2 JUNE 1933, Page 14

I believe the grayling does not belong to this country,

but was introduced from the Continent by the mediaeval monks. At any rate, he is frequently found in clean running streams that have ruined abbeys on their banks. I write " he " ; but Izaak Walton says the grayling is the queen of fishes,- and certainly there is something very slender and ladylike in the grayling's shape and movements. Probably the grayling is a prehistoric cross between a trout and some sort of silver scaled coarse fish. But the tongue of flesh between the tail and dorsal fin puts it among the salmonidae.

• * * * There is an old country rhyme, with slight variations, which goes like this : "The oak before the ash There will only be a splash ; • But the ash before the oak There is sure to be a soak."

In the West of England I have seen the oak out in leaf long before the ash ; which means that the summer is going. to be a fine one, perhaps with . just a few splashes of rain, perhaps to be smitten by a long period of drought. At any rate, if that particular country saying has any truth or virtue there will be no long period of soaking rain. Of course, the ash-tree of which I speak is the common ash, and not the smaller and more exquisite mountain ash, which came out in leaf and bloom quite a long time ago. The common ash in the spring amid the green and light brown bursting trees almost looks like -a thunder-smitten tree. In many parts of England it is forbiddingly leafless, and even apparently budless, all through April and the early part of May. The buds are so dark-hued as to be almost invisible at a first glance.