It's a while since I saw my first slow worm, and today, whilst picking the first blackberries of the season for a crumble, I spotted my second, only a few yards from the previous sighting 16 months ago.
This time I pick it up. It is smooth, silky and cool. It sits calmly in my hand, curling itself gently through my fingers. I can feel its strength, its muscularity. It is not as bronzey coloured as No.1 SW, and has a distinct extended middle. A pregnant female perhaps. It also reminds me of Hard Hattie, although it is shinier and the scales are less pronounced and rough.
Suddenly it turns from a no-legged lizard to a snake; its forked tongue flickers, tasting the air. It can't be more than ten inches long, but it is feisty.
I carry No.2 SW back to where I found it, and it slides into the long grass as if greased with candle wax.