This morning we visited Berry who lives on the other side of the house. She had invited us for coffee and an introduction to her ancient tree mapping activity. An amazing array of birds were enjoying her feeders; several different kinds of tit and a woodpecker were recognisable. I am fascinated by the tree spotting. The Woodland Trust operate a national system for pinpointing ancient or interesting trees. Anyone can send in photographs, measurements and grid references of likely subjects. A qualified verifier then examines the prospect, and, if successful, this is added to nationwide records. We were shown old and modern maps, all on line in great detail. I am excited that Berry intends to take me on her next identification session. She also put me out of my misery over Stoney Cross. I have several times, for example on 21st February, puzzled over where it was. In fact it never was a village, rather a crossroads that was stoney.
On another cold day Jackie drove us to the Redcliffe Nurseries at Bashley where she used to take tea with her mother. I set off for a walk, to meet her back there afterwards. Right along Bashley Road; left at the Rising Sun; along Holmsley Road to the A35; left alongside Beckley Common; and eventually back to Bashley and the nursery. The walk took rather longer than anticipated. The nursery had closed by the time I arrived so Jackie had to wait in a layby across the road.
On Wootton Heath, not far from The Rising Sun public house, stands a horse trough. I have mentioned one which still stands at the top of Wimbledon Hill, and there are others throughout London. Nowadays all they contain is flowers. This one, however, is clearly in regular use for which it was originally intended. Currently ponies and cattle can be seen drinking from the numerous pools which cover the forest, but there must be other times when they are most grateful for the clear water this receptacle contained.
Brownhills, near the junction of Holmsley Road and the A35, contained a string of ponies as we arrived in the car, as I walked past it later, and as we drove home. None of them can have covered more than a few yards in three hours.
As we arrived at Bashley the sun, which had not emerged for a couple of days, began to put in an appearance. The Rising Sun was an appropriate milestone. By the time I reached the ponies, shadows were lengthening.
The stretch of the A35 was long enough for me to resort to consulting the Ordnance Survey map to see how far I had to go before reaching the road to Beckley. Walking along the grass verge doing this, I was aware of a car with its left hand indicator lit, standing in a side road. As I passed in front of it the shrill blast of its horn made me jump. The elderly driver wound down his window and asked me where I wanted to get to. I told him. He looked rather concerned as it was a long way. He had seen me consulting the map, so very helpfully asked to look at it so he could put me right. He then had to fish for his specs so he could read it. This enabled him to direct me to a short cut which was the one I was aiming for anyway. This took some time. He then offered to drive me there. I explained that I was walking for pleasure. Eventually I was free to continue. What I hope this gentleman had not noticed was that, with my legs crossed, I was hopping from foot to foot. It’s quite difficult to do, but absolutely necessary when all you really want to do is be allowed to get on so you can dive into the nearest bush.
The Beckley Common stretch was really beautiful in the evening sun. The shadows mentioned earlier were now even longer. As I was contemplating mine, a familiar farmyard fowl crossed the road in front of me, thus providing a definitive answer to the proverbial conundrum. This chicken crossed the road to pick snowdrops.
Having driven us home, Jackie produced a delicious ensemble of delicate flavours consisting of smoked haddock; mashed swede and potato, and cauliflower cheese with mustard. We finished the Montpierre cabernet sauvignon and had a glass of Sancere 2011 which I liked, but Jackie didn’t. This was a shame because she would have enjoyed my glass of Montpierre more.
Episode 4 of ‘Call the Midwife’ provided our nightcap.