Dorset Daze: Fields of Gold

KISSING gates stake out each field. A warm breeze swishes through ripe corn stalks, and nodding barley, and parched oil seed rape.

The River Yeo slips quietly past. Skies are vast, blue, forever. Nobody can see us, or hear us, apart from the swallows scooping down and chasing insects. And maybe hundreds and hundreds of laughing grasshoppers.

We poke our noses over people’s walls, trying to work out if those are cider apples growing on these trees, and dream of scrumping after this splendid summer has died down.

We’ve come to Thornford, a village of fairytale cottages near Sherborne. Down a country lane, across wooden walkbridges, past a medieval farm, traipsing through yet more fields, we happen upon Bradbury Abbas.

A stream train toots mournfully in the distance. Children run around, the whole summer holidays still ahead of them. A buzzard circles not far above, some small animal balled up in its claws.

A fly fisherman perches patiently on the banks of the Yeo, and not far off a couple in floppy hats laze in shade. We sit in a meadow at the back of St Mary Magdalene Church and drink in the view, straining our eyes to see where the Blackmore Vale meets the Somerset hills.

Back in the village, our friendly hosts at the Kings Arms have laid on a treasure hunt – as well as piles of cakes – so local children are trotting about in various states of excitement.

The Jubilee clock tower (built to celebrate 60 years of Queen Victoria on the throne) outside the pub chimes five: it’s time for us to go.

Dear hills do lift their heads aloft
From whence sweet springes doe flow
Whose moistvr good both firtil make
The valleis covchte belowe
Dear goodly orchards planted are
In frvite which doo abovnde
Thine ey wolde make thy hart rejoice
To see so pleasant grovnde

(Anon. 16th Century) – from Wanderings in Wessex by Edric Holmes

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