nature in action and human stillness

April 19, 2011

A walk through the woods just to enjoy the wood anemones before these sunny days cut short the flowering period. Of course, the sun has also brought on the bluebells to their peak too, so the vision of a blue and white carpet on the woodland floor is nature at its best now. Last year, I attempted to capture the spirit of this small woodland in this post

The woodland – coppiced hazel and sweet chestnut – runs down the side of a slight incline and meets a stream burbling through the shallow valley. The combination of the well trodden paths, the natural journey of of the water and, also the coppicing, has forced the root plate of the trees to rise above the soil layer. Mossy coverings float over the surface in the shady areas especially where walkers find the ground too bumpy.  Lovely branching of the coppiced stems . . . 

 . . .and looking skywards, signs of old nests in the emerging canopies. The stronger stems are the sweet chestnut. Some of these are covered with a gingery lichen which didn’t appear to be damaging the trees. The woodland is well-managed so this leaching  must be a natural occurrence.  

Someone’s had fun with this stump. Exiting the woodland by the stream, the footpath rises up through sunny sloping fields to Guestling Green and the churchyard of St Laurence. The first registered vicar was Hugh de Flocis in 1070 and the earliest headstone dates from 1720. Some have very simple inscriptions . . .

 . . .  and in one corner Christopher Robin’s ‘Alice’ (his nurse maid) is buried under her real name of Olive Christine Brockwell. Some discussion amongst our little group of  why the different name but we thought that servants were often called the same name as one replaced the other – either complete laziness of the employer or lack of disregard encroaching on arrogance or just what happened and nobody minded.  Who knows?  I rather enjoyed the rhyme when I was little so just a couple of verses which should be sung, of course, and E H Shepard’s drawings called ‘decorations’ in the frontispiece:

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace-
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
Alice is marrying one of the guard.
“A soldier’s life is terrible hard,”
Says Alice.

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace –
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
We saw a guard in a sentry-box.
“One of the sergeants looks after their socks,”
Says Alice.

 They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace-
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
“Do you think the King knows all about me?”
“Sure to, dear, but it’s time for tea,”
Says Alice.  A.A.Milne  Buckingham Palace

Back to nature and the mix in the long grass . . .

 . . and the quirky nature of the bumpy ground that this church yard enjoys – probably masses of unmarked graves and much grave digging over the years – the clipped yew signifying sadness, longevity, or whatever religion or not, as well as different meanings from wherever you originate . . .

At Guestling, there are a few headstones with skulls carved above the inscription. We were told that these graves held smugglers . . . possible as the coast is only two miles away . . .  the marked graves were all quite distinct,  low and with a soft arc . . . 

 . . and really thick stone. All quiet here – a few observers of Palm Sunday left the grounds and, so did we, ambling back down the sloping fields to the woodland.

4 Responses to “nature in action and human stillness”

  1. Cloudier Says:

    Ahh, I wish I was there…

  2. julia fogg Says:

    I wish you were here too! Purely selfish!

  3. skybluepinkish Says:

    I love the low smugglers’ gravestones, they look as if they have lain down and gone to sleep (the gravestones I mean!) with just their noses poking out.

  4. julia fogg Says:

    That’s a good description!


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