So far this summer, we haven’t ventured away on holiday. I look at the reports of the quarantine and the queues and hear about the virus spiking in Europe, and at home, and so far, it hasn’t seemed worth the risk to us or to others, although it is very difficult to make sense of the statistics. We live in a lovely place here in our corner of Lincolnshire, but I admit that I have been thinking about the blue of a Mediterranean sea, the scented warmth of an after dark stroll along a sea front, with boats bobbing on the water and a late afternoon swim in a calm turquoise pool. We will take a week off in Suffolk soon, and I think that overseas travel must wait for a while. The lure of water is strong, however, and we have been to the East coast for some day trips and to feel the sea air. The Lincolnshire Wolds is a two hour drive from our house and it’s one of my favourite areas of the UK. There are small market towns, expansive, rolling fields of wheat and barley, tiny lanes and charming villages, and more ancient churches than anywhere I have ever visited.
The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, son of a vicar, grew up in this region, we went to see the house where he was born. This church, at Ashby Puerorum, was near his father’s parish. Passing through the Wolds, where glaciers carved the chalk into the distinctive hills and hollows, we called at Alford, a very pretty market town, which feels as if it is frozen in the 1950s.
On a sunny day like this, it’s absolutely beautiful. On cold days, it can look bleak, but actually I like the wildness, the vast steel grey skies, and the fact that it isn’t gentrified in the same way as North Norfolk. You could still buy a cup of coffee and a bacon roll in Lincolnshire and not need a second mortgage. As it happened, we took our own stove and brewed up by the beach as we arrived early.
That old blackened kettle could tell a few stories: it was a part of all my childhood camping holidays in North Wales (and there were many!). It has also accompanied us on our long camping trips to the USA, and earlier this year, in January, it went to Argentina with my husband on his travels.
We found a spot in the dunes and pitched our day camp…
Blankets and cushions inside….
The perfect spot for reading, snoozing and sunning….
There was time to explore nearby Sutton-on-Sea. I never miss a chance to pop in to Knicks Knacks.There’s a lovely walk along the sea front which has beach huts, a cafe and even some traditional seaside gardens planted with very bright bedding plants, lipstick red and fiery orange.
Most things were open and there were long queues for the excellent fish and chip shops…It took a while to get home as we kept stopping to spot beautiful old houses and lovely views.
Last week we headed to North Norfolk. I had an interview to do for work, so we decided to make a day of it, and take advantage of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme.
Late summer is definitely here, the apples are ripening at Drove Orchards, Thornham.
Salt marshes and big skies.
Fresh fish shops and a truly delicious crab salad for lunch at The Lifeboat Inn.
A visit to Houghton Hall, which is currently hosting an exhibition by Anish Kapoor. The Palladian mansion makes an amazing backdrop to contemporary art.
I really recommend the walled gardens there, too: they are incredibly inspiring and beautiful. Here’s just a snapshot of what we saw.
So many focal points ….Old terracotta rhubarb forcers…
And an explosion of erigeron – one of my favourite plants at the moment…
I think Houghton Walled Garden deserves a separate post of its own really, as there is so much to see and say, but this is just a flavour of what’s there.
And then, back home. I haven’t been walking quite as much as I was at the start of lockdown, but I’m still getting out regularly. Last weekend, I took my basket and went on a foraging expedition. This route is just ten minutes from my house, and it really has been my escape.
There are fields of barley and wheat, and some of this too…phacelia…I think it is a herbal ley, designed to improve the soil, or it may just be green manure, planted for the same reasons. The little yellow flower above is ragwort. Someone contacted me on Instagram to tell me they were very concerned that I had this in my basket because it is toxic. It is poisonous to horses, but not so dangerous for humans. Also, my basket of goodies is for painting, not eating, and I did wash my hands after handling it (just incase anyone else is concerned!).
I also found wild apples and blackberries ripening.
And so many wildflowers.
I find walks like this very inspiring, and when I got home, I made a stencil print from everything I had collected.
And a pink one, too, which I’ve had framed by our local picture gallery.
I can make these to order if anyone is interested.
Now, there are subtle signs of the season changing. I wonder what the autumn will bring, not just for me, but for all of us?
I think I prefer to take it one day at a time.