In times past the F5 Tank Engines would puff their way up the slope, clanking metal scaring the birds, rabbits and occasional cow as they huffed towards their next stop. I can assure any ex-driver still with sufficient mental awareness that as I reached the top of the slope this morning I gave off more steam than any Great Eastern Engine ever did. Muscles aching I slithered to a stop and failed to catch my breath that appeared to have been left behind far down the slope. A blackbird sang happily in the branches above, laughing at me I expect.
Being Easter Monday is a holiday, though few realise that the word arose from the old 'Holy Days' that brought the day into being. Easter eggs, shops sales and days off sitting in heavy traffic are considered better today. However this meant many folks were away for a long weekend, or indeed week so few were out and about, just a couple of non conversational dog walkers.
How sweet the world is as the sun rises above the trees creating a slight mist by removing the frost from the grass. Silence over the land bar the bright singing of the birds staking their place and calling for a mate. Even the wind dies down while very high above noiseless aircraft leave white trails in the sky. A passing Staffordshire Bull Terrier ignores me as the signs of previous pets are more interesting to him than mere strangers, the owner gives a hesitant wave, his mind still asleep as he wonders what sort of eejit stands taking pictures of nothing at this time of day.
The day is so quiet even the rabbits feel safe enough to have breakfast openly, although at a distance. The ears listening for any sign of danger and how powerful these ears must be, much better than ours. I think I am right in saying rabbits came to Britain with the Romans as they thought this a good source of food. Whether they came deliberately or came as stowaways on ships I cannot say. Round hear the farmers are none to keen on them and often you can hear a gunshot as Farmer Jones gets his lunch ready.
When I first saw that church I really took it to be a manor house or left over castle of some sort. The square tower gives a formidable 'feel' to the building. Adding the unfortunate flag at the top, a suitable flag in the eyes of these English obviously, and the castle like appearance is made. One day I will get a look inside but this church is always locked, too many light fingered types pass close by sadly.
The best bit off the day is the homeward journey downhill. I should be good at 'downhill' as I have been going that way for many years now. The knees were informing me that I had not done enough cycling to go far, and they speak loudly, so it was time to turn around and head east once again.
In the past I used a Minolta camera with additional lenses. Now in these digital days I have gone and bought myself a new Lumix camera, secondhand obviously, and whereas before it took a while to fiddle with turning dials and choosing apertures now I must read what the computer says. I have no idea what I am doing! A quick read of the online manual and I am more confused! However this will be dealt with in time and the 'fancy dan' buttons and numbers will all become clear as mud at some unspecified time in the future. At least the super 'Leica' lens brings things closer.
I can hear the voices of many who have walked for miles along the old railway line, fifteen miles to the far end you must know, I can hear them spying this seat in the distance and longing for it to come closer. The land round about used to belong to the farm house situated on the hill, now surrounded by 1990's housing developments as the old farmer died and the most enriching crop today is houses. The land to the side of the line the new owner wishes to sell to a developer. He had planned 500 houses a couple of years ago and was cried down by the locals. The latest wheeze is to build 1500! The first response is not printable. Of course the idea is you demand 1500, reduce it to 700 and probably get away with it, especially if you are a 'friend' of the council. Depending on the next government that 'friendship' might succeed. However for the townsfolk this is a breath of greenery they cannot afford to lose. While there are fields around the town here the walkers and cyclists, and at places horse riders, can journey through the land, and we are usually so far from the earth in our daily lives we need this breathing space more than we need to enrich a developer.
The dog walkers probably would not admit it but they enjoy this space among the trees, fields, birds, rabbits and open views more than the dogs the disgusting stuff they rummage amongst. This is something we all require, and after twenty one years in London I cannot tell you how much I enjoy this open air life. Even though a few days ago I marked nineteen years in this abode I still enjoy standing staring into the country as if it was something new. Lets keep the trees and green fields and put all the houses in London where they belong!