A Dove of Peace

A rather beautiful creature has been seen at Sun Rising over the last few weeks of the Christmas period: a perfect white dove.  This little fellow has brought real delight, with many families telling me wonderful stories – of the dove sitting on the top of the roundhouse, or landing by a grave, or on the path before them.  In many ways, on cold grey difficult days, such a sight can seem magical, a sign of peace, a miracle.

White Dove on the Roundhouse

White Dove on the Roundhouse

You can see the dove puffed up here in the photograph, trying to keep out the cold.  Of course, this is not a wild bird.  There are a good few organisations that offer ‘dove release’ for special occasions; some use trained homing pigeons, strong birds in good condition which, when released, circle two or three times to get their bearings before heading straight home.  Others, however, are not so reputable.  This lovely white bird is the only survivor of three that were released at Sun Rising before Christmas, and I’m amazed that he is still alive.  Our birdfeeders are certainly helping, and perhaps the good will of all those who have seen him at Sun Rising, giving thanks for his calm quiet presence.

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Carols and Friends

Committing to an outdoor event at any time of year is a risk, but to organise one for mid winter is what, I think, we might call typical English madness.  We have had carolling events in biting cold, and streaming rain, on Sunday last we were blessed with a chilly day which was calm and dry.  As a result, a good many ventured out to join us; we estimate 180 – 200 people came on the day.

Carolling at Sun Rising

Carolling at Sun Rising

Thank you so much to Rebecca Knight and Leamington-based choir, Morning Chorus, who led the singing, and to everyone who lent their voices to the mix.  Thank you too to everyone who contributed to the raffle, tombola and refreshments stall, and to everyone who bought tickets (we had plenty of lovely prizes), mulled wine, cake and mince pies.  We raised over £600 all told for The Friends of Sun Rising.

We shall be open on Christmas Day, with tea, coffee and nibbles from 10 am until 12.30 or so, for those with a loved one laid to rest at Sun Rising, who may feel in need of a little warmth on what can be a very difficult day.

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The transition into winter has crept in slowly this year, perhaps because the dry cold of November allowed autumn’s leaves to remain on the trees longer than usual.  Now, however, there’s no denying it: winter is here.  After clear starry nights, the white of deep frost remains, lingering throughout the day in areas the sun doesn’t reach.  Not long after three in the afternoon, the silence of dusk descends over the landscape.

Frosty Leaves in Young Woodland

Frosty Leaves in Young Woodland

At Sun Rising we’ve been tree planting.  Over half of our memorial trees have now been planted, and a new copse planted near the top car park.  The frosty ground has meant it hasn’t been too muddy, and beneath the top few inches of cold ground the soil is perfect for planting.

On clear winter days like these it is easy to find beautiful moments: frosty leaves, the fieldfare eating rose hips, the dunnocks and wrens visible in the bare hedgerows where they’ve been hidden all summer.  The trick will be to continue finding those beautiful moments when the clouds return and the days become damp and grey …

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Autumn Fungi

Fungi is one of nature’s celebrations that I have not even begun to study.  While it is possible to have an idea that a mushroom is this or that, I know enough to be fairly sure I’ll be wrong most of the time …  At Sun Rising at the moment, there are a good number of different kinds of fungi, at different stages of emergence and decay.  There are tiny pink caps, and thick hand-sized caps, there are patches of fiery orange mushrooms and brackets on old wood and deep in the cracks in the soil.

This photo is not of the most dramatic I have come across, but with the rose petals it is a picture that moves me.  I lifted the bouquet, an offering of love on a grave, the blooms wilted in the frost, and underneath the mushrooms almost blinked at me in the sudden sunshine.  Just beautiful.

Autumn Mushrooms and Rose Petals

Autumn Mushrooms and Rose Petals

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Welcoming Autumn

Here in the heart of England, the colours of autumn have been breathtaking this year.  With so little wind and rain over the past few weeks, the leaves have had a chance to burst like fireworks into a thousand hues of autumn, and remain on the trees for that little while longer.  The most exceptional at Sun Rising are the guelder rose, field maple and wild service tree, now at their very best.

Wild Service Tree in Autumn Colour

Wild Service Tree in Autumn Colour

Even the blackthorn is finding tones that it doesn’t usually have the chance to find, in soft oranges, copper and bronze.  The silver birch are glorious with pale yellow leaves scattered amidst the fine green.

With the first gusts of wind, this natural art will be blown to the grown, but even there, if so many come down together, there will be beauty – and all the fun of the young child, in big boots, kicking up the leaves!

Watch out for the mushrooms.  They are plentiful this year, hiding beneath the fallen leaves, and all of them still beyond my ability to identify …

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An Amazing Result

A little while ago we told you about Ri Price, who had decided to run the Berlin Marathon in aid of The Friends of Sun Rising.  (Ri’s Marathon)

We are now able to give you the final result of all she raised : £1658.41.  What a star!  Thank you so much, Ri, and thank you to all who supported her in both the fund raising and the running.

Ri Price having completed the Berlin Marathon

Ri Price having completed the Berlin Marathon

Here she is at the finish, sporting not just an exhausted but still determined smile, but also a very lovely shirt with The Friends’ logo on it.

The Friends of Sun Rising is the charity that will care for the natural burial ground and nature reserve into the long term future.

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Autumn Mists

With some moments still of beautiful sunshine, it has almost been possible to hold onto the warmth of the year, but no more.  The songs of autumn are now filling the air.  Thick mists in the early morning are sometimes barely clearing, and tiny drops of dew, mist, drizzle and rain cling to the spiders’ webs, revealing intricate designs that we otherwise would not see.

Rainy Spider's Web on Crab Apple

Rainy Spider’s Web on Crab Apple

The cherry leaves are rimmed with deep red, the field maples are turning into a thousand hues of bronze, the guelder rose, the dog wood and wild service leaves are splashed with burgundy.  In a month, the leaves will have fallen and the hedgerows and woodlands stand bare, but for the coming weeks we have the wonder of all those changing colours.

There is no bad weather, some say, just inappropriate clothing … and now is the time to adjust our clothing, pulling out the thermals and putting on layers.  Grief can weaken the immune system, leaving us vulnerable: it’s better to be too warm and have to leave a coat in the car than get chilly.  Take care.

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New Newsletter and Events

Our Sun Rising Autumn/Winter 2016 newsletter has now been published.  For those on our mailing list, it will be emailed out today or posted in the next few days.  If you prefer, it can be found here: Latest Newsletter.

You’ll see that in this edition we have news of all our winter events, including the bulb planting day, tree planting, Armistice Day, carols and Christmas Day.  Do have a look through and make a note in your diary.  As summer slips away and the damper chillier days of autumn and winter approach, it’s good to know there are worthwhile days to anticipate and share.

In the newsletter we are also asking for feedback on our new Habitat Interpretation Boards.  Have a look and let us know what you think?

Example Habitat Interpretation Board

Example Habitat Interpretation Board at Sun Rising












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Ri’s Marathon

Ri Price, who has a close family member laid to rest at Sun Rising, is a running a marathon in a few weeks, over in Berlin, and has chosen to raise money for The Friends of Sun Rising.  Thank you, Ri!  I’m hoping that her words will inspire some of our readers to sponsor her.  Here are some words from Ri :

As most of you know, I am running the Berlin Marathon on 25th September. Eek. It’s my second marathon, so I do feel a bit cheeky asking for sponsorship again but I really want to be able to help this amazing charity so I am hoping you might dig deep one more time (this is my LAST marathon!).

I promise you it is not easier the second time around, it has been a grueling training period and to give you some idea of the TORTURE I have put myself through, since April, I have run a total of 371 miles. That’s the equivalent of me running to Cologne in Germany. That’s really far! And that is 55 hours, 45 mins and 6 seconds of running with only myself for company! As you all can imagine, that’s super boring!

Anyway, enough of that, onto the important bit … I am raising money for The Friends of Sun Rising which is a charity very close to my heart and a charity that is of great support and comfort to people who have lost a loved one. At the bottom of this email, I have included a bit more information about them.

Because they are a small charity, they aren’t set up on JustGiving so I am hoping that, if you want to donate, you will be comfortable donating through their website on PayPal (you don’t need an account for this as you can pay with debit or credit card). Please can I just ask that you write “Ri marathon” in the notes to the seller section just so I can gauge how much I managed to raise for them.


Thanks so much in advance for anything you are happy to donate, it means a lot.

Oh and this is me in some serious pain after a 15 mile run…

Ri Price

Ri Price

Peas. x

A bit about The Friends of Sun Rising

When choosing where to lay a loved one to rest, the peace and beauty of a place is enormously important – knowing that this tranquillity will be safeguarded is equally crucial.

The Friends is the charity which will provide care and protection for Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground and Nature Reserve into the future.  At the point when there are no longer new burials or memorials, the natural burial company will step back, and The Friends will take over the protection and management of this special place, ensuring its legacy as a valuable nature reserve and a place held in memory of all who have been buried within it.

Until then, its task is to support the company’s vision for Sun Rising. This is achieved through volunteer days, for example, planting bulbs and trees, and fundraising events such as music recitals, shared memorial services and open days.  Primarily, however, the charity’s crucial purpose is to raise the capital it will need to manage the site in perpetuity.

Currently the charity has minimal outgoings, as in the main these are covered by the natural burial company.  As a result, almost every single penny that is donated goes towards this long-term fund that will ensure the protection and care of the burial ground and nature reserve well beyond our own lifetimes, and those of our children and grandchildren.

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Hay Making

The wildflower meadow was mown this year using a small tractor and lovely local farmer and his very beautiful collie.  Sitting in the tractor cab, whenever they reached the end and backed up to turn and head down the row, the dog would bark at the reversing wheel as if with deep indignation, as if it were a misbehaving sheep heading in the wrong direction …

Spreading, drying and baling the hay was done over last week, with the bales going off to Redwings Horse Sanctuary (website) nearby.

Wildflower Bales

Wildflower Bales

The wildflower meadow is not the only part of the site that is cut, of course, and over the last two weeks we’ve been cutting and raking seeding grass and wildflowers from woodland and meadow areas around Sun Rising.  On Saturday we had a wonderful collection of volunteers to help us – thank you to each and every one of them!

There was raking and mulching the trees with the grasses, and spreading the wildflower hay over meadow graves and grassy areas.  It was a lovely clear day of blue skies and passing clouds, and the breeze not only helped keep the workers cool but aided with spreading the seeding wildflowers as well …

Spreading Hay

Spreading Hay

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