Hardy’s Landscape

Today’s weather was dry and largely overcast.

This afternoon, isolated in our Modus, we took a drive into the forest. No other humans were about when I disembarked with my camera.

A pedestrian was approaching in the distance when we were beset by donkeys on the road through South Gorley. I photographed the obstinate brindled obstacles through the windscreen.

Persistent ponies pastured as best they could on the muddy greens at North Gorley.

One, in particular, took its grass in a still wet ditch.

All their legs bore wet or dry mud.

Further along the road at Ibsley a solitary grey cast a spotlight on its field, while

a bay collected bramble neckwear as it foraged around

slices of a a gradually decomposing sawn tree trunk.

Bare branches blended against the sky.

On the road to Appleslade I was reminded that I have been remiss in not, like Thomas Hardy, treating the forest landscape as a character worthy of its own place in ย narrative. I made a start on putting this right.

Beyond Linwood the road continues uphill in preparation for crossing under the A31.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken jalfrezi, savoury rice, palak paneer, and onion bahjji, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbido Garnach Syrah.








  1. Your final series of landscape photos – and the last shot particularly – could be anywhere outside the cities of New Zealand. An amazing likeness! It must be the absence of ponies, pigs, donkeys and various other roaming livestock. Here it would be just cows and sheep. Many, many sheep……

      1. Probably because the early settlers brought the English landscape (and wildlife) with them and superimposed it over the natural one. In agricultural areas it is still the norm. I see your one sheep and raise you 10 ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. I’m so glad you managed to get out of isolation and enjoy the landscape and take photos.
    Sophie and I have been discussing the possibility of taking both cars and meeting up further into the Dales where the landscape is stunning, keeping our 2 metres distance and each of us taking photos.

  3. I find it interesting that until you have remembered Hardy the photos conveyed a rather gloomy atmosphere. Yet the moment you decided to treat landscape as a character, the light brought on a more cheerful mood.

  4. I have a wonderful book I’ve still only half read titled Reading the Landscape of America by May Theilgaard Watts, a pioneer of the rails-to-trails movement here. You might enjoy this, from the preface to the first edition:

    “there is good reading on the land, first-hand reading, involving no suymbols. The records are written in forests, in fencerows, in bogs, in playgrounds, in pastures, in gardens, in canyons, in tree rings. The records were mde by sun and shade, by wind, rain, and fire, by time, and by animals.

    As we read what is written on the land, finding accounts of the past, predictions of the future, and comments on the present, we discover that there are many interwoven strands to each story, offering several possible interpretations. Interpreting this reading matter is an adventure into the field that is called ecology.”

    Very interesting, and apt. I think Hardy might agree.

  5. I have a soft spot for black and white pictures, so needless to say, I love the pictures. The first ones of course, the ones in color -well, very disappointing (kidding out of boredom caused by isolation.)

  6. A beautiful collection of photos, Derrick! The forest landscape is indeed a special character. I like those general views for perspective, too.

  7. I think you regularly do an excellent job of treating the forest landscape as a character worthy of its own place in narrative.

  8. As a matter of facts, you do lend a certain consciousness to the landscape all the time. The landscape shot for which you have invoked that thought especially bears the fruit of the intent. I feel like reading the Mayor, the Jude and the others yet again.

  9. The photographs that tell the most poignant story for me out of this collection are the two depicting the gradual decomposition of the swan-off tree trunks: layer upon crumbling layer revealing the spurts of growth, the strong points and the weak … they could be metaphors for our lives.

  10. OH! How did you know I needed to see donkey faces and pony faces today?!
    Thank you for the smiles they brought to me!
    The B&W photos are splendid! I love B&W, and sepia, photos! They seem to help us focus our eyes on the details.
    (((HUGS))) and <3

  11. Pretty soon all those brown fields will be green and animals will have their neat summer coats. I wonder how long before people will once again be around.

  12. You live in such a beautiful part of the world. Thank you for another tour!
    If you don’t always make the forest a character, I think you do often make individual trees very vivid ones.

  13. That ‘uphill to the A31 is brilliant. ๐Ÿ˜€
    I’ve noticed that as humans retreat, Mother Nature is starting to quickly and efficiently fill in the spaces … not a bad thing, It think. ๐Ÿ™‚

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