Tuesday 1 June 2021

Monument and Butterflies

 Noting that today was the birth date (in 1563) of the great Elizabethan (and Jacobean) statesman, courtier and survivor Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, I was reminded of those happy days when I was out and about researching my book, The Mother of Beauty. Cecil's striking monument, in St Etheldreda's, Hatfield, was designed by the Fleming Maximilian Colt, and is one of the greatest of its period. When I visited Hatfield, with my cousin, to see it, we found the church closed and locked, but this was one of those happy occasions when (a) the rectory was next to the church, (b) the rector was at home, and (c) he was only too happy to let us in and leave us to wander at large in his magnificent church. This fortuitous combination of circumstances did not often occur in the course of my researches, but the quest for monuments – in those heady days before the lockdowns – was a joy in itself. 
   The research for my latest production, a small book on butterflies, was mostly conducted on the living-room sofa that is my 'work station' these days – though, in a sense, the real research was done in the course of many years of watching butterflies and reading about them. It was written partly to while away the winter months when there are no butterflies to be seen, and  I am hoping the book will become available, in some form, before too many months have passed. I'll let you know.
  As for this butterfly season, it is finally under way after a dismal couple of months – cold dry April, cold wet May – and, after that prelude, it is unlikely to be a bumper season. Although I have seen a respectable 19 species so far, numbers of most have been very low, and the relentless rains of May have left a legacy of lush grass and overgrown vegetation that will not be to the liking of many of our butterflies. Let's hope things improve as the season goes on. If this sun continues shining for a few more weeks, it could make all the difference.. 

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