Thursday, 31 March 2011

Re: Puppy love

I've always fancied Dog Agility but could not find anything nearby when Friday was small. Now I have taken the plunge with grandog Scout and this is our first excursion! Hope it won't be our last.................. For tips on what it really should look like, see scout's friend molliecarter clearing the hurdles.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

White Pond Farm

I got really fed up trying to upload my pics in an orderly manner the other night - I know I should update my software but IT is not my strongpoint. Anyway, here are a few more from Sunday...

This is the view of John Stracey's land from the memorial bench.

Violets underfoot....

The old cruck barn at White Pond Farm

Looking in the other direction, west, over chalky fields.

Home is where my hens are - waiting on the doorstep!


And this is John, from the family website at White pond Farm. One of many beautiful old black and white photos that make me ache with nostalgia - I also love the one of his wife, Betty, haymaking!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sunday British Summertime!

Last night the clocks went forward an hour and today it was not dark until 8pm - bliss! We made the most of the continuing good weather to do a circular walk around Stonor House deep in the Chilterns, impulsively stopping at this unpretentious village pub on the way for a pint of Brakspear and a bite to eat.  When I was a child I hated flintwork as I was always getting jostled up against the flint walls of my primary school, but what I love most now is knowing that the brick clay and flints are dug in the local area and reassembled so beautifully. And I love finding these old carriage doors and the small entry doors cut in them. At the back of the pub were long, uneven roofs of patterned clay tiles, red and grey, orchards and sheep.The sun was warm, the beer was cool and we saw two Peacock butterflies and a Brimstone. Stonor is in the heart of the Chiltern Hills, set in a bowl of ancient parkland, surrounded by beechwood, high chalk ridges and mixed farmland. The woods are now carpeted with celandines and wood anenomes, the hedges are black with thorn and white with blosson and the wild cherries are alive with bees. At one point there were over a dozen Red Kites swooping and tumbling above us, their kee ning like whalesong in the spring air. On the hill we sat and admired the farmland tilled by John Stracey for over half a century, sitting on his memorial bench - am I alone in my fascination with these plaques? - violets scattered underfoot. On our way downhill we disturbed a nesting skylark that rose, soaring noisily into the air, passed a stand of humming beehives and back down the valley by White Pond Farm. Then into Henley for a walk by the river where we found the brewery our lunchtime pint originated from!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

British summertime

Yesterday I spotted the first Brimstone of the year bright in the spring sunshine and today, I think, a Red Admiral. I startled it and only caught the orange rimmed wings but the guide tells me this was the most likely. High pressure all week, temperature 18c in the sun yesterday afternoon and bumble bees the size of field mice bumping into each other in their hurry to get to the cherry blossom. And the Hellebores too, which are looking fab, six varieties now I think and all very happily naturalised in my garden. And me aching from walking now the seratonin has started to kick in again and the clocks go back on Saturday, yey!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Puppy Love

We have been dogless for the past eighteen months and after 30 dog full years it is a pretty sorry state to be in, I can tell you! But after much persuasion and deliberation I am now the proud grandma to a new pup. And what a gorgeous boy he is, as you can see. Intelligent, loving, feisty and athletic, he is just the right size to sit between the boys in the back of the car or on the passenger seat where I can rest my hand reassuringly on his rough coated back between gear changes. A Border terrier/ poodle cross, we are hoping he won't moult too much, he is good when left alone and is a star at puppy training. Next week I am taking him to an Agility Club open morning just to see if he is interested. And then I can give him back - the joys of being a grandma!

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Sheep Field

Spent a relaxing Sunday over at Perry Green on the other side of Herts, at Henry Moore's home and workshops. Actually the workshops are closed for the winter, reopening on 1st April when you must visit! There is a footpath that circles the boundary and after a lovely walk through soon to be bluebell woods, a sunken valley and the maternity unit of a sheep farm, it cuts across Hoglands, where Moore lived and worked for over 40 years. His wife bought and landscaped neighbouring land to showcase Henry's work and the field pictured is, on his instruction, to remain 'The Sheep Field' in perpetuity. Last summer we visited the house which is just as he left it and has the same eclectic feel as my parents house: bowls of pine cones and pebbles, prints and sketches, fifties fabrics. The main difference being that the Moore's art collection is all originals and the fabrics he designed himself. The Hoops is also part of the estate so we were surrounded by more fabrics, photos and prints as we enjoyed Sunday lunch.  

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Ancient lanes

Today the sun enticed us to try a new walk along the Chess valley and up over Pednor, an ancient packhorse route through the Chilterns. High above Red Kites played on the thermals mewing and mating in the spring sunshine, five or six together. On the steep verges white and purple violets are now in flower and catkins shiver in the wind. Though we were on the lanes more than footpaths only a couple of cars passed us, and though the walkers and cyclists were out in force, it was so quiet. The beech trees still bare cresting the parallel ridges, the farmsteads nestling in the long valleys, sheep the colour of the bleached winter grass, newly ploughed fields the colour of rich chocolate: beautiful!
Bury Pond where the submerged watercourse feeds into the Chess. 
Looking across Rose Acre to Friars Hills

Little Pednor Farm - amazing Arts & Crafts manor house, and the lane cuts right through the courtyard!
The farm at Pednor Bottom
The ridge that becomes Chartridge.