John & Lily-dog in the horses’ field

The woods at the end of our garden are awesome. AWESOME. They’re a mixture of ancient woodland & newer (early 20th century) plantings. They have a stream, countless springs and a canal running through/next to them. Deer, ducks and pheasants are spotted with surprising regularity and horses & cows graze on the farmland at the edges. They were a hive of industry 100+ years ago: the old quarry cliffs remain exposed, some of the dug-outs are still massive holes in the dirt, and there are the mysterious remains of structures everywhere. They were a leisure spot back then too: the shape of a large pond with man-made islands and a mini-jetty remains, and there are stone-walled lined paths & steps throughout. More recently, the eastern end hosted a prisoner of war camp (for Italian prisoners in WW2) and a fireworks factory that exploded in the 1950s or thereabouts – the shells of the buildings remain. We’ve walked in the woods almost daily for 15 months now and we regularly find new bits that we haven’t seen before. As I said, AWESOME.

Today though, we didn’t walk far – just to the horses field. Lily sprained her leg on Monday so we wanted to take it easier on her behalf. Also, we’re lazy and it was hot.

The horses’ field is down near the canal. This is the view from about halfway across the field – you can see the bridge over the canal on the left.

This is the view from the same spot facing the other way – speckled with daisies, buttercups and pink clover flowers at the moment.

(I forgot to take any pictures until I was halfway across the field – a genuine mistake but admittedly, there is a bit of a blot on the landscape when looking across the whole field from the woods: a red corrugated steel warehouse, mostly covered with trees but noticeable all the same.)

While I was taking pictures, John and Lily had a little rest in the sun:

A sunny day in a field with her favourite humans, after a dunk in the beck? Lily got a little blissed out:

Make that a lot blissed out:

Everyone got quite comfy:

Until …

There is a reason we call it the horses field… They came over to investigate/bully us out of there. So we picked ourselves up and headed back into the woods and home.

Body clocks, always something new, just right

1. My phone battery dies overnight but our – and the animals’ – body clocks wake us right on time.

2. The bracken, brambles and balsam have died away to reveal new paths through the woods and fields. We walk them together, her tail spinning, my heels sinking into the leaf mulch.

3. I love homemade bread – the substance and process of it – but every now and then, a fluffy floury bun from the supermarket is the most divine thing in the world.

For the sake of it, I heart Coopers, by proxy

1. The two dogs run around fighting over THE BEST STICK IN THE WORLD while he builds a dam in the beck. His handiwork will divide the water more equally between the two paths, so the one close to the path flows better. I know it’ll be washed away next time it rains heavily but it doesn’t matter. I tell him his hands must be freezing and he just smiles. The dogs play on.

2. Smoked mackerel fishcakes with my favourite salad leaves on a mild horseradish sauce base. Perfectly cooked chicken breast with sweet potato dauphinoise, with carrots, broccoli and deliciously tangy red cabbage. Lemon and ginger cheesecake without, our favourite waiter tells us proudly, fingerprints in the dusted icing sugar.

3. We rock back and forth in a hug as I tell him about the meal. He says he enjoyed it from just what I was saying. Then he goes in the bath and I sit next to him in the warm bathroom and enjoy that by proxy as well.

No teeth to hold it back, up Thornhill, “ssh, I want to hear”

1. With each cough, his tongue pokes out further. It is almost impossibly cute.

2. A long walk at lunchtime. We bat some ideas around and enjoy the sun streaming into the empty woods.

3. The one person paying attention, the one person amongst the chaos who wants to listen and learn.

Temporary passages, tired out, silky smooth

1. A dozen old streams are called into action for the day. Lily tastes tests each one.

2. The stove blazing, Bonnie Prince Billy playing, keyboards clacking, the dog is sleeping.

3. The papier mache mix is different this time and it flows much better. I feel like I’m sculpting soft clay into something elegant rather than a turning torn up Guardian into a silly chicken.

Autumn Sun(day)

1. Rainbows fill the room. The dog has one on her chest as she waves her paws in the air. There is another on my legs. They dance across the ceiling.

2. The dew glistens on the cobwebs laced between the neighbours’ railings.

3. The woods have never been lighter or brighter. The trees are naked, the floor mottled in yellows and brown. We wander hither thither, along paths that don’t exist in the summer, then we sit on the bench above it all and talk.