Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday 8 March

As the kids have got older, our annual holidays in Lyme Regis have changed too. From going to the zoo and spending hours on the beach, digging, running into the water and trying to avoid the waves, we tried doing a few short walks a few years ago. This year the holiday turned into a proper walking holiday.

 I'm not sure how the kids feel about it - we get lots of groans, 'how long is this walk?' and 'are we nearly there yet?' but both of them seem to enjoy taking photos along the way and sometimes even admit to enjoying themselves. As long as you choose a walk with plenty to see along the way, they seem alright. O and the bribe of a cream tea or ice cream usually goes down well too.

Having done 40 miles on foot that week I got a real taste for walking which I wanted to keep up. And as B. left for a skiing trip as soon as we got back from Lyme Regis (we saw each other for 5 hours before he had to set out for the airport!), I had plenty of time to give parttime dog a decent workout that weekend. Poor dog, normally he's at the door when I come to fetch him, but after doing 5 miles on Saturday, he wasn't at the door on Sunday morning. When I asked his owner where he was, she gestured for me to come in. He was in his basket and lifted up his head in a rather resigned way: another walk...?

These photos are from two walks which were largely the same apart from me trying to find another footpath and exploring a bit further afield on the second walk. 

Our walk started at the top of Nowton Park. You make your way to the visitor center, then leave by the main entrance and take a very small countrylane up towards Hardwick Heath, another old park in Bury St. Edmunds. We're very lucky in having lots of open, green spaces, and at Hardwick Heath dogs are even allowed off the lead. 
This house is on that little country lane, it's a small flint cottage that is so typical for around here. The house is from the same era as my own cottage, and I think the initials over the door are the same as my cottage too.

The first sign of blossom - Spring really is on its way (uhm, we have snow predicted for this weekend!)

What I like so much about these walks is that you're walking in open countryside, but it's really right on your doorstep. Here we've just left behind a small modern estate. Parttime dog managed to sneak into the photo.

I spotted these cottages on our second walk when I'd gotten a bit lost. (I'm forever getting lost on bike rides and walks. Not properly lost, I'm always vaguely aware of where I am, but sometimes I'm not sure exactly how I'll get back to where I want to be. And then suddenly there will be a road or landmark I recognise and I'll go 'oh so that's where I am'. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle suddenly falling into place. It's actually quite good fun.)
I had no idea what they were at first. There is a Latin inscription above the central door which I couldn't make out, but then B., who thought they were farmers' cottages but rather grande, saw on the photo that above the bench there is an inscription in English. They are almshouses which were built by the Oakes family, who lived in Nowton in the 19th century and I think owned the house in Nowton Park.
They are not the only spectacular almshouses around here - there are some lovely ones in Hawstead too. I have just bought an Ordnance Survey map of this area on eBay (yes, I have lived in Bury St. Edmunds for almost 18 years and don't own an OS map from around here!) and plan to find a walk around there sometime too.

This is looking back on the road I've just come from. Lovely, quiet and rural, and yet you're only a mile or so from the hustle and bustle of the town center.

This is a little crossroads in Nowton, the house actually stands in, or rather on the edge of, Nowton Park where the walk ended. The sign post has a large oak tree in remembrance of the Oakes family. 

I have known Nowton Park for a long time as it is right next to the school where J. used to teach. They have an amazing avenue with millions of daffodils in the Spring which I think I may have posted a photo of on this blog in the past. (They're just about to flower again.) I'm really enjoying finding out about the history of this area that I know so well. With the days getting longer and not long now till the clocks go back, I think that OS map is going to get a lot of use (and parttime dog a lot of exercise).
This weekend I'm back to my bike ride - I haven't been on the bike for I think 5 weeks and I've missed it. Annoyingly, we've had some lovely weather here in the last few weeks, even a proper Spring day earlier this week, but now it's gone colder again and they're predicting snow and yet again, cold easterly winds - just in time for Sunday's bike ride.... now where's my hat?