Burnt And Parched

This morning Jackie drove me on a forest trip.

Pennington Common is about three miles from our home.

Bush fires swept across it on two occasions last month. As I left the Modus in which Jackie parked, I spoke to a couple who lived further along the road behind the car. They told me that the first event, in which they smelt and breathed in the smoke, was the most damaging; but, the second the most frightening because they could see the wind-flung flames soaring above the houses. Confirmed by a young woman pushing a toddler in a buggy, they told me that although the cause this time was not established, boys and youths burnt the gorse every autumn in order to carry the strong stems home for firewood. Apparently the fire fighters needed to bump a parked car away from one of the entrance gates to the public ground in order to gain access.

The woman and her passenger had come from the direction of the children’s playground which escaped the inferno.

As my sandals disturbed dust and ashes I sensed lingering scents of smoke.

Sun-dappled lanes such as Lower Sandy Down with its ancient hedgerow verges formed most of our route from Pennington to

Pilley, where a foal wandered along the eponymous Street

and cattle now shared what remained of the particularly parched lake bed pasturage . The above gallery of photographs was produced by Jackie, who, noticing the cattle wandering off while I was struggling to change lenses helpfully covered me.

In fact they returned and I was able to add my own.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie topped with fried potatoes – because I had sliced the potatoes so thinly we had enough left over for duchesse potatoes on the side – this meant Mrs Knight took longer to fry them and needed to include onions – I guess she found that helpful. Other vegetables included firm broccoli and cauliflower; tender green beans; and crunchy carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden; Flo and Dillon, water; and I finished the Syrah.


  1. That is so scary about the fire. I hope you get rain soon.
    Your comments about your help in the kitchen made me smile. (I hope Jackie did, too.) ?

  2. If these ” boys and youths” keep up their idiotic practice of lighting fires in this way, they are gouing to finish up by burning somebody’s house down, or worse still, getting somebody killed.

  3. It’s so hard to believe that even youths remain uneducated about the perils of dry weather and the danger to wildlife.
    I do believe high schools should teach this and show the consequences of careless actions before they break up for the summer.
    We had fires on the moors both last year and the year before, all caused by youths.

  4. Bushfires/grassfires are horrific and frightening Derrick. .. the sight a charred body is awful, those youths need a reality check and be shown what the consequences of their reckless actions could lead to ..

  5. The parched lands reminded me of burnings in our part of the world end of every summer which adds to pollution and bouts of cough and allergic symptoms. It’s man made and a threat to the environment. Your blogs are more of a daily diary. I like that – a chronology of life’s flow.

  6. There is some condemnation in the comments of those who deliberately lit the fire, but you explain it is a way of creating firewood (is that an oxymoron?). Is it possible this is a long-standing practice in a population who until now have not experienced how quickly a grassfire/bushfire/wildfire can take hold, and the extreme damage it causes? Quite different to deliberate arson which is often performed by youths or inexperienced campers in Oz.

  7. I hope the fire department/police are investigating. Maybe they can help these people find a safer way to get firewood. Thinking positively to manifest, it will be a relief when a good rain comes.

  8. Until I saw the fires on television news a while ago, I had never associated your part of the world with bush fires. These are such sad pictures of the combination of drought and the devastating effects of fire! Both are common here – and are never agreeable.

  9. Unbelievable seeing the UK like this. It looks so much like our environment which at the moment is green and lush from all the rain we’ve had.

  10. Forest fire is one of the cataclysmic events known to humans since ancient times, yet we have become ignorant and indulge in extremely careless behaviour. It’s nice to know no life was harmed, and yet the damages inflicted by the outbreak can not be value in terms of just money. The information board is interesting.

    1. Thank you very much, Uma. Interestingly we are learning that countryside firefighters are better able to manage them than cities – because they have more experience.

  11. So scary and so sad. 🙁
    My prayers and bestest wishes for your family and friends to be safe. And for the rains to come.
    We had several big early fires here in the forests this year and then the rains came and now people in some areas are dealing with flooding. 🙁
    (((HUGS))) ❤️
    PS…How nice of you to slice the potatoes! 🙂

  12. Unfortunately the burnt areas look surprisingly familiar to me. And I noticed that the cows look like they were licking the rubble. That is also familiar.

  13. Such devastation when fires consume land and properties. We go through this every year in the western part of USA without fail and hundreds and thousands of acres are burnt down to timber along with homes. I am sorry to see the dry land, and so sorry to note that you could still feel the smell of burnt out fire among the debris of the disturbed dust.
    So glad you posted some beautiful shrubs and bushes along with some cattle grazing.

  14. I can’t imagine what it is like for people experiencing such wild fires. Here it is our forests up north that seem to get the worst of it and it is just terrible – and just terrifying for those forced to flee them.

  15. It’s so sad to see the landscape so parched. We went on our ATV with friends up to what used to be a gorgeous lookout and found that the fires earlier this year had burned the trees and parched the ground there. So, I really related to your post today, {{{Derrick}}}. Ptaying for rain in your area. The animals and plants need it as much (if not more) than we humans do.

  16. Goodness me, what a difference these photos are from your previous ones. Mother nature is indeed very unpredictable. After a burn-off, the regrowth seems more luscious, so here is hoping it happens at Pennington Common.

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