|A male Brimstone – our first butterfly on the wing this year|
Even though we are still having frosts at night, the days are feeling unseasonably mild; even our daffodils have started flowering:
|Our mini-boat-daffs (bulbs saved from last year)|
We found six hexagonal Victorian pillar boxes that were designed by a guy called Penfold and were cast in the 1860s making them over 150 years old. The boxes are now known as Penfolds and there are only a couple of dozen originals left in the country. The Cheltenham ones all appear to be original, manufactured by Cochrane Grove & Co at their Woodside Works in Dudley between 1859 and 1866. We could still make out the maker’s inscription on five of our boxes.
There is a seventh box that we didn’t find and, until about two years ago there was an eighth but that was destroyed by a reversing demolition truck on 1st June 2017!
|The destroyed Penfold on College Lawn opposite the ladies’ college (from Gloucestershire Live)|
It was whilst leaving Ann’s that we saw our male brimstone flying along a hedgerow. This was the first time we have seen a butterfly in the last four Februarys that we have been living on board. The early spring butterflies overwinter as adults and the warm sun brings them out of hibernation, so we do hope these early fliers don’t suffer if we get a prolonged cold snap. The brimstone picture at the top was taken by Karen last summer.
It still doesn’t feel like spring to us until we see our first orange tip; these overwinter as chrysalis and undergo their last stage of metamorphism in late March/early April.
The final task of the day was to get some coal and diesel as we never made it back to the Grand Union in time to catch Jules & Richard when they were passing through on Monday. We have found a fuel supplier in Long Crendon that sells red diesel (at 71p a litre) so filled our two 20 litre jerry cans and then popped into the coal merchants at Marsh Gibbon. The coal merchants are W G Smith and they supply coal to a lot of the fuel boats. We had a good chat with the guy who loaded our bags into the car. He knew nearly all the fuel boat operators (and their boat names) that we have used over the years, up and down the country, and he used to run a pair of fuel boats before joining the company.