Country notes

The early sun below the hill was turning the dawn clouds orange as I ran down the hill this morning. The electric fence has been moved and the cows, Belted Galloways, now graze the eastern side of the common, whereas before they roamed more widely. I have to avoid cows pats and there are big dents in the hoof-trodden earth.

Back Saturday from three days in the Welsh borders, near Oswestry. Oswald’s tree: named for the defeated king and saint from whose dismembered body a bird picked an arm and where it dropped it a tree grew. I’m sure they have dismembered bodies in Game of Thrones, but do trees grow from arms? (Please advise.) We’re back in 642AD, so all things were possible then.

There used in the first half of the 19th century to be a racecourse on Offa’s Dyke above Oswestry, and the stone foundations of the grandstand still sit there, on the edge of the woods, a local equivalent of a Mayan ruin on the edge of the jungle…

Adjacent to the grandstand a common stretches east along the hill, and scattered across it last Friday were the remnants of a multitude, a small army, of snowmen which the locals must have had great fun building a day or two earlier. Now the snow has gone, but the snowmen remain…

I mentioned Game of Thrones. Also on TV, BBC TV, another army will be gathering, the Russian army, to face Napoleon, as the battle of Borodino looms. We’re back in 1812, and it’s War and Peace.

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