Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Drives.......................................

I am not sure when Dad got his first car, it was around the time of the Suez crisis and that was in 1956. That sounds about right, I would have been 10 years old. Well I do know that it was not long before he had to put the car away and go back to riding his bike to work because there was no gas/petrol to be had. The buses were so crowded because everyone relied then on the public transportation. So he rode his bike.
When we could, we would go for a Sunday drive. The area that I lived was at the foot of the Downs (The Chiltern Hills)and there were plenty of places to go for a day out within a smallish area. Ashridge was a favourite. I only really knew it as the woodlands for walks but there is actually an estate there. I believe it now belongs to the National Trust.
Bluebells at Ashridge................

We would also go to Woburn Abbey and see the deer that the Duke of Bedford so carefully preserves. Wonderful to drive through and see great herds of beautiful Fallow Deer laying in the lush grass parklands. He later opened a Safari park to help him support the estate. When we went it was quite new and quite an experience. To our delight a giraffe walked up to the front of the car to cross the road, all we could see were its knees...........then it peed on Dads car bonnet it was as though the heavens opened we kids were delighted, Dad not so much. Margaret was my constant companion and was along on most of our adventures. I will have to tell some stories of my Dad and Uncle Ray's fishing adventures over at the Duke of Bedfords. That is for another time though.
When asked where I would like to go I would often say Ivinghoe........There was Ivinghoe beacon.
View from Ivinghoe Beacon.........................

A nice climb and a wonderful view from the top. It is one of the Beacons that were used for hundreds of years to announce things quickly from one end of the country to the other. The Spanish Armada comes to mind and Queen Elizabeth having the beacons lit across the country. There is also a Dyke close by that was dug by a long ago warrior. Locally known a Devil's Dyke. We would go on through a road we called the golden mile where Laburnum trees form a tunnel over the road. When in bloom its just spectacular. On then to Aldbury. What a beautiful village that is. Often featured in British films or TV shows, back then it was ours to explore. As a youngster the imagination worked overtime when viewing the village stocks, the ducking stool for witches and the pond. The buildings are all red brick and beams and it has to be one of the quaintest villages.
Village of Aldbury...............

There are just so many places to see that one Sunday does not begin to cover the ground. The Chiltern Hills with the White chalk Lion of Whipsnade Zoo can be seen from many vantage points. Where else in England can one sit on the Downs and have a few Wallabies wander on by as one enjoys a picnic. They got out many years ago and just live in and around the general area enjoying the freedom.

Whipsnade White Lion..................

We used to go to look around the small churches and the church yards. I still love graveyards and reading the tombstones. I find it fascinating. I do that here too. In our Upper Peninsula of Michigan where the Cornish miners came to live in the forests here to mine tin and see how young men of 16 or 17 came for a better life only to die in the mines. So sad. In England though its even more interesting because they go back so far and so much history can be imagined by the dates on the stones.
At one point my Dad befriended a neighbours son, the family was going through a rough time. So Mick and I became good friends. He was older than me by a few years but we had great times together for several years (till he discovered girls) and he would come along on our Sunday drives. We would "collect" pub names in a note book and compare with each other. We got up to a lot of mischief too out in the fields at home and that's another story.
One place I remember that fascinated me was Burnham Beeches. It was quite a drive from our house but it was a beautiful place. We saw some great big ant hills made from sticks and leaves with big black ants. There is also a part of the park that is closed off due to the age of the trees there. I don't know if its still there or what but I know it sparked my imagination. The Druids Oak is supposed to be 800 years old and many of the Beeches over 400 or 500 years old. They would not want kids climbing on them or people being hurt either.
Burnham Beeches......................
I also loved it when we could go through a ford. That is where the river runs over the road. It just seems so magical. I don't know why. Eddlesborough Ford is the one that comes to mind.It is near Doolittle Mill. I also have a deep fondness for Eddlesborough Church, it sits up on the hill. Last time in England we tried to go in and take a look around but it was locked. My aunt was rather put out because we have always been used to going in and out of any church we take a fancy too, its also nice to be able to just pop in and pray, but in this day and age I guess people do not deserve that privilege any more. Lets save these places for a generation that appreciates them. They have been around hundreds if not a thousand years, we do not need to loose them to vandals now.
Eddlesborough Ford..............

Eddlesborough Church............

View from the fields............



Jann Olson said...

Oh how I love this post! Last year I did a post title 'Sunday Drive" also. I have such fond memories of going on Sunday Drives as a child. The sight that you posted are all just breathtaking! Thanks for sharing and sparking a sweet memory!

Mary said...

Blue Bell Woods, just the name makes me want to be there. Enjoyed all your pictures, great post.

JOHNSON, Cotswold Hills, England. said...

Another great post, Janice!

Sunday drives are, I guess, a thing of the past now. I can't imagine that todays children would find being driven about the novelty and excitement that we did when we were young.

As you know, we were brought up not that far from one another in the Chiltern Hills. I lived near Burnham Beeches and, yes, the old trees - 800 years old or more - are still there, now protected by law. I spent a lot of my childhood hiding there when playing truant from school. I'm not exactly proud of that but I still reckon I learn't more from my time in the woods than I did in the classroom!