Saturday, 28 November 2009

Life's teachers

Just thinking about taking a break from blogging; the internet is a double-edged sword in so many way and I always vowed I would never let it become a substitute for reading a book, going out to enjoy the natural world whatever the season, and spending time with friends. Some will claim you can make friends on the internet and yes I've seen it happen - I too have made friends this way.
So this is not goodbye to wrens-and-hedgesparrows, just perhaps a break for a while. Meanwhile I thought I'd pick the three posts that mean the most to me - 'life's teachers'. I could, and perhaps should, include parents, sons, small grandchildren, other life-partners and friends though I would have to start a whole new blog ...
For now this is my choice:

i) Christopher - my best friend for a decade until he died, far too young. He opened so many doors of knowledge though I wasn't ready to walk through them back then. He never judged or gave up on me and he remains one of the best people I have had the privilege to know.

ii) Michael - another dear friend, who didn't make the full distance.

iii) The Real Middle Earth - this is a thread that is woven through my life.

Thank you for reading - hopefully we will meet again soon ...

Friday, 20 November 2009


Sunset - on the way back from Devil's Den our little group pondered a while on what looks like a ruined long barrow situated at possibly the highest point on Fyfield Down.

Back in August a friend from the Avebury Forum, Pete Glastonbury walked with me up to Fyfield Down to show me the Polisher Stone (thought to be where axes were sharpened by the prehistoric people who lived in area). Last weekend, after a wet, windy Saturday, Sunday dawned bright and crisp. I was invited to join Pete once more with others from the Avebury Forum who had travelled down from Yorkshire on the previous Friday. I had never met any of them before but had no hesitation in setting my alarm to ensure I caught the first Sunday bus out to Avebury. As ever, Avebury in the early morning is a peaceful place to be - the wet grass glistening in the morning sunlight, the magnificent sarsens shining, hardly any people or traffic.
We started our walk up Green Street towards the chalk track that leads to the Ridgeway, what followed was a memorable day for all present. Somehow time seemed suspended - the enthusiasm of the Yorkshire three was energising and inspiring. We walked to the Polisher again, then onto the rare cup-marked stone (see photo above) courtesy of Pete who must be one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to the Avebury landscape. It is doubtful that I could find it again on my own.
Follow the link for an account of the August walk

Devil's Den, Wiltshire's only surviving dolmen
Follow the link to see dolmen surrounded by poppies and yarrow
The sarsen drift in the valley of Fyfield Down en route to the Devil's Den dolmen. The stones are called grey wethers because of their similarity to the sheep who pasture along side them - it is sometimes hard to tell sheep from stones.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Dreaming Spires

Christchurch College and meadows
Runs it not here, the track by Childsworth Farm
Past the high wood, to where the elm-tree crowns
The hill behind whose ridge the sunset flames?
The signal-elm, that looks on Isley Downs
The Vale, the three lone weirs, the youthful Thames? -
This winter-eve is warm
Humid the air! leafless yet soft as spring,
The tender purple spray on copse and briers!
And that city sweet with her dreaming spires
She needs not June for beauty's heightening.
(taken from the poem Thyrsis by Mathew Arnold 1822-1888)

The Cherwell - a tributary of the Thames
Yesterday I boarded an empty bus that took me to Oxford - probably my favourite city. When I lived in London I could take a bus there from Marble Arch so it became a bolt hole from the ever crowded, teeming metropolis. Now I live in Swindon, a still busy but smaller town along the M4 corridor, Oxford is my escape from the ordinary. An atmosphere of learning pervades the beautiful architecture of the city's centre along with a sense that life is an adventure after all. A walk along the Thames towpath to Iffley Lock on a Sunday afternoon was to observe the rarefied world of Oxford's students as rowing boat after rowing boat passed on river with their coaches calling instructions from cycles as they also passed along the towpath - at a more ponderous pace.