can remember eating this in a restaurant in the seventies), corncrake, water rail, starling, swan, swift and thrush, for which there was no closed season.  Even our quintessential English bird, the skylark, was up for grabs.  Let me whet your appetite: 

Larks a la Lucullus

Clean and bone the larks and stuff them with foie gras, braise as described for Larks in Aspic, dress in soufflé cases and fill up with rich truffle sauce.

Perhaps also on the table, Starlings a L’anglaise, (starlings with parsley and ham stuffing), and the highlight, Swan Jardiniere.  All from The Master Book of Game and Poultry by Henry Smith.  He also regales us with Badger Hams, “cooked for the Badger Feasts of Somersetshire” and Lark Pies “no longer served in restaurants, but a traditional delicacy of Hunt Ball menus”.  Fortunately our Jubilee Lunch will not be so controversial.

Holy Thorn of Glastonbury, Doble’s Thorn, Beggar’s Bush, May Bush or Hawthorn now comes into bloom, but don’t bring it indoors as it may cause illness, an accident, or bring serious bad luck.

The Cherry Trees

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed

Edward Thomas

 Grenville Moore

This site is maintained by villagers of Oxhill for the benefit of the community and those interested in the history, news and activities that make the village such a pleasant place to live.

Send mail to the editor of the Oxhill News at news-editor @ oxhill.org.uk.

©2012 Oxhill Village (Terms and Conditions of use)

Last modified: April 24, 2012