.....or Yes, It's That Time Of Year Again.
That time of year when a rather scruffily-dressed old fellow goes stomping off into the local woodlands in search of the first signs of Spring.
It seems incredible that only a few days ago I was crunching along frozen pathways with frost on every branch and a chilly breeze penetrating the nether regions.
But great armies of Snowdrops were biding their time, just waiting for the weather to warm up.
There were even a few golden flowers of Winter Aconites shining through the shady woodland.
Just a week ago I looked in at the lovely little Snowdrop wood at Frog End, which we've visited in previous years on this blog, but there were just a few buds struggling into flower.
Maybe I made the Frog End site sound as though it was something special, but beautiful as it is, it has equals in so many woodlands and copses in this area, including the little wood in my own village.
I hadn't even intended to take these pictures when I left home; I just wanted to get a bit of exercise before it started to rain again. I left my DSLR camera at home, but as I unlocked the back door to go out I grabbed my SLC (silly little camera) instead.
On a whim I took the path beside the tiny River Mel, now gurgling happily on its way after the recent rains.
After taking more than enough photos there I went to the churchyard where there's also a good show of Snowdrops and Aconites at this time of year.
Although neither Snowdrops or Aconites are reckoned to be native to these islands, they have been here so long that they've gained the status of honorary members and nothing looks more natural to my eye than these little gold or white sparks of optimism glowing in the February gloom.
I hadn't been expecting to see quite such a show of flowers, nor take so many photos. And I certainly wasn't expecting to see a bee out and about....