I've been out walking a lot. Walking is a meditation, a soul soothing, a chance to put thoughts in order, or a chance to put them aside.
For me, the walking, the intimate knowing of the land, and just as importantly, the naming of the land, the poetry of place that enables you to lay a map out in your head, is something I've been obsessed with since childhood.
When I was 10 or 11, and first allowed to ride out on a borrowed pony alone, I spent hours carefully copying out sections of the Ordnance survey map, marking bridlepaths and greenways, learning the names of the crossroads and the tracks, keeping these tiny maps first in the inner pocket of my tatty old jacket, and then, when they disintegrated from use, I kept them in my head.
This fascination with names and mapping continued on - always reading stories about historical routes around our land. A book called 'The Driftway' by Penelope Lively captured my imagination when I was about 10, and by the time I was 14, I had found myself a copy of 'The Old Straight Track' by Alfred Watkins. I studied local maps, learned place names, walked and rode old drovers paths, step after step after step, each footfall taking me deeper backwards into the past as I imagined all the feet that had trod that path before me.
This last couple of weeks I've been wandering over Bonehill Rocks, where I met a pair of Ravens, and on over Chinkwell Tor and Honeybags. Each hill has it's own character, it's own spirit of place. Though perhaps here, at Bonehill, there are many. Everywhere you turn, there are faces in the rocks.
I was tempted to paint them, to draw the characters out of the rocks
but Brian Froud does it so much better than me:
Instead, I played around a little with some rock studies,
trying to capture the cold wintery light.