Sunday, 9 March 2014

Walking in Laurie Lee's Footsteps

If ever I saw 
blessings in the air 
I see it now in this 
still early day
Where lemon green
the vaporous 
morning drips
wet sunlight on the 
powder of my eye
 Laurie Lee
Early spring sunlight filtered gently through the windows promising a perfect day to walk in the valley immortalised by Laurie Lee. This, his centenary year, has been marked with the purchase of woodland in the Slad Valley, thus forever safeguarding the landscape that he loved and which inspired his classic Cider with Rosie.
1959 - First edition of Cider with Rosie via
We came across a field where over 60 fence posts had been painted with badgers carrying out human functions. A witty protest in opposition to the badger cull being experimentally carried out in our area. 
The church where Laurie now lies is diagonally across the road from The Woolpack public house. The pub itself played a starring role in his work as the young Lee would gaze in through its steamed up windows, and it is where he remained a regular until his death.
Climbing up higher we came to an old Drovers' road. Before refrigeration there was only one way to get fresh meat to market and that was alive. The Drovers were trusted with valuable herds of cattle, sheep, and geese, and had to keep them healthy and under their firm control to get them to market safely. 
A Drover on horseback with a Dog Driving Two Cows and a Calf by Charles Towne - 1810 - National Museums Liverpool 
Across the valley sitting high on the hillside in an enviable position, H suddenly spotted the classic 1960s home of a friend, who has now sadly died. She was an artist, and the split level interior houses a wonderful light contemporary space. The huge windows command stunning views through gaps in the hills to the mighty River Severn.
Finally we found Laurie's wood, but will return again when the leaves have opened, and the bluebells are in flower.
No need to retrace our steps a different pathway strewn with newly emerging wild garlic led us back down in to the valley. 
I remember, too, 
the light on the slopes
long shadows in tufts
and hollows
with cattle
Laurie Lee
The central post states "STOP THE BADGER CULL"

75 comments:

  1. A lovely post you have written Rosemary, about Laurie Lee.
    I do not know of his works, or his life.
    Reading this post , I feel i must find out more about him, and his writings.
    The scenery photos are stunning.
    I think the 60's house of your friend, would have looked better if it was just left simple concrete , it would have blended in more,and more trees around it.
    The Badger art is amazing. I cannot understand, why people want to kill badgers!

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    1. We are making the most of the glorious weather we are enjoying at the moment - even hotter today, so are having another picnic lunch somewhere else today.
      You cannot normally see the 1960s house and that is why we were surprised to make it out on the hillside. It is surrounded by lots of woodland and when the leaves are out it vanishes completely.

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  2. I only know a little about this writter. Once I was watching in TV the Vaughan English programme, they try to teach Spaniards. It has a cultural part where they talk about painters, writters and that day they talked about Laurie lee. It's nice find him here with you again

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    1. Once we have been made aware of a person or a place it is interesting how often further references occur which helps to reinforce our knowledge. I am pleased that you were happy to find Laurie Lee here again today.

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  3. I am not familiar with Laurie Lee - thanks for the introduction, Rosemary! Now I shall look forward to enjoying his works. I hope you will return to photograph the bluebells!! And I hope the good weather continues because we'll be there soon :)

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    1. Hello Loi - the weather is even warmer today (18 - 19℃) so we are just heading out again to make the most of it. The weather forecast is expected to be good for the next 2 weeks at the moment.

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  4. Hello Rosemary:

    What a simply lovely post. We have so enjoyed this walk through the English countryside which is, of course, especially wonderful at this time of the year. How splendid that the centenary of the birth of Laurie Lee should be marked with the purchase of woodland - a most fitting memorial, we think.

    Next week we are in Brighton [and without internet] for a few days. Friends have promised us a day out in the Sussex countryside to which we much look forward.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - delighted that you enjoyed the views of the countryside which hopefully anticipate your own experience next week. The weather is supposed to be set fair for two weeks - fingers crossed for you. I am also heading off next week too.

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  5. Really lovely scenery Rosemary. Some of the names are known here.
    The painted posts, well they certainly are different :)
    The Drover, interesting. A tale from me: A few years back my husband and I in our travels in Australia saw a drover sitting underneath a large tree with his 'dry as a bone' coat on, the cattle near by and with him holding the reins of his horse - using a mobile phone - that is the modern drover.

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    1. That really is an amusing image that you have brought to my mind about the Drover and his mobile phone - thank you. We no longer have drovers here anymore - everything is all done by cattle truck and refrigerated vans now.
      Glad you enjoyed the early March scenery.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,

    I do not know of Laurie Lee, so will have to do a little research today. I think those badger posts have a lot of charm; I like the badger playing Scrabble especially.

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    1. I photographed all of the badgers which were all engaged in different activities - ballet dancing, policeman, a nurse etc. I decided it would give everyone overload if I used to many of them, but as you mention they were charming.

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  7. Hello Rosemary, This post was really a treat for the eyes. I remember when there was some sort of revival of Cider with Rosie, and one saw copies everywhere, but I have never read it; looking it up just now, I am not sure that it is my type of book. (Whenever I see the name Laurie Lee, the old Stephen Foster song Laura Lee immediately springs to mind.)

    Why are they culling badgers? Do they think they are destructive, or are there simply too many recently, as with deer or skunks in certain parts of America?
    --Jim

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    1. I am sure that most of the general public love our badgers, we have them in our garden most evenings pottering around looking for insects and grubs. They are lovely animals, we love having them visit us. The farmers are convinced that they are giving their cattle TB, but there is no conclusive proof of this. They are doing a trial run in our area to see if the TB in cattle decreases but against much opposition.

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  8. Always a treat to visit here. I must also confess I am not familiar with Laurie Lee...But I will now investigate.
    Oh to be strolling through the English countryside.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind comment. I must say that this weekend it has been a joy to be strolling in the countryside - glorious weather at long last.

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  9. Dear Rosemary,
    thank you for reminding me to read Lauree Lee again! The pictures of the painted badgers are funny - I was astonished when I was in London last year to learn (through protesters) about the badgers which people thought of as a plague. For me - but I have never seen one in freedom - Badger is the honorable wise animal from the Wild Wood in 'The Wind in the Willows'.

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    1. Dear Britta - the general public love our badgers, and as I mentioned in a comment above we have them visit our garden most evenings. The farmers are convinced that they are giving their cattle TB but it is not 100% proven. Against much opposition they are doing a trial in our area to see if the TB in cattle does go down significantly or not.

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    2. Is there no vaccination for cattles against TB? Or is it a question of expenses? And another question: do the English badgers have natural ennemies? Then the problem should solve itself; if not: it is a problem.

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    3. The following is a quote from the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

      Cattle vaccination
      Currently there is no licensed cattle vaccine available. Defra is funding the development and licensing of a vaccine for use in cattle, but we cannot say with any certainty if and when it might be available for use in the field. Vaccination of cattle against bovine TB, used in conjunction with existing TB control measures, could have benefits in reducing the prevalence, incidence and spread of TB in the cattle population and could also reduce the severity of a herd breakdown regardless of whether infection is introduced by wildlife or cattle.

      Badger vaccination
      An injectable badger vaccine is available but there are practical difficulties with this, which means that it is not a realistic option for dealing with the problem in the short term. Defra is continuing to invest in the development of an oral badger vaccine, which may be a more practical and cheaper option, but we cannot say with any certainty if and when it might be available for use in the field. Badger vaccination could help reduce the prevalence and severity of bovine TB in a badger population and thereby reduce the rate of transmission to cattle.
      The badgers have no natural enemies - only man.

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  10. Love the Laurie Lee poetry and some beautiful images to go with it. How lovely to have the woodland preserved, and it will be a real treat to visit again in full bloom.
    I think the badger posts are brilliant, a silent and fitting protest to one of our native animals and the terrible decision to cull them.

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    1. Dear Suzie - thank you for visiting. We shall look foward to returning to Laurie's wood at bluebell time for we are given to believe that it is a good place to see them there.

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  11. The badgers are fantastic... I feel I would have been tempted to photograph all 60. I can also understand why you will want to go back in a few weeks...those bluebells will be beautiful Jx

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    1. Well Janice, if the truth be known I did photograph them all - ballet dancers, policemen, hikers, nurses, snake charmers, etc but I did not want to give everyone in the blogosphere badger overload.

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  12. What a top notch post Rosemary, thank you very much.
    Jean x

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    1. That is very kind of you to say Jean - you have just made my evening. Delighted that you enjoyed seeing it.

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  13. What a fascinating and interesting post Rosemary, thank you for sharing all of this and your beautiful photos too! I haven't read Cider with Rosie for years, but I remember most a bit about one of the grannies in the other part of the house making wine and floating triangles of toast on the top - for what reason I am not sure!! - so thank you for bringing back those memories for me!! xx

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    1. Dear Amy - it is interesting the bits we remember from books read years ago. I am sure that you must have pictured the image of the granny in your mind with the triangles floating on top of her wine and that is why it has stayed with you - when you think about it, a most unusual thing to do.

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  14. Beautiful landscape, glad you are out enjoying the weather. 2 weeks of it! I shall make some real progress in the garden.
    I would like to think we have seen an end to badger culls, given they have been deemed ineffective. Somehow I doubt it though.

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    1. Do hope that you are right about the two weeks of wonderful weather Jessica as I am heading down in your direction very soon.

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  15. Yesterday, I was thinking that I may never return to the U.K. - I have never liked flying. On reading your post and looking at the wonderful photos you make me "homesick" again and I think I will have to return to see wonderful woodland and houses like that.

    Now I must look up Laurie Lee in our library - I had not heard of him.

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    1. I do sympathise with you Susan it is such a long plane ride. If you are going to do it then you must make up your mind and do it now as it will get harder as time passes.

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    2. With my husband in the rest home it is not so easy right now so I keep putting it off,.

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    3. I understand that is very difficult♡

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  16. This is such a beautiful place and I'm glad the woodland has been purchased, although I must admit I've never got around to reading Cider with Rosie. I would be fascinated by the old Drover's road, as I love old paths with a history to them.
    The badger art is marvellous. I would hope the terrible cull is over now, and no more protests like this have to be made.

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    1. We must try and wander along the Drover's road and see where it takes us. The trouble is that it is quite a big climb to get up there first of all especially when the limbs are rusty following the winter. There were some very talented badger paintings, and we were surprised when we came across them.

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  17. A terrific post - I loved it. The photographs are so evocative, the badgers are witty and delightful. Laurie Lee is full of delight. I visited the area just before he died and was told he would be in the pub later that day. I should have waited and tried to meet him and I am always sorry that I didn't. I do like your blog. It always has such interesting things in it.

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    1. He would love to have met you - he always had an eye for the ladies.
      Thank you very much for your very kind comment - if you find the blog interesting that is wonderful for me to learn as I tend to think that perhaps I am a bit too serious.

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  18. A nice stroll through the English countryside. I am not familiar with Laurie Lee but always enjoy learning about writers and books I don't know. Oh I do wish you would have shown us photos of your picnic! Love food pictures!

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    1. Sorry about that Sanda - I did show the view where we had our picnic, the one with the catkins on it. Our food was not worthy of a photo - H made us some wholemeal rolls with tuna and cucumber, and we had a tomato in hand, followed by a yogurt with fruit and that was it.

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  19. Oh Rosemary, I can't tell you what pleasure this gave me this morning! I finished 'Cider with Rosie' just last night - for the first time ever and can't understand why I always felt a resistance to it before. Perhaps so I could enjoy it so much now that I live in Spain...?
    I have read some of his other works and love his writing - his style differs but his words always hit the mark perfectly. I could hardly believe it when I saw these photographs - just as I'd imagined it - and I still feel a little as though I were there with him. A most fitting tribute.
    Thank you for this.
    Axxx

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    1. I am really delighted that this post should have come just as you finished reading Cider with Rosie - what a coincidence. It was all down to the weather suddenly turning warm and sunny otherwise we would not have been out walking.
      I love the fact that you are now able to picture the setting and that it is just as you imagined.
      I am presuming that you have read 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' about Laurie leaving the Slad Valley aged 19 years, walking to London and then on to Spain during the Civil War.

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  20. What a lovely place - it seems so familiar to me through the description in his book. Cider with Rosie is one of my favourites that I have re-read many times - so beautifully written - I am sure Laurie would have loved this post.

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    1. You sent a shiver down my back when you said - "I am sure Laurie would have loved this post" - thank you for such a very kind comment.

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  21. This blogpost is just great. England is the best place for countrywalks. I think I have to read something of Laurie Lee. The badger posts ar so funny. I never saw a living badger in England, but many killed by cars.

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    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed seeing the countryside - it is lovely to feel that the winter is now on the wane. Sadly you often see badgers lying along the roadside, they are quite slow animals and become dazzled by the headlights at night. We have plenty of badgers that visit our garden most evenings.

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  22. Hello hello rosemary!
    Thank you for this early spring walk through Laurie Lee's wood... It gives me hope that the snow might leave us soon-- what a horrible winter it's been! I'm not familiar with his writing, but am now inspired to go and look him up at the library... Thank you!
    Warm regards,
    Erika

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    1. Dear Erika - for some reason we have avoided any snow at all this year, but I know that it has been very bad in the States. It does seem to be hanging around a long time. You just need a few days of warm weather and it will all melt away.

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  23. Wonderful shots of the english countryside that I just love ! I checked Laurie Lee on the web, and he seemed to be quite a complex person. Wish you a nice week.

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    1. You are right his personal life was rather complex, but his writing is enjoyed by many. He had the ability to create word pictures in your head when you read his books.

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  24. The countryside is so beautiful Rosemary. What I don't understand is why animals living in the wild always are a victim of things we are doing wrong. It's time the bio-industrie is stoped. I have no idea what is going on. One day I came home from work my neighbourgh did cut my crabappletree because he did not want the blackbirds to wake him up with theire songs. Neighbourgs at the back of my garden destroyed a nest of the magpie because they were to noisy, people can't sleep because of the noise the frogs in the pont are bringing. Our country always had a tradition of smoked eel, nowerdays they are not from the lake but are living in tanks. I am so sorry for this story, but when a cattle get's TB it's not the fauld of the batches I think.
    Have a wonderful evening.

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    1. There is a lot of anger surrounding the badgers - most people love them, but the farmers are convinced that they give their cattle TB. I really do not understand why the cattle cannot be protected against TB without having to kill the beautiful badgers. You would think in this day and age that the problem could be solve easily.
      You sound as if you have problems in your neighbourhood too. I do not think that you are entitled to cut a tree belonging to someone else - people appear to be much less tolerant than they used to.

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    2. Yes Rosemary another comment. I hope you will except my apology for writing in full in my emotion.
      I should not. But it is o so true, people are less tolerant.
      Have a great evening Rosemary. And I still think you are living in a beautiful country.

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    3. There is no need to apologise dear Marijke - our emotions do run high from time to time, and sometimes it helps to get them off our chest - that is what all the badger paintings were about too - peoples emotions and their helplessness at not being able to help the badgers.

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  25. Rosemary, how I enjoyed this post. I loved the walk through the woods and your photos are stunning. I must get my Cider with Rosie off the bookshelf for another read. Thank you for this.
    Patricia x

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    1. Thank you Patricia - I must get mine off the shelves too along with 'As I walked out one Midsummers Morning'.

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  26. Hello, Rosemary! I don’t know why but the scenery of English countryside sometimes looks interestingly familiar to me despite the different architectures. These nature photos of yours softly speak to the soul. This is the place we can unwind and relax ourselves.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - welcome back, it is lovely to hear from you.
      Your words eloquently reflect my feelings too when I am out enjoying the surrounding countryside.

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  27. How lovely to walk those pathways with you and to read those lovely words which your beautiful photos compliment so well.
    I will have to read Cider with Rosie.

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    1. Thank you Betty for your kind comment - this centenary year is a good moment to read Cider with Rosie.

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  28. The badger posts are so original, amusing, fun and carried a vital message. I hope the message gets through to those people who are hell-bent on destruction and annihilation.

    I love your very 3D images with such amazing depth of field. The framing by the arching, bare tree branches and foreground interest of stones, wooden gates and weeds adds much interest.

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    1. Thank you - it is kind of you to say that you enjoyed the photos - the spring day was perfect and it is such a lovely valley making it easier to get some good shots.

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  29. Hello Rosemary. Thank you so much for your lovely visit. I have neglected my blogging duties of late but I think I have my mojo back now and am enjoying visiting old friends to see what I have missed of late. I have not read Cider with Rosie but with your recommendation it shall be promptly added to my kindle list. Happy Spring!
    Paul

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    1. Dear Paul - lovely to hear from you again and to know what larks you have been up to.
      I am sure that after such a heavy Christmas period you must need time to unwind which it appears you have been doing.

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  30. Beautiful photo's of the Slad Valley Rosemary! The landscape looks beautiful in the spring light. What a delight in must have been to put on your walking shoes and explore.

    I never read anything by Laurie Lee. His little poems sound promising!

    Madelief x

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    1. With the delightful weather at the weekend it was the perfect opportunity to exercise our rusty limbs in such a lovely valley.

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  31. I studied "Cider with Rosie" for my GCSE and by the time I took my exam I was fed up with it! A number of years ago I reread the book and could instantly remember his wonderful descriptions and stories of this life in this wonderful valley. With the years gone by I really appreciated and loved his writing. It was therefore so lovely to see your photos. Sarah x

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    1. I suspect that we approach a book rather differently when reading for pleasure as opposed to compulsory.
      I have decided to read the book again, followed by As I walked out one midsummers morning, especially in this, his centenary year.

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  32. Thank you for the photographic tour of Laurie Lee land! I feel I must go back to re-read Cider with Rosie as when I first read the novel I'd not visited the area and my mind visualised it in H.E. Bates land!

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    1. Well Nilly - I suppose the stone architecture is similar but minus the valleys.

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  33. You live in a very beautiful area and you render it magnificently through your photos. Plus I confess in great shame that I haven't never read Laurie Lee and I hereby solemnly promise that I am going to buy "Cider with Rosie" and read it !

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the photos of Laurie Lee's valley. You might enjoy the follow-up book - As I walked out one midsummers days - about the time he left the valley as a youth, walked to London and eventually ended up in Spain during the Civil War.

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  34. Oh thank you for taking me to breath taking views in your beautiful country...I really like this post!
    Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog!
    Best wishes for a lovely week, take care....
    Love,
    Titti

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    1. Dear Titti - Thank you for your very kind comment and visit. I am delighted that you enjoyed seeing the views in our local valley. Hope all goes well for you and that your basement is soon dried out again.

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  35. Hello Rosemary - this was particularly atmospheric for me - I lived in the Slad Valley with my first husband back in the 1970s. It is a beautiful area, but bleak in the winter!

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