A little, winding river flows through the heart of our secret valley. As far as rivers go it isn’t still, it isn’t deep and it certainly isn’t wide – you can jump across it in places. But it is important: in its very short journey of 15 miles from start to finish it passes through several historic country estates where it has been broadened to form ornamental lakes for fishing and pleasure. The photograph on the header of this page shows the river just above our home.
You wouldn’t believe
there was our valley in this photograph. It’s just the other side of this hedge – no wonder no-one knows it’s there! It’s also time to meet She-dog, our lurcher, who insisted in being included in the photograph.
Outside our cottage
and just downstream, the river has formed ‘our’ lake (really only a little larger than a pond, but that description doesn’t seem to give it enough dignity) where, today, I watched a kingfisher perched on a low bough of a willow. A flash of iridescent blue and orange and it was gone, its shrill call giving warning to all around.
Pretty as they are, the lakes were built for a purpose
. In winters past, their frozen water would be carried to specially built ice houses: pits made from brick or stone, deep underground. When full they would be sealed making ice available throughout the summer months. Of course, this was only available for the wealthiest few and it was in the kitchens of the gentry that ice cream recipes were devised – a luxury unimagineable to the poor cottagers. They often struggled to feed themselves the most basic diet.
Many of these ice houses
still remain, usually derelict and unsafe, but sometimes restored and open to the public to view.
Your area seems so picturesque and tranquil. I love looking at your pictures and reading the bit of history you share. Nice blog!
Hello Johnson! I found your blog through Jeannie's blog (This little house of mine, thank you Jeannie!:)), she is my blogger friend. You and i we have both something in common. Also i started my blog not so long ago. I live in Belgium and i write in English (not my native language). I am also interested in gardening and all that concerns nature. I was reading this post and now I think you have changed your post a little. You were talking about the knot* willow tree and the mulberry tree. Here in Belgium i have seen a mulberry orchard and yes, those trees have such weird form of growth. In fact i find them very beautiful and so exceptional. It's a pity that the picture of that willow tree is vanished. Also we have still ice houses here in Belgium. There is still one (near the farmhouse Vondelstede ) which is well maintained, it dates from approx. 1835. The ice cellar was made in brick and it lies well hidden under a hillock. Now it is still in use as a storehouse for potatoes. There is something else that we have both in common: you have a She- D.. and I have a She- D.., but there is a difference, mine does not bark but: she quacks! So.. i am pleased to meet you and your She-dog and I thank you for your attention.PS:* I can't remember the correct English name but here in Belgium we call it: knot wilg.
Hello FranYou are right, I have changed the blog – I decided it was a bit long! The willow is about to appear as a separate blog so please look again soon.I am very impressed that you write your blog in English, which is excellent. I shall visit you soon. Johnson
Hi JeannnieThanks once again for your kind comments and I'm glad you are finding this interesting. All the best, Johnson