Making Descansos

We’ll Gather Lilacs
March 10, 2007, 3:17 am
Filed under: Grand Tour

Darryl England

We’ll gather lilacs in the spring again
And walk together down an English lane
Until our hearts have learned to sing again
When you come home once more
And in the evening by the firelight’s glow
You’ll hold me close and never let me go
Your eyes will tell me all I need to know
When you come home once more
We’ll gather lilacs in the spring again
And walk together down an English lane
Until our hearts have learned to sing again
When you come home once more
And in the evening by the firelight’s glow
You’ll hold me tight and never let me go
Your eyes will tell me all I want to know
When you come home once more
When you come home once more
When you come home once more

Sissinghurst Spring 2001

Photographs by Heather Blakey England 2001

Dear Mum,
I am not quite sure where to begin because we seem to have been seeing so much. Often of a day I take the time to make some notes in little notebooks I have in my bag. At the stunning Audley End, the home that had housed the King in the days when Henry VIII was King I thought I spied some Jane Austen figures scurry by. I noted that they had created Elysian gardens in a quiet corner. The word Elysian means ‘the abode of the blessed dead’ implying a place of perfect happiness. Shaded by the massive beech trees, her arms splayed out across the grass leading to the river bank, with croqus growing nearby, I believed I had found the perfect place to stop and rest awhile. But then there have been so many places like this – tranquil spots that John Constable painted.

I sought the muse in the twisted alley ways of Cambridge but only saw the famous colleges charging admittance to look at their halls and treasures. The tranquility of the river, the Backs, was shattered by chauffeupunts seeking custom. But then the bicycles whizzed by and I do declare the muse would surely have a bicycle in Cambridge.

Colchester proved to have many secrets. I was delighted to find that it was the home of Old King Cole ( who turned out to have been a mercenary), Humpty Dumpty ( a Royalist Soldier who was shot at the tower on the old Roman Wall) and the author of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Colchester is full of those medieval, Tudor cottages and buildings that we have all seen on postcards. They are a visual delight, their quaint warped shapes a mystery. The medieval Suffolk wool town of Lavenham is filled with these beauties – but then so is half of England.

Too good for those English :-).

Much Hadham, where we are staying is also a quaint village with a string of these black beamed buildings. Rudyard Kipling wrote that the motorcar was a time machine in which centuries slid by, like milestones revealing England…. a land full of stupefying marvels and mysteries.

For Kipling, a day in the English countryside was like a day in some fairy museum where all the exhibits are alive and real.This sums up exactly how I have felt coming to England, seeing the enchanting architecture, exploring the country lanes is like going in to a timecapsule and finding all the places that filled my imagination as a child. A builder’s nightmare, there is not one straight line to be found. But all the romantic dreams of the olde worlde Englishness have been realised. Before my eyes are the black beams, russet bricks, white clapboard, tall chimneys, leaded windows and swags of greenery. Huge roses trace the doorways, inviting one to enter through the arched doorway, through the heavy wooden doors. Cobbles the size of eagle’s eggs; I walk around a corner to find the loveliest of church squares.

As I have turned another corner to be confronted by a building that dates back to AD something or other I have been awed by the feet that have passed this way. Even the trees are ancient, massive, with dense green foliage that shades the living and the dead. The history is fascinating – has come alive now that I can see where it all took place – and to think that we have barely begun to scratch the surface, barely begun our adventure. These ancient places remind me that despite the vicisssitudes of tides, weather, silt and shingle the essence endures. Each day I am left with a surreal sensation that I have swallowed the contents of a bottle labelled ‘Drink Me’ and have shrunk, like Alice, to wander in miniature through the villages of England.

Apart from taking photographs and writing daily journal entries and letters to my mother during our six months away, I meticulously kept visual scrapbooks of ephemera that I picked up during my travels. Whenever I travel I do this and my books are becoming more sophisticated with time. Now I would have to include some sketches and drawings as well.

all my love

6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

So much is familiar and so much new in this. My father’s English village was not much changed when we first visited in 1969. Thank you, Heather.

Comment by Frances Sbrocchi

This is such a beautiful post, full of wonderful memories. You mother would have loved these travelogues coming to her regularly. Just perfect, picture book perfect, as they say!

Comment by imogen88

Such wonderful memories. Oh, Heather, how much they must mean to you now. You can relive your journey over and over in your mind, and with the reliving will come renewed joy.

Comment by Vi

What an adventure-what a life-
thank you for sharing it with us
Love From
Anita Marie

Comment by Anita Marie

Thank you for allowing us to share in your memories…….

Comment by marimann

these images make me homesick, Heather. It’s a long time since I had the chance to travel as a tourist in my homeland. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty that is there to those who seek and look with open eyes

Comment by Traveller

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