For my Christmas present, Mark arranged for us to take a long weekend trip down to Dartmoor, to stay in a manor house hotel near the moors and luxuriate in good food, lovely surroundings, and quiet winter walks. The trip was absolutely wonderful and coincided with snow, which made everything a bit more magical. We woke up on Friday to a dusting of snow, which was more pronounced on the top of the moors. A snowy walk around a reservoir worked up our appetites for afternoon tea and cake. The following day we went to visit Tintagel, the mythical birthplace of King Arthur. As it was winter, the shops selling tacky plastic swords were mercifully shut, and some wild and windy weather made the castle ruins very atmospheric. In fact, I don’t think they often get weather other than ‘wild and windy’, given the castle’s position right on the edge of the west coast, jutting out into the sea.
Frost in the sunshine is one of my favourite winter things. I feel so lucky to live in the countryside and have the possibility of waking up to sleepy hillsides with mist rising and frost on the fields twinkling in the sunshine. It has been warm-ish and soggy the past few weeks, not proper winter at all, but this weekend we are due for a frost and I cannot wait to wake up and go for an early-morning scrunch across the fields. (Just IMAGINE how excited I will be if it snows, which I am sure it will not, but maybemaybemaybe it will!)
I took these photos a few weeks ago, during the last cold spell. Fingers crossed for similar scenes tomorrow.
New years’ day was sunny and glorious- hopefully a sign of things to come. We walked around Blagdon lake, sometimes on footpaths and sometimes on country lanes. The views were beautiful, and the lake very quiet. It is a nature reserve and a habitat for lots of birds and other wildlife. I feel very lucky to have this landscape on my doorstep.
Christmas has come and gone, and it’s a new year. We went for a walk along the top of the Mendips in between downpours the other day, and found a new route. Now if we can just live here and explore for the next 20 years, we might have as many walking routes as my uncle Tim has in North Yorkshire!
We found a crumbling stone barn, a field of sheep, and lots of puddles.
This sheep was remarkably clean, considering the weather we’ve had.
Mark patiently waiting for me to finish taking photos…
Looking back through my photos, I’ve found a few from this summer which I never shared at the time. The photos seem to indicate more sun than I remember having, but probably because I prefer to get the camera out in the sunshine for obvious reasons!
We were so excited to finally have a garden when we moved to our house in the countryside, and we have really enjoyed having a bit of outside space this summer. I can’t say that we’ve made huge inroads into the world of ‘proper’ gardening but I bought a few seed packets and herbs and things and put them in pots.
Here they are newly planted in July: parsley, mint, lavender, chives and tarragon. The slugs seemed to love the parsley and the chives, and the latter is now unfortunately defunct. The tarragon also probably got more rain and less sun than was good for it. Still, it was nice having green things growing and I’ve moved the pots into the porch now for the winter so I can still pick mint and parsley, and look at the lavender.
A blueberry cake from the ever-present Hummingbird Bakery cookbook- very moist and yummy, especially with the fruit. It was an enormous volume of cake though- I think it actually took more than a week to eat up, even with visitors helping. Unprecedented!
Mark found a milk churn behind the shed one day, and we put it by the back door as a little resting-spot for things like bags and travel mugs of tea for when one needs to fish around for keys to get in or out of the house. The churn was apparently from the days when the house was a farmhouse for a dairy farm, so is properly authentic!
We also walked up to the top of the hills behind our house one late evening, to watch the sun set over the valley. It’s the kind of thing we continually said we should do, but it took us a little while to get around to doing it. It was lovely though- a very peaceful way to end the day. The light on the grasses were gorgeous as the sun slanted across the hills.
It all seems a long time ago now, as we face floodwaters on the roads and read news reports of accidents caused by the heavy rain and gale-force winds. Perhaps it is nearly time for a bit of christmas cheer to lift the gloom…
Sunlight through trees is one of my favourite things to look at… it reminds me of being at home in the US in the hammock in summer, gently swinging (even though swinging in the hammock was naughty because we might fall out or damage it) and watching the leaves turn different shades of green as the breeze shook them in the sun.
On a (rare) sunny day, I do my best to take a walk to a nearby park, where I can go and sit on a bench and stare up at the trees.
I took the first photo in the summer on a gorgeous warm afternoon. The little summer we had is now a distant memory, but last week we had a crisp autumn day and I walked through the park onto a footpath along the river and took the second photo in a brief sunny spell. As I write I realise I have been remiss in capturing autumn foliage in all its glory- fingers crossed for a sunny day tomorrow!
This morning, spotting a gap in the persistent rain, we put on our ‘technical trousers’ (similar to Wallace’s techno-trousers but sadly, much less whizzy), grabbed the camera and headed out for a walk up the hills behind our house. We paused momentarily in the garden to document the lovely roses which have just appeared.
Every week something new unfurls, and I am just observing and trying to work out what is a weed and what is not. Dandelions I can spot, but there are quite a lot of other mysterious things which require identification. If they all keep popping up with pretty flowers, though, that will help!
We marched up the hill, and eventually found a view of Blagdon Lake.
I think there’s a little bit of blue sky in there somewhere…
We carried on and all of a sudden, in a gap in the hedge, some sweet little woolly faces appeared! I tiptoed over and tried Mark’s patience for about 15 minutes while I took photo after photo of the lambs. The below is only a small selection.
Posing up like a natural!
And then mummy came over to investigate. I have not met such photogenic sheep in a long time. Heading back down through the woods the path took us across a field with a small group of what I think were bulls, rather than cows. (I am not very knowledgeable about matters bovine, but have no doubt I will increase my awareness living here…) They were certainly not too pleased to see us, and even though we gave them a very wide berth, they glared and glared at us as if to say ‘what on EARTH do you think you are doing in our field’. I managed to get a couple of shots of them before we felt like it was probably time to move on!
I especially love the sly one peering over his mate’s back…
It was a lovely walk and we ended up in the village of Ubley, which is just down the road from us, gawping at some beautiful cottages with lovely gardens, roses spilling over the front door, and everything perfectly picturesque. I was so inspired I came home and started trying to tackle the garden, but the weeds won and I had to break for a nap in the end!