2017 Day Seventy Three

The bird of prey is back this morning with his plaintive cry.  Chris found out that it’s a Red Kite, a bird that’s fought its way back from extinction 30 years ago, to be thriving today.  Luckily, he settles atop a tree right beside us, affording an opportunity to play with a new toy: a long range smartphone lens.  With the lens and the zoom feature on my phone, I can get in close, but the shake is fierce and probably as a result, the image isn’t as sharp as I’d like like it to be.

A tripod might correct these issues, but wildlife is rarely that cooperative, bolting off long before set up, and it’s really the only thing I’m likely to want to photograph long-distance. The Red Kite is pretty fabulous, undertaking his morning clean, but he’d still better lay off my bunnies.

Photographic explorations over, we set out for Greys Court, another National Trust property nearby.

Greys Court is a 16th century mansion set in delightful gardens and was until recently the private residence of the Brunner family.

Surrounded by the Chilterns, it’s a beautifully tranquil setting.  It also features a Great Tower from the 14th century

and a rare Donkey Wheel that was in use up until the 20th century. A poor little donkey would be led into the wheel, where his walking would drive it to bring water up from the well below.  I hope he wasn’t in there all day.

The gardens are truly beautiful, thoughtfully divided into small intimate areas by clever use of arches and hedging.

 There’s an excellent kitchen garden bursting with a late summer harvest.  If I ever get my hands on a country property, a kitchen garden is the first thing I’m putting in.

It’s not until we take the woodland walk that things go pear shaped.  Usually the National Trust property walks are exceedingly straight forward, even when they veer into the wilderness.  But on this one, we (very loose use of plural there, given that I was not navigating…) uncharacteristicly get lost.  At some point, we cross from the Greys Court path to the Chilterns Hills path, some 80 km of walking tracks.

Now usually, I love a good hike, particularly one surrounded by woodlands and potentially wildlife.  But today I’ve come dressed for a day walking through a manor home and garden and have stupidly worn ballet flats, possibly the worst flat footwear choice for distance walking.  My failure to anticipate delivers a nasty surprise: well into “lost in the woods” I feel a calf muscle tear, leaving me hobbling.  Oh joy.

We come across a few others, similarly lost and confused.  It takes a while for the navigator to admit he’s lost, or even on the wrong track, by which time I’m in a good deal of pain and would cheerfully whack him with a stick if I could catch him.  It takes quite a few miles and crossing several fields before we find ourselves back in the carpark of Greys Court.  We pass another couple emerging from the woods in an entirely different direction having a fabulously good screaming match about how lost he got them.  Good times.

All thoughts of house tour passed, all I’m capable of is applying the RICE method and a good dose of anti-inflammatories to see if I can’t settle my calf.

The only upside of getting lost is that I got to pat these curious cows.  They rather liked it, I think.