Our favourite walk starts from the back garden where we climb over the fence into a field that has been set aside for many years; then along a footpath, across the road and up a hill. Many happy hours have been spent on top of this hill, having picnics while the children played or just sitting there with the dogs, taking in the view. It looks down on our bungalow, across the valley to the Saltbox SSSI and further away, on clear days, distant views of London.
After catching our breath we walk round the ridge of the hill, back down into an off shoot of the main valley and up the other side where we follow an old bridleway sunk between ancient hedgerows which gradually slopes down to the main valley again; then over the road and up a track and we are back to our field again, looking towards home and a warming bowl of homemade Parsnip soup.
At one time I knew every badger set, every fox hole and lots of other secret habitats passed on this walk so it was lovely to re-familiarise myself..sort of visiting old friends:)))) A couple of days later it snowed with more vigour so we decided to take another day off and repeat the walk. I like walking in fresh snow as it is so much easier to see what the wildlife has been up to by looking for tracks. The view from the top of the hill was breathtaking.
Back at home the birds are flocking to the garden for a bit of extra sustenance and by adding a few extra fruity treats we have had Red wings and Field fares amongst the visitors. Needless to say the female pheasants are permanent residents in this weather, spending most of the day under our trees and bushes. However the male pheasants, being a bit thick, can't work out how to get into the garden now their gap under the fence has been filled in with snow...they walk backwards and forwards along the fence line for hours never thinking that they could just fly over into the garden:))
Although we have been busy with family problems, we haven't been doing so much work for the Downland Project just lately as they are in the midst of calving the City of London cows that are being overwintered at the Project's farm. They are Sussex cattle which is a lovely docile and handsome breed that seem to make good mothers who are very particular about keeping their babies clean....
There have been a few sheepy jobs though. One recent task was to help with moving the ten Herdwick sheep from Tatsfield. It was a bitterly cold day, with below freezing temperatures, so once the trailer was in the field it was decided to start with a warming cup of tea/coffee (actually most tasks start with a cuppa regardless of the weather:) before rounding up the sheep, which is a job that can take ages when we haven't got, Jack, the sheep dog to help, but the sheep didn't want to hang around in those temperatures and all but two walked themselves into the trailer...I suspect sheep aren't as silly as they look:))
I can't really think of anything funny to end this post so it is going to be a favourite poem that sums up why we should take time out for a bit of leisure and then I am off for a whole weekend of leisure at my son's in Bedfordshire where we are going to see my most favourite animal person, Monty Roberts, the Horse Whisperer. I think the grumps will have gone by next week:)))))))))))))
By William Davies
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.