Saturday 30 April 2011

Quick march

If you'd like a cup of tea
at a National Trust property after an afternoon walk,
you'd better look sharpish 
because they stop serving on the dot of 4.30.

Thus it was, as an antidote to too much sitting around 
watching television yesterday,
we set off after a very early luncheon for 
the start (and finish) of our walk at Ightham Mote,
'one of the oldest and loveliest of 
medieval manor houses to survive in England.'

It's all a bit of a blur.

Are those hares? 

They look too big to be rabbits.

Fast fading bluebells, but English not Spanish,
you can tell because the bells all hang from the 
drooping underside of the stem
rather than rotating round the thicker upright stem.

I had never realised that the white horse-chestnut 
flower is flecked with yellow, pink and even orange.

The scrutiny of a sheep at some point on a walk is
inevitable but unnerving. 

By the time we reached the house our time was nearly up 
and we were gently shepherded from room to room by
accumulating volunteer guides, 
so that the house could be closed up behind us.  

This 16th century stained glass was brought to the chapel from 
Germany and installed in the early 19th century.
Furniture and fittings dating from the Middle Ages 
and the 18th century were probably brought 
gradually and haphazardly to create an antiquarian look.

The gardens were open for a little longer,
but the house deserves a more leisurely visit.

You can't rush through 670 years of history.

Friday 29 April 2011

That went well


Best china. 


Passionfruit and lemon meringue pie.

Champagne (not shown).

Thursday 28 April 2011

Meanwhile back at the ranch 2

Paul the decorator disappeared off the face of the earth
despite being booked in yonks ago to paint the kitchen,
in order to make good the depredations of
Lloyd the electrician who also went awol.
It was supposed to happen while we were
conveniently out of the way in Japan/ Paris.
I didn't much relish the thought of a week without a kitchen
or having to find a new decorator.

But then Danny appeared.
He visited to estimate,
produced a detailed written quote by 6 a.m the next day,
at an astonishingly reasonable price,
arrived at 8 a.m as promised,
covered everything with clean dustsheets,
wanted no drinks,
played the radio quietly,
made no fuss,
didn't talk blokeish,
didn't need to 'pop out' for a couple of hours,
had a reliable van,
took two useful initiatives,
finished work at 4 pm,
and completed the job in two days,
one of them a Bank holiday.

He came back today to check all was well 
and noticed a couple of nearly invisible missed spots
which he cheerfully put right.

I feel as though I have stepped into an utopian world.
The one where you are not almost given a parking ticket,
and palpitations,
outside your own house for having one wheel 
on the dropped down kerb
because the bin men had left the bin blocking the driveway
and you couldn't drive in,
and you had considerately left room for the bus to pass;
by an off-duty parking attendant who has himself parked
behind you with both wheels on the kerb.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Our house?

Our steps?

Our balcony?

Our plaque?

Our magnolia?

Our house?
Wisteria clad.

One step closer.

Monday 25 April 2011

The Favourite Walk at Easter

It's a long one.
Run if you like.

I've saved the best until last.
The tea was good of course
and very welcome, but this,
(can you see it?)
is a skylark that 
sang into the wide blue yonder
then plummeted to earth

just here 
at the end of the walk.