Friday, 26 June 2015

Far from the Glastonbury madding crowd


Head on over to the The Lady Shed today for my post about why I'm not at Glastonbury.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 22 June 2015

Summertime hits Lush Places like a fireball

'It's true,' the old man in the pub said.

'If you look out across from here on the longest day, you'll see the sun setting between those two chimney pots.'
'It's true,' he said. 'I'll bet you a thousand pounds.'

I'm not a betting woman but as the owner of one of those chimney pots, I was intrigued.

'Yes,' said the chap next to him. 'And when it happens, a shaft of light runs across the village square, like the Staff of Ra in Raiders of the Lost Ark, pierces through the pub window until its reflection hits the Palmer's 200 pump and then it hares off at a ninety degree angle to hit that stuffed deer head on the wall.
'And then the deer does a winky face, a cigar appears in its mouth and it starts to sing Summertime.'

This was an unnecessary embellishment on an already curious tale, but I could sort of visualise it happening in a place as odd as Lush Places.

'Don't listen to 'ee,' the old man said. 'You go and have a look on 21st June. You'll see.'

So, while people all over the country were heading for the summer solstice that morning at Stonehenge or, closer to home, the flat top of Pilsdon Pen, I was waiting for sunset.

I wasn't the only one. The other man who'd been at the bar walked by just at the same time.

'Just happened to be passing,' he said. Yeah, right. He doesn't even live in this part of the village.

'I don't think we'll be seeing much tonight,' I said. It was cloudy and overcast. I couldn't actually be sure if I'd come out of my front door too late.  There was a glow around the roof and that was about it.
And then, something strange happened in Lush Places, in the village square where the ley lines cross. The reflection of the setting sun hit my neighbour's window and turned the glass into a fireball.
But whether it hit the Palmer's 200 pump on the bar of the pub and woke up the singing deer, I'll never know.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 18 June 2015

A secret garden in the heart of a Dorset town

In through the gateway we go, along a path and down past the hurdle fence.

We're out in a little terrace, a real sun trap, in front of a cottage. There are swathes of blue love in a mist flowers to the left of us.

'Follow the arrows,' our hostess says. 'There's tea and home made cake at the bottom of the garden.'

We're in the heart of Beaminster. It's a little cottage tucked behind an ordinary terrace. But the grounds are a dream. They're full of wild flowers and informal planting, a real joy for a country child like me.

There are wooden seats here and there, and a bit of statuary. There are also some few people ambling around, lured in by the red balloon on the gate.
We make our way down through foxgloves, ox-eye daisies, spurge, lavender and valerian, along a springy grass and clover path the width of a lawnmower.

'You're going to love this bit,' my friend says. She's been here before and she also knows me very well.
It's a little summerhouse. But what a summerhouse. I've never seen anything quite like it.
Beautifully crafted, it comes complete with amazing curved windows, a woodburning stove, telephone point and bath.

'I could write here,' I tell Mr Grigg. I don't tell him I could also move in and live the life of a Hobbit.

He wouldn't have heard me in any case. He's gone in to get a slice of lemon drizzle cake and a cup of tea in vintage china.

At the bottom of the garden is the young River Brit, gurgling and splashing and having fun.
 There's a seat here with Mr Nobody sitting in it.
Then a voice pipes up from across the path.

'Look out for the otter,' says a man sitting on a swinging seat with his wife. 'There's also a kingfisher about.'
Such tranquillity, right in the heart of town.

There are other gardens open along here, in aid of the National Gardens Scheme. But this one is open in aid of Dorset's Weldmar Hospice in memory of Ruth David, a very special woman, full of joy and laughter and taken far too early.

Admission to 55 East Street, Beaminster, is free, with donations to the hospice. It's open this Sunday, 21 June, between 2 and 5pm.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 15 June 2015

Some enchanted evening down Bridport way

There is a kind of smog above Lush Places this evening as we make our way through winding lanes towards the sea. The skies become bright blue the closer we get to it.

On the left side of the road is undulating countryside rolling up towards Eggardon. On the right, the Marshwood Vale is laid out beside us like a patchwork blanket waiting for a picnic.

We cruise into town, pass queues of people at the Electric Palace who've got here early to see The Proclaimers and then down past the marquees for the annual food and beer festivals and on to West Bay.
It's way too choppy to go out on the boat, so we wander around the harbour and take in the sights, sounds and smells of a small Dorset seaside resort at leisure.

Seagulls sidle up to children eating ice creams and mums and dad tucking into fish and chips from the roadside kiosks.

Spaniels yank on their leads as overweight owners pant and wheeze and say 'stop pulling.' They might as well be telling the tide not to come in.

Traction engines of all sizes, which have broken free from a nearby steam rally, toot and poot, huff and puff. There is clinker on the road and great clouds of steam as these beasts of the past get ready to return to the showfield.
The Jurassic Coaster bus shimmies through and comes to a halt and two little steam engines pootle past.
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The bus pulls away and a large engine trundles by, with Land Rover in tow.
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A mass of motorcycles roars slowly by and hordes of holidaymakers go from pillar to post from restaurant to pub. But they'll be lucky to find room at the inn tonight. Diners with any sense have pre-booked their tables.
We drive back into town the long way, past hedgerows of mares tails and ox-eye daisies. There's a hare in a field of maze shoots and he's sitting like a statue, ears alert.

We stop off for a pizza and local cider and then head for home.
A perfect evening.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 1 June 2015

Burial mounds and ancient tracks in Dorset

We're walking along an ancient track towards the summit of what many local people consider the highest hill in Dorset.
Pilsdon Pen.

But in recent years, this flat-topped landmark has been usurped by its tree-clad neighbour, Lewesdon Hill. Ordnance Survey insists Pilsdon is 909ft, some six inches shorter than Lewesdon (below).
 
Despite the evidence to the contrary, people who have lived here all their lives will tell you Pilsdon is the taller of the two. The Cow to Lewesdon's Calf, as sailors used to call them.

Whatever the truth, in the grand scheme of things, neither is very tall.

But the two ancient hillforts stand like sentinels over the Marshwood Vale.

From this side of Pilsdon, we look out across to Somerset.
 
 
On a clear day, we can see Glastonbury Tor and the Mendips.

There are Bronze Age burial mounds at Pilsdon Pen. And on the trackway on its north west flank, something much more recent.
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 24 May 2015

As I walked out one mid-spring afternoon

Up in the churchyard, the sheep are safely grazing.
We walk up the lane and the dog disappears after a pheasant. I'm left whistling, embarrassed, and she comes back ten minutes later.

Along a bridleway, dog now on her lead, we're splashing through puddles before crossing the main road and into a meadow. How I love these rolling, Dorset hills and sky blue skies.
Through the farmyard, corrugated iron everywhere, rusting roofs caved in.
Nettles grow up through the wheel arches of an old tractor. It looks like something from Eastern Europe.
 
The farmhouse is falling into disrepair before my eyes. Oh, how an escapee to the country would love to get their hands on this. Stone mullion windows and mellow sandstone. A match made in Dorset.
From a gap in the gateway along the old track, the fields stretch out like squares on a patchwork quilt, richly embroidered in shades of green, yellow and brown.

In the distance, the sun throws its light on the rooftops of Bridport, which sparkles like the Emerald City. The sea shimmers beyond.
The dog disappears again. She's off chasing squirrels. She runs back down the track, panting. I put her on her lead as we walk through the forest.

Out into the open again, the farmers are hard at work in the field; two brothers doing a double act as they anticipate each other's movements. And the machine gobbles up the grass and spews it out into the trailer alongside.
 Another tractor and trailer comes to join them. And then the dog and I head for home.
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The stunning Dorset scenery at Bluebell Hill

Far, far, far from Dorset's madding crowd is Bluebell Hill.
The views from up here are stunning. 
Nature provides the most beautiful frames.
They're everywhere you look.
Inside the wood, the boughs of the beech trees, with their newly-emerged leaves, sway ever-so-gently, casting rippling shadows in the undergrowth.
 
These are old woods.

And down at our feet, the bluebells are in full battle cry.
  They march across the clearings, finding a foothold where they can.
We're passed by a young mother with two small girls who are still in school uniform. They've been collected from the playground and whisked up to Bluebell Hill while the flowers are at their best.

A panting, black Labrador shoots by and our dog, Arty, chases after him.

And then she's back, pounding along the pathway and enjoying the spring in her step.
It's at times like these that I am so glad I made the decision to work for myself and be based at home.

Home: a very special place. Lush, in fact.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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