Commando rang me yesterday evening at about quarter to ten to tell me there was going to be a space station flying over in about half an hour. It would be flying from West to East and easily visible to the naked eye. It sounded interesting and I said I’d go out and have a look. At twenty past ten he called again, “did you see it?” I had to admit I hadn’t. In the half hour between him ringing to tell me about it and it actually flying over I’d got engrossed in something and lost track of the time. Grrr.
Still, as there was to be no stupidly early start this morning, no three hour journey to the Frozen North, there was time to take a second bite at the Perseid Meteor Shower. This time I had company, Mini Commando was unaccountably at home. First we got prepared, Mini Commando made coffee, essential work, while I got the sun loungers into position facing North Eastish. With both of us there at least there was no danger of falling asleep on the loungers this time so we could watch in comfort.
The show wasn’t quite as good last night, I guess we caught the tail end of the meteor shower, but still we saw a couple, along with a few planes flying over. Fluffy the cat almost gave Mini Commando heart failure when she sneaked up on him. I laughed so much I almost fell off my lounger. It was nice, the two of us sitting together in the dark garden staring at the sky, sipping our coffee and chatting. Quality mother and son time. We stayed out for about half an hour until it got too cold, autumn is drawing near.
Another day with Arabella in the office meant a busy one but at least today it was fairly productive and the long, long list is now a little shorter. Several of the items ticked off were ones that had cobwebs on them they’d been on there so long. It’s always good to get longstanding issues resolved. As Arabella left early I even managed to get out of the office in good time for once. Seeing as I’d hardly stopped since I walked in the door first thing I think leaving five minutes before I was supposed to is excusable.
Anyhow, back to Sunday, this is the last part of the story I promise. Somehow I’d managed to end up at the campsite despite my efforts to avoid it and the heat and mugginess had me a bit concerned about Commando on his fifteen mile run. It was a relief when I got to the other side of the campsite, even more so to see the dark clouds that had gathered again and feel a few spots of rain. I wondered if it was raining on Commando too? I hoped so, he’d be glad of it if it was, I could only imagine what it would be like for him running in heavy, humid air. For myself I hoped the rain came to nothing, with maybe just a little dark weeping cloud over Commando’s head as he ran.
There are always ponies around the campsite. Perhaps they hang around on the off chance someone will feed them, even though feeding the ponies is strictly prohibited. Then again, maybe they like listening to the radio. One white pony in particular, sheltering under a tree from the few spots of falling rain, seemed very interested in me as I passed by. She stood watching me quite closely. Thankfully she stayed where she was though and didn’t approach me, I’m actually quite scared of the ponies.
Because of my accidental circuit of the campsite I ended up approaching Lyndhurst again rather sooner than planned. The rain had come to nothing in the end and the sun was back out. Here it was safe to leave the path so I walked across the grass towards the back side of the big dune that overlooks the village cricket green. The heathland I’d been walking on stretching from the green to Matley Wood is mainly sand covered with heather and gorse, the locals call it White Moor.
Skidding and sliding down the dune I came upon some ponies grazing on the gorse. I steered well clear of them. There were people about here, walking dogs, sitting around having picnics and generally enjoying a summer Sunday. As I approached the thatch covered cricket pavilion on the other side of the dune I saw donkeys sheltering under the trees. They ignored me as I passed by.
Further on there were more ponies grazing on the short grass. I guess no one has to mow anything with so many ponies around, although I notice the cricket green is fenced off. The ponies would probably churn it up with their hooves if they got onto it and I should think a cricket green needs to be fairly smooth and well kept.
To kill some time I climbed up Bolton’s Bench. If nothing else it was a good calorie burn because it’s quite steep, apparently children come from far and wide to toboggan down it in winter. As I said before it is actually a hill, not a bench, and it commemorates Lord Basing who, as Lord Warden of the New Forest, was appointed Lord Bolton in 1688. At the top of the hill there is a huge stand of yew trees surrounded by a circle of actual benches. The benches are relatively new and I wonder if they are a kind of joke, playing on the ancient name.
For a few minutes I sat, looking down over the village of Lyndhurst, partly, I admit, to catch my breath after the climb. Thinking of the time I had to spare I considered walking down to explore St. Michael’s and All Angels church, whose spire I could see peeking through the trees. Alice Lydell, the inspiration for my favourite children’s book, Alice in Wonderland, is buried there. Remembering the last time I’d walked through the village on a Sunday afternoon and how crowded it was, I decided against it.
After a few minutes rest I walked back down the hill and made instead for the little chapel on the edge of the Heath. This is Cemetery Chapel, a pretty little stone building surrounded by a peaceful graveyard nestling amongst the trees. It was opened in the 1880′s when the graveyard of St Michael’s and All Angels became too full. Quietly I approached the lych gate and found a small gate to the side to enter the cemetery.
The chapel was locked but I spent a while wandering among the graves. This may seem like a morbid thing to do but I find the peace of these places very calming and it’s interesting to read the inscriptions on the graves. One grave, a flat marble slab was particularly interesting, remembering John R Wise, author of The New Forest. I’m sure I read that when I was a girl.
When I’d walked all around the chapel it was still way too soon to expect Commando back so I took the grassy path that runs behind the walls of the graveyard. Here it was mostly brambles and ferns but I did stumble across a butterfly sunning itself on a fern. For once it didn’t fly away as soon as I had my phone out, just sat their patiently and let me take photos. I’m pretty sure it was a Gatekeeper otherwise known as a Hedge Brown and it had a damaged wing poor thing.
By now time was getting on so I decided to climb Bolton’s Bench again to get a good view of the road in the hope of seeing Commando coming. While my eyes were scanning for him I saw some cyclists rounding the corner, a group of horses having a horsey conference and cows laying on the grass beside the road. Then my phone rang. It was Commando to say he’d passed the fifteen mile mark and was about three quarters of a mile from the car park on his way back.
Dashing down the hill I walked to meet him. This meant walking rather closer to the cows beside the road than I’d have liked. They are surprisingly big close up. They were too busy snoozing and licking themselves to pay me much attention though and before long I saw Commando running towards me.
I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of him for running such a distance. Even walking fifteen miles is at the top end of what I’d call a reasonable walk, after fifteen things start to get tough. Running that distance is more than I can even imagine, mind you, running one mile is more than I can even imagine. Despite the humidity he looked quite comfortable and, apart from some kind of gypsy pony and trap event blocking the road, the evil guard geese near Beaulieu Road who have attacked his feet as he runs in the past and a head wind for the last few miles, he didn’t have too much trouble. Next weekend it will be eighteen miles, now that really is tough!