Monday, 9 March 2009

the view...

There is nothing better than the view you get from the top of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's, Elliott Nature Reserve at Swift's Hill, near Stroud. I am usually breathless by the time I get to the top, which I put down to the view rather than my personal fitness level! From the top you can see the Slad Valley and the town of Stroud in the distance and on a clear day, the river Severn and the great Severn bridges beyond.

This view gives me a great sense of place, this is where I was born and grew up and am now raising my own children so the chain of life continues. I wonder whether my family stood on this hill top back in the 1600's as I do now and what their lives were like? I sit down and close my eyes and hear the planes overhead, journeying to far off destinations and I am glad I am not a passenger on them. As the minutes pass I tune into the sounds around me, the crickets, grass rustling in the breeze and a skylark singing overhead. I can no longer hear the planes, just feel the south westerly breeze on my face. I am recharged and turn my back on the view, chasing my children along the ridge to the big quarry beyond it. Here they play cowboys and Indians, wearing away their trousers as they slide down the slopes. This is how it should be and I am grateful that my children are learning about nature by experiencing it first hand, how lucky we are to have access to special places like this. I just sit, glancing occasionally to make sure they are OK but giving them the freedom they crave and deserve, calling out just once to beckon them over to sit with me and drink hot chocolate from big enamel mugs.

I look across the valley to the Woolpack Inn, undoubtedly one of the nicest pubs in Gloucestershire and it is bustling with walkers and people eating lunch and I wonder if they can see me? Some walkers appear and we pass the time of day, I don't tell them who I am as it's my day off and they delight at this new place they have discovered and vow to return to see the orchids that blanket the reserve in spring and summer. I smile and wish I could bring all people here, my job would be so much easier if I could show people the wildlife that needs protecting.

We finish our day by running down the hill, tripping as we go, I am glad that this hill, that is such a feature in the landscape, is quiet and wonder should I of chosen somewhere else to tell you about - so I can keep it all to myself ?

Written for 'Cotswold Life' magazine. April 2009 edition on sale soon.


  1. How lovely! And what kind of orchids do you have there? We have common spotted and pyramidal nearby. Even an occasional bee orchid (is that right?).

  2. Hi Jo - there are apparantly 11 different species of orchids at this site - it is limestone grassland - typical of the Cotswold's. I think wasp, frog and bee (they are lovely) as well as Autumn ladies tressies, pyramidal and common spotted, we have had a couple of poor summer's so poor orchid shows, and I have never seen them all! I am usually herding small feet in between such delicate and rare flowers.

  3. That is a lovely post. How fortunate to have such a family history in one place -- we North Americans miss out on that deep sense of place.

  4. wow and how awesome to be published and tell everyone of your fav spot,,lovely emma,really is

  5. so beautiful, emma. I wish we were closer and I could see your hill with you.

  6. Jilly - Yes it is lovely to have a sense of place but sometimes I yearn for bigger adventures to move to another country and live by the sea!

    Debbie - It is not as grand as it sounds and is part of my job really!

    Nicole - I would love to show you places here, where our new allotments are, places to find fossils, rivers to paint by and the boys would show you great hills to roll down!

  7. Can't work out what job you do but it seems interesting!

    Great piece. Love the photo of your little ones drinking!

  8. BEAUTIFUL! I love love love the second photograph. wonderful!

  9. those masks are amazing so fun!!


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