Saturday, 30 October 2010

last of the British summertime

Today the sun shone and on the last day before we lose an hour of afternoon daylight we did one of my favourite walks. Through the beautiful south facing valley from Aldbury to Duncombe Farm where the last blackberries are still good on the north of the lane ...

beeches all along Duncombe Terrace on the Ashridge boundary are just beginning to turn now, the oaks are still green, the cherries flame....

past Barley End,looking toward the Ridgeway across newly ploughed fields so good you could eat them...

towards Clipperdown ....

and up the steeep chalk path eating one of the very last Coxes scrumped on our way through...

afternoon sunlight filtering through the beech trees as we meet the boundary path

looking toward Wiggington sheep graze beneath a still green oak.

We cut back down through Duncombe Terrace where we were thoroughly investigated by the herd of young black bullocks - Dexters I think and very pretty whatever they are! This is where we watched a fox drinking from the water trough earlier in the year.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

best place in the world

Of course I haven't been to very many places but it is nice to think that there is no place like home. Today I found this website of lovely walks in the Chilterns, all beautifully photographed with cunning links to flora and fauna. I am too mean to share my favourite walks in the dread that they become overun with sightseers but I know most of these wonderful walks. It is rare for me to walk 12 miles these days but Pete has helpfully supplied maps and most of the walks can be shortened. As his photographs show the vistas are just perfect. This week Autumn has taken hold and the leaves, having held on longer than usual due to mild temperatures and excessive rainfall, have just begun to turn and fall. I must take my camera out tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Visited the new Waterside theatre in Aylesbury last week. Despite the architect descibing his inspiration as the Chiltern landscape in this video clip,  it looks very retro, the outside strongly 1930's (my grandson immediately recognised it as 'Titanic') the inside very festival of Britain, in the nicest possible way. Gorgeous, rich orange paint and seating, '50's meets Goldsworthy' blockwood walls, extravagent pendant lighting and green flecked carpets make it an epilectic's nightmare, so plenty to excite my ADH tendencies. Performance of Evita was wonderful and enhanced by the lighting and stage design which gave the whole thing a cinematic feel. We had a fabulous view from the first circle, but annoyingly little leg room! Going back soon for a grandma's treat to see Joseph.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

best beaches

This header is a not very good shot of Hayling Island from West Wittering beach. When we visited a week ago the rain only stopped for a few hours and visibility was rubbish but inclement weather notwithstanding it would never make it into my top ten. A quick google had brought it up and it looked within good striking distance. The salt lagoon on the leeward side of the headland is a bonus but the beach is pretty ordinary. For the same distance I would make for Highcliffe or Hengistbury Head and for a bit more effort and a weekend away, Manorbier and Barafundle Bay are among the best these isles have to offer. We spent an idyllic weekend at Hurst House near Laugharne in the summer and I am pining to return. Just a niggling worry that without the balmy summer weather and the swallows dipping in under the eaves it would be reduced and I do hate to be disappointed.......

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Another picture from the banks of the Thames, now Isis, at Lechlade. The swans were everywhere, grazing in the fields, preening in the shallows, like the children of Lir, one of my favourite stories: 

Long ago in ancient Ireland lived a great chieftain Lir and his four children: Fionnuala, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn. His wife, Eva had died in childbirth but the children lived happily with their father in his castle in the middle of a forest. Near to the castle was a lake where the children swam daily. They were great swimmers as Lir was also king over the ocean and they were possessed of gills. After some years Lir married Eva's sister Aoife who became insanely jealous of the children and plotted to kill them. One perfect summer's day Aoife appeared on the lakeside and from her cloak drew a magic wand. A fireball hit the water and the children were transformed into beautiful swans, their feathers as white as snow, the only remnant of their past to remain was their beautiful singing voices. For nine hundred years the children were destined to haunt Lough Derravaragh, the Sea of Moyle and the waters of Inish Glora until the spell was broken by the toll of a church bell.  
The legend was used by writers, artists and poets over generations as an allegory for the state of the nation under British rule. There are many beautiful representations inspired by the legend which belongs to a fascinating genre of 'shape shifting stories' found across the globe.