A weekend away in the medieval cottage of Tanners Hatch brought company, conversation, food, drink and music. Lots of music. Late nights were the order - 2.30am on Saturday and 4.40am on Sunday. But there would be time to sleep later. Why sleep when one can talk and sing with friends?
Back amidst my beloved hills I absorbed more of their mystery. Their curves and dips, tree-capped slopes and scrubland fascinate and thrill me.
At Childrey Warren an arm of the uplands sweeps around a secluded valley, sheltering silent slopes where sheep graze the coarse chalkland grass.
From the ridge Brena and I vanished into a mass of ancient trails far from the modern world with its towns and motor roads. I love to do this, shedding the urban skin that employment forces upon me. Out here I can dream, liberating imagination upon the grassy slopes. Once great swathes of the world were like this, and I wish that they had not been lost to what some call progress.
This felt like my final ride of summer. Autumn is creeping upon us. Trees are beginning to change colour, perhaps a little later than usual. Soon oak, beech and sycamore will brighten the hills and valleys.
Down by Eastbury Grange magnificent trees form a tunnel around a section of trail. Brena and I paused awhile in the afternoon sun, quite alone. The day had matured into a lovely warmth, and there was no reason to push on. Not quite yet.
Like an elven wood, these hills may allow one to leave unharmed, but no-one sensitive will leave unchanged. If I dismounted and let Brena graze, lay in the long grass and dozed, when and where would I awaken? For those old souls gifted with the ability to perceive it, there is an air of enchantment in these hollows.