Dropping In Unexpectedly

We are sociable animals here in the secret valley and nothing pleases us more than when friends call in unexpectedly as they pass by.  It doesn't matter whether there is just one or twentyone, we can always find enough in the store cupboards to water, and feed them too if needbe.  More often than not, they are on their way somewhere so a cup of tea, or something a little stronger, is all that is required.

Not the secret valley but still in the Cotswolds.  If you click on the photo to enlarge it you can see that the river Windrush has as many twists and turns in it as our little river

Most of the time visitors arrive by car or on foot for the lane that brings you into the valley is as inviting and sinuous as the little winding river itself: it takes you across cornfields, through trees which create, at this time of year, a leafy tunnel before entering a fold in the hills lined with an avenue of cherry and lime trees.  It is here that you get your first glimpse of the river and beyond the meanders the lane turns sharply over the bridge taking you a few more yards to the door of our home.

The villages of Lower and Upper Oddington - you can clearly see the lines of the old 'ridge and furrow' field plough marks that can date back a thousand years or more

The secret valley, as I have mentioned before, is a landscape in miniature.  Everything is small - the road, the hills, the views, the river, even the stone built bridge you can pass over without noticing it.  If it all sounds very idyllic that is because it is.

A couple of weeks ago we had some very unexpected guests although we could hear them arriving for quite a while before they finally did so.  It was the unmistakeable sound of a hot air balloon losing height.  Hidden by trees we could not see who was landing but went off to investigate
and to assist if required.  The multicoloured stripes told us it belonged to Charles Teall who lives some miles away and who had once taken me for a flight, although on that occasion we had not landed on our doorstep - for details of that flight click here.

Charles' wife, Liz, incidentally, is a very talented potter and we have some very nice pieces of her work.  She, like myself, is interested in traditional folk music but, unlike me, she can sing and play the whistle and tabor; she also belonged until recently to a local Morris dancers side.  Have a look at her work by clicking here.

By the time we reached it, the balloon had already landed.  It never fails to surprise me just how large it is and just how small the basket is.

She-dog is normally fairly cautious and we thought that she would be nervous of the balloon.  As always, she proved us wrong and felt it important to inspect every part of the balloon: below, the folding meets her approval.  Talking of approval, those of you that follow She-dog's exploits may have been wondering what is the latest on puppy news: there isn't any.  On the last two occasions she has refused to co-operate.  She obviously felt that once was quite enough!

I am always surprised how neatly everything folds away and into such a small space.  There is always a mobile support team to assist where necessary so our help wasn't required.  Once packed we were able to catch up with the latest news over a drink and reminisce about our trip flying over the Cotswolds.  The aerial shots were all taken on that day.

The counties of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, which form the greater part of the region known as the Cotswolds, have some of the best surviving examples of ridge and furrow.  To find out how these were created, click here.

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  1. Quite amazing that it all folds back into the basket. Do I have that correct?

    As for shedog...well having bred cocker spaniels in the past, they usually become quite attached to their first love an won't accept another so I would like to ask the delicate question..was her admirer the same gent as before?

  2. Yes everything isfitted into the basket.

    As for She-dog, first time first husband, second time new husband. I think she's decided she prefers life as a single gal!


  3. How interesting.I enjoyed reading about the balloon. Your home certainly does sound idyllic.
    I used to drive on the A40 on my way back to Oxford past a wonderful river. You would glance down from the road to your left and there was the most perfect meandering river, with ancient trees, just like something from a story book.
    Lovely to see She-dog, more posts about her please:-D

  4. Thanks Kath. Like most things in life the idyllic secret valley does have drawbacks too - sometimes it would be nce to nip round the corner for a pint of milk or a takeaway. Or go to the cinema without having to make a 30 mile round trip!

    It would be nice to be spontaneous sometimes rather than having to plan in advance too - and the house is far too small. But I wouldn't change places with anyone just at the moment.

    She-dognow having reached the ripe old age of four has settled down into being a calm and lovely dog. However, that does mean that she no longer seems to get up to new adventures which makes it more difficult to blog about her! I think her tree climbing exploits, for example, are over .... I'll have a word with her and see what we can come up with :-)

  5. How about "a day in the life of She-dog" post?

  6. Good idea WOL and easy to do. It would go someingthing like this: wake up, go for walk, sleep, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat!

    But I will have a go at it one day :-)

  7. When we had the Winter Olympics here in Calgary in '88 part of the festivities was a hot air balloon race. Dozens, at the least, were overhead one crisp but sunny morning. The headmaster at our local elementary school herded all the children out of class and onto the playing field to enjoy the experience. They loved it, especially the balloon shaped like a dinosaur.

  8. Hi Susan. Where I used to live before I arrived at the secret valley I would sometimes see a mass of balloons flying way off in the distance. Never found out where they had come from or where they were going but it was an amazing sight.



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