Showing posts with label Walks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walks. Show all posts

Monday, 13 February 2017

Sussex and Silence

Silence.  Not always golden, but sometimes there seems nothing much to say.  

2017 did not get off to the best start for me, with the sad news that an old friend had died after three years on the rollercoaster that is cancer.  Someone very special to us as it was through his family that I met my husband, and someone whose life has threaded through mine for well over a decade now.  At 64, he was too young to die and had so much to live for.  A beautiful, loving wife and four children in their 20s. Children whose weddings he will never attend, grandchildren he will never hold and cherish, although his very close family will always hold him in their hearts.

Then there have been the usual winter bugs which strike and refuse to move on and which are still lingering now, but with the longer days and brighter sunshine (on the days we emerge from under the grey umbrella which dominates here in winter), I too am feeling brighter and hopefully recovering some of my lost energy. 

We did manage a trip to Sussex in sub-zero temperatures, enjoying an invigorating walk on Camber Sands watching the light bounce off the cold, clear water, followed by a whistle-stop tour of the ancient Cinque Port town of Rye, taking time to admire the beautiful 12th century Church of St Mary the Virgin, before driving home through the frost-bound countryside. 

How has 2017 been for you so far?  What do you have planned this year and are you longing, like me, for Spring to arrive?
Camber Sands
Mermaid Street, Rye
St Mary the Virgin, Rye

Stained glass, St Mary the Virgin, Rye

Friday, 18 November 2016

Woodland Walk

There is a perfect moment each Autumn, when the trees are hanging onto the last of their leaves before the storms strip them bare for the winter...

... a secret place for two lively dogs to explore

This wet little spaniel has never seen Autumn before but he had no trouble finding the stream at the bottom of the valley

We are so lucky to have this ancient woodland just a few minutes walk from our home and usually have it all to ourselves, apart from bluebell time when it is full of families enjoying picnics and making dens.  We tend to avoid the woods then as the dogs don't take kindly to being walked on a leash and are strangely unwelcome, storming through someone's idyllic picnic!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Brand new world - living with a puppy

Every day is a new adventure for Oskar.  The world to him is brand new and surprising, or startling and frightening, and it is refreshing to see it through his three month old puppy eyes.  

This week has been a pivotal week for us, as he is now allowed out into the wider world, vaccinations having taken. He loves his short walks but has to become accustomed to the constraints of a lead as he tears headlong through the village, snuffling and sniffing, stopping in wonder and terror for every car that goes by (no pavements for us to shelter on). 

He has to learn to travel in the back of the car, behind the dog guard, and not to be afraid as the world whizzes by, and he has started puppy school - a safe place to meet other puppies and learn a few basic skills.  He is also becoming a firm favourite in the village pub, where he has to learn to stay close to us and not to make a noise, yelping and barking. Today he met his first horse walking up the hill near our home, followed by a bike.  So much to see and do and absorb.

His life is a social whirl and he is welcome everywhere he goes.  Children exclaim and stop and pet him, parents and grandparents rush over to say hello and other dogs sniff him curiously.  The party is definitely wherever he is!  Our older dog looks on with a rather jaundiced eye, the centre of attention no longer and nose temporarily out of joint, but she graciously puppy-sits him every night for us which is a great relief. 

Life has changed in the four weeks since we brought him home, our world has shrunk to the village with short trips further afield limited by his nap times.  He is a very lively puppy and we are on puppy duty from 7am to 10pm with nap breaks, and it is wearing but rewarding too.  Putting in time and hard work with him now will pay dividends in the future, but I am looking forward to having two dogs quietly settled in front of the wood burning stove one day, and running free on our rambles, enjoying the country walks that are such an important part of our lives here in Suffolk.

Friday, 29 January 2016

... of Puppies and Frosty Morning Walks

Life changing moments don't always announce themselves with a great fanfare.  A week ago, as I took an early morning walk with my camera, enchanted by the hoar frost which had transformed the mundane into the magical, I wasn't thinking of acquiring another dog just yet, if at all. 

Somewhere in my head for a long time, I have carried a picture of two dogs, one black, one blond, sharing my life and although over the years I have often had one dog to accompany me on my walks, two seemed an impossible dream; time, space, money, work, practical considerations all held me back.  

So when my sister-in-law phoned me to tell me about her new puppy, a working cocker cross, with brothers and sisters waiting for their forever homes, I really tried hard to say no.  Taking on another dog, rather like having another child, is a massive commitment and there is rarely a perfect moment, but she convinced me that this was a litter worth looking at, both parents living in a home environment and the puppies being raised in the house with children, all beautiful, healthy and well balanced. 

I think the point of no return came when I picked up the phone just to have a chat with the breeder and found myself making an appointment to visit.  My husband was no help at all and frankly encouraged me in achieving this long held dream and somehow we went from 'shall we have another dog' to 'which puppy shall we choose'? (actually, he chose us).  After all, if not now, when?  Crazy I know but we will find a way to make it work and still have our freedom too.  After all, if you have one dog, how much more of a problem can two be?  No doubt we shall find out, but we are committed now and delighted to welcome Oskar to our family.

Are you a dog lover?  Would you have been sensible, or like me, would you have followed your heart?

and some frosty Suffolk scenes...

Friday, 8 January 2016

Time to Decide

Walking alone today on a rare clear, sunny but very cold winter's day, with our young yellow Labrador was a good opportunity for contemplation as another year begins its cycle.  Christmas already seems a distant memory as our lovely tree stands naked, propped against the brown bin waiting to be recycled, which is the best we can offer in return for bringing a little magic into our home.  I do hate putting Christmas away and yet there is something liberating about the space created.  The almost empty calendar is pinned up in the kitchen waiting to be filled with whatever form our lives will take this year, a blank page waiting for its fill of the special and not so special occasions which make up a life.  

Last year was a very special year as we finally celebrated our marriage and also witnessed my youngest stepson marry his girlfriend of the last eight years.  There was, sadly, my father-in-law's funeral, attended by most of his steadily increasing family - a fine testament to his life but a sad loss to those who knew him. There is another big family wedding already booked in for June this year, my step-daughter, and another engagement has just been announced.  

But as I walked through the empty Suffolk countryside this morning, what was really on my mind was the need to commit, to make a decision.  Our house has been on and off the market for most of the last two years as we try and work out how it is we want to live, what is important to us, what is possible and what is just an impossible dream. Moving to Suffolk over 6 years ago, after more than 20 years living and raising my children on the Kent/Sussex border, has been a mixed experience and I have sometimes struggled to settle here.  

We have come to love this strange, relatively empty and unspoilt county with its huge skies and stunning coastline.  The rivers are beautiful and we appreciate the sense of space, the pretty painted houses, the ancient towns and villages which nestle in the valleys and the warmth and friendliness of the people who make their lives here.  What I have missed though are the deeper connections I formed during those years of school runs, plays, matches, parents' evenings, putting down deep roots in a community which takes a long time.  So, for over a year, we have really explored the possibility of going back to Kent/East Sussex and have spent a lot of time visiting the area, catching up with old friends, trying to decide if this is a real possibility or if life has just moved on too far, whether we are just chasing a dream and letting go of something that has real value to us here.  This is our Suffolk and so many reasons to stay...

The Stour
The Orwell at Pin Mill
Butt & Oyster
Ponies at Pin Mill
There are, of course, options three and four! Renting out our house and renting another, almost anywhere, for a year and really shaking things up.  The Ari├Ęge beckons!  I have always dreamed of living in France for a while.  Or we could move almost anywhere else in the country - the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District are proving a big draw at the moment!

One way or another, the challenge this year is to commit and then to make whatever we decide to do become the right choice.  

What challenges do you face this year, what decisions and life events are on the horizon?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

London - Winter Walk

    I love the light shining through the winter-bare trees, just before dusk

    the stark, strong lines of the Albert Bridge seen through the bare branches

   the fast-flowing River Thames which continues to thread through my life

   and the wonderful London parks - the lungs of this beautiful City.

  Taken in Battersea Park, London, January 2014

Monday, 4 November 2013

Gratitude - Autumn Walk

Today I am grateful for... 

...the wind in my hair, 
the damp, green autumn grass under my feet, 
the sunlight streaming through the trees, glinting on the last of the falling leaves, 
the quiet embrace of the empty woods and the peace that I find there, 
the muddy stream running through the valley, 
the uncut, faded grass in the meadow where wild flowers grow in the summer 
and the ecstatic freedom of my beautiful, bouncing, bounding, young yellow Labrador as she keeps me company on my walk, 
but most of all I am grateful for the lives and the love of my three beautiful boys. 

Monday, 13 May 2013

May - Morning Walk

Bluebell wood

Beautiful blond labrador, looking for trouble


Shady country lane

Moody Suffolk skies

Dog tired and very muddy

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Winter's Icy Grip

Disappointingly, February has failed to live up to her early promise and is busy reminding us that Winter is not yet ready to release its icy grip.

Tramping through the snow-bound fields with Asha, our yellow labrador, the iron-grey sky sealing us into the monochrome landscape, it was a real pleasure to see a few brave yellow daffodils pushing through the crust of snow.

A promise that the English winter must end soon, the sun will shine again and the Spring flowers in this Suffolk meadow will return once more.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hoar Frost

We are living in a deep freeze in East Anglia at the moment, the weather from Siberia hitting the East Coast hard.  The cold is intense and relentless and makes our daily dog walk a chilly but exhilarating experience as every blade of glass, every fallen leaf, every holly bush is etched with a thick coating of hoar frost, the shivering bare branches of the trees silhouetted against the bright blue sky.

Coming home is a real pleasure too and I have never appreciated more our lovely warm, welcoming house and the joys of the woodburning stove.


Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Romantic Break

Even the birds struggled to stay aloft. My boot-shod feet slipped and squelched on the muddy, almost sheer slope, the wind whipping our words away as we climbed up a little-used track to the South Coastal Path. This was my romantic break, a treat and a reward for all the sometimes tough sailing during the summer.

We had booked a lovely Bed and Breakfast in a remote spot on the Dorset coast, overlooking the sea. There was crisp white linen on the king-sized bed, gorgeous, muted fabrics framing windows and covering cushions, antiques glowing in the soft light, so how did I find myself yet again battling the elements? The view from the top of the cliff was worth the climb, but in the end the Force 6 gale tearing into us became too much of an obstacle, so we abandoned our planned walk after a couple of miles, took a track inland, sheltered from the elements, back to the farmhouse.

Later, changed and rested, we sat by a log fire in a lovely old heavily-beamed pub, drinking beer and eating home-made soup, reading the papers and letting the short November day drift away.

The next day, we took a different route along the coast, keeping closer to the beach, sheltered from the worst of the weather, had a coffee at an ancient smugglers' pub then spent time just sitting on the pebbly beach, watching the light playing on the sea and idly chatting. This was more what I had in mind and it was, in the end, a lovely relaxing break.

Monday, 7 April 2008


The iron-grey sky sealed our small corner of the countryside as we tramped through the whitening fields, the rest of the view lost in the horizontal blizzard that whipped our cheeks rosy red, hats pulled down over cold ears, scarves tightly knotted, gloved hands thrust deep into pockets. We turned for home, taking the short cut this time, as the world turned empty and white around us.

Back at the farmhouse, he split the last of the winter logs and we lit the fire, opened a bottle and idled the rest of the snowy afternoon away, cocooned from the outside world. The Sunday papers kept us busy, then a late lunch in the snowbound conservatory, candles lit, spring flowers in a jam jar glowing on the snow white African table cloth. We ate a delicious leg of lamb from the local butchers, with roasted vegetables in olive oil and garlic, red wine gravy, then chocolate pudding. My favourite.

For a little while, it was time out of time, and a lovely magical day.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Christmas Walk

The sun came out briefly as we assembled by the white five-bar gate which separates the farmhouse from the busy B road connecting two villages which, a decade or so ago no doubt was just a quiet country lane. Today there was little traffic on the road and we soon headed off into deep countryside, following the thin trails linking one footpath with another, chatting and admiring the beautiful, unspoilt, wintry scenery, always keeping the Church Tower in view. Our lodestone. After a while we met the road again briefly, beside the old abandoned windmill on top of the rise, before crossing the ancient churchyard shaded by yew trees, and back into open country.

An hour or so later we emerged by a lovely hop-strewn pub, log fire blazing, and a very welcome drink and lunch. One or two people peeled off after lunch, but the die-hards set off back across country, following The Man in the Woolly Jumper who had the map, losing our way occasionally, finding ourselves in someone else's driveway at one point, but always finding a way through in the end.

The light was fading by the time we got back to the house, my sons grumbling by now. Friends rallied round, someone put the kettle on, TMITWJ lit the fire and mince pies were warmed in the oven. After a reviving cup of tea a few more people arrived and bottles of fizz popped as the fire warmed us through, conversation flowed and friends and family relaxed together by the brightly lit Christmas Tree.