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

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The day before the election and I'm still a floater

It's the day before the election and I still haven't decided which way to vote. This has never happened to me before.

I know who I'm not voting for, which is something I suppose.

I have an argument with Mr Grigg, the big Tory, at the breakfast table as he makes arrangements to ferry around Conservatives too frail to walk to the polling station. This is not a safe Tory seat any more so Oliver Letwin needs all the votes he can get. The Liberal Democrats could get in, if Labour voters and Greens vote tactically. Disturbingly, UKIP seem to be quite popular in this rural backwater.

There are plenty of people telling me I should vote this way, I should vote that. But when it comes down to it, it's my vote. When I go into that polling booth, the choice is mine. There are several things determining my decision, some of which boil down to personal preferences and prejudices and are too boring and petty to go into here.

But, when I'm out in the field with the dog at seven o'clock this morning, the wind howling, the rain pouring down and soaking me to the skin (which, fortunately, is waterproof) it feels like it's all about me. It's as if I don't vote the right way, it could be forever winter, with the nation's collective heart chilled by ice.

Up on the ridge, through dark, dark clouds, I can see the sun shining beyond Windwhistle, its beams landing on Chard and illuminating this distant Somerset town like some silver Eldorado.  It's as if there's someone up in the sky, with Indiana Jones's Staff of Ra pointing me the way to the town where I went to school.

I half expect to hear a disembodied voice booming through the air, eminating from a grotesque figure animated by Terry Gilliam, telling me it is a sign.

I think for a moment (I'm a great one for signs and their meanings, none of which really makes any sense) and then it hits me. Not the beam of light but the meaning behind why Chard is shouting out to me vote this way, vote this way.

It's the ghost of Margaret Bondfield, trades unionist, women's rights activist and the first female cabinet minister, who was born in Chard. But is she telling me to vote Labour, to vote for the woman or to follow my heart and vote for what I believe in?

That's the trouble with signs, they just point you to where you want to go or make you realise you started from the wrong spot in the first place.

I trudge home, me and the dog drowned rats the pair of us. I'm still none the wiser.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 1 May 2015

Election time in this green and pleasant land

Up in the fields, the bluebells are uncurling.
There's a frost in the corner but May is bursting out in the hedgerow.
There are swathes of cuckoo flowers and dandelion clocks.
There's a dead nettle in a gateway, full of spare slippers for the fairies for when they go out dancing tonight.
Down on the allotment, an early bird is listening to political debate on Radio 5 Live, the radio blaring out from an open window of his car while he digs in the manure. I can hear Nicky Campbell having a spirited discussion with a weasel.
In the heart of Lush Places, blue things other than bluebells have sprung up over the croquet lawn and all over the village.
They are everywhere.

There are a couple of signs for Labour down the road but sadly they're tucked away, unlike the UKIP house in the next village which ought to close its own front door, pull down the blinds and leave Wessex, brick by brick.

This whole election thing is leaving me rather cold. I'd much rather be up in the field with the dog, staring at the clouds, gazing at a raindrop on the underside of a metal gate or watching two pigeons sitting on a telephone wire like a pair of inverted commas.

The election is less than a week away and I'm not at all excited, even though the Griggs are having another election party, like we did in 2010. Whoever you vote for, you end up disillusioned. The government always gets in.

But I can't not vote. It would be against my principles.

And then I see this outside a cottage on the outskirts of the village.

It's a sign, yes, but maybe a symbol of hope?
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Batten down those hatches, it's recycling day

It's blowing a hooley out there.  The wind is lashing against the windows and the dogs are play fighting in front of the Aga before...