Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Winter drabness at Eastleach Turville

With the weather milder - but still dank and wintery - long walks are resumed. The kind of 'duty' walks taken with a stiff upper lip and the intention to get it all over with as soon as possible in order that one might return to a warm sofa, feeling virtuous of soul. Even the pretty village of Eastleach Turville seemed subdued as we started out.

The river Leach runs through the centre of the village, clean and crystal clear. Behind the trees peeps the tower of one the two churches which sit almost side by side - therein hangs a tale for another day, it is too cold to stand around telling stories.

Sharp eyed Andy spotted a brown trout somehow, amid all the drab browns and greens of the flowing river.

Leaving the village and heading out to the field footpath.

Passing an unpicked orchard, the apples a cheerful brightness against the gloom.

This is one of the bleakest times of the year - not even the faint promise of spring to lift the heart.

The sheep are quiet and sluggish, streaming slowly away from us as we walk through the valley.

At last we reach our stopping point - this rather dull looking muddy track is Akeman Street, part of the old Roman Road which stretches across this part of the Cotswolds. Here we hunker down on the stone wall and gratefully drink watery hot chocolate.

From Akeman Street looking across to the
Hatherop Estate as the afternoon draws to a close. We must hurry, if we are not to be finishing our walk in darkness.

But the too-short day catches up with us and soon the trees are dark shadow dancers as we trudge along muddy grass. A lone black bull sillhoutted against the night sky, bellows a challenge in the chill dusk.

With much relief and tired legs, we return to the village, now festively lit with decorated cottages. Such a reviving sight after a rather melancholy walk and the realisation, not for the first time, that if Christmas didn't exist in mid-winter, it would have to be invented.

By co-incidence, we did part of this walk exactly (to the day) a year ago, but the weather was somewhat less gloomy, as can be seen by comparing some of the photos.


  1. Hello to you, and, as always, thank you for this glimpse of what I cannot see myself. I also thank you so much for your comments about my Santas. I like your sluggish sheep!

    You know, I so agree with you about how Christmas lights do seem required to get us though these very dark days of the year. Guess that other older traditions also understood the importance of light during the darkest time of the year.

    But wait, PG, what I really wanted to tell you was that recently we have had electronic message signs installed above the platforms on which we stand waiting for the eventual arrival of the next subway train. These are copied from the system long present in London tube stations.

    I loved to see these signs and the accompanying vocal announcements in London, loving the sound of the name of last stop for the arriving train. These were always place names that we could never find in the States. And so...as you and Andy set out on your afternoon walk to places whose names you named, let me tell you that I try to conjure up my own imaginary destinations for the New York subway trains, destinations that have a bit more mystery than City Hall, Canal Street, Brighton Beach.

    And, then I let my mind go a bit longer afield and try to think of imaginary British locations that might also serve as wonderful names for dogs that I also imagine raising from their puppydom. And by that time...the subway train arrives and I pop into the car.


  2. Lovely atmosphere, Gretel! Those early evening winter walks are for me a great excuse to glance into peoples' windows and admire their Christmas decorations!

  3. It's amazing how places change when the sun shines, isn't it? However, I love these winter scenes too...thank you so much for giving me another lovely glimpse of the Cotswolds!

  4. Aaaah the duty walk, when you'd much rather be inside keeping the toes warm! You make it a pleasure, as always, so travel along with you, but I do sympathize with the dreary days.

    We've had four days of blizzard here, and are left with 16" of blowing white stuff. We finally managed to get out yesterday for mail, groceries and books-all necessary survival supplies. Thank goodness we had plenty of wood to keep the little stove blazing away the whole time.

    I think you have a better camera these days. Your pictures are much clearer than a year ago, even with the grey skies. Thanks again for sharing your lovely countryside with us. It's always a joy to travel with you on your walks.

  5. Dark and bleak perhaps to those who live in it's coldness, but I view your photos as astoundingly beautiful!! Living in the land of "eternal sunshine" (sunny Florida), it is such a treat to view the beauty of nature's weather changes through you eloquent words and lens!!! Stay warm and may you have endless supplies of "watery hot chocolate"!!! Thank you for such a beautiful blog to share!~Karen

  6. Gosh, this scenery is anything but drab to me, there is still so much greenery to be seen. I love your village more every time I see it.

  7. Gretel, I haven't been on much lately but very happy to see you're still here and posting the most beautiful pics, as usual :) I personally think you should do a book of your amazing photography. Yours are amongst some of the best out there! Well, stay warm, enjoy your Cotswolds and give them XOXOXO from me! :)

  8. I bet this scene looks rather different today! I am not a million miles from you in Herefordshire and we have a very white landscape as I am sure you do too. Bet this walk is lovely in the snow!


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