Well, having scaled the heights of Snowdonia in my recent posts, we are back in beautiful Dorset today – and beautiful it was with some strange blue stuff above me and even a big round yellow thing ;)! It was actually sunshine and blue skies which is something of a miracle this ‘summer’!!
I parked up in a north Dorset village right outside the church so before I even got walking I had a look round – village churches are always so interesting and this one was no exception. The thing that caught my eye was a lovely circular window with stained glass depicting the verse ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven’. It was unusual to see a circular window.
Suffer the little children to come unto Me
Those who have been following my blog will know that I regularly look round churches on my walks. This is partly because I love the old church architecture and the different styles that were popularised through the ages such as Norman, Early English, Decorated, Perpendicular etc as well as the fact that everything has a meaning or conveys a message, things such as gargoyles, bench ends and so on. Not long ago there was a documentary on television called ‘How to Read a Church’ which was really interesting because unless you know what you are looking at, the messages are all lost. More than this though, I love the sense of all the lives that have been touched by these churches over hundreds of years – this is a far greater legacy than the purely architectural heritage and goes much deeper. And along with this is the pure witness of the churches – after all, when you approach a village on a walk, what is the first thing you see – it is the church tower standing proud and declaring the message of Christianity to all.
But I was challenged recently! I went into a church, looked at all the interesting features, took lots of photographs and was on my way out when I stopped short! This was a house of prayer and all I had done was look around and take pictures! So I made a decision that whenever I look round a village church, I will always offer a prayer for those who worship there, for the local people whose lives are impacted by its presence.
Once I’d got going on my walk, I very quickly came across the most beautiful meadows that were rife with wild flowers and butterflies. The flowers were comparatively easy to capture with the camera but not so the butterflies – but more of that later!
Dandelions and blue skies
I just love meadows! With the long grasses, dandelions, daisies, buttercups, orchids and all manner of other colourful flowers waving their heads in the breeze – for me, its almost as spiritual a place as being in church.
In the meadows
So back to those butterflies :)! They are so pretty, delicate and harmless aren’t they, but I think they have a devious side! So there I am walking across this meadow and the butterflies, loads of them, flutter past me and settle on a stem of grass right in front of me. I get my camera out carefully and approach stealthily and they just sit there whilst I frame the shot and focus the camera. The shutter release is halfway down and I’m about to capture a classic competition winning shot…….and they take off leaving me with a lovely shot of a blade of grass. So I walk on a short distance, they flutter past me again, settle on a blade of grass, and the whole thing is repeated again! I’ll swear that they have a grin on their faces as they take off ;)!! So I gave up and they won the day!
It wasn’t only the butterflies that toyed with me either! The cows, well heifers, did the same. I crossed several fields that were part of a dairy farm and they kept following me – they are inquisitive little things. Every time I stopped and turned round, they stopped too. Maybe they thought I was the pied piper of Hamlyn!
About half way round my circular walk, I came across another delightful village church. This one was full of photographic opportunities such as beautiful windows with the most gorgeous light coming through onto the flowers that had been placed on the window sills inside. I think the window below was really lovely in an understated way with its plain glass.
The church window
The window below had tinted glass which really warmed the soft light coming through.
But it wasn’t only the interior, the churchyard was lovely too. It had the most gorgeous copper beech tree and the afternoon sunlight really brought out the fabulous colours of its summer foliage. I often eat my lunch in graveyards which might make me seem strange but they are great places for finding wildlife……and besides, they are often the only places you can find a seat :)!
The graveyard copper beech
Part of the walk took me down some country lanes. Now normally I like to avoid roads but country lanes are different provided they are quiet. They can actually be very pretty in the summer when the hedgerows are vibrant with wild flowers and there are usually some lovely old typical Dorset thatched cottages to add interest as well as the odd orchard or nature reserve to detour onto. The hedgerows seemed to be particularly vibrant on this walk.
There seemed to be a lot of the plants in the picture below – like miniature conifer trees. I believe it is great horsetail and that lovely fresh green colour looks striking with the low sunlight streaking through from behind.
There was a surprising amount of what I call ‘autumn’ colours too – I loved the subtle changes in tones in the picture below, ranging from the deep red new growth, through reddish orange and yellow to green. God is such a great ‘painter’ of colours!
Subtle hedgerow tones
And hogweed, probably not the most attractive plant but its hairy stems always look great when backlit by the sun.
Eventually the country lane led me to another village and here, it was The Dorset Rambler to the rescue again!! This time it was a little bird, a blue tit, in the mouth of a cat! Actually I didn’t set out to rescue it, I could just see that the cat had something in its mouth and when I went towards him he let it go and it flew unharmed up into the tree in the cottage garden. I was glad I happened along at that moment though!
The cottage garden
The last few miles of the walk took me through the most beautiful parklands that surrounded the local manor house. It was the golden hour, the time when the sun is getting low in the sky and the light is at its best – if you are a photographer you will know that morning and evening light is by far the best. The grounds had been landscaped and planted with a whole variety of different trees so naturally I spent more time taking pictures than walking!
It was a spectacular end to a fabulous day’s walking back in my beloved Dorset – but sadly the day wasn’t to end as I’d hoped! As I drove home feeling very satisfied, the car broke down and I had to call the RAC who were unable to fix it so it had to be transported back on a rescue truck. I spend a lot of time sat by the roadside waiting to be collected. So what does a photographer do when he has time on his hands……take pictures of course. I wandered off with my camera :)!
Beside the country road
Whatever happens and wherever you are, there is always something beautiful if you just look for it :)!
PS – I did get home safely at about midnight and the car is now at the car hospital having an operation :)!
Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler :)
Your friend, The Dorset Rambler
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