Status-Q, in its current form, is 22 years old today. I haven’t posted for a week or so because I’ve been terribly energetic on some Swiss ski slopes.
We’ve just been re-watching Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it was just as splendid as ever.
It reminded me of my second visit to New Zealand, in 2007, and the day I spent walking the Tongariro Crossing; a dramatic volcanic landscape where many of the scenes in The Return of the King were filmed.
It’s fun showing it in gritty monochrome, but in fact some of its drama comes from the occasional bright colours amidst a landscape of Martian barreness.
There are vast structures through which you can imagine rivers of heat must have poured.
And some of the rocks look almost like man-made art installations.
This other-worldly landscape emerges from placid surrounding plains, so you can look out and see what life is like back on Earth.
It’s a fascinating place, and makes for a most unusual one-day hike. Recommended, if you get the chance to visit.
On our mantlepiece, we have a small golf-ball-sized piece of volcanic lava that I brought home to Rose after my trip. “Here you are, darling; I’ve brought you a bit of Mount Doom!”
I always had a talent for romantic gestures.
We’re just back from a few splendid days staying in a cottage on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales, followed by a weekend of sailing on the River Crouch in East Anglia, with stops in the Wye Valley and the Cotswolds in between. Fitting these into the same week-and-a-half involves rather large changes in longitude combined with almost zero change in latitude!
Wales is a country whose great beauty is occasionally visible through the downpours. I always love visiting, but when it rains, it really rains… and this is from someone whose childhood holidays were often spent in the Lake District: somewhere that is seldom described as arid! But we alternated the suncream and the umbrellas, and only occasionally got drenched.
We saw lovely harbours, both man-made and natural:
We visited seals and lighthouses; castles, cliffs, and cottages; superchargers and woollen mills, and we had some very good food. We saw ancient woods:
We saw the cathedral in St Davids, hidden so deeply in a valley that you can be in the same small town and hardly know it’s there. but it’s a wonderful and unusual place.
And then we rushed back across the country to go sailing in our little dinghy with friends from the Tideway Owners’ Association.
Now, exhausted but happy, we’ve come back to normal working life to recover…
We’re on holiday in the Norfolk Broads, spending most of our time messing about in boats, but also enjoying the wonderful wildlife.
The birds are omnipresent, even in the garden of our riverside cottage, where this rather splendid goose has been sitting on her nest since we arrived. She and Tilly have decided to ignore each other.
Here’s what the village of Horning looks like, for anyone thinking of flying over:
(Link here if you can’t see the embedded video. If your computer and your network connection will allow it, I recommend viewing it full screen and setting the YouTube resolution to 4K.)
Our rental cottage comes with a convenient parking space, just outside the back door:
But there is another one too, if you prefer to arrive by car. It’s at the end of the little bridge, just past the heron.
For as long as I can remember, since my earliest childhood, we’ve had milk delivered to the front door. Many visitors seem surprised that we can still do this (and that it still comes in nice recycled glass bottles), so perhaps we’re just lucky — but everywhere we’ve ever lived has had a convenient milkman doing regular deliveries at sensible prices.
Actually buying milk in a shop is an activity I therefore associate with going on holiday or having unexpected quantities of guests! For the rest of the time, we’re just occasionally aware of a quiet clinking on the doorstep in the middle of the night, and getting the milk just involves pottering to the front door in my dressing gown. But it’s often the first real chance I get to view the day, breathe the air, feel the temperature.
And sometimes, like this morning, that’s a wonderful thing.
Happy Winter Solstice, everybody!
On a misty walk in one of our favourite local woods this morning, we spotted an unusual white tree stump. On closer inspection, it appeared to have been partly sawn through, and so was covered in its own sawdust.
These were pretty quick snaps with my Fuji, but were also a reminder that, impressive as my iPhone 12 Pro is these days, there are times when it pays to take a proper camera with you.
You can click the images for larger versions.
© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser