Winter walks

I have been struck down by a writer’s block lately. More things than just this blog have been consequently neglected – letters have gone unanswered, and evenings have been spent watching TV and feeling slightly guilty. It’s the hardest stretch of spring. The evenings are longer, but not so much that it would make a difference yet, and so I havent’ quite come out of hibernation yet.

I’m also not entirely sure about what to write about these photos – even if I do look at some of them and think, “you know what, that’s not a bad photo”. In January and February, I went walking. Quite a lot, actually. January was mild (and sometimes sunny), February brought winter flowers. There was no snow, but the air was often crisp and the light beautiful. Just being outdoors has been a delight in itself. The glories of the English landscape is just a bonus.
IMGP2705IMGP2595IMGP2580IMGP2579IMGP2636The first stop: Blenheim Great Park (a photo set of my summertime visit to Blenheim is here). The house was closed for the winter, but there were still plenty of delights to have in the park, and we headed over the lake towards the Great Avenue and the Column of Victory. Sheep aplenty. Magnificent trees.
IMGP2790 IMGP2807 IMGP2811 IMGP2823 IMGP2830 IMGP2833I feel like I too rarely venture outside the Oxford/London axis these days so that this day trip to Great Malvern felt like a treat. The town isn’t perhaps as its best in February, nor is it consciously tourist-friendly, but it had its interesting corners. And the glorious backdrop of this range of hills! – I climbed the North Hill, saving the Worcestershire Beacon for the next visit; I am told that on a clear day one can see 13 counties, three cathedrals, Welsh mountains and the Bristol Channel from the Beacon, and the views from the North Hill are not too shabby either…
IMGP2918 IMGP2957 IMGP2940 IMGP2949The third field trip was to Welford Park in Berkshire, famous for the Great British Bake-Off and snowdrops. It’s a private house, very pretty, owned by a rather nice lady whom we talked to briefly at the gift shop, a bit far from everything, and the weather was not great, but the snowdrops! I have been to a bluebell forest, and have always wanted to see snowdrops like this, so this was really a dream come true.



More January tulips. The season is nearly over, sadly.


I had my birthday in February, and a good friend took me out for tea to celebrate, as well as giving me a a cushion she had made, all wrapped in bunting. So, so lovely!


Cake and sparklers – I don’t usually have birthday parties these days, but this year I joined forces with a pair of my fellow knitwits for a celebration.


What I in theory did during the half term.


What I really did during the half term – the Natural History Museum in Oxford opened mid-February, and I was glad to be back there, after year and half (or so) of closure. I have missed the dodo.


I have really missed the dodo.


And the butterfly collections.


See previous post for my glorious day out at the Port Meadow. After half term, the floods were mostly gone at least in the town centre; even the Madgalen College water meadow was dry, meaning these shining waters don’t have long left now.


How do I love thee, Jericho? Let me count the ways. This area is due for a major redevelopment, and while it will no doubt make it nice and raise the profile of the area, a litte bit of me is sad to see this rather gothic backyard of Oxford to turn into a slick and modern community centre. The slightly run-down area around the St Barnabas church is one of my favourite places in Oxford, and one that really has a unique feel to it; I often go there to be inspired, and fear this feel will be lost when it’s all rebuilt.


Still loving my L.L. Bean hunting boots.


Last few weeks have been exceptionally busy professionally for me, so a night of swing dancing and champagne with friends was a welcome break.


A friend is in Merton College, and on Saturday we headed to Sheldonian for Merton’s 750th anniversary shinding. Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius was a slightly baffling choice for the occasion, in all its Victorian glories, but the piece has some beautiful music – not least the finale with the Angel and the chorus, my eternal girl crush Sarah Connolly holding an audience of a couple thousand in her grip. Such a beautiful voice, such a beautiful woman, such power of interpretation.


Spring or not, the sky is already still light when I live work now. Huge relief after a bleak, bleak winter.