Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Spring Lanes and Old Letter Boxes - Cranborne Chase

One afternoon, two weeks ago, we needed a break after days of rain. We cannot leave Old Dog for long, so we headed westwards for a few hours, across the Avon Valley into Dorset and the soft, green countryside of Cranborne Chase. In the photo above, the River Avon at Ibsley was in full spate and water rushed angrily over the weir.

 The water meadows were still partially flooded and the wet grass was studded with golden marsh marigolds or kingcups. In the north, these lovely flowers are called water blobs. In the foreground, there were small, pale mauve and white cuckoo flowers, or ladies` smocks,

New green leaves on the water meadow willows screened the tower of Harbridge church.

We drove uphill and away from the Avon Valley, through wet, narrow lanes between farm fields, towards a hamlet called Crendell.

We stopped to look at the old letter box, set in the wall of a Victorian cottage. My husband is interested in postal history and had found out that this Victorian letter box is a rare one. The first postage stamps date from 1840 and the first letter boxes were put into use in 1852 ( one of these remains in St Peter Port in Guernsey). The Crendell box dates from 1879 and there are only twenty eight of them still in existence. It was made in Walker`s Eagle Foundry in Birmingham.

I am less interested in the dates and details, but I find myself thinking of all those generations of country people from neighbouring farms and cottages, who would have posted their precious letters into this humble red postbox. Letters to friends and family. Business mail and bills being paid. Love letters, news of births and deaths. Letters of happy tidings and of the saddest news. Letters of hope and comfort being posted to the soldiers of the two World Wars.

As we turned across country towards Cranborne, this field of bright yellow oilseed rape shone out from the wet landscape.

In lanes made from ancient cart tracks, hedgerow flowers were blooming after the welcome rain. Swathes of white flowered Ramsons, wild garlic, bordered the lane and filled the air with the scent of garlic.

Bluebells beneath old coppiced hedgerows.

The deep lane led downhill, out of the woods  and between high hedges bordering fields. A hollow way, where hundreds of years of hooves, feet and wheels  have worn the track down below the level of  the surrounding land.

In the main street running through Cranborne, we stopped to find another old post box, which is set into the wall of the village Post Office.

This one is a Ludlow type letter box from the reign of King George V. It dates from 1910 -1920. There are only  thirty two remaining in Britain. Apparently there are over 125,000 letter boxes (wall boxes, lamp boxes and pillar boxes) in total in the UK.

Later on, we walked around rainy Cranborne before finding shelter in the lovely old church. Along the church path, a very vocal black cat sat waiting on the window sill of this thatched cottage. He wanted to be let in out of the rain, but no one was listening.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Hey Ho, the Wind and the Rain

The past few weeks have been wet, windy and often cold. Even so, spring is here and the fields, garden and Forest are flush with new foliage in so many shades of green. The scent of blossom and new grass is everywhere. Underfoot there are puddles and wet mud.

A corner of our little wildlife pond, which sometimes overflows with runoff from the field.  The floating leaves of water forget-me-nots are a good place for newts to lay their eggs. There are several adult Common Newts in residence again.

One of the few cuckoo flowers around the pond.

Wet, itchy ponies during a gap between showers.

A Skunk Cabbage in flower. They do smell of skunk and the flies love them!

One stormy night, the old wooden pergola sighed its last and crashed down. bringing most of two Pauls Himalayan Musk climbing roses with it. It will need replacing, so we will let the roses flower and then have a serious prune before another pergola can be built.

The roses have tipped right over to one side.

On a rainy afternoon, the Ginger Man retired to the back of the airing cupboard.....

Forest Cat sat around looking beautiful.......

....while Lucy curled up in a tight ball, to sleep until it was time to eat or play once again.