The views across to the Blackdown and Quantock Hills were smudged out by mist this morning, meaning I could indulge my latest walking tip: looking down! It certainly made for a change of scenery and also has the great advantage of not being weather-dependent.
The fields were ploughed a while ago but the maize is only shin-high, so you can easily trace footpaths between rows. Somerset has so much to grab your attention, from wandering through giant gorges to exploring cathedrals and parks, but the scattered earth has recently revealed a new favourite pastime: fragmented clay pipes with stems white like bones, thick earthenware pieces, delicate blue and white patterned mosaics of fine china, even an ammonite embedded in a large plough-kicked stone emerge from their hiding places and lay across the surface.
Picking out the pieces that catch my eye has become a ritual. Imagining where they came from, who used them and why they were cast out is addictive and helps paint vivid pictures of times gone by. Who smoothed that clay around the slimmest straight reed to create a disposable pipe? I have one piece of china which is a tiny glimpse from a decorative bowl; it has a slight curve and there is a fraction of a mythological style bull rearing up – I wonder if there is a bowl in a museum somewhere, complete and priceless save for the tiny missing shard that is in my pocket!
From the moors, the levels and the numerous canal and river walks, Somerset has unique secrets and rewards. For me though, today was about the beauty hiding in plain sight, just under my nose. Through the fields and back out onto the pavement I wandered. Keeping my eyes peeled, I took in the micro-dandelions in the gutter with their heads clenched shut waiting for the sun, shepherd’s purses with little heart-shaped seed pockets and something with tiny pink flowers that I know is a weed, but looks pretty anyway. I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.
P.S. I haven’t walked into any lamp posts yet!