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Three weeks in the country…



Ben

Actually, that’s what’s about to happen. Charlie has gone to New Zealand, last week, to visit his family – and for various reasons this time I’ve stayed behind. I decided that it was going to be a lot more fun for the dogs if we were in Dorset, so on Wednesday evening we dropped Charlie at Heathrow and headed on down. I thought I had two weeks ahead of book-writing sabbatical, but it turns out that most of my days seem to be taken up with meetings and phone calls, but I’ll be doing my best.

And so it’s been a rather hectic few weeks and I realise I am very long behind on the blog.  Three weekends ago, Charlie and I were down in Dorset but really down in Devon – heading over to see our friends Will and Brandon, and then on the Sunday to have lunch with my lovely aunt Barbara who lives nearby.

We had such a good time, but on the way back, in the spirit of the New Years’ resolution from a few years ago, that we’d revived – to do a new thing every week – late on Sunday afternoon, on the way home, we called in at the amazing Catholic Church in Chideock, which our friend Simon Tiffin had told us we must do.  He wasn’t wrong.

The Church is announced by a tiny finger post sign off a quiet lane to the north of the village.

From the first glance, it is amazing. 

Next door is fine Chideock Manor. 

The interior of the high Victorian church is sublime. 

Every detail is extraordinary, and beautiful.

The church is dedicated to the Chideock martyrs.  Of the 360 men and women known to have died for their faith in England, between 1535 and 1681, eight came from this tiny, beautiful Dorset village – now somewhat ruined by the thundering traffic of the road running west to Devon and Cornwall that hammers through the once-tranquil village centre.

Next door, is the church museum, which is in a way even more beautiful.

This museum needs a whole visit on its own. It is filled with treasures.

We tore ourselves away but it was time to take the dogs home for their supper.

Literally, a heavenly building.  If you are passing, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

On the way home, I somehow managed to snap this photo from the speeding car of Colmer’s Hill, Symondsbury, which I am ashamed to say I have never climbed.  Another new thing for another week.  It was tantalisingly beautiful as the golden sun began to set.

Storms were still blowing through. We went to Hive Beach for a quick brisk walk on the beach to see the waves, at sunset.

W E E K   T W O

Back to London and a busy week of work. On Tuesday, Charlie and the dogs drove north, and on Thursday evening, Bridie and I caught the sleeper train to Arrochar and Tarbet. We arrived home in time for breakfast in a howling gale and battering rainstorm.

We went for a blustery walk to the stone jetty overlooking Jura (you will have to take my word for that view). 

We saw all weathers that fine weekend – the first with a house guest! It was such fun having Bridie with us…. in hail….

Wind…

And sunshine – normally all within minutes of each other. 

Silver light in Lochgilphead. 

Scudding rough seas over at Crinan, where we went for lunch. 

And then up towards Ardfern, and out to Kirkton, to see the beautiful deserted chapel.

Extraordinary colours in sea, stone and landscape.  And out to Craignish, and to the Aird Jetty….

unbelievably stormy seas…. freezing wind…. but beautiful. 

A great hail storm drifting across the sky towards Craignish Castle….

The view over to beautiful Barbreck House on the way back, serene in its wide flat valley.

And then home. 

We’d had a brilliant few days, happy evenings in the bothy, warm as toast by the fire. But on the Sunday we drove home, back to London. I had a few meetings to get through before I abandoned London for two and a half weeks, and Charlie had to pack and get ready for the long trip down.

W E E K   T H R E E

It’s Sunday evening, in Dorset. It’s been a beautiful day today; the weekend has seen huge rainstorms sweep over the valley, and we are saturated – but thankfully, not flooded, like so many parts of the country – I am sure hearts of all readers go to those afflicted.  Today, the sunshine came out and the hills just maybe began to dry a little.  There was a bright hazy light on our walk this morning. 

The sky shone and the fields glowed as if they’d been scrubbed clean.

And the leaves are bare, bare, bare – of course. Signs of early spring are all around, as you’d expect on St. David’s Day, but I can’t wait for that magical moment – a good few weeks yet – until every hedgerow and branch begins to burst with vivid life.  The house is totally quiet tonight, the dogs fast asleep, and Charlie just called from New Zealand, from the top of Little Mount Peel.  He seems so close and so far away all in one go. And now, for us, three weeks in the country gently tick by.

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