When I show you photographs of the countryside where I live it is usually on walks around the village, the fields behind my home and the soft undulating hills. But if you go deeper inland you will find something much more primeval. Places where glaciers gouged out the landscape many millions of years ago.
There are thickets of trees, ancient hedgerows, streams and ponds – places to explore with no sign of human habitation. Mostly it is grazing land around us but down in the hollows only mares tails grow, the land is soggy and the streams run swiftly. Trees fall down and no one hears them as they creak and crash to the ground.
Foxes hunt down their prey with no interference and rooks and crows gather in the treetops kaaking and cawing in conversation. If you look closely you will see the burrows of rabbits dug between the roots of trees, and badgers holts in the side of soft-earthed banks, evidence of their occupation from the soil that has been removed and deposited outside. If you look up you will see buzzards circling and soaring, mewling to one another as they keep an eye on the ground below, ready to swoop on an unsuspecting mouse or shrew.
In autumn wild field mushrooms grow at your feet and the hedgerows are full of berries, because no one ventures down here to pick them, and the only people to pass through are the odd pack of walkers following the public footpaths across the fields, a relic of the days when it was the shortest way between villages.
It is a secret place - I always feel as though I am stepping through history when I am down here, there is a medieval fish pond and a small pumping station that was used when the water supply to the village was short. (At the side of our house we have an old well, the water from which was used to wash clothes, we still have the hand pump that was removed when the well was filled in).
The field directly behind our house is called Brabazon Field named after Sir William Brabazon who owned the land many centuries ago – and if you look carefully on a dry day in summer you can see the grass is paler in colour where it has grown over the foundations of his Manor House. The area is steeped in history and the oldest house in the village that is still standing was of cruck construction and built in the 1600’s.
When I was a child I loved to go exploring; a free range girl who made up stories and told little white lies. As an adult, I know my younger self would have loved to make a den down here in the hollows, where she could retreat into a world of her own; a world of make believe that I have never quite grown out of.