Caroline Shipsey

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Exmoor in Springtime

This is where I feel really at home, my heart and soul belong here.  Even though I'm just spending a couple of days here I don't feel like a visitor.

A perfect day or two - the perfect time of spring, leaves on the beech trees and hedges still pale and delicate, fluttering in a light wind. The oaks still not in leaf, their tops that distinctive yellowy colour.

Place names bring back so many memories - Tippacott, Shilstone, Halslake, Brendon Barton, Robber's Bridge  - every road sign and footpath finger post has a name on it with an image or emotions attached. The years spent in this area were absolutely the best of my life and coming back revives all those good feelings.  I love being familiar with places.  Seeing orchids growing in the roadside banks of the A39 between Minehead and Porlock just as they were the first time I came here in spring, it's comforting.   Hard to believe it's 20 years since Images of Exmoor was published - we packed so much into our time down here, getting the pics for the books and building a life, making friends, having fun, playing music, Tim singing, walking, lambing.

Went to camping  field at Leeford, much changed, a proper track, fencing and toilets.  Stayed there a while enjoying the peace and warm sun, sound of river etc.  There are still primroses in the banks, bluebells under the trees in the woods, even here beside the river.

I can hear people talking on a footpath across the river, a pheasant, sheep and lambs.  This is heaven for me, seeing sheep grazing in a field with buttercups, their lambs basking in the warm sunshine.  Narrow lanes with high banks full of wild flowers as the road winds between Oare and Robber's Bridge, bluebells, campion, stitchwort, buttercups.  

Not intentional but found myself places Bessie  and I had gone together after Fly died, made me sad, she was such a brilliant companion. 

Watched the dawn break and sun rise this morning but it was disappointing as thick cloud, misty stuff prevented it from lighting up the view.  Decided to move on across the moor and see if things improved.  Lots of deer on moorland approaching Chetsford, then at Hillhead Cross highland cattle and Exmoor ponies.

Stopped in the gravel lay by near Chetsford reservoir and walked down to the water, again revisiting places, this time Annie and Minor's pool where I put their ashes - lovely thoughts and memories of happy days.  Annie had her last walk down here.   Not intentional but found myself places Bessie  and I had gone together too after Fly died, made me sad, she was such a brilliant companion, they both were.

Back to A39 via West Luccombe to photograph the orchids in the roadside banks.  It's still quite grey and murky so no good for taking landscapes which is a shame,  too much haze, heading for home

I don't need to live here, although that would be ideal, I'm lucky to have the van and it's close enough to come every week just like we used to, if I want. Don't be sad,  I still have friends here.