Even on a cold dank and dismal November day I still enjoy my morning walks with my dog, Toby. Almost every morning, whether there be rain or sunshine, sees us walking through the farmland which surrounds Parsonage Cottage and the surrounding three villages. It is a special time and certainly outranks even that first cup of coffee of the day - and I really do enjoy my coffee!
We rarely see a soul, and that is good.
Down the lane, then either under or over the disused railway line, according to how much rain has fallen(!) past the beautiful old watermill - if the lane is not under a foot of water - then up the hill and past the old manor house and into the fields.
I enjoy the sense of history, the glimpses of the past, which it is easy to sense along the way. The walk through the fields is the most exhilarating part. Big open fields with tiny cottages and barns dotted around in the far distance. Space to breathe, time to think. To let my thoughts roam and ramble.
Fresh clean air, sunshine if we are lucky. It makes my heart sing with pleasure. Sounds silly, but it is true. We often catch sight of hare, deer, occasionally a fox, sometimes an owl out for a last snack before bedtime. I have walked these fields for almost a decade and a half so I know them pretty well, I have discovered those places where the sweet violets hide, the little patch of wild strawberries, and where you are always sure to find some giant puffballs. I have learnt which fields always flood after heavy rain, followed the ancient footpaths through fields and tried to imagine all the people who walked along them through the centuries.
The small local church perched up on a hill, where the bank next to the little lane is eroding because rabbits have dug around in it for so many centuries. Sometimes I find chunks of very old bone sliding down towards the road. I gather them up, go back into the old churchyard and then drop them down an old rabbit hole - away from the bank, but in roughly the same area - saying a prayer for whoever they belonged to as I do so. I have sent a message to the new young vicar to see whether he would prefer to do the biz himself.
We cut through farmyards and past an old gatehouse follow the track along by the medieval barn, then walk along one side or another of the river, unless the ground is really saturated, in which case we take the farm track because that way isn't quite so squelchy.
Every walk has something magical and beautiful about it, even on the wet days.
But, hey, enough about the walks. What about the books?
I love books, you all know that by now.
I normally have three or four books on the go at the same time. Parsonage Cottage is a long, single storied house, so I have a book for snatched moments when I have time to read, in the conservatory, and another one down at the very far end of the house, in the bedroom. There is always a paperback book left next to the bathtub, because I do prefer a bath to the shower - can't read in the shower!! Then my craft room normally has a stack of books left on the desk, according to whatever I am researching at the time - could be old recipes, local history, country churches, etc. Books, glorious books.
Sue, over on My Quiet Life in Suffolk has been conducting an experiment in local food, trying to eat as locally, and with as few air miles, as possible.
This got me thinking about all the local food producers around here - and there are lots - which then led me to thinking about my Lincolnshire recipe book collection. So of course I had to pull them off the shelves to have a browse.
Ten or fifteen years ago I would have laughed at the very idea of collecting old cookery books, then I picked up my first old handwritten one, at a country auction. That was the catalyst that set me off - first of all looking out for other handwritten ones, then when they became far too expensive for me to justify, I began watching for Lincolnshire recipe books. The old and well used ones are the best, especially if they have notes and indicators of whether or not a recipe was enjoyed.
Right, that is me all talked out.
I need to go and read a book.
I hope your weekend has been a good one, and that the coming week is everything you could wish for.
ps These are some of the things which the grandchildren and I made for the craft fair - fire lighters, bird feeders, twiggy stars, hyacinth bulbs, beeswax candles, etc. There were very few things left at the end, so I think they should be chuffed with themselves.