The truth of it, simply, is that the winter has been long, the riding has been limited (and mostly not photogenic), and I've had a lot of work on. Time has flown by. Now - as if suddenly - the clocks have changed, evenings are lighter, and I'm getting out more. Even if rain is lashing the windows as I write.
We enjoyed one nice ride a few days ago, about an hour to the south by truck and trailer. There's a quiet area tucked amongst the hills, little known despite some lovely trails for walking and riding.
I parked at the top, and rode through woodland down to the valley bottom. The mix of grassy glades and woods down there seem almost foreign, and remind me of places I knew in Middle Europe. I felt as if we were penetrating a hidden, nearly mythical place. Daydreaming, I imagined a figure springing forth to request a secret password before kindly directing us along a track that I'd not previously noticed. There are paths like that in these woods, scarcely trodden and mysterious.
The way back climbed, then dropped into a tiny narrow valley. In a sunken lane by a medieval church I climbed down and helped Brena to negotiate a fallen tree. Recent storms had left their mark. Then through an ancient hamlet and back uphill to the parking area on the edge of a prehistoric fortification.
This is an old area, cultivated and traversed by roads long before the Romans arrived. As elsewhere in southern Britain, ditches were dug in a fruitless attempt to repel Saxon invaders. A little to the north crocuses bloom, a plant brought here - so legend tells - by the Knights Templar. And now the hills are almost silent, less peopled than for many centuries, leaving a vacuum for imagination to spread upon and fill through the summer of riding that beckons.