This morning my two writing friends and I met at Tyntesfield, the National Trust property in North Somerset. We didn’t meet to go and look round the magnificent early Victorian house built for a family which made its money from bird poo, nor did we meet to look round the formal gardens; no, we met to wander and be inspired to write.
This was the first time we have done anything like this although we do meet often; we had a loose plan – we would look at a quarry on the site, at a saw mill and then have refreshments in the Pavilion Café by the Orangery. We thought we might pause at times and write or jot notes; we thought we might get out our writing things when we stopped for a cup of tea or coffee…
We met in the car park and walked, not towards the house, but northwards to have a look at the quarry. The small atmospheric quarry was interesting in itself but it allowed us to see the rocks beneath the surface, the rocks which shaped the landscape. One of us is a geologist and suddenly he gave me eyes to see so much more – that groove was where a drill bit had bitten, inside a cavity was a sparkling myriad of crystals, that red coloured rock was the Mercia Mudstone, the creamy coloured rock was limestone. Hanging from a tree further up the quarry was a chain of ivy and creeper, hanging down as I had imagined Tarzan’s lianas when I was a child. The sky above was almost azure despite it being the first day of October, a brilliant, stunning blue. Our geology friend could read the rocks, read the land, read the ground beneath our feet.
We walked back and followed the curving path, stopping to look at more rocks, stopping to look at a house, maybe it was the family’s vicar, maybe a schoolmaster, but we looked at the rocks which built it. We walked on to the sawmill, and we looked at the building, the Mercia Mudstone, the limestone, the lintel, the window sills, and using a little lens suddenly the smooth creamy surface became the surface of the moon, pocked and pocketed.
We saw huge crystals, we saw curious shapes, we saw enveloping moss, we found the tea-room and had coffee to the accompaniment of a shrieking child. We didn’t write, did not make notes, but talked, and looked and described and compared.
At last we walked back up the long curving path and thought we must do this again… This piece is just a record, it will take me a little while to process our day and use it to try and capture something that we saw in words.
My last memory; looking back down the road curving in a long sweep, three separate couples were walking down towards the trees where the road disappeared. I was reminded of a painting by David Inshaw… not that he has painted this image, but maybe he might have, if he had seen it.