We had logs delivered in the morning. Three quarters of a lorryload, tipped as far as possible into the garage. They’ll be stashed in there until there’s a better day to move them by wheelbarrow, one load after another, to the woodshed round the other side of the house. Down the lane and up the bank and through two gates and up the slope and round the bend and over a step. It’s quite a mission, so it can wait until it’s not raining.
Feeling frowsty after lunch, we went for a walk on Ash Common. The day I first saw Spring Cottage, I looked at another cottage in Ash Priors, the village nearby. Thatched, Grade II listed and right by a little stream traversed by the front path, it was a bit overlooked by some newer houses, so it wasn’t for me. It’s nice to go back and see whether I still feel that way from time to time. And I do.
Right by – YOU ARE HERE – a map of the common, someone had dumped the body of a black and white cat in a torn bin liner. Poor, damp, muddied thing. We couldn’t think of the scenario that would lead someone to do such a thing with an adult cat. The Girl wanted to give it a proper burial. Feeling rather bleak after that discovery, we splashed down flooded paths, past newly coppiced oaks and hazel trees. Logs seemed to be the theme for the day.
Ash Common feels quite like the great London commons, with a road dissecting it and large open spaces edged by deciduous woodland. It seems an unusual space in this part of the country though, as it’s surrounded by other open countryside. It made me realise how little actual common land there sometimes is in rural areas, although there’s plenty of uphill and coastal space that’s open to all via the National Trust and local authorities, and lots of footpaths through farmland. Paradoxically, Ash Common, like most, turns out not to be common land at all, but privately owned.
With birdsong above us and admiring bright lichens, we found a shelter that someone had made out of branches. More than just children, we wondered? It seemed quite well constructed and must have taken some time to put together. Then, closer to the middle of the common, we came across some tethered horses grazing and a caravan – a proper caravan with a couple and two dogs obviously living in it. A bloke with dreads came out and stared back at me. I wonder what their story is.