How could you resist a footpath curling through a valley called Oxenleaze Brake? Oxenleaze is a farm just over Heydon Hill below which a semicircular gully with a thin brook leads to three fishing lakes. The name Brake is probably from the archaic word for a thicket, although it’s not impossible that it refers to a place that the stream has been slowed down, or to brake ferns.
It was a picturesque place to discover with the dog and there was not a soul around despite the benches alongside the lakes. The sun was shining while large fish lazed at the surface of the water and lambs, toughening up as spring becomes summer, charged around in groups, not entirely wary of the dog. Rooks wheeled over the fields in a big group and the path eventually led out into open pasture, having tracked the fence of a pheasant enclosure for a while.
We crossed the field to the lane at the other side where there were two interesting things in the hedgerow: an impressive cluster of navelwort, a demure but pretty flower deserving a more elegant name, and a nest buried deep in the hedge from which I could hear the shrill calls of baby birds. Two adults flew out in a flash of red so impressive that I suspect they were probably bullfinches, although there are some bright chaffinches around too.
On the way back out of the gully the clouds restricted the sunlight to one Refreshers coloured field at a time.