Unexpected gems

And day four to finish –

***

Stained glass pelican

Stained glass pelican

The final day of my friend’s visit dawned grey and cold. In spite of another late night we were up about dawn and a couple of coffees later we were out again. I had mentioned a lovely little place and it seemed right to have a wander there.

Of course, we detoured several times, wandering through the ancient village of Aldbury and through the woods at Ashridge. It holds a special place in my heart that wood. The huge ancient tree at the top of Tom’s Hill always gets a silent greeting.

There are deer at Ashridge. Did we see one? Even though one always sees deer there? No. Not a deer in sight. Then at the far end of the wood, where the bluebells will be at their thickest soon,  something caught my eye. Not just a deer, but a herd of them. They walked deeper into the trees, startled by the car as I pulled to a halt and grabbed the camera.

***

Deer in the woods

Deer in the woods

We left them in peace a few moments later and emerged from the trees opposite Dunstable downs, hoping to see the chalk cut figure  there, the Whipsnade lion. The weather, however, made that nigh impossible. The white of chalk against snow is not ideal. It is much younger than the two figures we had already seen. A few thousand years younger than the White Horse at Uffington, but it seemed an appropriate end to the visit, especially as the remaining walkable Ridgeway ends here at Ivinghoe Beacon. The Beacon is the end of the Chiltern hills, and is marked by neolithic barrows too, as were our previous stops.. Of course, the weather was not good for photographs, but it had to be done after the past two days.

Even with snow on the ground, signs of springtime were all around. Nettles are growing fresh green shoots. Catkins dangle from the trees and the first fronds of leaves will soon open. In another few weeks the place will be vivid green and vibrant with life.

***

Ivinghoe beacon

Ivinghoe beacon

Next stop was a little church you would not know was there, at the end of a long lane, set among the fields. As churches go in this area it is a fairly modern one, being a mere 700 years old. Just a baby, really. Yet you open the door on a riot of colour. The stained glass of the windows is jewel coloured and the entire wall at the altar end is a fabulously painted mural, fronted by mosaics. The place glows with colour and unexpected gems of art and craft spanning the centuries. It is one of the reasons I love exploring these old places. Part of the community, they carry within their fabric the history of real people. They have earned their place in the landscape, both physical and social. Regardless of one’s own faith, to visit a village church is to open a window into the past in a far more intimate way than in the hands-off, guarded museums and galleries.

***

Unexpected art

Unexpected art

We spent a while exploring the symbolism and artistry this tiny ancient building contained and I have a lot of research to do… if I ever get time. I’d love to know who carved the painted figures here.

***

Gaddesdon church

Gaddesdon church

We went into Berkhamsted next. Sadly the road we were going to take was closed so I could not show my friend the magnificence of Ashridge House. On the other hand, there was coffee and panettone in the town… and of course, we had to visit the incongruous totem pole beside the canal, and glance at the ruins of the Norman castle, with its massive earthworks.

***

Bekhamsted Castle ruins

Berkhamsted Castle ruins

Sadly, all things end, and it was time to say a temporary goodbye at the station. We have talked, laughed, walked, and eaten way too much. There may even have been wine involved. But three days of working on the hoof.. or on the wing… were over and we were both stuffed full of food for thought and creative possibilities.

We had discussed some deep and interesting questions, created many new avenues to explore in thought and I enjoyed the days immensely. So much of what was achieved will have to be mulled over, incubated and hatched before the ideas take flight and tonight I feel like a limp but happy rag. Sometimes it seems, taking time out to simply enjoy time with a friend is the most productive thing we can do.

***

Panel from triptych

Panel from triptych

***

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Life, Love and Laughter, Photography, Spirituality, The Silent Eye and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Unexpected gems

  1. elizabeth says:

    Thanks for sharing this Sue. I felt like I was right there going along with you.
    😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful photos – especially of the herd of deer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Karen says:

    A beautiful ‘odyssey through the landscape’ – and more! – as a reader, is like we were right there with you… And lovely photos, all!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Unexpected gems – The Silent Eye

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