So, there I was, rammed up against a wild rose, with a thorn in my hand and a thorn in my coat and a thorn in my scarf and unable to break free - when a woman came by with a dog.
"Have you found something interesting?"
"I've found I'm stuck to this bush," I said, speaking over my shoulder.
I felt more explanation was needed. I mean, how did I come to get stuck to the bush?
"I was photographing this branch."
I nodded at the flailed branch on the catkin-ed tree, hoping to interest her in my monitoring project. Failed. I could see she was trying to see the point. I could see she was trying really hard. And I could see it wasn't working. She walked on.
My hand was full of blood. My phone was red with the stuff. And both were horribly sticky.
I wasn't even meant to be photographing that tree. I was meant to be photographing buddleia. I don't like buddleia. That's why I'd been putting it off.
"It'll be in shade by now," I reckoned - and I headed down to a beach where I could walk unembarrassed by my bloody hand (which wouldn't stop dripping) and the red, sodden tissues with which I was trying to stem the flood.
(Rose thorns hurt so much more than blackberry ones! Blackberries scratch but roses make deep, triangular gashes which hurt right inside the wound for days - in this case three.)
Another day . . . and back to Buddleia.
Cultivated buddleia may be alright. (Though I'm not sure even about that. I used to think it was lilac gone scraggy.) Wild buddleia, well, its leaves are dull and boring when grown and the flowers hang tatty too long.
There is only one place where I like buddleia - a stretch of broken bushes culminating in an exceptionally tall tree. (Barbee has already noticed!)
Buddleia doesn't seem to object to being flailed. Smashed down one minute - sprouting the next.
You can see the branch has been broken. You can see the bush hardly cares. Leaves were already sprouting robustly before the heavy frosts (which have knocked down the nettles and much of the ground elder). And after the frosts? Another burst of leaves! (You can see it in the bend of the branch.
The hedge is embedded with bits of branch. The ground is strewn with them. Grasp a branch still attached to the tree and ask it to help you balance - it falls off in your hand. But the plant lives on. (Incidentally, although I don't like Buddleia, I do like its trunks and woody bits; wonderfully varied in colour (depending on the weather) and fibrous and shapeful . . . ).
And here is another reason for not liking Buddleia.
It has its own campaign of destruction. The photo isn't good because it is north facing, in shadow, on a dull day. (I'll go back when the sun is shining and try to do better!)
But, I tell you, I wouldn't like to live in one of the houses which rest on this wall!
And I always feel a bit nervous when near it!
* * * * *
So. What about the beach? (The beach where I walked after being attacked by a rose.)
It's very beautiful but it's a graveyard for trees too.
Here, seen when the tide is out, are the gardens which fell off a cliff one night a few years ago. Householders woke one morning to find the ends of their gardens missing - lawns and greenhouses and horse chestnuts had been sheered off and were down on the beach below.
To the north of here, there is a huge coastal defence which protects a road. To the south, the mouth of The Fleet (a tidal lagoon) was relocated when a new bridge was built to link Weymouth with the Portland causeway.
When the sea wants to eat the land, it seems it can't be stopped. It has to bite at something. If you protect one bit of the shoreline, you are likely to put another at risk. Tidal dymanics are difficult to understand and knock-on effects hard to predict. None the less, it's a political issue. Should this stretch of coast and the land alongside it be protected at the expense of others? Poor old Council - responsible both for commissioning the flailing of trees and hedges on the land - and for deciding whether or not to let trees and houses and gardens fall off the edge of it!