Let it snow…please

It’s coming up to the end of February and, so far, we’ve escaped the snow. But we’re not out of the woods yet.

It wasn’t that many years ago the village was a whiteout this time of year. Work was something no-one could get to (at last, we were snowed in).

The fields resembled ski slopes and Bruegel paintings. Children and families used fertiliser sacks and upturned trays to make the most of the weather.

It was glorious.more15 Untitled-11 Untitled-32Spring is on it’s way, there’s no doubt about it. But I can live in hope.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Romance, beauty and friendship in the Dorset hills

Up in the frosty field, my shadow takes a stroll along the hedge in the early morning sun.

20160215_080911

There’s been some wondrous skies over the past few days, the light changing the landscape in front of my eyes.

20160212_081449 20160212_081459

Across the way, I can see a pair of swans on the grass in front of the old people’s bungalows. How romantic, I think, it being Valentine’s Day. The devotion of swans to their partners is the stuff of mythology.

But I don’t have my glasses on and they could be seagulls. And, in any case, according to the BBC Earth website, ‘Swans often do stay with their partners for life. But whatever feelings they may have for each other, this loyalty is a strategy for maximising the number of cygnets they can raise.’

Further along, I see the village nymph looking rather lonely on the roadside, probably wishing she was a famous statue by Rodin rather than being purchased from a garden centre in the twenty first century.

DSC04204

Love_Rodin_Kiss-2

A pair of daffodils restores my faith in the courtship of nature.

Lov_TeteAteteIMG_4365There is romance and beauty all around this part of Dorset.

As my shadow walks in the trees again, and I prepare myself to photograph this phenomenon while the sun peeps over the ridge, I reach the brow and see an elderly man with a little white dog on a long lead, walking towards me.

‘Good morning,’ he says, as my dog runs rings around him and his terrier.

‘And what a beautiful morning it is, too.’

‘Do you live here?’ he asks me.

‘Indeed I do,’ I say.

‘Well then you are blessed,’ he says.

‘And you?’ I ask him.

‘I’ve just moved in,’ the old man says.

It transpires that, for nearly the last decade-and-a-half, he’s lived just a few miles away, deep in Hardy country, right in the middle of nowhere. But the time was right to move over a few hills and to civilisation.

‘It was lovely,’ he says. ‘But it was a little bit isolated. Here, you’ve got agriculture, which is what I had before, but with this incredible sense of history.’

I look up towards Lewesdon, the highest point in Dorset and where there’s a dip in the treeline where an aeroplane crashed, and I know exactly what he means.

DSC04213We exchange first names (‘this village is so friendly’), share stories about our dogs and say goodbye until we meet in the fields again one morning or at Friday night’s film show in the village hall.

After the storm, the cold weather comes

After the storm, the sun comes shining through, casting bright light on a sodden landscape.

Legs pick their way through mud, slurping as if stuck in cartoon glue, stomping and pulling on elastic. In a hollow over the hill, cattle low and bay like motorbikes on a scramble.

This morning, a thick frost covers the grass, making it feel spongy-hard, underfoot. The sun climbs up from the east and, as it throws its light against the ridge, projects a line halfway up bare trees and then I see myself in shadow, like Peter Pan, walking through the branches.

The view from here is good.

In the village square, the visibility mirror is just about useless, frosted up, fogged up and disconnected from its outlook on everyday life.

20160211_080034

The weather forecasters say we are in for a chilly weekend. There could be even be snow. What fun. Racing down the hill, where I just walked, disembodied, through the trees, on sledges and fertiliser sacks. Can’t wait.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Storm Imogen rushes in stage left

Storm Imogen is all you might imagine. She’s hooting and hollering, raging and lashing over the hills and down to the coast.

Advertising hoardings are flying like big flat kites, everywhere you look. There is a tremendous roaring through the trees, a rage of lions inside every one of them, battling with squealing monkeys and shaking the branches until they’re fit to burst.

And burst they do, crashing down onto lanes and roads all over the county, roads covered in king-sized sheets of rainwater and debris the size of dinner plates.

I take a central path through the fields this morning, far away from the bustling beech and anxious ash. The rain hurts my face as it spears my cheekbones. The wind howls down my ear and shakes hands with my sinuses.

Down on the coast, the waves are rolling backwards, too afraid of what might happen if they hit the shore. Roof tiles lie like archaeological spoil around the houses from which they have fallen.

Inside, the Aga coughs and blows back every time a gust of wind makes a grab for the flue.

And the dog lies out as if nothing is wrong while the Bee Gees sing Night Fever on Smooth Radio.

Different worlds.

 

As the winds roar through the village, fear not, Spring is just around the corner

There’s a woodpecker rat-a-tat-tatting in the copse, pink blossom bursting out from trees on a garden boundary and catkins hanging delicately overhead as a gale gathers speed in a neighbouring valley.

Muddy puddles are open invitations for small children to jump in. Droplets of rainwater gather on five-bar gates, dispersed in a short-shrift shower when someone opens the latch.

It’s still slushy underfoot but there is a change in the air, as snowdrops peep out from grass verges, daffodils bloom in really rather a brazen fashion and the odd, prim primrose pokes out its head  just to test the air.

It will be Shrove Tuesday next week, the last day of feasting before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  There will be Lent lunches in the village hall from now until Easter, although whether there will be anyone in this village who actually fasts is another matter.

The pub will still be hosting Spice and Rice nights once a fortnight and the fish and chip van will be doing a roaring trade in the village square on Tuesdays. The community shop has a special cut-price promotion, with free cups of coffee for anyone who presents their special voucher which was hand-delivered around the village highways and byways by an army of willing volunteers.

On the coast, big skies compete with big seas, clouds create charismatic pictures against a backdrop of sunrises and sunsets. Silhouetted souls stand at the seashore at West Bay while crowds of people walk along the Cobb at Lyme Regis.

This is the place that Thomas Hardy loved, the rolling hinterland performing sensual somersaults for anyone with enough time to stop and stare and the seaside doing what it does, season upon season, year after year.

This is Dorset.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.