Sitting here on lockdown, having earlier walked our prescribed exercise route, carefully plotted through burgeoning local parks and side roads, the trees and hedges heavy with blossom and alive with birdsong, more-so it seems than ever this year. Strange contrast with the quiet tragedy unfolding around us, the closed doors and closed curtains and the quiet ambulances in the streets. I’m itchy to be away from here but there’s nowhere to go. So I’m looking back through old photos and I find myself in Sicily, two years ago when we were free to go wherever we pleased. We were staying in Syracuse, on the island of Ortigia, and each day we went off in a different direction. On this day we headed inland, due west to the ancient prehistoric site of Pantalica. Continue reading “Pantalica”
We’d picked up a little brochure of local walks from Tourist Information in St-Florent, and this one was just up the road from the spectacular black and white church of San Michele de Murato. It was listed as Balade dans le Nebbiu (stroll in the fog). The Nebbio is the region of Corsica inland from St-Florent, a hinterland enclosed by an amphitheatre of hills, that takes its name from the heavy mists that descend in winter. Today was not sunny, but thankfully we were not enveloped in clouds. Continue reading “A Walk In The Nebbio”
Three walks in Epping Forest, all within the past few weeks. This time of year I can’t get enough of its green light to escape the city. I never lived in a forest but this place always feels like home. Maybe I did in a previous life, maybe we all did, maybe this is the nearest thing to a prelapsarian London. Continue reading “Epping Forest x 3”
This little painting hung on the wall of our house in Calvi. It looked like the campanile of one of the churches we visited yesterday, perhaps in Calenzana or maybe Montemaggiore.
The Genoese… besides tending their gardens, they built churches, so many over the centuries… that the region was called ‘holy Balagne’; today their bell towers charmingly punctuate the landscape like a series of mild exclamation marks.
But when I took it down I found Église d’Avapessa handwritten on the back. Continue reading “Le Chêne Vert”
A bright window packed with small beauties for these dark days, a fast-moving festive feast for the eyes. As works sell they will be replaced by more in an ongoing ever-changing pageant of delights. Continue reading “In The Bleak Midwinter”
Karen had just finished reading Wilding and was recommending it to everyone, saying it was the best book she’d read in ages. It’s the story of an experiment to rewild a West Sussex farm, restoring the land and its wildlife. It’s written by Isabella Tree who, together with her husband Charlie Burrell, is the owner of the Knepp Wildland Project. Dominic said he’d visited Knepp Castle many years ago, so as a surprise, whilst he was away in Spain, we arranged a works outing for when he returned. Continue reading “Knepp”
We came to Filitosa by a circuitous route from Propriano via Sollacaro, a handsome old village perché of granite houses that almost seem to have sprouted organically from the terraced mountainside. As we descended into the Taravo valley we passed what appeared to be pumpkins hanging from the olive trees. I stopped the car and we got out for a closer look. We discovered bundles of cheesecloth tied to the branches. Perhaps it was a local cheese, a speciality of Sollacaro maturing in the olive groves? Continue reading “Filitosa”
White House Farm at Great Glemham in Suffolk has 120 acres of historic watermeadows, arable land and woodland, home to a fine collection of ancient oak trees set in parkland grazed by the farm’s flock of Alde Valley sheep. The farm also hosts a continuing succession of residencies for artists, writers, makers and musicians, and each year the Alde Valley Spring Festival shows off their work. This year the festival theme was Quercus & Co, a celebration of the English oak, and featured an exhibition of paintings and drawings of veteran trees and woodland by Jelly Green. It was not difficult to find. Posters of her Puzzlewood painting led me from the A12 down the country lanes to the farm. Continue reading “At White House Farm”
Sudbury is a place we often pass through on our way to somewhere else. But this time we stopped for a closer look and pretty soon we realised we’d already done this walk before. It all fell back into place.
The market town of Sudbury has a unique feature on its doorstep. The Sudbury Common Lands make up some 115 acres of water-meadows on the flood plain of the River Stour. Cattle and horses graze here, as they have for a thousand years, and the area is crossed by footpaths, making it perfect for a peaceful walk. Continue reading “Around Sudbury”
Nunney Castle near Frome, Somerset comes close to perfection. Here water laps a small rectangular island, out of which rises a tall, ruined castle with four cylindrical towers. Continue reading “Nunney”