Country diary: a hospital visit, a motorway verge and the first swallow


St Dominic, Tamar Valley: The journey home is slow, but the view is a haze of primrose, celandine and alexanders

The inexorable tide of verdure flashes alongside the A388 and Expressway, skirting Plymouth, as I make one of my regular trips to Derriford hospital. The haze of fresh hawthorn, pale yellow fluffiness of pussy willow catkins, and abundant white blossom on blackthorn are luminous, still unsullied by traffic fumes.

After treatment from caring, gentle professionals, against a background of companionable chat among patients, the journey home is slower. The verges come into focus showing swathes of primrose, brassy celandine, salt-loving scurvy grass and umbels of alexanders, interspersed with ubiquitous litter; a lone magpie, beneath the suburbs at King’s Tamerton, flies towards a fringe of woodland where oaks break into leaf.

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