Monday, 28 March 2011

Time to look outward.

On Thursday night I whizzed down to Oxford to stay with elder daughter and her family.  I was there for a trustees' meeting of The Blackden Trust, held in Magdalen College.  Magdalen (pronounced Maudlyn) is an impossibly beautiful place of golden stone, quiet cloisters and green quads.  Many Oxford and Cambridge colleges are similarly beautiful.  I have never forgotten my father, a working class boy from the North of England, wandering the colleges on his first visit when he was about fifty and saying, stunned and appreciative but with a touch of sadness "When I was a child, I couldn't even have imagined that places like this existed."  Until he went away on National Service he did not realise that  it was not simply a fact of life that if you touched a tree you came away with black on your hands.  He and his generation thought that the sooty smudge was nature, not pollution.  Oxford colleges dreaming in the sun were a world away from rainy Rochdale.

Bur before the meeting I spent a sunny, warm couple of hours wandering the Botanical Gardens with my daughter and her sixteen month old little boy. I took no photos.  It was too perfect a morning to do anything but be in it, feeling the sun warm on your shoulders, warm on Joseph's blonde curly hair.  The magnolia denudata was in flower, a towering cloud of white chalices on bare branches against the warm stone.  There were daffodils and some tulips already out.  A Japanese family sat by a perfect stone pool where a fountain splashed softly.  A pair of ducks waddled across, to Joseph's delight.  On the edge of another pond a tiny girl watched entranced as tens of goldfish thronged looking for food. 

After the meeting younger daughter came over with her new puppy, also impossibly beautiful.  It, she, is a Golden Labrador puppy, all brown eyes, soft gold fur, waggy tail and lollopy feet.  The puppy has only been away from her litter six days.  Daughter is sleep deprived, the puppy keen to please.  Puppy care looks both wonderful and hard work, as so many worthwhile things are.

And home to a sunny hillside where the daffodils have blossomed in a yellow and cream wave while I have been away.  There are calves and ponies over the stile in the field by the kitchen garden.


Climb the stile and their curiosity is too much for them.



In the kitchen the old incubator holds eleven Light Sussex hatching eggs.  Yesterday they began to cheep.  It is very odd to look down at eggs which look just like any eggs but which are emitting faint cheeping noises.  They should hatch over the next day or so.

Spring is springing everywhere.

20 comments:

  1. I got very excited about seeing new born lambs at the weekend - still snowy white and shining in the sun against the verdant grass.

    Light Sussex are what I had intended to get, but that's another story. I do notice red specks in some of our eggs and it makes me wonder are they fertile.

    Glad you had such a lovely time, it sounds perfect.

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  2. Eggs that cheep. I'd forgotten about that.

    You reminded me of how I made an egg incubator as a boy. My grandfather was science teacher and we were his 'project' guinea pig - he wrote a book (science modle making) of them - most of which we had tested.

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  3. I understand about not taking pictures. Sometimes the camera in an intrusion, and sometimes the picture in one's head is much clearer than any photo.

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  4. I find that I like to enjoy most things without a camera, but sometimes regret I haven't taken any pictures. I hope the memories in my mind are good enough. Sometimes they are better than the images I would have taken. It's the essence of a place that stays in your mind. It's hard to share that with anyone. Your description was very good. It made it real enough without the pictures.

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  5. Our new male Lab' pupppy is just 12 weeks old; could we organise a rendezvous in a year or so?

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  6. Beautiful post. We take so much for granted, don't we? I enjoyed reading your writing as much as I enjoyed the photos! Thank you for sharing your part of the world with this lady in Texas.

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  7. A sublime post.

    Babies and labrador puppies - what could be better company?

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  8. Light Sussex are one of my favourite breeds Elizabeth. I had one called Madeleine, but they look truly gorgeous when in a flock with a Sussex cockerel.

    Oxford is so beautiful isn't it? x

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  9. Ah - those golden stones. I know them well because I went to school in Oxford a long time ago. Indeed, so long ago that the stones weren't golden at all then, but black. Everything was, as your father described it, black and sooty. But then everyone burnt coal. Even the gas came from coal and the trains or rather the heavy locomotives consumed coal in their fiery furnaces. Stone cleaning was still a decade away.

    I remember the Botanical Gardens, in which as a child I had absolutely no interest. I had far more interest in chicks and incubators and even today I find nature's conjuring of a chick out of an egg much more impressive than producing a baby out of the fundament. Egg white, egg yolk, clear gooey fluids as plain as pikestaffs, are transformed into hard beaks and scaly feet, into non-electronic cheeping, into darting eyes and stubby wings. I still don't know how it's done; still count it a miracle, even, beyond the learning in those golden stones.

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  10. What beautiful writing, Elizabeth - you did justice to a wonderful day and an exquisite place. I got a lump in my throat reading about your father.
    'Oxford colleges dreaming in the sun...' - a gorgeous phrase.

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  11. Another beautiful post, thank you.

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  12. A lovely post, - I see it in my mind's eye, inspired by your beautiful writing. Very poignant in spots....

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  13. I love the botanical gardens - so many literary associations, Lyra's bench and Tolkien's favourite tree.

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  14. Spring is such a wonderful season, full of wonder and reminding us of the magic of nature. A grandchild, lambs and baby chicks how perfect.

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  15. Amen to all who have added...This is an uplifting and inspiring post of a lovely time of re-growing and hope....Thank you

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  16. You will enjoy the chicks so much when they hatch! What a lovely post. You described your day so beautifully.

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  17. Love the note about the cheeping eggs.

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  18. Ah yes, lovely post. I look down at old Simba who lays over my feet, snoring and smelling to high heaven and remember what a scrumptious puppy he was.

    I love this time of year.
    xx

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  19. Sometimes, I read your blog and jsut ahve to sigh in a kind of happy, appreciative, 'isn't life grand' sort of way.

    Today I think it was the combination of sun on blond baby/toddler curls and cheaping eggs.

    Gorgeous.

    X

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  20. Thank you for a day in Spring in your beautiful countryside. Sounds like a wonderful day with your family.
    A lovely blog!
    Chrisartist

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