Sea Campion

IMG_0855For the last few days we have had my family staying with us.  Not all at once, but in relay. The first tranche arrived on Friday, the second attack left this morning.  Typical isn’t it?  You wait for ages for one brother to come along and then two come in same weekend!  On Sunday, after an enormous feast cooked by some fine folk in a local hostelry, some of the more spritely of us (yes I am including myself in this category, but to be honest you should see the others) walked up the towering hill that lies between our house and the sea.  This near mountain is a designated Nature Reserve crowned by the earth works of an iron age hillfort dating 300AD to 60BC.  At the summit there are spectacular views and a stiff breeze, a befitting prize after such a climb.  We waded through long grass and nettles (yes more nettles) to the edge of the boundary and waved exuberantly at our house below.  On our return we discovered that the stay-at-homers had been engrossed in watching Pointless on TV and had forgotten to look out the window.

A diversion on the ascent were blankets of Sea Campion, Silene maritima or perhaps Silene uniflora, indeed they may be one and the same.  This relative of the common Red Campion has grey green foliage and forms a thick mat of leaves and white flowers with distinctive “bladders” behind the petals.  The plant is edible, the leaves are on the bitter side and can be eaten raw or cooked, the flowers sweet with nectar.  But please don’t eat too many, we want to continue to enjoy our native beauties! There is a dark side to this pretty little flower; common names include Devil’s Hatties and Witches Thimbles and it is said to be bad luck to pick the blooms.  Now whether this is because the witches/devils are riled by you stealing their thimbles/hats and exact their terrible revenge, or the fact they grow on the cliff edge where it is easy to lose your footing and tumble to your demise.  That is for you to consider and for you to decide whether or not you will take the risk!

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