Flower power: a surprisingly happy orchid hunt in the Cotswolds

“Mummy’s tired,” I said, “so, let’s go and look for butterflies on Rodborough Common and then get an ice cream.”

Six-year-old Sam immediately went into a quasi-teenage sulk mode that he’s already, rather scarily, perfected. “That’s borin’,” he pouted, while three-year-old Mungo parroted innocently, “Daddy, are we going to look for burraflies?”

“No looking for butterflies,” I said firmly, glaring at Sam, “no ice cream.”

In the end, we left without much fuss, and up on Rodborough Common, Mungo ran ahead while Sam fretted that he was running too far ahead. “Mungo,” he yelled, “MUNGO!”, as if his brother were about to plunge into the jaws of a Nile crocodile.

The common is a lovely area of grassland, owned by the National Trust and overlooking the steep-sided Nailsworth valley. It’s a great place to look for tiny, virtually-impossible-to-find-with-or-without-kids butterflies such as the Adonis blue or Duke of Burgundy. Ah well, it’s also good for orchids, and there were plenty of those. These, in the picture, are fragrant orchids.

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And surprising as it may seem from this photo, Mungo was enjoying himself. As was Sam, possibly to his surprise.

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There had been some resistance when I suggested we were going to plunge down the precipitous slopes of the common – it’s the where the butterflies, and the Adonis blue in particular, hang out, apparently – so, instead I opted to take them round the contour, and a bit further along, we came across an exotic-looking bee orchid. At least, I think it was a bee orchid.

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From here, we had spectacular views over the valley – we could see the church, Sam’s school and possibly even our house. I took a shot…

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Then Sam took one…

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My attention was momentarily – and it was only momentarily – diverted by this lovely daisy.

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So, I missed exactly what it was that caused the fight.

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All in all, it felt like time to go home. Sam was beginning to moan that he was tired, it was too hot and that it would be ages before we got back to The Bear, where I’d promised them both a glass of milk and some crisps.

But even that wasn’t enough for Sam. He’d had enough and claimed he couldn’t walk any further, so I left them on this bench for the night, promising I’d return for them in the morning.

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