I've spent the day today on The Chilterns, walking for miles and miles up and down hills, through ancient bluebell woods, across heathland bedecked with bright yellow gorse and over chalky ploughed fields. Our journey was observed by scores of red kites. Coming over the brow of one hill we were confronted by ten of the majestic creatures, swooping up and down and gliding on the thermals. A rare sight...
In those parts, most of the names of the towns and villages are also well-known folk songs and dances, which I guess is an indication of how rural and ancient the area is. This fact becomes somewhat more surprising when you consider it's perhaps only thirty miles North of London.
I'm told the area was also chosen to represent the perfect English idyll on First World War anti-German propaganda posters. It's hardly surprising. Some of the views are utterly staggering. The villages are exquisite.
Five of us did the full walk. Meriel, Iain (whose birthday we were celebrating) his sister Libby, Beth and me.
We had a picnic on a bench made out of a tree branch, and watched several groups of young people doing their Duke of Edinburgh bronze awards trekking through a nearby field.
We stopped for a drink at a country pub outside Princes Riseborough which had an epic rope swing which kept us busy for a good half an hour. Meriel was particularly entertaining. She's utterly gung-ho, but the tiniest bit uncoordinated!
Raily and daughter Jeanie-Rae joined us at the pub, and the next part of our journey found us walking along the Ridgeway, past an Anglo Saxon chalk cross carved into the hillside, through a wood and past the Prime Minister's country residence, Chequers. The PM was obviously in. We saw a helicopter flying past, and then an assortment of police-escorted cars making their way down the long drive.
The walk ended back where it had started and we drove on to Raily and Iain's house in Aylesbury for some Moroccan food, and a bit of a sing song, which was an unexpected delight.
I came home just in time to receive a phone call from Fiona who'd missed her last train home to Brighton... So she's currently tucked up in the loft... And I'm writing this... And now I'm going to bed.
A lovely day.