Sunday, 9 May 2010


I'm not quite ready to finish off the "Caedmon's Dream" set of posts, yet. Having spent a couple of days in bed, I was feeling in need of some fresh air, so headed out in the direction of Mottisfont. In particular, I had an appointment with these sticks, which I'd spotted passing by in the car last weekend. They have been extraordinarily carefully and elegantly arranged around the poly-cloches I photographed the other week.

The light was incredibly soft, but eminently useable for photography, so I headed over to the Abbey, which I haven't visited for a while. Mooching about in one of those corners the staff don't expect visitors to explore, I found this luxuriously gift-wrapped log:

The diffuse light and a slight breeze brought an agreeable softness to a lot of the pictures, such as this one of the famous Mottisfont Great Plane ("probably the largest plane tree in Britain"), putting out a new batch of leaves for something like the 200th time:

Then, on the way home, I pulled into a layby to photograph a rookery near Timsbury I had kept meaning to visit before the leaves get too dense to see the birds. As I stepped into the trees, I was surprised by the spectacle of a classic bluebell wood, one of the great spectacles of spring. I recall reading somewhere the observation that -- from the point of view of native flora -- spring goes first through a white, then a yellow, then a blue phase, and this certainly seems to be true, as small blue speedwells were also growing in the lawns at Mottisfont.

No "keepers", probably, from the point of view of any existing or potential projects, but a record of a pleasant afternoon.


Dave Leeke said...

Bluebells always remind me of growing up in those halcyon days in Stevenage before Grace Way et al was built. After drifting through the fields and into the woods, we would wander through a carpet of Bluebells. Even then, as a child, I was gobsmacked by the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

Martin H. said...

My cousin is a 'volunteer' gardener at Mottisfont. I'll have to question her closely about the gift-wrapped log.

These past few months, we've been house-hunting, but the area is seductive to the point where the best laid plans tend to get shelved over and over.

Nice pictures. Glad you're on the mend.

Mike C. said...


I remember vividly moving from Peartree Way to Raleigh Crescent in Chells when I was 11 -- it was all newly built, on the edge of the known universe, and my bedroom looked out over Fairlands Way to farmland.

A short walk took you to Box Wood where (being me) the gobsmacking thing was not bluebells but a real gamekeeper's gibbet, nailed with crows and "vermin". Having no sense of smell, I found it fascinating -- somehow the most "real" thing I'd ever seen, because it was something I'd only ever seen in books before. Like a really big tick in an I-Spy book.

In those days I used to collect moths and butterflies, and on summer nights I would hang a lightbulb and sheet over the washing line and catch whatever buzzed in. The neighbours must have thought I was demented.

There was a magic pond in a field before Box Wood which we explored in the window of opportunity that opened after Box Farm was closed and before the development started -- again, picture book stuff, with great crested newts and diving beetles. All built over now...


Struan said...

I thought you'd gone all Michael Kenna on us for a moment there.

The saddest beauty I have seen in recent years was a field of bluebells, near Skipton in Yorkshire. Doomed remnant.

Glad you're well. Those cloches need more attention.

Mike C. said...

Yes, very Michael Kenna, aren't they? I was thinking I might spoof up a couple of "genuine fake" Kennas...

I'm always nervous about going into farmers' fields -- I think you can tell a (British) person's social class origins by their (un)willingness to stride into a field without prior permission.

My partner will walk anywhere, more or less daring the landowner to challenge her -- behaviour I only understood when I met her parents. I, by contrast, tend to slink around the edges, fully expecting to be challenged as a trespasser. My ancestors, of course, are the "Ag Labs", not hers.