I met my cousin Russell today and we enjoyed a walk in the Surrey countryside not far from where we both grew up. It was fabulous. If we weren't related we probably shouldn't know each other, and that would be a loss inmy life. He is, I think, eight years younger than I am, supplanting me in my position as the youngest of the first cousins on my father's side of the family. His mother, my Aunt Madeleine, was the youngest of the four siblings, and always in my father's eyes young Madeleine.
We had a lot of family chat. Russell is the spit of his father Frank, and his son is spit of Russell, but there are moments when he says or does something, when he stops and looks with his head very slightly lowered, when he is my father to the life. As my Aunt Kath saw my father in gestures and expressions of mine, I am guessing that anyone watching us might have guessed our relationship.
The purpose, or perhaps that should be the stimulus, for the walk was my desire to see the bench Russell was commissioned to make that is installed on the Hurtwood on the Greensand Way. We walked through the morning, then just as my stomach was starting to rumble we reached the Hurtwood. And as we walked the short rise, there it was.
It's gorgeous; sinuous, sensuous; waves, sand, contours; a wonderful, tactile and useful representation of the landscape and its history.
Look closely and you'll see Russell's name here.
Here he is in front of his work.
Some way further along, we saw another bench. It's beautiful, but not wearing well.
Although it has only been in place for a few months three of the wooden scales are already missing. “Oh they move,” I said, tilting one of the scales. “They're not supposed to,” said Russell. It would be lovely in a private garden, somewhere where the wear and tear would be more limited than in a public path. I fear that should I return in twenty four months much of this beautiful piece will be gone.
A bit dipurther along we saw a third bench. But this one was a commemorative one rather than one of the five commissioned for this part of the Greensand Way. Very lovely, and the blacksmith who made it had included a plaque with all his contact details.
The rain become to come down, But we were suitably clad to deal with it. Back in Godalming we headed for a café and enjoyed some more quality time. I hope it won't be long before we do so again.