Monday, 30 April 2007

An evening walk

J came home late last night, after a successful London Golf Show. He launched his Caddy Cover umbrellas there in 2006 and decided, last minute, to go again this year. Within minutes of him coming home, there were three pairs of shoes abandoned in the hall, dirty washing in a pile on the landing and opened post littering the kitchen table. Oh, I have missed him!

Today, we spent a lazy morning together and then he took me out to lunch. It was such a glorious day that we made a drive of it and ended up at a country pub near Pershore, serving traditional "Pub Grub".

Afterwards, with full stomachs, we took a leisurely drive home, via "Posterity", a reclamation yard between Ledbury and Malvern, to price up some of the things we'll need when we get planning permission through (!!) for our extension. We made copious notes and fell in love with a few things we'd need to live in a manor house to own, and then carried on home to our waiting hounds.

We quickly changed into our walking clobber and took the JRTs over the field at the bottom of our garden. On the "other site", I took you for this walk and have added some pictures as it has been such a gorgeous day today.

At the bottom of the garden, we have our own private stile into the field. Alfie hurdles it in one, the girls scuttle under the wire and we clamber over fairly gingerly as it is homemade by the previous owners and fairly ancient. We turn immediately right and follow the hedge line as it snakes along towards the farm; a traditional hedgerow interspersed with mature trees. Sometimes after high winds, I come along and collect fallen branches for the fire, and in the autumn sweet chestnuts can be gathered by the bag load.

The hounds races ahead, a blur of white as they snuffle along, scenting out the rabbits. Alfie makes me laugh as he often misses one and then, when he sees it out of the corner of his eye, he’ll turn his head and another one will run just out of sight. It’s like watching a game of tennis! I’m sure the rabbits are laughing at him!

This field is often left to pasture and when haymaking time arrives, the huge rounds of hay become personal look-out points for our mad JRTs. Occasionally we still get the big rectangular bales too, and these are more fun to climb as they are stacked higher. J and I have climbed them too and lain down at the top, soaking up the warm harvest sunshine and breathing in the smell of freshly cut hay. It is one of my favourite smells of the countryside, along with wood smoke curling up from the chimneys in the village, so distinctive from coal.

The field starts to dip down slightly and we come past a natural pond with moorhens and ducks, tucked away and surrounded by trees. Often, the buzzards and crows are flying around here and the crows pick on a lone buzzard, diving at it and calling out in their attack. The path starts to turn upwards once more and the hedgerow is littered with rabbit holes; some disused and swathed in cobwebs, others clearly in use. We come up to the top of the incline again and on the right is a field gate down to the farmhouse, but we go onwards and over another stile towards the trig point.

We have to walk through the middle of the next field, but countless years of ploughing cannot remove that permanent groove of the footpath, walked by so many. Whatever is planted there, be it crops or grass, there is always the mark of the footpath. This year it is rape - NOT my favourite! The farmer does clear the way through when cereal crops grow high, but they are always patchy in this area as if the land is denying them the right to grow on this foot trodden path. Sometimes we find broken pieces of pottery and clay pipe ends; remnants of another era when many hands toiled in the fields.

At the next stile, we usually stop for a breather and to admire the glorious view. Another of our local “big” houses can be seen, surrounded by its own land, sprawling and grey and slightly forbidding. This is The Hall, and when we moved in, it used to be a race horse stable too. We used to love to watch the horses on their daily walk out through the village to open riding, but they moved on shortly after. It is now a private residence once more and horses still graze the fields but not in the same number as before.

We cross the next field, again through the middle, along the mysterious, permanently marked footpath and there is an old abandoned water pump-house over to the right, near the edge of the field. It makes me sad to see it in such disrepair – the old quarry floor tiles are still there, many are cracked, and remnants of rusty machinery.

We enter the final field of our journey. Here there are large, old oak trees standing tall in the middle of the field: three of them in a line. The footpath goes to the left of the first tree, then to the right of the second and then the left of the third; snaking in between them. Here, I lean against the rough old bark and look up through the canopy to the sky. I would love to know just what these trees have seen over the years; how many labourers rested here to drink their cider from crock jugs; to see the teams of oxen or shires ploughing the field. From here we either turn back and return the way we have come, or carry on to the coppice at the end, over the next stile, along a thin wooden bridge (more of a raised walkway actually) and out onto the lane. Directly in front of us is a beautiful old house, dating back to the 1600’s. Local rumour has it that the steps down to the cellar are made from old tomb stones from the nearby church! They grow the most amazing display of sweet peas, which can be seen from the lane in the summer.

But today, we turn around and come home, to a nice chilled glass of wine and bowl of Tyrells crisps!


muddyboots said...

thanks for the great photos, not that l'm homesick mind you. Used to charge round that area with the Ledbury Hunt & l recall a party at the hall, can't remember much about it except there was a large fire & fender seat.... happy days

Suffolkmum said...

Tyrell crisps and white wine - perfect, wish I was there! Your photos are amazing, it looks so idyllic. Sounds it too. Gald you got to spend some time together after his trip.


Ahh I wondered where our good weather went this afternmoon it would appear you have snaffled it you wicked woman!

CAMILLA said...

Lovely blog, and great photo's too, so glad you had some time to spend together.

Pondside said...

Thanks for sharing your lovely walk this afternoon. The photos are beautiful and add to 'my' walk!

Anonymous said...

lovley photos what a lovley day you had x jep

@themill said...

Lovely walk Woozle. I've just got back from my 5 mile circular route. The beach was just breathtaking. What a beautiful country we live in.

Posie Rosie said...

What a lovely walk, tyrell crisps and wine mm mm! Glad other half is home, dirty washing, scattered shoes and all.

Posie Rosie said...

Woozle, your comment on m,y blog...we are not old girl, definately not, just 1967 girls, nice and young (well that is the theory anyway) heck we are both still inh our thirities yet (just!), loved your nan's words, they are so true, the happy farmer always says health is the most important and valuable thing you have.x

Inthemud said...

Thanka for your message, Glad you love Bonnie Tyler, I will tell that story lter in the week, though it is even more complicated than today!
Love your photos on your blog.

Pipany said...

Hi Woozle - crikey, have just read Posie's comments. Old?! Are you mad!!! I am 43 and though I sometimes feel ancient, I know there is plenty of life yet. You are younger than me so no more of such nonsense please!!!! On another note, a lovely walk thank you xx

annakarenin said...

The countryside looks beautiful I do love all these photos. #
A cousin and his wife lived in one of the Bournville houses for a while when they first married. I remember it being a lovely little house.
I spent many a week in Birmingham when I was younger. Our summer hols would consist of a week in Worcs with my paternal Nana and a week in Birmingham with my brommie cousins (5 children in all). At least one of which would normally come back to Wales with us.