Another day in the country today, though a different part of it, hurrah - but I did manage to get today's meditation poem squeezed in before we set off:
Beyond the river
into the possibility
Flesh and bone
and what is written once
will be written again
Then it was a quick turn-round and an equally quick coffee and chat with the downstairs neighbour's daughter (hello, Gisela!) before making our way to Dinton Pastures Country Park in Berkshire. Which took rather longer than it should as we, somewhat foolishly, decided that the quickest route would be through Reading. Hmm. My advice is if you ever at any point in your life think that the quickest route to anywhere (apart from Reading itself) is through Reading, then think again. The signs are crap and the roads are worse and, thanks to my less than top-notch navigational skills, we actually ended up in Oxfordshire. In the Chilterns. Ho hum. However, the plus point is that, due to my complex set of detours, we did spot a red kite, which is our first one for this year, hurrah! So every cloud, etc etc ... And when we finally got to Dinton Pastures itself, it was a grand place indeed. With loos, which is always vital, I feel. Rather too many dogs for my liking though (I don't mind dogs - well, no, actually, I don't like them at all, but that doesn't fit in with my next phrase - but I couldn't eat a whole one) but still a very pleasant walk. We spotted some sandmartins and common terns (both new for this year in this country, though we did spot terns in Istanbul earlier in the year), and several orange tip butterflies. I love orange tip butterflies. Small and white and it looks as if their wingtips have been dipped into marmalade. Wonderful.
We then drove (with roughly equal amounts of confusion) to Basildon Park. Lunch was fabulous - full-on roast turkey followed by treacle tart and custard at very reasonable prices, though we did seem to enter the restaurant via the back passage (as it were), which confused everyone. Especially us. We then did a quick tour around the house - the Octagon Room is amazing and the Library is very cosy indeed. Though Lord H did point out that they didn't have as many books as we do - which may indeed be true but theirs are more neatly filed at least. He also stood in front of a picture showing a Classical soldier holding his headgear and opined: "Ah, the typical portrait of a soldier admiring his helmet ..." - which forced me to exit quickly from the room in question before hysteria set in. Thankfully, the rest of the folks around us seemed to take it seriously and nodded in agreement, but I fear that once word gets round, we may have our National Trust membership forcibly removed. I'm already known as the Woman Who Laughs at Jelly Moulds (found in every NT house across the land, sigh ...), so we may indeed be in injury time. Honestly, I can't take Lord H anywhere twice. I daren't ...
Anyway, moving rapidly on, and suitably fortified by essential English stodge (where would we be as a nation without it?), we set out on the full Park walk. Hmm, I wish now I'd taken the more genteel Park Walk. All I'll say is that was a bloody long four miles, Carruthers ... I was beginning to lose hope of ever seeing civilisation again, though at least the bluebells were good (though not quite as stunning as Mother's Essex bluebell wood offering). My feet are now utterly exhausted, dahlings. Still, I'm sure it's good for me. Isn't that my exercise ration for the month?? Oh and the joy about Basildon Park is they have a really, really good second hand book room where you can pick up whatever you like for £1. Wonderful. I purchased two books I've been meaning to read for a while, so that's saved me some money at least.
Tonight, I might do some more to Hallsfoot's Battle, but I'm not going to stress out about it too much. If it happens, it happens, eh. And here's this week's haiku:
At the division
of the paths, the wind blows through.
Hedges, fields, hills, sky.
Today's nice things:
4. Sunday lunch at Basildon
6. Hallsfoot - if I get to it
Anne's website - taking the slow road, whether she likes it or not
Race for Life - help support people with cancer