It’s odd how it catches you, sometimes, off guard.
The picture on the right is an image I’ve often tried to capture, usually without success, so when it popped up on a social media group I’m a member off, it kind of took my breath away.
In the mid-ground, the land my uncle wrought his entire working life, replete with burial mound and ancient hill-fort lying on the ridge. In the background, the hill another uncle worked; its virtually concave aspect, a constant source of wonder in my youth.
Home turf was but a couple of miles from this vantage point, yet the views couldn’t be more different. Tucked into a valley at the confluence of two rivers, all that was visible from the house was little more than the hump of terminal moraine left behind from the last ice-age.
You can just see the house at the end of the track in this image. I was surprised when I visited, at the tail end of 2018, to discover the rewilding of the river. The trees on the left of the track represent nature regenerating herself, and you can just make out a splash of colour that was the river we could usually be found in, “up to no good”, during the long summer months. When we weren’t seconded, that is, to spreading a new layer of gravel on the track!
The changes, too; of byre into a boardroom, of the barn into a car park, and stables into housing; were a welcome surprise: so many similar farm buildings, when the land was turned to forestry, have been left to fall into ruin.
Although it hasn’t been home for nearly forty years, the pull of the land of our childhood can often seem unbearable. Going back, of course, is another matter entirely…