October 31: Samhain

A misty morning greets us as we rise but soon the mist takes on a pink glow as the last day of Autumn breaks through. The day is glorious . There is no wind and the turning colour of the trees is breathtaking. Sunset is 4-30pm and is right on time so as the day recedes we head out one last time. Heading for “The Owl Bench” in the dusk we are blessed. Three Little Owls perched on three fence posts silhouetted against the fading light ! Later in the dark we hear them calling across the hidden fields. Farmer John sees us at the bench taking in the stillness.I remark how special tonight is and he agrees and optimistically reminds us that December 21 is not far away! ” It begins to draw out again lad” he grins before driving off. We are left to muse on our attempts to keep in step with the rhythm of nature and not be bound by man’s frenetic calendar. The stillness is tangible now and the atmosphere is that of the mystical “thin times”. Odd sounds in the air, a rooks call, a sheep bleats and a dog barks in the distance. Returning back in the dark the candles left in the garden guide us home .Time to light the fire in the hearth, winter is coming.




Listening George Winston “Autumn”

October 27 : murmeration

Out on the edgelands near Minninglow ,a blustery west wind whipped around us . Sunlight on the distant Eastern moors and clouds scudding over our heads. As we turned for home the skies cleared above us and the sun was actually warm. As usual solitary crows passed back and forth and we stopped to watch a large gathering of Rooks squabbling in a field .It was then about 500 starlings rose up unexpectedly before us . Against the sunlight their wings became slivers of silver shining in the air.A magical moment and our first serious murmeration of the Autumn.



Mrs H in her element…

Listening : Francois Couturier ” Nostalghia- Song for Tarkovsky”



October 25 : Van Morrison

One of Van’s great songs begins “On a Golden Autumn Day”. That was today. Still, clear and fresh . We wandered out on a back lane taking in the beauty and the colours on the trees. Only the odd leaf made the journeyto the path from above. We disturbed a couple of Chaffinches in the hedgerow and I was bemoaning the fact that there were hardly any Greenfinches around. Also that the Yellowhammer had disappeared from this lane where a few years ago there were two or three pairs. My biggest sadness is the Lapwing (Peewit or GreenPlover) .There was always a large flock in the fields around us but now just the occasional pair can be seen. Then to my delight in the distance ,as if to confound my sadness, about 20 Lapwings rose from a field about a quarter of a mile away their white markings shining in the afternoon sun. Nature!! Always there with a surprise!!



October 23 : Morning Stroll.

It’s bright with a nip in the air. We decide on a morning stroll? Choosing one of the “Rivendell Rounds” the name given to the walks we can take from the door. We can hear the sound of trees being felled and about 500 yards from home we find the local farmer has cut down 3 healthy ash trees and has started on the oaks on the opposite side of the road. Heartbroken I watch then feed branches into the shredder reducing a beautiful tree to woodchip in minutes! I feel broken inside! A feeling I just cannot put into words. I could understand if the trees were dangerous or a problem but rooks , squirrels, wood pigeons and tawny owls roost there! I’m sad and angry.


Listening : Spaceship ” fields,churches & rivers”

October 19 : lost in the woods.

Today I am out in my favourite wood a mile or so from home .l’ve packed lunch and my painting gear .The need to be away from the madness of the world is overwhelming. I sense a familiar warmth of welcome in the seemingly nondescript woodlands . The trees are whispering in the breeze and more than a few leaves have made the short descent to the ground . No noise. Not even a bird.

I am sat a the trunk of an ivy clad ash tree with small beech saplings nearby . Sunlight dapples the woodland floor! Peace. I paint and leave the small canvases to their fate.



Listening : Pefkin “liminal rites”

October 14 : edgelands again.

Out on the edgelands/border with Staffordshire with our great pals Steve and Carole. We explore the stillness of Beresford Dale and Wolfescott Dale. Climbing up the very steep Gypsy Bank we are greeted by fantastic views. Taking a little known trackway we find ourselves at the ancient barrow at Pea Low. After sandwiches and tea we head towards Narrow Dale saddened by the pile of rubbish and a half burned sheep carcass left by the land owner. The ancients left us traces of their history in the landscape to wonder about. We just leave our unwanted detritus. The old trail of Narrowdale greets us .Old Waymarker stones are now incorporated into the walls.Overhead a gang of jackdaws hassle a buzzard.Back at the car park fly fishermen are packing up their tackle. A great day.




Listening : Mark Isham “Tibet”