While Commando went out for a ten mile run, training for the Manchester marathon, I decided to spend the morning wandering in Hum Hole. This is a tiny fragment of the ancient woodland that, as recently as the nineteenth century, covered the area around my village stretching all the way down to the Itchen and the river walk. Why it’s called Hum Hole I don’t know but it is a deep dip with a stream running through. When I was young it was much larger but changes to the Main Road and a new bypass ate into it a fair bit.
As far as walking goes it was a bit of a cop out, just one point three miles, which means I don’t very often go there. It’s an area worth exploring though and I was hopeful of seeing a few interesting fungi at the very least. Besides, it was a beautiful crisp, sunny morning, far too nice to be inside.
When I got to the top of the slope leading down into the woods I was a little unsure which path to take. Hum Hole may be small but there are quite a selection of trails, most of which I haven’t taken since I was a child and before the bypass. These days I’m not sure which ones are still walkable, or even where they all come out now. In the end I decided to play it safe. Once you leave the paved circular route running round the pond all the trails are just dirt and leaf mould, right now that means mostly mud.
The pond is actually new, when I was young I seem to remember it just being boggy at the bottom but The Friends Of Hum Hole have cleaned it up a bit and added things like benches and litter bins. Sadly not everyone seems to understand the concept of bins. So I walked down into the dip then back up to the top. Here I left the easy walking of the circular path behind and set off along the leafy trail into the woods. One of these days when it’s not so muddy underfoot I will explore the other paths.
When I saw a hollowed out tree stump I was hopeful of some fungi. Sadly, when I got close enough to peer inside I was disappointed. There were some tiny bracket fungi on a nearby twig, but nothing very exciting. A little further on though, things got more interesting. Some fallen, rotten branches were covered in white growths that looked almost as if someone had been randomly splattering cake icing about. Why do all my descriptions come back to food I wonder?
There seemed to be rather a lot of the white fungus all over the amassed branches. The smaller pieces were flat to the wood but those that had grown larger had frilled edges, they looked like they were trying to grow into something else. Maybe my friend in New Hampshire knows what they are because I certainly don’t. Not far off there were some larger shelf fungi that looked like brown turkey tails, perhaps there is a connection. Further along there were a whole group of them, hiding almost beneath a branch. These looked like oyster shells.
So I carried on along the trail, eyes darting about looking for more interesting things. Sure enough it wasn’t long before I saw another fungus, quite like a turkey tail but very gnarly and wet, as if it had had way too much rain. Come to think of it it probably had. Close by there was some equally wet moss. My final fungus find of the day was something that looked like a cross between the white cake icing and the brown shelf fungus. Whether it is part of the same life cycle or something altogether different I have no idea.
I’d come to the end of the woodland trail but not quite the end of my adventure. Walking up the steps towards the village I couldn’t help but stop and take a closer look at the lichen growing on the brick walls. Lichen is easy to pass by without a second glance. It’s everywhere, a circular ring on a wall, a frilly growth on a branch. When you look closely though its like a tiny alien world. The colours are bright, there are frills and discs and tiny tubes. Seriously, you could take a picture and frame it as art. Of course I took some pictures.
After that it was a case of walking back down the Little Hill towards home. Two quick stops, one to snap some dried out hydrangea flowers, another some more lichen growing on the branches of the little magnolia beside the fluffy buds. All in all it was a nice walk, if a little shorter than I’d have liked.
Back at home I set about tidying up the kitchen. This was when I found the first of the things to make me smile today. Just before Christmas Commando bought me an amaryllis in a pot. It’s been sitting on the kitchen table slowly growing strappy leaves ever since. Part of my kitchen clean up involved giving it a little water and, when I did, I spotted a flower bud. I’ve never had an amaryllis before so I’m quite excited to see it flower.
The second thing to make me smile was a surprise trip organised by Commando but I’ll have to tell you about that tomorrow.