Years ago, when I lived in the mountains, winter lingered long. There would come a day when I needed to travel down to the city in the lowlands. We'd drive out of the cold, shadowy valley, slipping from the grip of snowy slopes. Suddenly, it seemed, we'd emerged into a warm, bright spring. Men and horses would be ploughing, trees would bear blossom. All morning I'd be deliriously happy to have escaped winter, though by evening we'd be back in our draughty house below the frozen forest. I miss that day, now that I live in a more temperate, lower lying land. But, still, today reminded me of that erstwhile annual foray into a rejuvenated spring land. I felt warm in the sun, and the bright day, just a little softened by a faint mist, was lovely.
S came out with us, riding her hunter. He's a fast, keen horse so we made a good pace along the trails. It's nice to make a trip out with a bold, confident rider. If there was a nice bit of going then we'd set off, not worrying that the other might baulk at the hint of a rut or puddle. Brena has a tremendous acceleration but hasn't the stamina to go fast for very far. S's horse is more of a distance type so Brena had to work hard at times to keep up, particularly trotting or cantering up long rising slopes. Nevertheless the two horses created a positive energy between them so all concerned had an enjoyable time. A nice forward-going ride on sensible horses is such a pleasure.
You can appreciate something of the character of the chalk hills in the photo below, with their mixture of crop, occasional trees and scrub. The default foliage is rough grass with thorn bushes, and a few tracts of this ancient landscape remain. In the low afternoon light, shadows spread across smooth slopes. If we were travellers, we'd have been searching for shelter. Once this was a drove road, until perhaps a century ago, and there would have been barns and bothies. The name Coldharbour is scattered across the map, denoting a shelter where the traveller would need to make his or her own fire. That would make for a bleak night as the temperature plummeted through sundown. In my mind I can imagine the crackling of thorn twigs as keen flames dance.