Friday, 30 April 2021

The Old Ways


Thanks for visiting.

Have you read Robert Macfarlane's book The Old Ways?  I was lucky enough to receive a surprise copy through the post, sent by Miss CK in her valiant attempt to keep me going through the Lockdowns.  It is a book about the landscape, amazing ancient paths all over the world even at sea, abundant flora, weather in all its forms, walking, looking, persevering,  meeting like-minded people, collaboration, art, poetry, imagination.

Here are five things I enjoyed about the book.

1. Whilst travelling along the sandstone paths around Chideock in Dorset with his friend Roger Deakin, they talked about the many stories relating to previous users of the ancient sunken roads or holloways back through the centuries. With the stories seeming to take place in front of their eyes, the paths came alive.  Two years later his friend had died unexpectedly and two years after that, Robert returned to the same holloways  '. . . and found myself tracking our own earlier traces - the holly bush from which we'd cut our sticks, the field selvedge where we'd camped for a night - and experiencing startlingly clear memory-glimpses of Roger himself, seen at the turn of a corner or ahead of me on the path.'

They had added their own story to the path along with all the other tales. I love this idea of a path being like a library of stories made by all the people that used it.

2. The Chapter called Silt introduced me to a path called The Broomway, an offshore path on the Essex coastline.  It leaves a place called Wakering Stairs and heads straight out to sea.  After several hundred yards offshore, it turns north east for 3 miles before turning again to land at Fisherman's Head.  I had to get the maps out and sure enough, there it is.

I enjoyed, with trepidation, hearing about this dangerous path, which is at the mercy of the tides and walkers need to be aware not to fall foul of sinking sands and mud.

3. Ice was fascinating.  I hadn't heard about foot plinths before - footprints not pressed into the snow but raised up to form pedestals about 3 or 4 inches high.  Snow is compacted under the pressure of a footstep but the softer snow around it is scoured away by the wind until the footprint stands in relief!

4. Then there's The Library of the Forest created by Miguel Angel Bianco in Madrid - hundreds of wooden boxes all open at their outward facing end, within each one was a linen covered book spine relating to a journey made, along with items collected on the journey like rocks, acorns, leaves.  I can really relate to this.

5.  I can't decide whether to mention the section about Artist Eric Ravilious and his love of the chalky South Downs or mention the wildflower meadows. There, I've mentioned them both!  

One of the things I've enjoyed about this book has been the way many of my favourite discoveries through life have been brought together.  I'll finish off with another quote from the book. 

'In one field, ragwort seethed with cinnabar-moth caterpillars. Another field was pink with bursts of mallow, thrust up from the turf like magician's sprays of false flowers.  Tractor tracks swooped and arced between them.'  You can just see this all so clearly, can't you.

You need all your maps and the Internet about you when you read it!


Thursday, 29 April 2021

Braving Bracknell


Thanks for visiting.

We had a trip to Bracknell following an appointment and it made a nice change to be back after such a long time.

Work is progressing in Princess Square, even though it seems quite empty shop and peoplewise, it feels a much nicer space than it used to be.  I do like the  colourful hoardings they put up when a shop closes, it makes such a difference. Below, Sainsbury's used to have this large shop, which I'm sure is much missed, a Sports Direct is moving in.

Even the floor had been decorated with lots of cheerful handprints painted by the Community, forming leaves of a tree with the message that there will be brighter days to come as the pandemic eases.  It must have been great fun to search for the hand you made.

Time for a coffee and cake outside the Mason and Rye café at Fenwicks.

Around the town, there was a clump of shoppers near the street market and outside the restaurants but otherwise it wasn't too busy.  I wondered what the town would look like with all the recent chain store closures but apart from the two large shops below, it seemed much the same.

Behind the hoarding, where Bentalls used to be, building work continues on the next phase, hopefully to open next year.

Time to walk back to the Sports Centre on a lovely sunny day.


Friday, 23 April 2021

Five Mosaics for Friday


Thanks for popping in.

I hope you enjoy the following five mosaics from my week.

1. Lots of colourful tulips dotted about the village.

2.  A wander around Horseshoe Lake, quite calm, not too much happening although I did spot four butterflies - an orange tip, speckled wood, brimstone and a small white. Good to see a nesting swan too.
3. Into the Woods, how dry the paths are and how blue the sky.
4.  The bluebells wood before the bluebells are flowering.   Are they late or are they not coming at all?  The field of dandelions made up for the lack of bluebells.  This wood is so different to those nearer home, it's full of light and mists of small green silver birch leaves, white anemones and luscious bluebell leaves.
5. In the garden there's pear and cherry blossom, seedlings getting stronger needing their own pot.
Have a great weekend.


Thursday, 22 April 2021

April's Bouquet


Thanks for visiting.

Excitement has once again arrived in the post as the next Bloom & Wild bouquet, arranged by our youngest, landed on the mat.  Named The Tessa, this month the blooms are soft mauve pastels with a touch of pink with a delicious perfume.  There are roses, stock, freesias, crimson September and bupleurum, floaty yellow greenery which sets everything off beautifully. 

Aren't they gorgeous!

There's one more to come next month and then I'll put all the mosaics on together for you to choose your favourite.


Wednesday, 21 April 2021

And Back Again


Thanks for popping in.

You find me at the Lido in Reading, outside, enjoying a coffee and one of their pistachio flans.

Crispy, flaky filo pastry, gooey pistachio with a dollop of jam in the centre.

After such a pleasant couple of hours, it's time to get the train back home, passing the gas holder where the peregrine falcons are nesting, holding up demolition and building work.

Back in the village, another decorated postbox was waiting for me by the station.

Plus a few pretty areas of planting and signs of Spring.

Thank you for joining me on the trip!


Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Along the Thames


Thanks for popping in.

Caversham Court Gardens are a short distance from Reading's Caversham Bridge, here's a link to a previous post as we've been here several times before.  I love the unusual trees, view of the river and coffee and walnut cake when the kiosk is open.  Not too much to see at this time of year though.

You can just make out the church, on the right of the photo, which is just behind the Gardens, taken from Caversham Bridge.

Look at these new, bright green leaves bursting out of the tree.

Passing the island in the river, a dreadful racket was occurring at the boatyard. A worker was banging together two pieces of wood whilst two Egyptian geese and their 7 goslings squawked uproariously, as they were driven from the buildings, along the towpath and over the edge into the river on top of 2 other geese, who then joined in with the squawking. What a carry on! 

Here's my favourite rusty fence at Christchurch Bridge.

Birds circled above, around the buildings.

The clouds are building, time for another cup of coffee before catching the train home.


Monday, 19 April 2021

River Mooching


Thanks for calling in.

Despite not visiting Reading for quite a while, there has been plenty of building work going on.  Huge tower blocks stretch up now where only the foundations were there before,

Luckily the River Thames still looks the same after all the years of flowing through the town.

Crossing Reading Bridge, from one side you can see Caversham Locks . . .

. . . and from the other, both Christchurch and Caversham bridges in the distance.

Underneath, there's more graffiti by Peachy rather than Banksy it seems.  Annoyingly, there's a bit more, including another typewriter like that missing from Banksy's prison wall mural, a little further on that I missed.

Christchurch pedestrian Bridge has a beautiful rusty fence, which is a real favourite of mine.  Here it is from across the river.

This is a great stretch of path for interesting trees, the willows particularly beautiful at the moment.

Next time, we'll visit Caversham Court Gardens and return along the river on the other bank.