(We have a giveaway winner to announce, at the end of this post.)
This post is mostly an excuse to show you lots of outdoorsy pretties, whilst we sit and knit/hook/spin a’while.
T’was a mild autumnal morning several weeks ago, and I was on a super-secret mission to photograph Oxfordshire landscapes. There is a yarn-related reason for this, and you will get to see it soon, and I’m so happy about the whole thing that I’ve taken to SQUEAKING excitedly. But it has to stay secret for now… so secret that I can’t even tell you, for a little while longer. But you’ll be the first to know… or possibly the second, right after the neighbours come over with Pest Control to investigate the squeaking noise.
Anyway, I pottered cheerfully around the Oxfordshire countryside, snapping photographs as I went…
…and enjoying the occasional hedgerow snack because I’d forgotten to have breakfast…
I was looking for the right kind of landscape, and it was proving tricky to find but hey, there are worse ways to spend a morning.
I needed hills, the bigger, the better. We’re frustratingly lacking in mountains around here, something that I’ve complained to the county council about repeatedly. But we do at least have hills…
…And an abundance of evidence of the folk who lived and massacred each other here thousands of years ago.
Nice spot for repelling the invading hordes, don’t you think? :-
But I still couldn’t find quite the right landscape for this secret yarny plan.
My final attempt began beside a winding road. I hadn’t planned to stop there, but it looked promisingly wild and hilly, so I set off up a steep track. It was one of those sneaky hills that repeatedly lets you think you’re about to crest the summit and achieve the Best View Ever, only to reveal yet more hill, and yet more empty promises. (Bitter? Moi? Yes.)
And now I stopped to think about it, it was eerily quiet, with not a hint of human activity in sight, other than what looked oddly like large human footprints in the mud.
On, and on, with a fair few challenges along the way.
It seemed ridiculous to turn back now when I must be so close to… something, despite the fact that I’d spent the whole of the past half hour believing the same thing. Stupidly, I’d left my map in the car. I hadn’t even brought knitting: that’s how brief I thought this walk would be. The silence was becoming eerie, and I say that as someone who loves to hang out up barren mountains. Even the barefoot foot-printer seemed to have given up by this point. Can’t say I blamed him. There was no longer any sound of birdsong.
And then… a door, apparently into the undergrowth beside me. I kid you not. Have you ever seen a door looking quite so out of place?
I’ve read enough fiction to know that this is the sort of thing that leads to alternate universes and all kinds of dodgy shenanigans. It was very tempting to open the door.
But nobody knew where I was, and more importantly, what if there really was an alternate universe behind there and it didn’t have any yarn and I couldn’t get back?! A lass doesn’t want to have to live with that kind of regret.
So I carried on. And on. Losing faith that this hill would in fact ever end. Slightly perturbed that you can walk this far in Oxfordshire without seeing any sign of human activity. I mean, this is south east England, not Siberia. It had definitely become one of those times when stubbornness shows up and locks common sense in the broom cupboard. I was trying to work out where I was. It was hard to tell, with dense hedgerows on both sides of the path:-
At long last, I reached the top of the hill… where there was good news and bad news. The good news was a charming view over rolling hills. Just what I was looking for. The bad news was that I finally worked out where I was. I was in Berkshire. At some point, roughly half a mile back, I’d crossed the county boundary, and this was not Oxfordshire. So I couldn’t use it for super-secret-squirrel yarn-related mission.
It was very pretty, though. Look! And once I did get the chance to look at a map, I realized that I was in Unhill Bottom.
Anyway, on a more positive and successful note, let’s have a winner for the Clara Parkes giveaway. (Please note: we’re not actually giving away Clara Parkes herself, just her brand new book. I don’t want any disappointed folk turning up here to sue me.) Thank you to the 208 of you who entered, here and on the blog’s Facebook page. Congratulations, BECKY CORNES! You should have received an email, asking for your address so that the publisher can send out your prize. You’re going to LOVE this book. Enjoy!
Thank you to Abrams Press for the review copy and for offering the prize for this giveaway.