I had planned to write a bookish sort of blogpost but I was sidetracked after spending the day singing at nearby Coombe Farm: 100 acres of steep-sided, wooded and semi-wild Devon. A rather joyful way to spend a Sunday.
In the morning, we sang in a circle inside an African tent, while taking occasional glances outside at the intermittent sun, rain, cloud and grey skies. The weather gods were kind to us and the sun came out for our al fresco vegetarian lunch, three delicious courses, all prepared the night before by our choir leader, Claire Anstee. (So talented!)
And the sun stayed out all afternoon, as we walked round the farm
stopping under various ancient trees to sing, taking in views across the Exe Valley en route
and thinking about all the wild creatures who share this land and live here in complete safety: badgers, foxes, Exmoor's red deer and, with a nod in the direction of Edward Thomas, all the birds of Devonshire.
Most visitors and holidaymakers head for Devon's south or north coast but the county's heartland has a quiet, timeless quality, which is perfect for people who want to withdraw from the world, even if only for a short while. For those of us who live here, today was a reminder of what drew us to this place and how fortunate we are to wake up to this landscape each morning.
The highlight of our walk - apart from the singing and the food and the views - was this old beech avenue. Trees planted long before any of us walked the earth and that will outlive us all. Who planted this avenue, we wondered, and why . . . ?
We did our best to tread lightly on the ground . . .
and I began to think how satisfying it would be to run a 'writing in landscape' day in this special place. Maybe, just maybe, next summer?