There are always plenty of things we should be doing on a Saturday morning, but today was just one of those proper summer days when the world outside is calling, so Philip and I set off for a walk through the valley.
We know how incredibly lucky we are to live in this beautiful place, and today there was no beating it - blue skies with wispy clouds trailing through, fields carpeted with scarlet poppies. In the distance the lavender was turning purple, to our side the River sparkled in the sunshine. It was a bit like a Disney movie; white-tailed rabbits stopped still in front of us, butterflies twirled and danced around our heads; and the tiniest frogs imaginable hopped across our path. Above us the larks were calling, at our feet crickets scraped and creaked. Even the drone of a plane overhead had the sound of romance about it.
So, amid all this glorious beauty, what was it that intrigued me most? Holes.
That's right - holes. Holes in the ground. We passed tunnels drilled into the ground, neat, perfectly round. No sign of their occupants. We were left guessing - who lives in a house like this?
Too big for the rabbit we'd passed - and a fox would get in there in no time, so probably a badger. Further on there was a whole series of holes in the bank - that must be the rabbit hangout. Our walk was turning into Wind in the Willows, I was half expecting Ratty to pop up and say good morning. Part of our route crossed the local golf course - we had no interest in the holes there, but stepping back into the wooded path at the other side we almost trod straight into the next dip in the ground. Probably as well that we didn't - we'd stumbled across a ground nesting bees' nest.
Which left me wondering.
Bees spend their days in the sunshine, they fly amongst the most glorious bright flowers. How can they bear to return to a nest that is a dank, dark hole in the ground. What happens when it rains, does the water come through, is there mud in the honeycombs? Do they find intruders constantly trying to invade their space - worms slithering through, centipedes marching?
We didn't investigate or dig around - for obvious reasons, so I will have to imagine what the underground bee world was like. Rather than the cold, grave-like burrow it appeared to be, I shall instead picture a hall of golden cells, full of nectar and pollen, the aroma of honey and the soothing hum of a hundred bees returning home to chat about their day's work in the sun.