I remember when I was at school we were required to read Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native. The beginning seems quite tedious at first. There is little characterisation and we don’t get to know Diggory Venn, the reddleman, until quite a way into the book. But Charlie Callander, our year twelve English master, insisted we read the first chapter well, because, as he said, the landscape is actually one of the characters and you need to understand the setting as much as the people.
So the heath, the wide, cold landscape has been imprinted in my tiny pink mind for the last sixty years.
And now I have seen it.
Derrick showed it to me. He didn’t plan to, but as we drove through the New Forest I suddenly saw it just as Thomas Hardy had seen it all those years ago.
“This reminds me of Hardy’s Return of the Native,” I said.
“Yes” said Derrick. “He lived just a bit around the corner and over the hill.”
It was flat and featureless and I was so struck by it that I didn’t ask Jackie to stop so that I could take a decent photograph. I have therefore blatantly borrowed a from Derrick’s photographs.
But Thomas Hardy aside I would like to tell you a little about Jackie’s garden. When Derrick posts something he seems – I may be wrong – to concentrate on some particular flower or some small part of the garden. It is only when you stand at the window of the bedroom they so kindly lent me that you realise that theirs is a huge garden as house gardens go.
So I had to go for a walk. This was a garden with just so many different rooms.
The gum tree – a little bit of Australia in Hardy Heaven.
And there is the red shed that featured last year some time. I had hoped that no one would sand and clean and remove the red paint. And they hadn’t. It was there in all its glory.
The red shed!
And a spot to sit.
Snowdrops. We don’t have them like this at home.
And as A.A.Milne said, “Living under the name of WOL”.
Finally, and possibly the highlight.
But No! How could I forget?
Capitalised and centralised.
I would like to apologise for my rather scattered approach to posts of late. I didnt realise I would be so tired. This post has taken almost two days to get to hitting the ‘publish’ button.