Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Old in the New

Moving house means getting used to a different landscape and making it your patch - although in my case, I happen to have ended up in an area that was very familiar to me during my childhood. Even so, a new home means there's a change in the way the light moves through my day, more sky to get used to, different (much improved) views, a new route to a new field for the dog to run in, new gravestones to squint at as I pass the churchyard.  

The previous owners of this house were avid feeders of wild birds, an endeavour I intend to continue. I have already been inspected by a couple of jays, and as well as the ubiquitous crows and pigeons, this morning I saw a blue tit, a coal tit, a goldfinch and a spadger in the buddleia all at the same time. A riotous gang flying around together. Somehow they reminded me of the boys at my primary school, marching arm-in-arm around the playground chanting 'WHO WANTS TO PLAY WAR?!'  By the time they had what they deemed sufficient numbers of participants, the bell would ring and playtime would be over.

There are also many squirrels - I counted half a dozen running around my back garden a couple of weeks ago. And our neighbour informs us that the local foxes - who have been having quite loud sex of late - live in an earth under the fenced-off conifers at the far end. Which is thrilling, except that I was going to have the trees cut to a much lower height, because they are so very tall and might start causing a problem if left.  I think I'll still go ahead, but not until the end of the summer, when nestlings will have fledged and any fox kits will have left the earth.  I particularly don't want to disturb them, since they might already be well pissed-off by the arrival of an over-excitable border collie the other side of the fence. 

And sometimes it's a question of rediscovery.  Ever since my son was at college in Dilton Marsh in Wiltshire and I was driving to and fro regularly to visit him, I've been fascinated by the line of trees on the pleasingly named Freezing Hill to the north of Bath.  They are, of course, a very striking landmark - my friend Dru and I once chased a sunset photo opportunity all the way along the A46 - but they've always seemed to me to have a deeper resonance than that somehow. And then, up the field, gazing at the once familiar skyline, I realise why - here, a good 14 miles to the west, the same trees in reverse, and my father telling seven-year-old me that they are near Bath, close to the place where the Battle of Lansdown took place several hundred of years earlier.  

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