Here is the path through Thorncombe Woods, bejewelled with bluebells, which leads you to Thomas Hardy's cottage.
You could FLOAT on that perfume . . .
First glimpse of the cottage - which I have walked past many a time, but never been inside before.
Self-explanatory . . .
His birthplace and family home. He was born here in 1840 and initially set aside as dead, but then it was noticed that there were signs of life and he was fed instead of buried! He had another narrow squeak when he was found in his crib with a large adder curled up on his chest . . .
The furniture has been added in recent years and is of the period, but sadly nothing of the Hardy family's actual furniture remained.
Here is the ancient floor
Footworn and hollowed and thin,
Here was the former door
Where the dead feet walked in.
She sat here in her chair,
Smiling into the fire,
He who played stood there,
Bowing it higher and higher.
Childlike, I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day;
Everything glowed with a gleam;
Yet we were looking away!
Thomas Hardy: The Self-Unseeing.
My husband would have loved these chairs.
I loved this bedroom. Imagine waking up here . . . I felt I could have moved straight in - no need for modern paraphanalia - and just go back in time.
I loved the detail in this old (Victorian?) appliqued quilt.
It faces west, and round the back and sides
High Beeches, bending, hang a veil of boughs,
And sweep against the roof. Wild honeysucks
Climb on the walls, and seem to sprout a wish
(If we may fancy wish oftrees and plants)
To overtop the apple-trees hard by.
Red roses, lilacs, variegated box
Are there in plenty, and such hardy flowers
As flourish best untrained. Adjoining these
Are herbs and esculents; and farther still
A field; then cottages with trees, and last
The distant hills and sky.
Behind, the scene is wilder. Heath and furze
Are everything that seems to grow and thrive
Upon the uneven ground. A stunted thorn
Stands here and there, indeed; and from a pit
An oak uprises, springing from a seed
Dropped by some bird a hundred years ago.
In days bygone -
Long gone - my father's mother, who is now
Blest with the blest, would take me out to walk.
At such a time I once inquired of her
How looked the spot when first she settled here.
The answer I remember. "Fifty years
Have passed since then, my child, and change has marked
The face of all things. Yonder garden-plots
And orchards were uncultivated slopes
O'ergrown with bramble bushes, furze and thorn;
That road a narrow path shut in by ferns,
Which, almost trees, obscured the passer-by.
Our house stood quite alone, and those tall firs
And beeches were not planted. Snakes and efts
Swarmed in the summer days, and nightly bats
Would fly about our bedrooms. Heathcroppers
Lived on the hills, and were our only friends;
So wild it was when first we settled here.
Looking out into the garden, and below; the kitchen with a rather useful modern woodburner!
I spent some time in the beautiful misty blue of the orchard. There was a beehive at one side - can you imagine how WONDERFUL Bluebell Honey would taste?
Tomorrow, Stinsford church.