Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A little break

A triple whammy of another heavy cold, vile weather and large workload have confined me to barracks for a while, so I am taking a little break. As soon as I've got the strength to get out and about again, I'll be back.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Post-storm cycle Nov 15th

For two days, the view from the studio has been a little stormy. Rain lashed the windows and tiles trembled on the roof. This morning all was calm and clean, like a child who has screamed itself out and decided to be 'good again'.

I got up straight away, without even stopping for tea and took Hercules out for a quick spin, before most other people were stirring; even in the countryside the weekends are not the best time for a solitude-loving person to be out in. The river at the bottom of the hill has filled nicely; for months the water level has been sinking, and it is good to see it swelling fatly.

The sky was an aching blue, the brightest thing now that autumn's colours are fading to winter drabs.

There is a tiny village I go through often and this house, though not the quaintest, usually has cars parked outside it, so I snapped it for the record. It has a nice, neat doll's house feel, even if it is a little characterless.

I stopped on the hill to upright a wooden bench which had been buffeted over in the gales. Further on, there is a large wilding apple tree which still hangs on to it's fruit, golden baubles cheering up the hedgerow.

I stopped at the old mill, now converted to a house. The river was churning ferociously, thick with mud and silt. The power and roaring made me keep my distance; the bridge is quite low and one would not stand a chance of survival on falling in.

Sometimes I miss the sea.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Foggy Monday walk 9 Nov

A new walk in the next county, on a dull, foggy day. We set off up this path and, turning round, the view of the avenue was very pleasing. Everywhere was hushed and there was little life around. A buzzard crying in the clouds, crows fussing about as crows do.

Our Ordnance survey map and the footpath sign indicated that we should walk on the other side of this wall, which we dutifully did. A notice rather pompously announced that the landowners 'welcome careful walkers'...

...although as we battled to stay to the mapped footpath (and with no indications of an alternative route) I cursed that 'walkers welcome considerate landowners'. We had to slide and tiptoe along this narrow ridge, through slashed bramble bushes and down landslips.

At last we got back to walkable terrain and had our usual discussion about pylons. Andy hates them. I have a fondness for them; they remind me of alien invaders marching along the landscape - and they do look rather magnificent disappearing into the mist.

Despite a paucity of footpath signs, we made the halfway point, a glowing tunnel along the side of a beech copse.

Looking over the drystone wall to a fat cottage nestling in the fields.

Faroff in the adjoining field, the farmer is cutting the hedges back.

Not all Cotswolds farms look as if they have sprung from an old picture book. This one was very industrial and properous; there was a well-run atmosphere and the farm dogs (of whom we are usually wary) sat obediently on their own on a quad bike, although they kept a beady eye on us.

Even though we are descending rapidly into winter, there are signs that spring is not too far off. The sheep are being tupped - this bunch seem to have been 'done', by the stains on their rumps. One day next year we will return and enjoy the sight of lambs tumbling about these same fields.

In the opposite field, we spotted two rams, each wearing a harness, which holds the raddle -
a marking powder which transfers itself from the holder on the rams chest, onto the rump of the tupped ewe. It only takes a few seconds, as we witnessed while we stood there, drinking our hot chocolate. But then, they have a lot of ewes to get through.

In the next field, the ladies got quite militant - although at first they trotted off, they then stopped and formed a long, defensive line, watching us as we passed. It crossed my mind for a second that we might be the first people in the Cotswolds to be trampled by sheep. You can almost hear them bleating a unifed 'chaarrrrge!'

But of course, they didn't. And I was soon distracted by this gorgeous shepherd hut, rather like the ones I covet on this site,
Cotswold Shepherd huts. There was a similar one displayed at a local garden centre and they are beautifully restored, inside and out, with sweet little woodburners and snug bunk beds. Oh, to have one of these in your back garden!

The afternoon was drawing to a close and we were nearly at the village which marked the end of our walk. The light was dying and the clouds were lowering.

At some point as we got to the outskirts, we got split up; Andy had strode ahead and, dawdling behind, I followed a footpath sign instead of taking the lane and got side tracked.

But there were compensations, such as being able to have a discreet nosy at lovely houses -

- and magnificent topiary. I could smell other people's woodburners wafting up on the cold air and had a yearning to be in our own little cottage with a warm fire bustling away. Where was Andy?

He was bringing the motorbike up the road, ready to whisk me off. It is lovely to go out, and even nicer to return home.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Dodging the rain Nov 3

After a couple of weeks of recovering properly from seasonal *lurgy*, I am almost back to everyday outings. I cannot abide being stuck inside for too long and even if the weather is iffy, I would rather risk a drenching than fust away. We are having a week of wind and rain, which is what you want really, in November. Today I was working with one eye on the studio window, watching for a good, clear break after a morning of downpours. When it seemed safe, I scrambled onto Hercules and we headed for the top hill. I soon spotted more wet gloom, rolling in rather beautifully on the back of strong sunshine. Would I escape in time?

No. After a mile of mad pedalling, the first drops began to splatter, hastened in by strong winds.

Nothing for it but to carry on.

Thank goodness for rural bus shelters. We were able to stop and shelter from the worst of it, and dry off.

After ten minutes the skies westward cleared and a clean brightness sharpened the autumn colours.
From the top, I could see the storm cascading eastwards towards Oxford.

Down the big hill, accompanied by gurgling rivulets of rain water streaming to the bottom.

The sun emerged.

By the time I reached the deserted farm, it was a perfect day.

In fact, if it hadn't been for what my West Country mother would have called 'gurt big puddles'...

...you would scarcely have known it had been raining at all.

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