Yesterday we loaded our drawing gear up and went out for a jaunt. We took the bike across the Gloucester border and pootled through sleepy Cotswold villages nestling in autumn leaves, plump honey stoned houses basking in melancholy sunlight. We parked at Stumps Cross outside the exquisite village of Snowshill, and wandered along a bridleway towards Stone Mon, passing the remains of an Iron Age fort, Beckbury Camp. Built high in the Cotswolds with views across to Malvern and brooding Wales beyond, all that is left are some grassy mounds. There is an air of abandonment and solitude, screaming crows wheeling over grazing sheep and the wind whipping through the grassheads.
We stopped at Stone Mon, an ancient beech grove; stalwart giants with feet firmly rooted in the hillside. From here, it is rumoured, that joyless vandal Oliver Cromwell (Edit 14/7/2010 - Thomas Cromwell of course, not Oliver) took advantage of the spectacular views to watch the destruction of Hailes Abbey in 1539. Hence its nickname - 'Cromwells' Tump'. ('tump')
Andy decided to capture the strength and vigour of a particularly fine beech.
I did my usual pottering about taking snaps of fungi and roots. I attempted a little life drawing in my trusty Moleskine, but I'm very out of practise and need to start doing more.
After an hour of sitting in the wind, we called it a day and headed back across the fields and onto the village of Ford, where we enjoyed a pint of Donnington ale in the warm. The Plough Inn is an excellent old pub and being so near to Cheltenham, racing mad. Photos of race winners adorn the walls and there is a 'gallop' across the road, where future champions are put through their paces. The fields in the area are dotted with thoroughbred beauties rugged up for winter, nervously sniffing the wind.