25 October. The journey, nightmare long. 11ish before we set out; 3.30 by the time we’d covered the 140 miles to Castle Drogo. Driving past Stonehenge — seeing it for the first time — and how close you are. First a pattern of people in the distance, ring-fenced it turned out, a circle of black figures against green field. The stones themselves, ancient, humping — lower to the ground, more worn than I had known. The road passes close — the traffic jam seemingly just people gazing at the stones.
Green. Hills and rolling valleys. Sheep: white and brown. South Somerset, & then Devon. Castle Drogo and the sun low in the sky. Light grazing the autumnal trees as the little ones run through the gardens. Vague echoes of being here as a child, running myself. Beech nuts out of their three-sided cupules. The castle shrouded in white for its restoration.
Then another two hours: Dartmoor and Bodmin. Chimney stacks and wind turbines. The road faster now: up hills and down. Until, finally, in the dark, a glimpse of the sea.
1 November. Sunrise in St Ives. Pink flushing the horizon. Craning out of the window to look at the sea. A pause at Launceston: car park, sleeping boys, & B bringing back hot pasties which I rest on my lap. I read a few words from Margarite Duras’ Writing, about solitude, about the solitude she needed to write her books being something she created. I must create my own solitude.
Lytes Cary Manor. Espaliered limes just losing their leaves. A small chapel, an Apostle garden. A walk, with the Pip-Pop running after the others, into the woods. Driving back past Stonehenge & onto home: to Tesco for milk; to Halfords for yet another new brake light. A half-moon in the afternoon sky.
Who knew that an October holiday could be so wonderful? We’d never been away at half-term before but it was addictively good. Holidays just seem to lead to the question, when’s the next? Anyway, back. Back to the rhythm of school, back to autumn (we were so lucky with the weather last week, 18/19°C versus today’s 10°C). And the clocks went back while we were away, so back to dark evenings. Back to my autumn rituals. A diversion in my poem-a-day ritual: I’m reading Galway Kinnell who died last week. I have the Bloodaxe edition of Strong Is Your Hold which comes with a wonderful CD of him reading his poems in that deep, resonant voice. I always feel safe when I’m listening to him. And, a Goldfinch update. It was a shaky start. In fact, a shaky 200 pages or so. But now, after over 300 pages, with Boris on the scene — oh Boris! — I’m loving it.