My Favourite Window

November 28, 2013

Across the Junes

With apologies to The Black Peach Theatre Co for using the title of their mid-winter 
theatre sports evening. While NZ was storm-wracked, the company managed to stage their monthly show in Rangiora in spite of floods, a broken bridge, snow and gales. 
Pity I couldn't be there...
Or do I mean here?

This November has felt so like England's June this year. Warm balmy weather with a misting of damp days to keep things growing, few vicious winds, roses blooming profusely... Five months ago the cabbage trees (or palms) were flowering along the seafront at Torquay, and in Barbara Hepworth's Sculpture Garden in St Ives, Cornwall.

But come here to see what they can really do. They have stolen the show this year all around Ashley, their big densely-packed plumes scenting the whole village. The blossom is going over now, aided by cooler temperatures and rain over the last few days. Rain. What a good excuse to take a stroll back through that glorious British summer of 2013.

A walk down memory lane - or the Oxford Canal towpath - was a must, since Elwin and I spent four years living here on the Hythe Bridge Arm.

How lucky I feel to still have family in Oxford, to be able walk home through the meadows 
that patchwork this paradoxical city;

to stroll in University grounds like the Corpus Christi College garden on its public open day;

or explore the margins of the city - places like Headington Quarry where we found this 
Wisteria cascading over a garden wall.

But, to escape the crowds in town 

the Cotswold countryside was a refreshing retreat:

a place to find traditional village morris dancers 

like the guardians of the Stanton Harcourt tradition - on one of their two annual appearances 
- at the village's mid-summer fete;

or just to watch ducklings on a village duck pond: 
at Ducklington on this occasion.

Touring further afield, Kitty and I visited ancestral territory. 

She made a daisy chain for her great great great grandfather, David Hobby, at Brympton d'Evercy in Somerset, and we walked the domain of his son William (my great grandfather). He was Head Gardener not far away at Montacute House while his father occupied the same role at Brympton.

In the nearby National Trust garden of Tintinhull I found a patch that could have been my own, though here in New Zealand this easy overgrown ramble of Cherokee rose and Apple tree with self-sown docks, seeding grasses and buttercup is considered something in-need of tidying up.

These wildflowers, speedwell and buttercup, also grow wild in my garden. Here their free and pretty nature was in stark contrast to the view across the road

of Dartmoor Prison.
And crossing Dartmoor we left June behind.

While I have been writing this post, Black Peach have been rehearsing for this month's show in my lounge room. And since the show is a round-up of the year's best acts, entitled Pick of the Crop, I should get to see some of what I missed in June!


rusty duck said...

You really did get around! I'm so glad the weather was kind and you got to see all those glorious places. Love the irises on the towpath. Very special and an idea I will nick for our riverside. That's a gorgeous picture of Kitty next to the wisteria too.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

There's more of our travels to come! It was remarkable to arrive right at the end of your cold spell and to catch the may flowering into June - one of my favourite memories of the Towpath. I don't remember the irises so think they have been a gardener's introduction, but they were lovely in the sunshine - a good introduction for you riverside. Kitty loves that photo too :-)

Cro Magnon said...

I rather miss England when I see pictures like yours. Maybe I should visit one day too (it's not that far away).

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Make sure you do it sooner than later Cro. I was surprised that there was so much to celebrate about the country including an absence of dog shit!

Steve said...

So glad to see you encountered a Morris Dancer or two... England did not disappoint!

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Coming soon Steve - a Morris Dancer or two ... and more!