I’m not sure how other people first start their blogs, but I think it’s important that I spend some time setting the scene. With that in mind, I’m using my first few posts to introduce all the different elements that make up my life – my home, my family, my garden, my animals.
This post is about my view. This is the view from my bedroom window. From my bed, to be more precise. It’s what I wake up to every day and what I see, often by moon- or starlight, just before I go to sleep at night (I always look – except in the winter when I’ve closed the shutters at 5 pm because of the cold!). You might recognise it from my Instagram feed. I’ve spent the last five years recording it. Not every single day, but almost.
It’s a stop-you-in-your-tracks view. The proof: when I first saw it, I didn’t even notice that the room was painted a rather horrid shade of salmon! I just stared and stared. Out past the garden and the slightly wonky rail and post fence; out past the neighbour’s land and the lone Lime tree; out to the fields and farms and hedgerows and the hills rising beyond them in the distance.
I couldn’t work out why it was so extraordinary, at first. Like the backdrop in a film, or, on a good day, a Gainsborough painting. I didn’t realise that the house sits on a 100 metre high Green Sand ridge, so, when you look south, you see for almost ten miles across the edge of the Vale of Pewsey to the start of ancient Salisbury Plain.
I like to think that what I’m looking at hasn’t changed for centuries. That someone in 1710, when this part of the house was built, would have looked down on exactly the same patchwork of fields and trees that I see. But, at the same time, this view is always changing: changing skies, weather, light as the hours and the seasons pass. Every time I look, it’s different. Scroll down and you’ll see what I mean…..
The cats enjoy the view almost as much as I do. When I’m photographing it, they often jump up and become part of it. Convenient, because it makes a better picture. Poff is the main Cat in the Window. Nim sometimes gets a look in; and Mousling, cleverly has her own view, from the back of a chair out of the other bedroom window.
I love the point in March, when after waking up in darkness for months, I’m woken by light through the shutters. And then, when I open them, the view is hazy and pastel like some soft-focus photograph.
When the cows appear at the edge of the field in late April, I know that summer is almost here. They like to follow the sun, so they are there in the morning and when the last rays are hitting the top of the hill in the evening. I enjoy watching them moving slowly through the frame and then disappearing as the sun sets.
We get mist in the valley some summer mornings and most autumn mornings. When it sits in the valley like this, it looks so watery that it turns the view into a beautiful sea-scape.
The other thing I watch is the Horse Chestnut tree that is always in the right hand side of the frame. Watching how that tree changes as the seasons progress is how I map time. Winter with it fat sticky buds; Spring with its silky leaves so much earlier than all the other trees; high summer with its billowing greens; then autumn with the copper leaves and conkers.
In high summer, Poff and I like to do a bit of cloud watching. At least, I watch the clouds and he watches the birds. It’s extraordinary how the clouds change depending on what month it is. In July, it’s all about big, puffy Cumulus Nimbus.
The window that frames the view is in the Georgian part of the house which was added, in around 1710, to the main house. I have a thing about Georgian houses (don’t we all?)! Particularly the windows which are so large and perfectly proportioned…..
….And the beautiful shutters, which we discovered nailed in when we first moved here. The room side of them was painted black. True, I swear! Perhaps an 18th Century version of black-out blinds?
The light is always extraordinary. My theory is that it’s to do with being on top of a hill, so, when the sun rises and sets, the light is always angled upwards bathing the garden and the landscape in a golden glow.
The window faces south, south-east, so I have a ring-side view of the sunrises most days. Look at this one! (Note how Poff is doing his best Scarlett O’Hara…). I don’t think I ever saw the sun rise in London.
In the winter, the sunrises are riveting pink things over a landscape turned Eau de Nil by the frost.
Fog! I always get excited when this happens, even though it means that there is literally no view. But gradually, the valley begins to appear – one tree at a time. It’s fascinating to watch.
I’ve waited seven years to get a picture of the view with snow. It completed the series for me.