I got home late on Friday night. The train was delayed because of a trespasser on the line. At first we were told there were trespassers, and I imagined it was some kids who’d got onto or near the track. Later we learned it was a man with mental health issues. He had a razor, so it sounds as though he was threatening to kill himself. It took a while for the emergency services to do whatever they had to do, talking and listening I imagine, before he was taken away in an ambulance. I hope he is receiving the help and support he needs now. Our health service, run down by a cynical government who would like to see it in private hands, is on its knees. Make it fail, then open the door to the highest bidder and say goodbye to arguably this country’s greatest ever achievement.
I was very tired, and though I slept well, yesterday I felt jet lagged. Still, I got the washing done, stocked up on groceries and caught up with Celia. Today I feel more like myself. I have my barometer back. It’s shiny and beautiful, but it doesn’t work. Gareth, the man repairing it, could not find anyone who could supply the needed mercury. In fact neither of us could find anyone who is licensed to have mercury. There’s a list apparently of people who are so licensed, but finding this list is a something both Gareth and I failed at. If you know, please do tell.
Gareth left with the station clock from the sitting room which needs cleaning and some minor attention. It will be good to hear its sombre tick again. I have dead headed the roses, repotted the basil, collected up the stray bits of litter that were scattered about the garden, washed out the cutlery drawer (a much overdue chore), done some accounts, and prepped supper. So a day of small, necessary tasks.
The last view I had before leaving Ray’s house was of cow so close to the haha that separates field from garden she looked like she was in the garden.
Cow by the haha.
It felt a suitably bucolic image to end my stay. In the afternoon, Ray had chosen to remain at the house while Octavia and I went to Burton Agnes Hall. The hall is beautiful, but it is the art collection it houses which is jaw dropping. Marcus Wickham-Boynton, a younger son, inherited the estate last century. He restored the house and hung its walls with an astonishingly varied, superb array of paintings: Corot, Utrillo, Lely, Kneller and many many more. There are also modern sculptures, including one of Marcus, tapestries, including one by Kaffe Fassett, and the gardens are as lovely as the house. Here’s a glimpse.
Burton Agnes Hall
In the morning we had returned, with Ray, Octavia pushing her in a wheelchair, to Bempton Cliffs. We had been there briefly on Thursday evening. It’s an RSPB nature reserve, and being puffin season and a bank holiday, very busy.
We saw a skylark among the flowers, though we weren’t at first sure what it was. so many small birds look like sparrows to me. I was confident I could identify the gulls, shags and pigeons, and delighted to see some very uninhibited gannets displaying. After some tips from another visitor, Octavia and I became confident about distinguishing razorbills from fulmars. The cliffs were alive with birds. I heard someone say a pod of bottle nosed dolphins were heading our way, but I didn’t see them.
As I gazed at the sea, a huge bird flew over my head. I could hear its wings beating. It continued in a majestic manner out over the water and disappeared from my view. What was it? Back at the entrance I asked one of the RSPB staff on duty. Maybe the albatross, he said smiling. I assumed this was a joke. Wrong. There is an albatross at Bempton Cliffs, and when I looked at pictures online later, it may well have been the bird I saw. I could get hooked on this ornithology thing.