Snippets of Downshire Life – World Poetry Day
The Pepperstock Hills National Park stretched from the bare, and often barren crags of Oxley Ridge in the North to the dense wooded southern slopes on the fringe of the Finchbottom Vale and from Quarry Hill, and the Pits in the West to Pepperstock Bay in the East.
It is an area of stark contrasts and attracted a variety of visitors.
The quarry hill side of the park to the west, as the name suggests, was heavily Quarried over several hundred years, though more extensively during the industrial revolution, the Quarries had been un-worked for over fifty years and nature had reclaimed them and former pits had become lakes and were very popular with anglers and the sparse shrubbery and woodland made it popular spot with courting couples whereas the northern crags and fells were popular with climbers and more hardy folk.
To the south and east was an extensive tract of magnificent mixed forestry and was rivalled only by the ancient woodland of the Dancingdean Forest.
Renowned Downshire Poet, James Willard and his older brother John were staying at the White Hart pub in the village of Springwater for a few days, it was his brother’s idea, a short break in the Pepperstock Hills, a change of pace and some R&R, but it was John who needed it most as he was a TV News Reader and needed to go somewhere where he might be able to take a walk without being pestered by people want to take a selfie.
James wasn’t particularly sympathetic and paraphrased Oscar Wilde and said “The only thing worse than being asked to take a selfie is not being asked to take a selfie”
They were both from the quaint country village of Applesford, with adjoining Cottages which backed on to a quiet stretch of the Downshire Navigation, part of the canal network which ran between Nettlefield in the north, down through Millmoor and the Oakhams to Northchapel, Abbeyvale and then to its most southerly point, Abbottsford, where it again headed north, this time to Childean, Purplemere and Finchbottom where it joined the River Finch.
James did sugest that a barge trip would have been eqally relaxing but thankfully he didn’t listen, and that was something that would later on prove to be a very significance decision in their lives, because on their first night at the White Hart they met sisters Eugenia and Maria Marquez, who it turned out were also from Applesford, and the irony of that first meeting was that they asked John if they could have a selfie.
The four of them hit it off right from the start and decided as they were all there to enjoy the wonderful scenery they might just as well do it together.
So after breakfast the next day they set off and got their first proper look of the delights of the village and its environs and then they climbed up into the foot hills, and everything was proceeding nicely until the weather closed in and they were forced back down to the safety of the White Hart where they remained for the rest of the day and the day after.
Perhaps because they were all around the thirty mark the four of them got on well and as a result they had enjoyed their confinement at the White Hart but James in particular enjoyed the time he spent with Maria, the problem was that he struggled to verbalise his thoughts, he would have thought that a Poet at least would have been able to find the words he needed to woo a woman, but apparently not.
But the next day the weather was set fare and was forecast to remain so for the rest of the day, so the walk began on the same path they had taken up into the foothills but instead of having to turn back they turned west and followed the path as it climbed high above the valley.
After about an hour following the twisting craggy path they reached a high wooded hill top and followed the path into the wood and welcomed the shelter from the breeze beneath the pine canopy and when they emerged on the other side they were rewarded with the view of the next valley, below.
“Wow” Eugenia said
“That’s impressive” John added
“Distance lends enchantment to the view” Maria said poetically
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that” James said, which surprised her, but when she turned towards him to argue the point she found he had eyes only for her.
“Oh” she exclaimed
John and Eugenia said nothing, they just looked at each other and nodded before he took hold of her arm and steered her away quietly back into the woods and when they looked back their younger siblings were kissing.