Green Acres is the place to be.
Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.
–theme song to Green Acres
During the two weeks I’ve been here in the UK, I seem to be moving in a specific direction, a logical progression from big city, to small city, to countryside. Quieter and quieter. Calmer and calmer. Ever more peaceful.
London offered frenetic dodging in and out and around crowds, while Cardiff Bay allowed me a little less jostling.
Here in the Wye Valley, however, between Hay-on-Wye and Hereford, in view of the Wye Valley Walk, at the Dairy House Farm B&B, I can walk for miles and see no one but one couple and their two dogs walking the trail in the opposite direction.
I can walk four miles alone with my walking buddy Kanga, and Kanga doesn’t expect me to chat…actually, Kanga is fifteen, so it is entirely possible she couldn’t hear me if I did speak to her. She’s a fine companion, she is, that Kanga.
This morning, with cup of coffee in hand, I donned my sneakers and headed out to see the horses. Kanga, however, had a different idea of what we should do. She led me away from the barn, away from the house, up the wheat field, and down part of the Wye Valley Walk toward Monnington House. I wasn’t expecting to walk over a mile before breakfast.
After breakfast, as it was Sunday, I figured I would go to church. There is a church and graveyard on the Wye Valley Walk. “Church,” I mused, “seems unnecessary when nature is everywhere, heaven on earth,” but everyone I have encountered has said I should take a walk to see the church, so hidey ho, it’s off to church I go.
Kanga and I retraced our steps from the morning, up the road,
through the wheat field,
left onto the long, wide path, alongside the orchards, up to Monnington Court.
Signs warn against cars, but welcome walkers on the footpath and bridlepath. Kanga couldn’t read, so she just kept on walking, her designated human in tow,
turning left not as the sign instructed but by some canine sense of direction,
through a tight walkway
and into the church graveyard.
I sat in the grass, looking around at the grave markers, unable to read the inscriptions due to years of wear.
I sat among the dead, thinking deep thoughts, and wondering about life and the meaning of things. Eh, who am I kidding? I was wondering, “what the hell is that circle of statues on the other side of the fence about?”
My imagination took off as I wondered, “ooh, maybe this is a place where some secret order meets and holds sacrifices to the gods within the circle of statues…”
The wonderful thing about writing after the fact, I can open my browser and see what I can find about these statues. Turns out Monnington Court is the home of sculptor Angela Conner. The statue on the left above is Conner’s statue of English playwright, actor, and composer Sir Noel Coward. But why is he sitting outside the circle, and who are these others? Could still be a secret order under Sir Noel Coward’s direction…
Sometimes mysteries are more fun, so with my mind occupied with bridlepaths and secret statues, I headed back to the Dairy House Farm, sometimes Kanga falling behind me,
other times leading the way.
Passed the hay fields, forests, and apple orchards, mountains beyond and clouds above, “Land spreadin’ out so far and wide…”
Keep London, “just give me that countryside.”
But do mind the mountains below—mountains of horse poop, that is.