Having used my car just for trips for Click and Collect and other essential shopping since the beginning of January, I decided yesterday to extend my definition of ‘local’ yesterday, my eyes so in need of some beautiful stimulation. And there is little more formally beautiful than the gardens of Stourhead, run by the National Trust.
I met a friend in the car park to hand over some knitting I had done for her, and we just marvelled at what we were seeing on the strictly socially distanced one-way walk round the grounds. From the, apparently newly presented, message from the Trust’s founder at the beginning, to the coffee in the Spread Eagle courtyard near the end of the walk, (where it felt really weird once more see people, just relaxing and enjoying themselves) I offer only photos and no further commentary.
Unlike most of my friends, I do not feel impelled to get out into the fresh air every day. It needs the promise of a pretty garden or some such, or really nice weather, (or need for essential purchases) to get me further than my garden. Possibly it’s because from my front window I have a big sky, at times with hundreds of starlings streaming past, and the Polden Hills in the middle distance, to feast my eyes on. Possibly.
But last Sunday, the conditions were almost fulfilled. It was chilly but bright. And I told myself I ‘ought’ to get out, at least for a short walk, so I did. A few weeks ago a friend had shown me a footpath near my house, which in principle I knew existed but access to which I had never sought out, and I decided to take it, this time with camera.
At the end of my road. My goodness. Bristol Water are going at it! This is a good half mile from the works I had seen the other day, and in the other direction from my house. They’ve been working around here for months.
I’m always sad walking up this lane. It’s exactly two years since my lovely little cat, Luciole aka Lulu, was found on its verge, the victim no doubt of a speeding motorist.
Permit me a rant. I think I just about understand, though I don’t necessarily sympathise with them, why house owners don’t like cars turning in the wide space aligned with the pavement outside their houses. But one at the entrance to a field?!
I’m now up on a very busy road, which on weekdays is crammed with large speeding lorries and other vehicles. There is a local campaign to get this downgraded from being an approved freight route. Just a few yards behind me they go dangerously near actual house walls. I now have the choice of taking my life in my hands – cars come speeding round that corner, even though it’s a 20 mph zone, crossing the road to a wider pavement, and then having to cross back a couple of hundred yards further on, or staying on this side and getting squashed by a passing lorry. It’s Sunday, so I’ll take my chance and stay on this side.
That choice means I notice this intriguing gateway on the other side. I’ve driven along this stretch of road hundreds of times, but never once walked it.
Hieroglyphs on a telephone post
This is why I considered crossing the road. I think I need to send this photo to the authorities to get it cleaned up. It’s only 18 inches (45 cm) wide at the best of times .
And here is the entrance to the footpath I’ve never tried. In all those hundreds of times driving along this road, I’d never noticed it tucked away.
And once through, this:
Or this, sweeping though 270 degrees:
Aaah. (Baah?) But you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.
Walking down the hill, it’s easy to avoid the boggy bit, nicely delineated by sedge.
For this oak, it’s very definitely still winter.
From the bottom of the field, looking back…
… and forward. Now there’s meant to be a stile somewhere here…
… and here it is, tucked around the corner.
The next one looks most unwelcoming.
But fortunately there is an alternative.
The next one is almost pristine.
Here’s why. I do like it when stiles have a good upright post to hold on to.
And the next stile is a double one, over a ditch.
The trodden (and very muddy) track ahead matches the right of way marked on the map.
And I come out onto a familiar road. Theoretically I should be home shortly.
But I am delayed.
‘Oh, give it a rest kids!’
After ten minutes I reluctantly move on. I was getting a little chilled. I look back over my left shoulder.
And I look over towards my right.
And shortly pass my local park where I see humanlets gambolling. Back to school the next day after three months, save a false one-day start in January.
Yes, that way round. Yesterday morning I had to take my car to the garage for its MoT. I was not looking forward to the walk back. Only 15 minutes, but at 8.15 it was cold and damp, with that chill that gets into your bones, as they say. So I took my camera with me, which made the walk pass more pleasantly, even though it also made it last 5 minutes longer.
They called me at lunchtime to say the car was ready, and I decided to take my camera with me again as I walked back to the garage, in case I regretted not doing so. I would have done.
The garage has a very small showroom for second-hand cars. This MG reminded me of the Midget I used to drive in the mid-1970s.
I looked up towards St Benedict’s.
But didn’t go that way, turning off right into a cul-de sac. ‘That reminds me – I must put my recycling out when I get home.’ The houses in the distance are on Wearyall Hill.
The panel says ‘Keep out. This area is liable to flood’. The squirrel was unconcerned.
Across Morrisons’ car park next.
From the car park I could see the top of the RC St Mary’s church, and its hall, which I know now has a lift and, it appears, perhaps a new roof as well.
Faced with the first of many inclines where I live. That feature was something I considered hard when deciding whether or not to move here ten years ago.
Many businesses round here use the word ‘Avalon’ or ‘Tor’ in their trade names.
A pretty corner on a very busy and noisy road.
The next incline, and the Globe Inn next to the park on the right.
I haven’t walked alongside the park for a very long time. I’m sure this wasn’t here before. But perhaps the whole tree was.
When I drove to the garage at 8.15, I noticed how little traffic there was. 20 minutes later certainly not the case. A misty Chalice Hill in the background.
At the top of these steps is…
… a small green space.
But I’m walking downhill now.
Fortunately I don’t need to turn left.
Instead I’m going to walk up a path between the houses.
Another reminder that it’s recycling day.
A once-in-two-hours chance to see the little bus which goes along the principal road through the estate.
As I walk through it, I have had various glimpses of the very misty moors, the Polden Hills beyond having totally disappeared.
Chalice Hill can be made out.
But much of Glastonbury Tor, including its tower at the top, cannot.
Because I have my camera in my hand, I take three photos in my garden.
The frog spawn is nicely turning from dots into commas.
And these ridiculous primroses have been flowering, though not this floriferously, since October.
As I set off to collect the car in the early afternoon, I was pleased to find that the chill damp had gone, (though it was still very cold), and that the tower had returned to the top of the Tor.
The Bristol Water people were still hard at work. I should try to join a gang like this to find out why it is that ‘work’ so often consists of just standing around.
What goes up must go down if you’re walking in the opposite direction.
The swings in the park were in use.
And the bird had not budged as I took a closer look. Ah, so it’s made of wood, not metal.
I took a more interesting route for the last part back to the garage, and had glimpses of the Abbey.
Seeing this mural on the side of the Globe Inn …
… and its signature, gave me an idea for a possible future blog or two. I found later that there are 26 murals on the trail.
I believe this water flows from Chalice Hill.
And that it used to be the source for the Pump Room on the other side of the road in its short life as such.
Now I could see the Abbey’s octagonal kitchen.
The citation on this plaque – the lost adult glove gives an idea of its size – says: “PRESENTED TO THE PUBLIC BY J HRY BURGESS ESQ RESIDENT SURGEON IN THIS TOWN 50 YEARS AND DURING HIS SIXTH MAYORALTY 1864…1865” And what is it decorating? Very appropriate for a surgeon – public conveniences, still, in ‘normal’ times, in use.
From a car park, an even better view of part of the Abbey. And another idea for a future blog.
I knew there was a Glastonbury community ‘fridge’ (not limited to chilled foodstuff) but not where it was, next to the Town Hall. (I am going out very, very little these days!)
This time I go past St Benedict’s church and the Mitre Inn.
And, very close by, The King Arthur.
Finally, a pretty row of houses opposite the entrance to the garage.
My car had passed its MoT with flying colours – but then it had only done 2000 miles in the last 12 months, and much of that was done in the two weeks before lockdown, as I drove to and from Gatwick Airport for my trip to Morocco, of blessed memory.