If anyone had told me a few weeks ago that I would be walking through a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) ancient woodland assiduously scouring the verges for Broad leaved helleborines, I would have said "You what?"
They are a type of orchid which I had never heard of but which suddenly has become the most desirable thing in the world to see as we walk slowly through the undergrowth.
On our walk we meet up with Derek and Iris, both carrying very impressive looking cameras, light metres and tripods and doing the characteristic concentrated nose to the ground amble along the woodland path.
They are very friendly and well informed about orchids and wild flowers in general. In a matter of minutes I am treated to a run down of all the local sites and an impressive list of the orchids that this intrepid couple have seen and photographed in the Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire/Derbyshire vicinity. I see some of their excellent photographic work and realise in a flash (sorry!) that my compact camera is patently not up to the job...I need something better to do these rare flowers justice.
Suddenly I am impatient for next Spring when I can go up to Miller's Dale and see the first of the Early purple orchids...Iris tells me that Frog orchids and Common Spotteds can be seen on this very spot and now the thought that I might someday see a Lady's slipper is too exciting to bear!
I am well and truly hooked!
My photo of a Broad leaved helleborine above is a truly pathetic offering, but I took it and I saw it and now I can tick it off my list. My first wild orchid! I'm proud!