Sunday, 13 September 2009

Cycle & walk Sep 12

Friday saw me winkled out of the Cotswolds and whisked to London, on a business trip. It was a very successful trip and the journey there and back could not have been more efficient; within 2 hours of leaving my meeting and travelling via tube/train/minibus, I was standing back in the village, breathing in lungfuls of clean air. As soon as I woke the next morning, I knew I had to get out and cycle the dirt from my lungs. Even at 8 in the morning, the village green was still deserted.
Now autumn is upon us and although we are blessed with a little
indian summer, the nights are chillier. We have heavy dews and low lying mists which burn off as the sun rises.
I cycled my usual 9 mile round trip to pick up the Saturday Times, and on the way back discovered a yard sale. I tried to resist, but Hercules turned his wheels and we investigated, coming away with £3.70 worth of treasures (which are catalogued here on 'Middle of Nowhere'). Later, after lunch, it was almost a summer's day and we headed across the county boundary to a
nearby estate, owned by the National Trust. We had a quick look at the old Ewepen barn, and the surrounding outhouses.

Cotswold stone loves the hot sun; it seems to soak it up and glow, with the famous warm 'honey' coloured effect. The little low stone sheds seemed dark, cool and empty...

...but there was Someone at home...

This is a broad, generous estate, and the footpaths
glide lazily alongside drystone walls and tilled fields.

Turning into a section of cool woodland, we found a hole-in-the-ground wasp's nest, its inhabitants busy whirring in and out on errands.

They were feeding on the juicy berries on this old yew tree; we were more interested in the pretty but sturdy bench which ran round the trunk. It was silent, except for the industrious hum of insects and the drowsy cooing of a dove. I briefly fell asleep sitting up.

It was a wrench to leave, but onwards we went. Autumn butterflies were out, having a last hurrah; Speckled Woods, Red Admirals and a gaudy Peacock.

Coming out of the woods, into the sweetly pretty village, we decided to extend our walk and make the most of the day. Here is the little Post Office, with its red letterbox in the wall and trim wisteria -

- and here some of the less grand cottages, still lived in, thankfully, by 'normal' Cotswolders; the blight of second home owners and holiday cottages will not reach here, protected as it is by the National Trust. To the best of my knowledge, the estate owns most of the housing and it is rented, not owned, ensuring that locals do not get priced out of the housing market by richer city folk desiring a weekend rural bolthole.

Past the village and over the bridge, where brown trout hide under the stone bridge, in shallow waters.
Trudging in the heat up a steep hill and turning into another footpath; curious young cattle grazing in the shade of spreading trees.
They were insatiably curious, and, harmless though they may be, I was very glad of the stout stone wall between us.
In the vast blueness, a buzzard cried its pweeling call.

By now we were wishing we'd brought more water and chosen a shorter route; beautiful though our walk was, my earlier cycle ride was creeping up on me and I was on my last legs.
The final part of our ramble was on the road, Andy speeding on ahead, as is his wont, disappearing into the distance. I hobbled along behind with my camera.

Sometimes things appear just when you need them. Hot, thirsty and out of energy, I found a yellow plum in the lane. Looking up, there was a wild plum tree, tantalisingly high up, with heavy, ripe fruit dangling far out of reach. The plum was dusty and had been chewed by a wasp. Nonetheless, it was manna. I picked off the waspy bit and enjoyed the rest of it, bursting with sun warmed, sugary juices and sucking the stone.

Further up the road, I chucked the stone into the hedgerow, hoping that maybe one day, in thirty years time, another plum tree would provide a tired walker with summer fruit.

High points - falling asleep for a few minutes and the plum.

Low points - being parched and too hot. But, mustn't grumble.


  1. Gorgeous scenery Gretel. I didn't know you had started another blog. So glad you are falling in love with the Cotswolds all over again, you live in a very beautiful part of the country x

  2. What a lovely area, thank-you for sharing your thoughts and photos!

  3. No, these kinds of rambling photo-posts do no get old. Appreciate you doing them greatly! :-)

  4. Lovely! Some day I shall return to that region. Until then, your words and photos will keep me happy.

  5. So lovely, so peaceful...and I am happy that some of the beauty and quietude will be preserved.
    Thank you for taking me along.

  6. Glad that you found that plum. You've generously tossed all readers like me another sweet plum with your wonderful report of your ride in late summer through marvelous lanes.

    I will admit to great curiousity about that trip to London. It sounds very good!


  7. Gretel,
    I am speechless, never happens. You are truly a gifted writer. Pictures and writing were beautiful.

  8. Wonderful ride and photos. I love this Indian summer weather. Really hoping we have another day tomorrow.

  9. I so enjoy your blogs. I feel as though I've followed in your footsteps.

  10. What a lovely cycle ride. I was whizzing along with you! I love your descriptions. I'm so glad the second-homers haven't been able to appropriate the village houses. Also glad your London meeting went well.

    I have just cycled to the post office in the next village, only to find it's half-day closing! Still,all good exercise.:-)

  11. What gorgeous pictures; thank you for sharing. I also truly enjoy your blog.


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