Richard Lutz checks out how he wandered through another week.
Autumn falls. The back garden needs constant, albeit maladroit, handling. The winter broccoli is planted and then netted. The potatoes are lifted and stored but not before some are used for the ultimate comfort meal – cheese and onion pie made with some red late spuds.
The mint is cut back, the final apples picked either from ancient trees or from the undamaged windfalls. The air is still warm – it has has been an unusually warm autumn – and the sun umbrella is stored away with the old chairs blooming with rust.
Time to pack up this garden for another year. The grass needs a final mowing, the borders are a mess, the climbing roses need a cackhanded pre-Christmas trim….it never ends. Sisyphus must have been a gardener before he rolled that stone up and down the hill.
To avoid more gardening, I take to the Wyre Forest that sits atop Bewdley (above). This river town is feeling its age but still retains its earlier late medieval beauty. The Severn ripples past, caged in by flood barriers as it heads towards the estuary. We nip away from the riverbanks into the woods, endless oak, beech and ash changing colours slowly.
We figure there is still colour change for another fortnight because of the dry, warm weather. We scamper over the old rail track that used to come down from Wales and head into another higher oak wood that clings to a rising hill. The sound of leaves endlessly floating downwards decorates the quiet forest.
On the edge of the wood, past the sterile excretion of the golf course and past the back farm tracks and past Horse Hill, we bump down a gullet and find one of Worcestershire’s finest benches. It looks eastwards to the Severn Valley covered in hard wood, with the river whisking by and ancient St Leaonard’s with its wooden bell tower.The church has links with Burne-Jones, Ruskin and the Baldwin family (not the actors but the ex-Prime Minister).
Below is the river, tiny Ribbesford, wooded Mount Pleasant. To our north is the intriguingly named Snuffmill Dingle. Beyond a roll of hills is Bewdley with its little cafes and genteel tearooms, its afternoon-quiet pubs, its second-hand shops loaded with the hardware, the junk, the forgotten trinkets of the past.