Monday 28 April 2014


In Derbyshire this weekend, the sun - blatantly defying the Met Office - was for much of the time shining, often bright and warm. Does this mean (you'll be clamouring to learn) that there were butterflies to be seen? My friends, there were indeed: those cheerful little Orange Tips were flying in glorious abundance, and there were also Peacocks and Tortoiseshells, Speckled Woods and the familiar whites. The grand surprise, though, was to find a single Dingy Skipper, settled on the ground, wings spread, at a spot where I had seen them before, but surprisingly early in the year - and (on this occasion) in pretty weak morning sun. These 'endangered' skippers live in very small colonies, and are probably more numerous than is generally thought; they are easily missed, being fast and erratic in flight and hard to spot after they've landed. And they do, let's face it, live up to their name. They're easily mistaken for little day-flying moths (and vice versa) and are not the kind of butterfly to set the pulses racing - unless you're a fan like me, of course...
  Also, no trip to Wirksworth would be complete without a visit to my favourite bookshop (helpfully called The Bookshop, and mentioned more than once on this blog). I never leave it empty-handed (or empty-pocketed -  prices tend to be almost unbelievably low), and this time I picked up a copy of Kay Ryan's The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (a handsome Grove Press paperback) and Samuel Beckett's Mercier and Camier (a 1999 reprint, marking the 50th anniversary of John Calder's publishing firm). It's a very long time since I read the latter (it might even have been in the French original) and I remember little about it, so I am looking forward to the reread.  


  1. Dingy seems such a mean spirited name for such a pretty little butterfly. Flash isn't everything and these spread wing skippers have their own subtle beauty. Now over on this side of the pond the naming of Erynnis species is much more generous. Specifically two of our locals, where we call them Duskywings, are Horace's and Juvenal's. I've no idea why.

  2. Oh yes you are blessed with a multitude of skipper species there in the Pompous Land - we Brits have but a handful, and only one of them an Erynnis. The Dingy is of course beautiful to me. I never met a butterfly I didn't like.