Sunday, 17 November 2019

Books & the Countryside

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.     


  1. Wish I could walk with you but next best thing is tagging along as you describe it here. Thank you! I can only read one book at a time. I've gotten more particular in my old age. Started a new one by Kate Atkinson but found I just couldn't stand her flipping between characters and all the asides. I turned to the end, read it and got the whole gist so that was enough for me. I picked up one by Anne Tyler "Accidental Tourist". I hope I haven't read it before.
    Off to visit granddaughters on Friday. First to Buffalo , NY and the 2 year old and an early Thanksgiving with them. Then on to New Hampshire on Monday the 25th to spend Thanksgiving with the 3 and 5 year old. Should be fun.

    1. As long as you have a really good pair of Wellington boots, you will enjoy the walk, Marcia.
      I haven't read the new Kate Atkinson but when I do, I'll let you know how I get on with it. I must admit that I have become rather picky about fiction, too.
      Enjoy your visits - sounds as though they will be full of fun and love, and it is always wonderful being able to spend time with the grandchildren.

  2. I completely understand your love of old cookbooks, I cherish my mothers wartime cookbooks with all the little notes and magazine cuttings. I would love to find a cookbook such as you collect.
    Your walks sound beautiful, what a lovely way to spend an hour or so. We walk our sweet old dog in the New Forest so we have go keep an eye out for ponies and cows who make me nervous, especially the cows who are very curious and protective of their young. Poor old Chas is not in the least interested in them but he has been chased a couple of times 😯.
    It's lovely to see you writing the occasional post again.

    1. Hello Crowoak - and, thank you!
      How wonderful that you have your mother's cookbooks, real treasure, especially with those little notes written by her.
      Walks through the New Forest sound very appealing, even if you do have to keep an eye out for ponies and grumpy cows. It is many years now since I lived down your way - our daughter and son number one were born in Hampshire. A lovely part of the country.

  3. Your walks sound so interesting with old places to see, the only things to see around here is mud! The sugarbeet lorries and tractors have finished carting but the mud remains.
    The eat local thing was interesting to do but a bit limiting

    1. We both come in covered in mud - thank goodness for wellies! It takes a good five or six minutes to dry and clean Toby after each walk, especially after all the recent rain. The walk is worth it.
      Have you missed anything in particular?

  4. You and your grandchildren have been productive! I think that early morning walks are the cure for whatever ails you. I used to walk the dogs in the early morning when I first moved to the country - then they paved the road and opened to gravel pits. I'm holding the thought for my next/last move.

    1. Hi Susan, I hope you get somewhere that makes it possible for you to enjoy the joy of those morning walks again. They refresh and renew, don't they? Those grandchildren of mine have certainly learnt how to do a few simple crafts this year, they were very chuffed with themselves.

  5. Love a long ramble with the dogs but unfortunately where I live I have to drive about 20 minutes to get somewhere to do that which is not practable everyday. Envy you can walk right out your door and have such a lovely walk.
    I too love books. I tend to hoard them for winter reading by the woodstove when it's screaming down snow and there isn't anything I need to do. Nothing better than a cup of tea, a bit of chocolate, and a engrossing book. My books of choice tend to be British mysteries, anything bee related (I'm a beekeeper) and biographies.
    Cheers, Sheri

    1. Hello Sheri, I must admit that it was one of the reasons we chose this place - I had three large and energetic dogs at the time! Now I have one large dog who will happily walk wherever I choose to wander, even though he would really rather be by the fireside snoozing!
      Books, woodstove, tea and a piece of chocolate, definitely a winning combination. Our (late) next-door-but-one neighbour, was a beekeeper. He was featured in the blog on quite a number of occasions - I believe I named him 'Oscar' for blogging purposes. A truly remarkable and fascinating old gentleman with almost a century of beekeeping knowledge and experience, as well as a great sense of humour.


Lovely to hear from you!