Coun­try Mouse

Spring­ing into ac­tion

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

WHEN­EVER my hus­band tele­phones me at work, I fear that some dis­as­ter has be­fallen him or one of our dogs. Usu­ally, it’s be­cause he can’t find some­thing, but the pur­pose of this call was to an­nounce ex­cit­edly that, not only was there frogspawn in our pond, but also a cou­ple of smooth (or com­mon) newts.

For weeks, he’s been peer­ing into the murky depths in the hope of spot­ting the gelati­nous masses of clear spheres con­tain­ing black dots and he was beyond happy when the spawn duly ap­peared. No doubt the re­cently paired newts—which look like tiny, un­der­wa­ter dragons to me—were pleased to see it, too. Hav­ing spent the win­ter hid­ing un­der rocks and paving slabs, it will pro­vide them with much­needed nour­ish­ment as they, too, pre­pare to breed.

Af­ter a trip to an in­de­pen­dent, fam­ily-run su­per­mar­ket at Dikes of Stal­bridge—where we bought lo­cally reared steak, Dorset Blue Vin­ney cheese and knob­bly Jerusalem ar­ti­chokes—we sat on the edge of the pond and ob­served the se­cre­tive newts as they nib­bled their lunch. As we en­joyed a cup of tea and our old labrador, Sock, lolled in the warm rays of the sun, our ter­rier, Ch­ester, em­barked on a mad half-hour, dash­ing round the gar­den at a rapid rate of knots. All crea­tures, it seems, are full of the joys of spring. PL

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