Deadpool, the Orb and an Unplanned Day Out

IMG_1180As I’m sure you know, it was Valentine’s Day yesterday. Some of you may have pushed the boat out, others may not have marked the occasion at all. My husband and I tend to fall into the latter category – other than a spectacular surprise night out several years ago, complete with jazz, baby animals and a picnic, we don’t really do the ‘Valentine thing.’

Which is fine by me. There are 365 days in the year in which to say we love each other – to celebrate one as being more important than all the others isn’t really something I’m bothered about. However, to each their own.

So this year we had made no plans, as usual. Then the gorgeous girl was asked on a sleepover at her best friend’s house, and suddenly we found ourselves at a loose end. The weather was cold but sunny, so when husband suggested a drive out to Dunstable Downs, I was very keen.

I love the Downs. There is an energy there at once uplifting and relaxing, the ancient landscape holding the feel of old Britain, green countryside stretching for miles around. Other than a very nice visitor centre, there is nothing much up on the Downs, which is how it should be. The attraction is the view, the clear air, the gliders swooping like giant birds overhead, kites streaming in the fresh breeze.

It was bitterly cold when we got there, but the sun shone and I took several photos up there, as I usually like to do. When I looked at one photo I saw this:


I had taken two photos in quick succession of the same view, cold fingers fumbling a little. The orb is visible in both, though in the second shot it has moved a little. And, even though I took other photos pointing the same way, it’s only visible in these two. Trick of the light? Maybe. Probably. But then again…

IMG_1190So. This was already a cool (actually, cold – it was freezing up there) start to our unplanned day out. Feeling hungry, we stopped in at a popular country pub on the way back, expecting it to be heaving with couples yet hoping we might get a table for two. And we did. Amazing! The food was lovely, the service excellent and we enjoyed the chance to sit and talk and eat uninterrupted. Then we realised there was a 5:15pm showing of Deadpool at the local cinema. It was 4:40pm. Forgoing dessert we asked for the bill and headed back into town, hoping we’d get in before the movie started (and that it wasn’t sold out).

It wasn’t. We made it with ten minutes to spare, managed to get two seats together and sat back, ready to be entertained. Husband isn’t as big an X-Men fan as I am, so he was a bit unsure. However, from the opening credits he was laughing, as was I and most of the other cinema patrons. Deadpool is excellent. Profane, funny, gory, romantic – we both enjoyed it immensely. It was probably the perfect Valentine’s Day movie for us.

Sometimes the best days are those with no plans at all.


Good For The Soul


Green and misty stretching forever…

There are places we go that are good for the soul. For me it tends to be high windswept places, where the air is so fresh you can feel it move through you, blowing away metaphorical cobwebs.

The nearest such place to me is Dunstable Downs. We go there quite often, whether winter or summer, though it does need to be a sunny clear day. The ancient hillside is lined with chalk deposits like bones poking through the soil, and the view is spectacular. You can literally see for miles, the landscape disappearing into a misty distance – you feel as though, if only you had elvish vision, you could see to the coast itself, silver sea glimmering.


Winter sunset over the Downs


It’s also a wonderful place to fly kites and it’s rare to be up there and not see at least one brightly coloured flapping sail, whipping and floating in the wind. Down below, on a rolling green meadow, is a gliding club. The gliders come up like giant white birds, swooping overhead as we whoop and holler, amazed by how close they come to the edge of the hill before disappearing into the blue beyond. Parasailers drop from the steep hillside, rising up to surprise us as they lift into the sky, circling above us on the updrafts.

Kites flying and bonus gliders

Kites flying and bonus gliders

In the near distance, next to a small village, I can see a well-maintained field with a square of trees left untouched at the centre. This field has now become the basis of another book. It’s just notes at the moment, but the mystery of the grove is one I’m looking forward to exploring.

When we lived in Australia, there was another such place where I liked to go.

The distant curving bay

The distant curving bay

Along a rutted track lined with huge cypresses and twisted gum trees, kangaroos in the fields standing like silent sentinels among the blowing grasses. A turn down a driveway lined either side with olive trees led to a house with a long green lawn. Another row of cypress trees stood at the edge of the lawn and beyond that curved the horn of the Peninsula like a crescent moon, blue ocean one side, gleaming silvery bay the other, the view stretching for miles. In the ground floor of the house was a very small restaurant – small enough to be run by two people alone, just as the owners wanted. There were only ever nine things on the menu – three entrees, three mains and three desserts – but the selection changed daily and it was always delicious. They grew their own vegetables, made their own olive oil and wine like bottled sunshine, warm and sweet. I remember being there one day and seeing Ted, the owner, driving up in his tractor from one of the fields. His small trailer was piled high with tomatoes, red and gleaming in the sunshine. ‘Help yourself,’ he said, smiling. ‘Please, take as many as you like.’

It was that kind of place.

So where do you go that’s good for the soul? Is it near to home or far?