A Morning with the Hares

 

I’ve developed a real love for long, long walks. When Pablo first arrived, I adapted to taking daily walks no matter the weather, but over the last few months my walks have become longer and longer, so that I now have to get up early to make sure I’m back in time to get enough work done. It’s one of the only forms of exercise I genuinely love - you can slow down and speed up at your own pace, take photographs, sip coffee and absorb your surroundings without the need to carry too much stuff. And there’s nothing lovelier than seeing Pablo lolloping about, chasing chaffinches and forgetting he was ever abandoned on the side of a busy Spanish road.

This morning we followed an 8-mile circular route from Ramsdean to East Meon and back again, a route Dave and I have done a few times before. It’s a mish-mash of farmland, deciduous woodland and rolling hills, with the River Meon flowing gently along the path as you reach the half-way point of East Meon village. It was along the Meon that we saw a black redstart last winter, but today the path was alive with spring greenery. Sticky young cleavers, wild garlic flowers, bluebells, greater stitchwort, hawthorn blossom and red campion, with red kites sweeping overhead and various small birds in every hedgerow.

When I came to East Meon, I stopped off at the listed house that Dave and his building partner Sam are renovating, owned by Sam and his wife Freya. It’s a beauty - all timber frames and witch marks on the walls, with an old bakery building in the garden. We had coffee, hobnobs and chatter, and before I left to make the return journey, Freya mentioned she’d recently seen hares on the hill while walking the dog. Hares! I clambered up the hill with Pablo and slowly headed back home, scanning every inch of grass until - there! A gang of loping hares were hanging around one of the farm fields on the ridge of the hill. I watched for far too long, forgetting the article deadline I had due in that afternoon, and took photographs as the sun floated between the clouds. We would have stayed longer if Pablo hadn’t decided to chase them - he would never catch one in a million years, but they have enough to stress them out without overgrown chihuahuas thrown in the mix.