Friday, July 22, 2016

A day at the seaside

an early start to drive east to the coast
the sun already high at seven
by eight outside Peterborough 
the rush hour is half-hearted
by nine we see the sea

Hunstanton's car parks offer loads of space
the sun shines hot, but coffee hits the spot
the tide is out, the beaches spread for miles
we stroll along the prom  
bathed by a sea breeze

the cliffs rise in broad colour bands
the greens and gardens lead upwards
to the bowling club and cafe with a view
benches along a wall, almost in shade

we walk, we look for hats and sandals
have lunch and wander to the beach
the tide's way way out, 
a long hike to the sea
we sport the trousers-rolled-to-paddle look

retreat with chairs and books to wait awhile
watching the crowds, all ages, sizes
by five the sea is close and deep enough to swim
and warm, no shivers today
though we have memories

two years since we've had a sea swim
this time no need to brace as 
the water licks my belly

when we emerge the breeze is welcome
not fierce and chill

a meal at Goblin Pantry fills the belly
we still seek shade and breeze

To end the day a pilgrimage to holdays past
we visit Heacham, locate the house called Shenstone

drive to the beach and watch the sun go down
from this westward facing beach in Eastern England
its golden orange red path on the waves
silhouettes walkers, a dog, an evening bather.

Turning round, we see the risen moon is full.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Day out at Clumber Park

We met Dan, with Isaac and Rose, for a day at Clumber Park, in Nottinghamshire. The drive up was one of the wettest ever, torrential rain and loads of surface water on the A1. The Park is a huge estate owned by the National Trust, and was once the seat of the Dukes of Newcastle.
A mansion stood near the lake, and this year there is a series of outdoor "rooms" on the site. 

Antlers and a moustache and picture frames in one room, dining furniture, which serves as picnic tables, sofas and armchairs, 
a free-standing freplace and a front door!  Scope for silly games and role plays.  
The mansion was demolished in the 1930s. 

The Park has loads of space to walk or cycle, as well as the lake and the longest double avenue of lime trees (tilia) in Europe.
The church of St Mary the Virgin is a rather blocky Gothic Revival chapel, dating from 1886.  Interior of Red Runcorn stone, exterior Steetly ashlar with Red Runcorn dressings. I had to look that up!  We took the opportunity to sketch the church after Dan had left, giving ourselves half an hour.
As I was packing up, these greylag geese thought the carrier bag must contain food. Sorry, guys, nothing doing.

Footnote: We were last here in June 2012. Four years pass in a flash.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes

From one book to another and another leads the trail.

After reading James Hogg's The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, I had already put Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on my mental re-reading list.
Then a friend posted a link to a programme about Robert Louis Stevenson, and Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes. 

As an inveterate walker, though never with a donkey, and not for many years with camping gear or anything like, I had to read it again.  Sometimes he slept in inns, often sharing a room with others, sometimes he camped out under the stars. The book is a great mix of descriptions of scenery, reflections on the people he met, his own thoughts and feelings and the history of the region.  
The Cévennes area was the site of religious conflict between Protestant Camisards and Catholics at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and Stevenson met people from both faiths, leading him to make comparisons with the Covenanters in Scotland. 
And it leads me to reflect on the way religious differences divide communities and people even now.
But the lasting impression is of his appetite for adventure and discovery.
So onwards to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. . .