Sunday, 10 April 2016
Lacock weekend 1: Easter Sunday, with rainbow
Back to our inspiring friends Andrew and Deborah, familiar to regular readers as the occupiers of Cantax House - Dumbledore's residence to Potterfans - and doyen/ennes in their respective spheres of music and art. Meals at home feature plentiful garden produce, but this time there was a choice rarity for the first evening's dessert - chocolate made from cocoa pods gleaned while Andrew was running a choral course on Tobago. This of course is Deborah's photo.
And the small but rich pickings of her labours - wrapped up here ironically in a Ferrero-Rocher arrangement -
were like no chocolate I've ever tasted - bitter and intense; I swear I loved it.
Variable Easter weekend weather meant that we did less walking than planned: a non-stop-rainy Saturday saw us moving from one gallery to another, very hastily, in Bath (planned for a post or two ahead). We took our chances on a Sunday of heavy showers and sunny intervals with a hike around the valleys beyond Box, starting at the head of the wooded glade where the Cherry Tree Project runs its courses and going beyond the point at which we'd turned on a previous occasion.
Still in March, the trees on the hilltops still kept their skeletal winter outlines
but it was lusher down by St Catherine's stream in the beautiful valley of that name, up which we subsequently headed, past the church, house and farm - also St Catherine's - occupied by Jane Seymour (the pretty actress, not the unfortunate wife of Henry VIII)
and following the course of the stream with its alders and sycamores (catkins barely visible in this size image)
until we reached a lane, badger's tracks on one side
and wild primroses on the other.
Mud made the going slow. Then it was up another valley, towards the less quagmireish uplands, at which point dark clouds spelled inexorable rain
which burst in a wild squall (I was fine in waterproofs from head to toe). The immediate moving away of the black sky
suggested a rainbow must be found, and it was, rather unusually, seen from above now that we were at the highest point arching down into yet another valley (probably the very top picture makes it clearer, letting you know what you're looking for here).
An old track, almost as straight as the nearby Roman road, took us on the level with views to the south
with very premature bluebells in the hedgerows
and horse chestnuts in bud and semi-leaf.
At a gatehouse with a hare on the roof
we turned into the estate of Ashwicke Hall, now run as the SABIS International School UK, and found the lambs in its fields inquisitive and unafraid.
And thus, surprisingly, back to where the car was parked. The lamb surprise came late on the walk, as it had on Good Friday evening when we did our usual circuit of Lacock. The Abbey is well positioned to catch the evening sun
which was setting beyond the Avon - very low that day; by Monday it was flooding the water meadows.
The river in turn separated us from the last field of sheep and gambolling lambs (they really do leap with all four feet off the ground). That tree in the middle distance has always had a special magic; in the summer, the sheep are grateful for its shade, all that's available in the open field.
A group of particularly adventurous, danger-seeking lambs skedaddling up and down the bank held us rapt for a good 10 minutes, and then, once across the bridge, we caught them at close quarters
with some calmly trotting over to the other side of the path to regain their mothers.
We knew the sunset was to be savoured; rain was forecast for Saturday and behaved even worse than anticipated. More on that day's discovery of the wonderful Holburne Museum anon.