Wednesday, 6 January 2010

An Errand in Winter

So long, Adieu,
Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye
for another year.

The festive Season has been a very long one this year,
but, finally, it's over.

Father Christmas
is going back into the shed.

Yes, there are three of them,
no, you are not seeing triple,
even if you have had a very generous drinks allowance.

Standing under the plum tree
I look over towards the Church and the hills beyond,
nothing moves, neither man nor beast.

Clunton and Clunbury,
Clungunford and Clun,
Are the quietest places under the sun.

Dare I risk going for a walk?
I have an errand at the Surgery,
a prescription needs to be filled.

I'll cross the river by the little footbridge
over the Clun.
It should be passable.

In valleys of springs and rivers,
By Ony and Teme and Clun,
The country for easy livers,
The quietest under the sun.

Better be careful here,
Where there was water there is now ice;
The river meadow is treacherous underfoot.

Into my heart an air that kills
from yon far country blows;
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

There is a lot more snow in those purple clouds,
perhaps I had better stop dawdling and taking pictures;
the Surgery is not far now.

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

The Surgery !

Will they really make me wait outside?
Perhaps they are trying to discourage patients coming in on a day like today.

poems A.E. Housman - A Shropshire Lad


  1. Just when you think your surroundings couldn't be more beautiful, along comes the snow and voila!

    I really enjoyed the virtual walk. We're sitting it out today, with mugs of coffee and the odd choc left over from Christmas.

  2. wow friko - the most beautiful photographs - especially across the fields - they make my heart ache!! what a gorgeous walk - lucky lucky you! steven

  3. Really fab photos Friko. Thanks for sharing them. I'm more than happy to look at it all from the warm side of the glass.
    A x

  4. Friko: What an enchanting post! I adore the 6th photograph, however they all were lovely.
    Your prose merges so silkenly with the poem that I thought Housmans's words were yours for a moment. We all seem to hold memories of 'the land of lost content', don't we. And your pictures of barren, lonely fields makes me shiver in the contemplation.

    Now, if I could just figure out who would put out a chair in the middle of a road (parking lot) and for what reason. You leave me with many things to ponder!!

    Hope you are well and made your trek without any ignominious sprawls on the ice.

  5. Gut, dass Du es doch noch erklärt hast, sonst hätte ich wirklich zum Augenarzt gemusst, aber so sind es ja wirklich Santa's Drillinge ... byebye .. Ich bin heute auch gerade dabei, das Haus zu entweihnachten... ein bisschen traurig bin ich dann ja immer.

    Toll, dass Du uns mitgenommen hast auf diesen wunderbaren Winterspaziergang, was für eine Traumgegend, wirklich zauberhaft. Das Winterweiß ist ein derartig begabter Landschaftsmaler... Bild 3 ist ja schon der Hit, Bild 4 erinnert an Monets Garten (obwohl ich da noch nie war ... aber Frau hat halt Fantasie und Bücher ..hihi) .. aber Bild 6 - also das ist absolut umwerfend. Ich werde versuchen es zu malen, es ist sehr, sehr inspirativ ..

    Die Ärzte sind sehr rücksichtsvoll in England, bevor man zusammenbricht, darf man schon vor der Tür auf einen Stuhl sinken. Das nenne ich wirklich Service.

    Ganz liebe Grüße und ich hoffe, Du bist wohlauf!


  6. Friko, I love winter scenes, and especially on the tidy, orderly landscapes of England and Europe. So different from the wild backdrop of the Rockies that I grew up with. We were in Belgium last weekend and it looked a lot like your photos - really lovely. The Santas are wonderful! Did you make them?

    I sent Maggie the link to your last post - we'll see if it sparks her into writing more. I hope so. And I always read all your comments elsewhere too :)

  7. No doubt but that you live far from the madding crowd. Beautiful countryside though - if you have all your winter woolies on to keep you warm enough to stand and look at it. Hope the chair wasn't there because you needed it after trekking to the surgery!

  8. Some of those photos show a countryside that could illustrate a story from centuries ago.
    I'm glad you made your trip there (and back) without incident. Cabin fever is no fun, but I hope you can nestle in for a day or two longer, until the worst of the winter weather is over.

  9. My country side would be more intriguing with just a cover of clean, white snow. For some reason the presence of snow gives a warm,even though it is cold, look as if covered til the spring. Without the snow we see the cruel touches of death, the twisted broken limbs waiting to give it up. We have snow forecast for 3 or 4 a.m. on Thursday morning. It has skirted by us and tempted us for 2 weeks. HH and I have sure had time to reminisce about the year our 6 th. child was born, with her birthday coming up and snow about 1 foot deep. the story I will finish on Friday the 8th. I as always, enjoyed this post muchly.(my word)

  10. Martin H - I wish it were just the odd choc left here, there's quite a lot of it and I feel obliged to eat it before it goes off. And the snow is going to last for quite a while yet.

    steven - thank you, I am sorry it makes your heart ache; come back for a look to the old homestead. We are having quite a horrendous winter and, I am sure you remember, we are not very good at coping with it.

    Veredit - Ein lustiger Kommentar, du has alles genau getroffen, Drillings-Weihnachtsmaenner und der freundlich zurechtgestellte Stuhl, der den Eingang zum Carpark verstellt, damit keiner drauf ausrutscht. Hier werden weder die Fusswege, noch die Buergersteige noch die Parkplaetze vom Schnee befreit. Auch Nebenstrassen, Gassen und unsere schmalen Landstrassen bleiben so, wie der Himmel sie ausstattet, liegen. Und es schneit und schneit.

    Wipso - I'd be too, but what about the dogs? And the milk and bread?

    Bonnie - that chair is to stop people driving or walking into the Med. Centre's car park, that's how well prepared we are here! Beautiful it all is, but, as usual, we are making a great virtue out of muddling through. Very hard to do for an efficient German (without loud and derisory comments) but all I allow myself is the odd sigh and raised eyebrow.

    Deborah - Were you in the Ardennes? They are indeed similar to our South Shropshire Hills; Belgium (which I know reasonably well) is otherwise fairly flat,
    Yes, we did make the Santas out of three thinnish, longish logs, with a diagonal cut at one end which then gets painted. They are even better if you find larger, squatter, logs.

    Jinksy - I even have - and wear - a fur coat for such weather, left to me by Aunt Josefine. (Now there would be a provocative blog article) Surely you know what the chair is for? NHS Waiting Lists!

    Pondside - A day or two longer? The snow hysteria in the media is getting beyond a joke; you'd think winter has come as a huge surprise once again. Winter tyres? Salt and grit? Even snow chains? Excuse me, what are they?

    Queenmothermamaw - thanks for your comment QMM; hope you get the snow if you really want it. If it stays pure and white that's fine but it turns to slush so often. We are having a wonderful, thick blanket of it at the moment and there's more to come.
    I shall come over and read your birthday post.

  11. I love stories in pictures. And the chair outside the surgery made me laugh! 'Do sit here, Madam. We have a new treatment for you, guaranteed to bring down your blood pressure and slow your heart rate.'

  12. You live in such a beautiful area! Thank you for taking us along on your very cold walk. :) Stay warm!

  13. Just realised I have never seen Clun in the winter.....

  14. Beautiful photographs - really capture the bleak beauty of our landscape.

  15. Surely not the land of lost content? Who could not be contented in such a tranquil setting?

  16. I feel soothed by your landscapes. I have much the same kind of view, but it is so cold out (and dark by the time I get home from work) that I don't spend much time these days taking photos of the views.

  17. What wonderful photos. The snow blanket softens the landscape, revealing the contours formed centuries ago. Housman's poetry melds beautifully with the scenery and your own words. A lovely photo essay.

  18. Dear Friko,
    allow me to thank you as well for this walk through your neck of the woods, where one can even see that the world is round.
    Loved, loved you meadow photography ! And all of a sudden time stood still. Please have a wonderful Thursday.

  19. I'm winded by this lovely walk!

    Aloha, Friend

    Comfort Spiral

  20. Friko, We were just outside Brussels in Lasne. Quite flat indeed but still with some very gentle undulations - not to be called hills. It is the size and tidiness of those, and your, fields that I love. They are on such a human scale compared to the vast plains that I grew up with. And we don't have nice little hedgerows in western Canada, either!

  21. I could sit under that plum tree all day long admiring Nature's tatting ability. Enjoyed the long walk and the crisp air--much like it is here.

  22. Snow makes everything look fresh and new and covers the imperfections so well. Your photos are just super.

    I love looking at snow pictures and remember what it was like to have a cold snowy winter. And then I am grateful that I don't have to do that anymore. I only want to see snow in photographs.

  23. Fran Hill - and kill you with hypothermia into the bargain.

    Twiglet - thanks, what's it like where you are?

    Shattered - it certainly is beautiful.

    SBS - abut time you did then, if you can get here.

    Lorrie - thank you Lorrie, Housman is the Shropshire poet and he mentions this particular area a lot, although he's never lived here.

    robert - thank you; Schnee habt ihr wohl nicht in Griechenand?

    mountainear - thanks you, I can't stop snapping.

    her at home - it can be awfully quiet, too quiet.

    June - that's sad. Luckily (or maybe not) I no longer work.

    Cloudia - sit on the chair for a moment.

    Deborah - alot of the hedgerows have been grubbed up, unfortunately, but it's eing stopped from on high now.

    Lord Wellbourne - thanks for coming over, do come back again.

    Darlene - Sometimes I think so too, but then I just have to go out and look; mind you, I never stay out very long!

  24. Your pictures take my breath away. Lovely blog. I love the picture of the chair outside the surgery - now that's what I call thoughtful :>)

  25. We had a little bit of snow last night, so we went out all excited. I took some pictures for, maybe, a future post, but compared to so many pretty snow pictures I have seen on blogs, mine are pitiful. Yours are lovely and I would really enjoy walking through your countryside, then drink a nice cup of tea.

  26. mollygolver - isn't it, I didn't waiting lists were as long as that?

    Vagabonde - Well, what's stopping you? You'll have to come soon though, it might not be as pretty next year.


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