Cotswold Reverie.

Posted on 03/03/2019 By

Cotswold Reverie.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrop filled garden.

As we headed west towards the Cotswolds, the radio was on and we were cruising. No rush. The “scenic route” is shorter in miles, but much longer in time. Bobby had forsaken the boring motorway route to drive over the Berkshire downs near Wantage and into Gloucestershire. The County sign announcing Cotswold Country. Through Farringdon, Lechlade, Fairford. As we bypassed Cirencester, I could see him daydreaming. Thinking of times gone by. All those similar journeys with Diddley. Seeing her sitting beside him as usual and finding a teddy bear instead. When she would also become very quiet and would brush a tear away. Passed the signs to Sapperton, Coates, Minchinhampton. And on they would drive, knowing that she was back where she belonged. Not perfect for her, because of life’s tribulations. But now, with Bobby, finally with someone she loved.

Cotswold Reverie: First stop - Waitrose, Stroud!

First stop – Waitrose, Stroud!

He has assumed those feelings without even realising it. The fun and clamour of his 75th Birthday seemed miles away as we climbed Swift’s Hill once again on our own. 15 February, exactly 20 years after he proposed at Slimbridge. Exactly three years since he spread her ashes at this spot as she had asked back in 1998. One day, he will bring Jasmine this way. Of all the grandchildren, she was closest to her granny and shown a real desire to walk in her footsteps where she grew up.

Up, up, up we climbed. Not a big hill, but getting bigger each time we climb it. And finally to Laurie Lee’s poetry post, from where Bobby had launched her ashes to be carried downwind, downhill unerringly towards the Woolpack pub. Once more, we had honoured our pledge and our love for Diddley.

Swift’s Hill

Cotswold Reverie: Swift's Hill

Swift’s Hill.

Cotswold Reverie: Swift's Hill and Laurie Lee Wood Nature Reserves interpretation board.

Swift’s Hill and Laurie Lee Wood Nature Reserves interpretation board.

Cotswold Reverie: Bit of a struggle.

Bit of a struggle.

Cotswold Reverie: Looking down on Slad.

Looking down on Slad.

Cotswold Reverie: A selfie of a selfie taking a selfie.

A selfie of a selfie taking a selfie.

Cotswold Reverie: Elongation.

Elongation.

Cotswold Reverie: Towards Stroud, the Severn and the black mountains of Wales.

Towards Stroud, the Severn and the black mountains of Wales.

Cotswold Reverie: Male Hazel Catkins.

Male Hazel Catkins.

Did you know that there are 14 different trees that bear catkins? Take a look here: www.treeguideuk.co.uk/mini-guides/catkins.

The rest of this reverie is a bit like that day he watched the Flying Scotsman on the Bluebell Line. No expectation. No rush. No plan. Just… dreaming of how life could be.

We stayed at the George at Frocester. Fourth time running.

Cotswold Reverie: The Frocester George.

The Frocester George.

There’s quite a lot of pictures. You might like to play The Lark Arising, which seems ideally suited to the mood.

The Lark Arising.

Slad.

Cotswold Reverie: The Woolpack. Immortalised by Laurie Lee. Swift's Hill behind the pine tree.

The Woolpack. Immortalised by Laurie Lee. Swift’s Hill behind the pine tree.

Cotswold Reverie: Holy Trinity Church, Slad.

Holy Trinity Church, Slad.

Cotswold Reverie: Laurie Lee's tombstone. 1914-1997.

Laurie Lee’s tombstone. 1914-1997.

Cotswold Reverie: If ever I saw blessing in the air, I see it now in this still early day, Where lemon green the vaporous morning drips, Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now in this still early day
Where lemon green the vaporous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

Cotswold Reverie: On the notice board of the church: an extract from Cider with Rosie.

On the notice board of the church: an extract from Cider with Rosie.

Cotswold Reverie: The Laurie Lee memorial window in Holy Trinity.

The Laurie Lee memorial window in Holy Trinity.

Cotswold Reverie: The Laurie Lee memorial window in Holy Trinity.

Cotswold Reverie: The Laurie Lee memorial window in Holy Trinity.

Cotswold Reverie: The Laurie Lee memorial window in Holy Trinity.

Cotswold Reverie: Diddley’s (and Laurie Lee’s) school at Slad. Now a private residence.

Diddley’s (and Laurie Lee’s) school at Slad. Now a private residence.

Cotswold Reverie: Down to the garden gate at Slad.

Down to the garden gate at Slad.

Painswick.

Cotswold Reverie: Church of St Mary Painswick. The church of 99 yews and, last week, thousands of crocuses.

Church of St Mary Painswick. The church of 99 yews and, last week, thousands of crocuses.

Coaley Peak.

Famous viewpoint looking over the Severn Vale, the Forest of Dean towards Wales. The Cotswold Way runs through here.

Cotswold Reverie: Coaley Peak.

Cotswold Reverie: Coaley Peak.

Cotswold Reverie: Coaley Peak.

Coaley Peak. We dropped by here on our way to Colesbourne Park. Wonderful views to Wales.

Colesbourne Park.

The “Greatest Snowdrop Garden”. Possibly, but how on earth did they miss this garden years ago? Each year they went to a new snowdrop garden. Sometimes miles away. She even bought snowdrop earrings and wore them every February. Sitting in the tearoom at Colesbourne Park surrounded, it seemed, by couples of a certain age it was only natural that a little melancholy should slip in. Just 68, today she should be here with him. In a way, she was for a while. And yet, those insecure thoughts were hard to hide. He had left me in the car. Didn’t want the attention I create. And then found himself talking to the ladies serving the tea and home made cake. Wanting them to know that he wasn’t Johnny No Mates. That he once had a beautiful wife. A lady who loved snowdrops. Out came the business cards and he told them the garden would be immortalised in Mindfully Bertie. They promised to look. It was late. The garden would soon be closing. Would he like another cup of tea and as much lemon drizzle cake as he could cope with?

By now, most people had gone. A young lad walked in. One of the family. A famous family: the Elwes. Flat cap, waistcoat, Hunters. He really looked the part. Perfect manners. He listened intently, as Bobby told him about the Snowdrop Fairy and wanted to know more. Yet another business card was produced.

Cotswold Reverie: The Snowdrop Fairy.

It’s sad that, on a perfect day in a glorious place with friendly people, someone can feel so lonely.

It soon passed and now he had the garden almost to himself, which is when most of the photographs were taken.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops, Crocuses and trees.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops, Crocuses and trees.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops, Crocuses and trees.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops, Crocuses and trees.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops.

Cotswold Reverie: Double Hellebore.

Double Hellebore.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops and Trees.

Time to go.

Slimbridge.

Slimbridge was too wonderful for words. In particular the late evening Swan Lake feed and commentary that Bobby had introduced Diddley to on their engagement. By the time you read this blog, the migratory swans and ducks will have left. So we shall save that part of Slimbridge for next winter when they return. And share the glory of ducks in their breeding plumage.

Cotswold Reverie: Daffy duck.

Daffy duck.

Cotswold Reverie: Eider male.

Eider male.

Cotswold Reverie: Eider female.

Eider female.

Eider courtship:

Cotswold Reverie: Now you know about eiderdowns!

Now you know about eiderdowns!

Cotswold Reverie: Goldeneye male.

Goldeneye male.

Cotswold Reverie: Goldeneye female.

Goldeneye female.

Cotswold Reverie: Goldeneye courtship.

Goldeneye courtship.

Goldeneye courtship:

Cotswold Reverie: Shelduck.

Shelduck.

Cotswold Reverie: Mr and Mrs Smew.

Mr and Mrs Smew.

Cotswold Reverie: The glorious pintail male. Bobby’s favourite duck (drake).

The glorious pintail male. Bobby’s favourite duck (drake).

Cotswold Reverie: Gadwall. A beautiful duck when viewed close up.

Gadwall. A beautiful duck when viewed close up.

Cotswold Reverie: Widgeon.

Widgeon.

We have only shown you British ducks here. Some of the pictures could be wild ones flying in for the winter. There is far, far more to see at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust. Here at Slimbridge and at their other reserves. Our local one is Arundel. But back to Slimbridge.

Cotswold Reverie: Mute swans in flight.

Cotswold Reverie: Mute swans flying in for security and food.

Mute swans flying in for security and food.

Cotswold Reverie: The beautiful, delicate Avocet and that strange bill. The symbol of the RSPB. (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds).

The beautiful, delicate Avocet and that strange bill. The symbol of the RSPB. (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds).

There are those purists who consider Slimbridge a “Zoo”. Many of the birds are, of course captive. They can’t fly away. As many more are wild and choose to spend their time there. Particularly in winter, attracted by the security of the reserve. And food, of course. To achieve its aims of conservation, the WWT has to make its reserves attractive to visitors.

Many birdwatchers go there, particularly in winter, to see the vast flocks of wildfowl outside the reserve on the Severn Estuary. And, most importantly, some very rare species have been bred in captivity to save them from extinction. So, a quirk of the reserve is its collection of flamingoes, representing all six species in the world. Not sure which is which!

Cotswold Reverie: Flamingo.

Cotswold Reverie: Flamingoes.

Cotswold Reverie: Flamingoes.

Cotswold Reverie: Flamingoes.

Cotswold Reverie: Flamingo.

Flamingoes.

Cotswold Reverie: Puddle jumping championships for children at half term. Many came suitable dressed in waterproof suits for the challenge.

Puddle jumping championships for children at half term. Many came suitable dressed in waterproof suits for the challenge.

Cotswold Reverie: Birdwatching for bears.

Birdwatching for bears.

Each evening in winter, visitors may go to the Penn Hide for the Swan Feed. The “hide” is a heated chalet type building, with large picture windows. The warden of the last 37 years comes in and starts a talk that leads to him walking around the fringe of Swan Lake giving a radio commentary. We hear about the Bewick swans and so much else. Too much for this story. So we will return next winter for a blog just on the Bewick swans.

Cotswold Reverie: The warden giving his radio talk while feeding the birds each evening in winter.

The warden giving his radio talk while feeding the birds each evening in winter.

Cotswold Reverie: Feeding time at Slimbridge.

Cotswold Reverie: Feeding time at Slimbridge.

Cotswold Reverie: Swan Lake. Peter Scott's window last window on the left hand side of the building.

Swan Lake. Peter Scott’s window last window on the left hand side of the building.

Cotswold Reverie: Enormous flocks of lapwings viewed from a heated hide.

Cotswold Reverie:\Enormous flocks of lapwings viewed from a heated hide.

Enormous flocks of lapwings viewed from a heated hide.

Bobby and I were the last to leave Penn Hide. As the light dropped, the spectacle was so magical that we forgot the time until the warden came in and said “I am really sorry. The grounds close in a few minutes.”. What a way to end the day. Unforgettable.

Friends of Skokholm and Skomer Reunion at Bishops Cleeve.

Not for this story, but always held within a few days of 15 February just down the road near Cheltenham. A day of meeting many friends from the islands and listening to presentations by internationally famous seabird scientists and enthusiasts. Featured many times on Mindfully Bertie, including a distant view of Skomer on our St David’s Walk blog just two weeks ago.

Miserden/Frank Mansell.

See his story in one of our earliest blogs. This visit is an essential part of our reverie.

Cotswold Reverie: St Andrew's Church, Miserden.

St Andrew’s Church, Miserden.

Cotswold Reverie: Snowdrops and Frank.

Snowdrops and Frank.

Also in the same graveyard…

Cotswold Reverie: In Loving Memory of Huntley Macdonald Sinclair 1899-1989.

In Loving Memory of Huntley Macdonald Sinclair 1899-1989.

Lieutenant RFC First World War. Wing Commander RCAF second World War (RFC – Royal Flying Corps, that preceded the RAF. RCAF – Royal Canadian Air Force). Read more at www.findagrave.com/memorial/136547677/hunley-macdonald-sinclair.

Cotswold Reverie: And Pat Smythe. Greatest female show jumper.

And Pat Smythe. Greatest female show jumper.

See her obituary:  www.independent.co.uk/sport/greatest-female-show-jumper-dies-1321693.html.

And just for the blogs this March we will treat you to a Frank Mansell poem.

Cotswold Reverie: Tramp in Spring, Fank Mansell.

Tramps in Spring.

Staying in Nailsworth with Chris and Angie.

Friends reunited. A walk a pub lunch. A good read. And good company.

Cotswolds: Angie.

Angie…

Cotswold Reverie: ... and Chris.

… and Chris.

A glorious walk above Stroud. Just look at those Cotswold walls covered in moss:

Cotswold Reverie: Wall covered in moss.

Cotswold Reverie: Wall covered in moss.

Cotswold Reverie: Village view from the hill.

Cotswold Reverie: Village view from the hill.

Cotswold Reverie: And a good read. Bertie and Bobby reading a Rupurt Bear book.

And a good read.

And finally, we are reminded of Wordsworth sitting on his couch “in vacant or in pensive mood”. A little melancholy reminded us that through Bobby, Diddley had seen the natural world in all its beauty. Had even been a warden on Skomer Island. Through her, he had experienced the love he so badly needed and can still express in Mindfully Bertie. So don’t be sad for what has passed, but be glad he had that opportunity.

Lighting a Candle to Diddley.

Cotswold Reverie: Lightin a Candle to Diddley - She loved snowdrops and she loved these earrings.

She loved snowdrops and she loved these earrings.

——————

CotswoldsCountrysideSnowdrops    


  1. Avatar Chris Norman says:

    Great pictures and words

  2. Avatar katherine says:

    this is up there with one of my very favourite blogs Bob… great pictures, great writing. Thanks for sharing the love you had. It’s heartwarming.
    I love the photos of the crocuses and snow drops. and the ducks. Your passion and enthusiasm for life despite your grief, is inspiring.

    • Avatar Bertie says:

      When its all from the heart the words flow easily.
      Honesty. Realising that despite ill fortune I have had plenty of good fortune. Thank you

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