The mercury is rising. I have checked with the Met Office and yes, it's nearly summer although they said I musn't quote them on this. There is a momentary stall in global warming as the acres of bare white Great British flesh temporarily reflect the sun's rays whence they came and the sound of "Greensleeves" echoes across the parched estates and ancient byways as a thousand ice-cream vans sate the masses with their chemical wares.
It is also that time of year when, of a weekend, naive and unwitting town-folk escape their dreary and unfulfilling lives in their droves and head toward the fresh air and soothing verdant balm of the countryside. Million upon million of them unaware that they are heading innocently toward illness, injury and certain DEATH!!
Although I now live on the edge of a small northern town, I was raised in the countryside and am of farming stock. Our footpaths and fields hold no fear for me, the knowledge of the ancients passed down through the generations holding me in good stead and protecting me as I take the air on my frequent pastoral constitutionals. By way of instruction, I have included below some photographs taken on my most recent outing, the notes outlining the perils the naive and foolhardy day-tripper may encounter.
Grows at head-height in a bewildering and confused mass. Can cause temporary blindness if brushed near the eyes. The bright orange fruit smells of rotten liver and attracts hornets.
Abundant in hedgerows and along tow-paths and especially near grazing sheep. Benign and scentless unless trodden on whereupon it releases faeces-like odours and is near impossible to remove from footwear.
If picked, sap can leave indelible red stain. If ingested may induce violent bilious attacks and possible spleen damage. One of our few carnivorous plants.
Rife in North America and Canada, this is a recent import to our shores. It needs little or no encouragement to flourish and is abundant virtually anywhere it turns up. Can cause headaches if smelt and the leaves turn very acidic if in contact with dog's urine.
Named not after a prelate but after the weighted tool with which an angler dispenses the last rights to his catch. Quite possibly the deadliest of our wayside plants and on no account should it be touched or picked. Ingestion will almost certainly result in multiple organ failure and a slow and painful demise.
Sot of Brabant
These are another recent arrival to these islands and are thought to have migrated beneath Eurostar railway wagons from the low countries. These rapacious arachnids can grow to 8 inches across and deliver a vicious and disabling sting. They are easily provoked. Attracted to picnics, especially where alcohol is being served.
All these perils were encountered during a 2 hour stroll. Luckily I returned home unscathed and I will do so again. Best leave the countryside to those who know - Stay at home!