I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Monday, March 28, 2016


I had spent the morning "de-winterising" a motorcycle (cleaning off the protective spray applied in November and generally tarting up prior to selling). The sun was warm on my back and the day delightfully calm and spring-like.

After a light lunch the ebike and the lanes called. The usual alcohol infused coffee flask was prepared, along with a couple of cheese scones. (The inner man needs to be refuelled at the halfway stage, even though the bike has electrical assistance).

My aim, as is often the case, was Romney Marsh, but I decided to take a different route today, following Robert Frost's musings:

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, "

I had not seen my most coveted house for a long while and wanted to check how it was getting on

Still there, it seems, still surrounded at the rear by absolutely delightful gardens, green, close-mown lawns, a stream and daffodils in abundance. I would love to see inside it as the rooms seem to be all on different levels and I can imagine the musty smell of ancient, cured oak of which it is built. I could never afford it and I guess my modern, estate house with all its mod cons is more comfortable, warm and draught free but my illusion continues, unpricked.

Then it was a descent to Romney Marsh. An artist's paradise with its vast skyscapes

When cycling through these winding, deserted lanes (even on a Bank Holiday, they are traffic free and undiscovered - long may that continue) I have the feeling of being at sea in a small sailing boat, the distant escarpment being my eventual landfall.

The coffee and scones were enjoyed on a bench in a windless little Marsh churchyard, the sun being so hot that I needed to take off my cycling jacket and the underlying sweater. A glorious afternoon, well stolen as the rest of the subsequent Easter weekend dissolved into torrential rain and gale force winds.


The Crow said...

Oh, I can see why you covet that house, Avus. The little kid in me would have great adventures in a place like that.

Come to think of it, so would the almost-69-year-old me!

Avus said...

Yes, I can just see my great granddaughters having a ball at hide and seek there, Martha

Tom said...

Such a property would be far beyond my financial dreams, but I certainly feel the attraction. And often they are expensive to maintain. So often it seems to me that the beautiful exteriors of people and their constructs often hide a host of problems, on a number of levels. Odd how houses and people resemble each other. Now the countryside, that is another matter. It is certainly beautiful around there.

Avus said...

An insightful comment. The north of England has the saying "Red hat and no drawers" - but, as usual, they tend towards the direct and pithy.

Roderick Robinson said...

Only you would describe a flywheel puller as "magnificent" (previous post) but then no doubt you were being tongue in cheek, throwing out groundbait, ecouraging the old fart in Hereford to respond and then poke fun at him for doing so. I can only take you at face value, Avus, and many of your proclamations seem to be all of a piece, once merely conservative with an lc c, now tending towards the capital letter. Would you prefer comments about the weather? Or not at all?

Of course it wouldn't be just weather would it? It would be "old" weather, surely. Edwardian summers where the sun shone way into October and the gels were so pretty. Because, naturally, the house you long for is inevitably an old house - to be appreciated mainly from the outside and to hell with beams that crack your skull, floorboards that creak at the passage of a spider, draught that inflames your joints, and a bladder-torturing trek to the loo.

I had fun at your expense (though I didn't know it at the time) in my first novel. Clare is a clever systems engineer, Oxbridge-educated and devastatingly competitive in a man's world. My kind of hero (The Guardian forbids me to use the feminine form). She lives in a house smaller than, but similar to, the one you admire (incidentally in Kent but Avus was yet to happen as I wrote) and I revelled in its disadvantages, especially since they contrasted so dismally with her line of business which was to ensure that things worked. I was of course riding a familiar hobby-house but I have to say I am self-admittedly soulless; when it comes to nostalgia vs. efficiency I love the latter for its aesthetic as well as the comfort it brings. My mind finds it difficult to factor in suffering as a price worth paying.

However I am adaptable even though you may see this as lacking principle. I have toured Romney Marshes as I have mentioned before and despite a predisposition towards contours I can appreciate its flatness. I can even appreciate its oldness (see how slippery I can become) since I do not despise history or the way time's passage is marked in such a place - I only baulk at being invited to embrace it, to pretend to admire its imaginary superiority.

And here's the reason. History is a record of suffering between the haves and have nots. I see a fancy 300-year-old house and I find it impossible to divorce it from the likelihood of wage-slaves within and peasant labourers without. But nothing's changed, you say, there are still haves and have nots. True, but we also have a welfare state and an NHS, however imperfect. Society has acknowledged suffering and has tried to do something about it. Perhaps it will do more.

I am glad you are able to use an electric bike (now there's a modernism for you) to explore England's beauties. I'm sure you've earned it. But awareness helps.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have to ask .......where is the house?
Lovely trip out Pa. Very evocative. I am craving The Marsh now!
Daughter x

Anonymous said...

Oh ps Pa,
I would like a picture of the 'magnificent flywheel puller for an Ariel Square Four'!!!!
Love Daughter x

Avus said...

Thanks for taking time over that comment. Sorry if you found my "baiting" upsetting but it was done in fun and I have formed the opinion (complimentary) that you can take it (and give it back!) and rather enjoy it.
As to conservative: a small "c" in outlook but the large "C" has been threatened, politically, by Messrs. Cameron, Osborne and Johnson (Boris - our version of Trump, it seems). Enough: gentlemen never discuss religion, politics or ladies in the mess or club! (reactionary enough for you?)

Cottage is in the lanes between Aldington and Bonnington (both village names of Anglo-Saxon (Ingastun) derivation.

The "magnificent sprocket puller"? I may show a piccie on the blog, but it is only really of interest to an ancient motorcyclist who once used to restore ancient motorcycles.

Vita said...

Hurrah for good timing and sunlit backs. HH is also polishing up a bike to sell, but it's the old Sunbeam. What a nice putt it has! I will keep an eye out for a pic of the magnificent sprocket puller. I'm glad someone is keeping up that old old old house, which I, too would like to tour, but not own. We're enjoying a morning and afternoon of sun here, but rain could start up any time.

Avus said...

Sounds like you are having fun! Which model Sunbeam is it?
Well, I went and looked for the remembered "sprocket puller" and found that it is a flywheel puller (long time since I used it). Looks like I shall have to feature it though.

Kay Cooke said...

Sounds perfect. I'm glad these unspoilt corners can still be discovered.

Avus said...

yes indeedy - Romney Marsh is an undiscovered paradise. Many prefer the scenic uplands, which I can enjoy too, but the Marsh can grow on one. I first discovered the area as a 12 year old, going to a coastal holiday camp with a children's club, but I never thought then that I would be returning frequently to it at 77!

Chloe said...

Some times I feel that we were created for to choose the other way, for experiments. Wonderful full of life photos.

Avus said...

I fear your blog link has been invaded commercially