The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Sunday walks

At boarding school Sunday walks were compulsory. My memory is filled with images of gumboots, mud, mist and slightly damp tweediness. I hated them – they were worse than the ghastly sports. Even in summer it seemed like winter.

But now I look forward to Sunday walks with my dogs. We venture further and mooch for longer. New landscape, smells and joie de vivre for us all.

During the week we step out in the village – there are a couple of trails here where the dogs can kick up their heels and run free but by the end of the week I am tired of the same old paths.

So we leap in the car and head out. The dogs yelling at every passer by until we turn left at the end of the village and swoop down to Newmarket.

Ruby and Fanny in Warren Hill Woods

One of my favourite places to explore is the ancient wood at the top of the gallops. Here, late on a Sunday afternoon, it is generally deserted and almost becomes our own secret place.

There is a timeless, dreamlike quality to these woods. Once among the trees and dappled shade last week we walked across the springy grass as hosts of butterflies floated up from the fronds. Magical.

The vast oaks are predominant here but we have found birch, elm, silver birch and many more. There are the towering Caledonian pines, not original to this part of the UK but introduced from Scotland centuries ago. These are the pine trees that appear in E.H.Shepard illustrations in AA Milne’s tales of Winnie the Pooh.

Here and there are smaller trees planted in memory of local people.  To me this would be the best resting place in the world.

Eventually we break out of the woods to the harsh light of the gallops and the hill down to Newmarket.  People tend to walk up the hill and down again with their dogs. The woods are just a step too far. The ground is springy and raked daily for the horses to exercise in the morning. No dogs are allowed on the gallops before 1.30 pm

French Style Fantasy House

We take a different route home and always pause to look at this wonderful house. Sometimes I pretend that I live there with loads of children, a range of dogs and of course a handsome and happy husband. A house filled with light, laughter and love. A house where the gates are always open and never ever closed.

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  1. Carole Brooks


  2. So glad to see a new blog post! I check in every few weeks. Looking forward to reading more 🙂

  3. Bridget Blsir

    Well what a lovely surprise to see a post from you Fiona, after all this time! Such an engaging post too.. you’ve been missed. Welcome back….

    • Fiona Nevile

      Thank you for your message Bridget! Much appreciated. It has been a long time but I really want to start writing again x

  4. Patricia Anne Ellingford

    Lovely to see you back Fiona. I too have missed your posts and your ideas, recipes and encouragement. I loved your walk – well described I was there with you. Take care Pattypan xx

    • Fiona Nevile

      Ah Pattypan, I remember you well and your wonderful blog. Thanks so much for leaving a comment!

  5. Cheryl Sherpherd

    I really relished your walk, felt like I was with you in part even though I have never been to this part of the country. Look forward to your next post!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Thank you Cheryl. I am planning to write 2 or 3 posts a week, perhaps more. Let’s see how it goes!

  6. Chris Foster

    Yes Fiona! Welcome back…..I am so pleased to see you writing again. I enjoyed it so much over the years and truly missed it. Now my heart will be lighter each day, regardless of what is thrown at me, as I can look forward to your blog. Feeling happy…xx

    • Fiona Nevile

      Thank you Chris. I do hope that it still amuses you after all these years ?

  7. Audrey

    As I opened the post, I was wondering if you had min pins still!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Sadly they all have died 🙁 But have been replaced by Fanny and Ruby – they were rescues and I’ve had them for four years now. They are eight years old and loving. Rather naughty too! I miss the Min Pins.

  8. Great post! So glad to see a post from you!!

  9. Most evocative Fiona! Loved your words. I’d like to walk with you sometime xx

  10. Toffeeapple

    What a joy! Welcome back Fiona; if your posts are going to be mostly about your surroundings I shall look forward to them very much, me being so tied up with wildlife and all.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Thanks so much for all your encouragement! I think that my posts will be a general mix. Like you, I love wildlife.

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