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Time standing still



Ben

It’s been a strange experience, this weekend, to have an almost intense summer heat before the leaves on the trees are beginning to unfurl.  But the garden is exploding.

If you’re like me, one of the most interesting things about the blog these days is the ability to compare year on year.  Here is this weekend in April 2016, when the garden had hardly come out of hibernation. A year previously, Charlie and I were in New Zealand right now, so it doesn’t count so easily. But looking back over the years, I really get the feeling that this is one of the earliest and most abundant springs ever. 

While Charlie and I were busy taking a thousand photos of tulip, Mavis has been delighting in her usual pastime of digging up rocks from the garden, which is fine except for the huge holes left in the lawn everywhere. I think she knows things aren’t altogether good…. but a rock is a rock. 

My prediction is that the next time we’re down, our neighbours will have their cows in these fields. As always at this time of year. 

Early this morning I had a wander in the veg garden…

Before taking Mavis for her walk, while Charlie went to the Mapperton Plant Sale.  The morning was remarkable. 

The phone box you see at the end of the lane is going. It hasn’t been used in years, apparently.  I speculated briefly whether – if it had been a red phone box – we might all have been campaigning for its retention. Because it is a modern glass thing, I think we are all completely nonchalant about its removal. Coincidentally, mobile phone reception and 4G arrived in the village about a week or two ago. That’s a strange feeling too.

On the high hills, the light was startlingly beautiful.

Mavis and I took the long route, with views out over Chesil to a misty, hazy English Channel.

Hawthorn and Blackthorn in the hedgerows together.  The May blossom is a month early. We had a beautiful Palm Sunday service in church, but then it was time to pack up the house and head to London. We were having a long-planned supper with friends tonight.

On the way, in the interests of new things, we thought we’d head off the beaten track for a moment or two and find something special to look at.  Ages ago, Charlie had spotted a tiny chapel from the A35 and it was this we thought we’d go and find.

It turned out to be called St. Andrew, Winterborne Tomson – a tiny hamlet, with a few houses, and this little church, utterly beautiful, surrounded by a working farm. Now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, it was completely perfect.

We pushed open the ancient studded door to reveal an austere, chalky-white lime washed interior, lined with oak box pews. The geometric purity of the space was like entering a tiny Renaissance chapel in a Tuscan village. 

A beautifully carved plaque on the wall explained the history of how this remarkable building was so perfectly preserved.

Someone had set the prayer book on the Altar to today’s date, Passion Sunday.

Across great wide water meadows from the church yard, we spied the tall distant chimneys of Anderson Manor. 

A burial plaque for Albert Powys is set into the wall; a newer stone for Faith, his wife. 

We followed the road, and our noses, up to Anderson Manor, which looks to be complete heaven on earth.

Here, another tiny church – St Michael, set in a walled churchyard overflowing with long grass and wild flowers. 

At the end of the lane is the beautiful 16th century manor house. I can’t wait to visit when the gardens are open sometime. 

Even more magical was this clear, clear pool, spring fed, at a turn in the lane. 

In the distance, the little chapel and the tall red brick chimneys of the manor house. The sun, bizarrely, was full of the heat of midsummer. Far in the distance, on the air, you could hear the relentless noise of the traffic on the the trunk road thundering by. But for an instant, one really, really had traveled back in time, leapfrogging centuries, to that moment when this house and its chapel were newly built.  The pond would still have been fresh and crystal clear, and for a moment, time was standing still.

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