A sunny day greeted us on Friday, far too good to stay inside. I packed a snack and my cameras and we headed out for a walk. Not to the park this time, but through the town, past the church, across the road and over the bridge. Along the canal path behind the castle, under the tall trees, stopping to look at the flowers and the noisy overspill water pipes, the yellow wagtails hopping from stone to stone in the water and the crows cawing overhead. My boy is still taken with birds (and the noisy water) and gleefully points them out as they pass by. We walk on, slowing to allow passing walkers the chance to go on ahead (and out of my camera range).
Two swifts are fighting in the water, and there is brief excitement for TTB as a dog comes past close to his pushchair. We reach the end of the canal path, past the Secret Garden door, and turn to manoeuvre the pushchair backwards over the bridge and heave-bump-heave it up the deep and uneven stone steps. Shall we go and see the chickens now … or shall we go into the woods and have our snack by the big pond? It’s still early in the day and we have nowhere that we need to be.
Open the gate, past the holiday cottages, have a go at some close up flower photos. Around the muddy bit, through the next gate and aaaaaah … into the woods. The trees are not yet in leaf and it’s much more open than it will be soon. There are tips of green on the ends of the branches and tightly furled buds too. The trees are waking up. The wild garlic (not yet flowering) carpets the ground as far away as you can see. The small stream to the left lays still as always, but down the steep drop to the right the larger stream is flowing quickly over the rocks. Look UP! I say to TTB. Look up at the trees! He doesn’t, because he doesn’t know what “up” means and there are no birds or snacks in the “up” direction.
After avoiding a fast running man shouting at his son to keep up with him, and a very muddy and wet dog, we reach the pond but find that we are not the only people to have had this idea, and all the space is occupied. We loiter a little and I practise with my camera while TTB is mesmerised by the waterfall. Heading back, we stop at a bench and TTB enjoys his snack: raisins and malt load and a long drink of water. Back down the slope, through the gate, look up and there is a beautiful canopy of tiny leaves, green from one tree and bright red from another. The sunlight shines through them and it is stunning.
Past the holiday cottages again, through the second gate, past the beautiful cottage garden with the raised vegetable beds and around to the right, heading towards the chickens. A female chaffinch lands on the path in front of us and we watch as she scratches in the ground, edging quietly closer (one of us needs to practise being quiet on command and this is a good opportunity as it involves a bird and thus his interest.)
At last, chickens! I park the pushchair and lift TTB out so that he can see as the chicken enclosure is above my shoulder height. He is entranced and makes his chicken noise (an attempt at cockadoodle doo crossed with cuckoo) at them. The come up to the fence and eyeball this strange small noisy person. In the background: chicks! Two fluffy yellow leggy bundles, staying close to mum.
After a brief “not going back in the pushchair” standoff (I win) we continue our journey, looking at the trees and the birds (a bullfinch!) and gaze longingly up the road to The Hill (not accessible with the pushchair) and ahead over the town to the other hills on the horizon. Sometimes I still can’t quite believe that this is my home, but it is and for that I am truly glad.