From an old-fashioned village butcher's shop I followed a rising lane bordered with banks of pale-yellow primroses and starry golden celandines. In the shadier spots grew wild arums (aka Lords and Ladies or cuckoo-pints) - their glossy green arrowhead-shaped leaves newly emerged (the flowers would come later, protected by a broad greenish-yellow hood or 'spathe'). A Brimstone butterfly flickered past.
A path led north-west out of Tealby over the shoulder of a hill and down to a minor road lined with blackthorn and hawthorn hedges. Some of the hawthorn was already in soft green leaf; other leaf buds had yet to unfurl. With blackthorn the flowers arrive first - you could see them in tightly packed buds looking like a dusting of snow on the black, spiny branches.
From some nearby trees came the call of a chiffchaff, one of our earliest spring migrants - 'sooweet! sooweet!' - and then its two-note song - 'chiff, chaff, chiff, chaff' - cut through the air like a whip. Except that the song was more like 'chiff, chaff, chaff, chiff, chaff, chiff, chiff'. Variations on a simple theme. It remained obstinately out of view - though normally these small, green-brown warblers are easy to spot at this time of year before the onset of foliage and flower.
My route would trace a figure-of-eight pattern along the chalk escarpment of the western wolds, connecting three villages - Tealby, Walesby and Normanby-le-Wold. In common with many places in east Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, their names end in the suffix 'by' - denoting settlements of Scandinavian origin. Yes, 12 hundred years ago the Vikings were here. Indeed, part of my walk coincided with the Viking Way, a present-day long distance footpath meandering from the river Humber to the shores of Rutland Water.
From a windswept grassy ridge I could just make out the smudge of Lincoln cathedral on the westerly horizon. In between scarp and skyline stretched a vast flat plain of heavy clay soils and agri-business fields, broken up by the occasional conifer plantation. To the east was a more varied, gently rolling landscape of cultivated farmland (notice the faint gleam of chalk shining through the light sandy soil of the tilled field in the picture) and rough sheep-pasture - a typical wolds backdrop of big skies and wide, open views:
From an adjacent copse I heard the croaking calls of invisible pheasants, and two partridges exploded from scrubby grass at a field boundary, whirring away like clockwork toys on stiff, downturned wings...
To be continued...