As the days draw longer, I enjoy my evening walk more. On Monday I strolled along the edge of Cymbeline Meadows towards the sunset, to catch sight of the moon, waxing crescent as it rose. I respect the older trees; here long before me, here long after me, their constancy reassures me.
Tuesday evening on the University of Essex campus, at Wivenhoe House, before going in for dinner.
In 1759, Thomas Reynolds was commissioned by Isaac Rebow to build this, now Grade II listed, property. Later, in 1816, Rebow’s descendant, Major-General Francis Slater Rebow commissioned John Constable to paint the house and grounds. That painting became part of the Widener Collection which was donated to the National Gallery of Art, USA, in 1942, where it can still be seen.
In 1964, Wivenhoe House and its surrounding land became the base for the University of Essex. The house itself has developed into a 4-star hotel and, most recently, in 2018, the home of the Edge Hotel School.
I have fond memories of the house and park from childhood. Today, even with the University’s rapid expansion, this tree-filled part of the campus still feels peaceful and is a relaxing place to sit and watch the sun go down – with or without sundowners. Cheers!
Yesterday was a good day. To be clear, I do see most days that way; I can usually find occasion to smile and moments of gratitude. Unusually, yesterday was aware how good it was, too, and reminded me frequently.
Now, it’s almost daylight when I leave the house in the morning, telling me Spring is on the way. As usual, I traveled in to work on the top deck, front seat of the bus, with a good friend. Once on campus, we walked down together towards the lake, surrounded by many trees and few people. Then, he turned right to his office, and I turned left for coffee in the theatre cafe.
Served while I listened to the jazz playing in the background, I took the drink to my office. Since Christmas, I’ve been the only occupant. I like it that way and long may it continue. My day went from classroom to meeting to meeting to classroom with long enough breaks to walk from one venue to the next and no more. No time to waste or get up to any mischief.
For once, I consciously savoured that time, from my morning coffee, through my happy-hungover students, to my supportive colleagues and their great cups of tea. Starting the walk home, the sun was setting and I stopped to photograph those minutes when the sky is fiery and the trees are cutwork against a layered sky. Yesterday was a good day.
‘It was one of those autumn mornings which are devoid of melancholy, when the weather seems to be cleaning its house. A broom of wind sent the clouds above flying briskly and kept the fallen leaves scudding along the pavements, the trees looked as if they were being stripped to let the rains get at them better.’
Rebecca West (1957), The Fountain Overflows
This is what I see when I step outside the cottage and, well, the title should be plural – greens – shouldn’t it? All those shades of green telling me why I love this land of England. It’s just that ‘greens’ puts me in mind of cabbage, so this title stays singular. So, it’s day two of this Cotswolds staycation and I’m liking waking to the smell of fig tree, lavender and wild garlic. However, I would like to know why, despite the treeness of this landscape, the dawn chorus is far more muted than it is at home, where the sparrows and their mates kick off around about 03:30 this time of year. Is it that urban birds are mouthier?