Here is a post begun almost a year ago when, unbeknownst to me, I was about to leave Warwickshire and move to the distinctly greyer environment of Aberdeen city. I tried to come back to this blog to write about the new experiences of moving to Scotland (the day after the referendum on leaving the UK!) but found that I didn’t know what to do with these words and pictures expressing love for a backdoor walk that was no longer mine. I’ve been wanting to get on and write about lots of knitting and crafting projects I’ve been up to lately but still these words and pictures were lurking in the drafts folder. So here is a post on the beauties of the sedate circuit walk out of my house in Kenilworth, neatened up today but still largely written by a Jemima living in Brookfield House in the summer of 2014.
On walking round in circles.
Round our way there are footpaths criss-crossing the farms near Kenilworth Castle. It’s not exactly breath-taking landscape but it’s wonderful to be able to step out, turn three corners and feel reasonably nestled in the countryside.
There are so many rights of way intersecting at this point that our basic circuit walk round the back of the houses passing the castle and emerging at Abbey Fields – the lovely public park on the site of the old abbey – can be mixed about or extended to allow for a little spice.
Mostly it’s just hedges though…
But hedges can be pretty…
My favourite place on this walk, I have dubbed the Hawthorn pool. Back in May the hawthorn blossom was everywhere, spilling over into the small pockets of water which have collected in our soggy flood prone fields.
I always duck in here to sit on a mossy tree root and listen to the wind in the trees waiting for the birds to forget their panic and return to their activities.
And one glorious day this summer, starting out on a walk to Warwick, we caught the air battle of the red and blue dragon flies. Rasping and diving over the water, the size of them was spectacular. Most recently though I saw my first Kingfisher! I have never seen one in ‘real life’ before but we caught him fishing and watched him for a good 40 minutes flashing his amazing blue feathers (no camera that day to even attempt to capture it).
The really special thing about the mundane backdoor walk is the changing seasons and smaller sights which you might otherwise overlook.
I have developed a lichen watching habit. The tiny symbiotic plant-fungi duo have changed their backdrops recently, the blossom and leaf buds being replaced by reddening berries.
And the familiar enables a focused awareness of time passing…
We rarely have the opportunity to observe and be silent with decay. I often thought of this fox under his oak over the winter months when the cold prevented a too rapid seeping and oozing, his cold body quietly teeming with unspeakable creatures.
I’ve only lived in this part of the world for two and a half years but I have inscribed memories and histories on the landscape and wildlife – which is often much easier to approach than one’s neighbours. It seems to be our way that the only times reserve is broken on the path is when a overly inquisitive or muddy dog starts up conversation first.
We have made friends with the animals kept in the fields here and, despite his sedate appearance, we named this old guy ‘attack pony’ after the enthusiastic way he trotted over to us when we first met him a couple of years ago.
Sometimes it’s the thought that we should go and say hello to attack pony and the pigmy goats that would get us out of the door on a particularly lazy day.
We never made friends with the owners of these fields but I am very thankful that we were able to enjoy their animals and pet attack pony’s greasy old mane on a grey sunday.
These fields are part of the land surrounding Kenilworth Castle which of course adds a historical layer onto the landscape. Taking the tunnel through the trees you come to an area known as ‘The Pleasance’.
Now nothing remains but some raised rectangular earth works which were part of a moated hunting lodge accessible by rowing boat where one might entertain ‘guests’ in private. And in an adjacent field we found this wrecked rowing boat which seems to have no purpose other than as whimsical seating for walkers who wish to take a moment to remember how different the landscape must have looked when it was flooded to form the meer stocked with fish for the castle and abbey.
The boat decayed visibly over our visits here with the seats breaking apart (offering some vicious looking upturned nails to the incautious) and cracks appearing along the hull providing just the right sized nook for a chirruping grasshopper.
There’s something about boats on land that spark the imagination and make me think about our ability to float off wherever we wish at any given time.
And so it was coming across this boat this week in my new circle walk along the coastal path near Cove that finally prompted me to get out this old blog draft and finish it off.
Now it’s summer the grass is waist high in places and ripples in the wind so that you think you might just get washed over the cliffs and into the sea (probably getting smashed to bits on the rocks in the process). It made me think of my old rowing boat and how far away from the sea we were in the Midlands. I still miss the Hawthorn Pool terribly and pine for swathes of lichen covered hedges and the elderberries, blackberries, haws and damsons to make jam. But there are different joys on the coast.
So goodbye, Kenilworth,
Hello, North Sea!