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Greywood with Charlie

A glorious break, unexpectedly in a beautiful place, surrounded by trees with stories of their pasts, of old pathways trod by people to and fro. I am here with Charlie – our gift to each other – post christmas, a time neither of us was particularly keen for, and now as the sap begins to rise for the new years growth.

Here’s a photo of Charlie in Liphook, where we started from. He is in front of a painting he bought from a Nepali restaurant, now closed. ‘There are 13 Yaks in the picture’, he tells me. I was given nourishing soup, and the dogs a bank of pigs ears, and the first red lead – which I know will become a souvenir of Liphook.

Here we are in the Cowshed, Greyswood.

The white gates opened, as the Air BNB instructions said they would and behold, we were in the grounds of a handsome Georgian home, flanked by two giant redwoods. Charlie took a photo of me exclaiming, ‘See, how you can prod their soft skin bark’. We met our host, Joanna, their two children and a dog (of course) and through Joanna, learned of the walk around their grounds, which we did that first day, before shopping in Waitrose (very well healed) and as dark came we settled into the evening. We talked, caught up, as I cooked warming orange food of roast pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrot. We talked of unlocking, and traffic lights, we meandered the time, gave the dogs a night walk, and slept.

Tori arrived (with Gus, who was very excited to be in company) and we three people, 4 dogs walked to the Temple of the Wind, encountering the black and white belted cattle on the way. Naked beach and sweet chestnut, views across to a very woodland landscape. I am amazed how wooded this commuter belt is, the meeting of Surrey, Hampshire and Sussex. Certainly there are large houses, but so many woods, mainly beech, with old oak, and much working sweet chestnut coppice. The Temple of the winds felt like an ancient place, with old Yews.

Morning walk to All Saints Church, Greywood, which turned out to be an Arts and Crafts church built 1900, with a stain glass window I admired, and with intriguing graves, many army. One a Polish noblewoman and WW2 organiser, of Zofia Moss.

Checking out of our cosy cowshed, we returned to Liphook, and to find the walk to the hills that we saw from the Temple of the Winds, so join up the dots, which we did in so many ways. Charlie took me through the woods. Masses of moss, (feather and fern) comfortably clothing the lower trunks to the forest floor, and lots of hairy curtain crust and Dryads saddle fungi, breaking up the deadwood. He took me high, to the place of amazing coppice – which I realised was not ash but Sweet Chestnut, being made into pailings and fence posts, as we walked. It was an old coppice, and such pleasure to see it being rotated still. Indeed all around Liphook village were the fruits. We came out into Lynchmere church and village, and I heard from Charlie, that it was here that Tori and Jeremy found a home they fell in love with but bought a place off Portsmouth Avenue which they called Lynchmere, the place and name I knew, but not its origins until today. Fabulous old pollarded oaks, 6 of them, on the way outside of the village.

Here’s a photo Charlie took of me admiring the Sweet Chestnut coppice

Evening walk through the estate, to the statue of Lord Straighnain. Evening dinner of left overs.

The weather forcast for Saturday was pants, but we did not mind as we drove to Charlie’s monastery, CHITHURST Buddhist Monastery, with links to my Buddhist life. Therevadan in origin it was founded by Ajahn Sumedho, one of Christopher’s teachers, so I relayed the story of how I came to meet Christopher , locked down in the Burmease Vihar during Holi, and seeing his name on a notice board. Such care, such tending. The garden, the cloister, the meditation room, so loved and cared for by hundreds of hands, giving time and energy. We sat for 20 minutes in beautiful silence. Outside, we wondered around the small chapel near by the actresses home, (her name and Charlie’s story forgotten, but Tori reminded me, Sarah Miles ) a stunning elizabethan? mannor house, rain preventing a longer walk.

Somewhere – Charlie will know the name – we drove on to find a farm cafe, where we had the most delicious Indian chai and toffee apple blondie cake – so good I took two as take away. As we entered the barn emporium (a collection of multiple shops with gifts for mantel pieces and posh kitchens) we both said this was not our scene, but never the less ascended the stairs, and there found a batch of LPs loitering on the floor. ‘You can have 10 for £5’ she said. Turned out they were classics: Previn and Bolt conducting, Elgar, Brahams, Mahler, so we got a bargain, and the LPs got a good home. One, home pressed, turned out to be a recording of Bach’s Brandenberg concerto.

As we listened to Mahler’s first symphony, we put up the 4 paintings of Charlie’s and adjusted the 13 Yaks to hang higher. And remarked about the mountain of putting the sofa bed back, a mountain we had successfully climbed.

Out we went for our last evening. First to eat at Liphooks Pizza restaurant which was once the home to Charlie’s picture of 13 Yaks, then a dog walk to the Links, which was Peters watering hole. Three border collies entering a sedate eatery, was an entrance. By remarkable chance the only two people at the bar were horse people, and had a scent the dogs were attracted to, as we were – with good fortune. Willy Fishpool and Veronia their names. She no longer rode (too many accidents) but did carriage driving, not like the Duke, but fast (it has a name i’ve forgotten). What’s your work, I asked Willy. ‘I’m an artit who works with burnt clay’, he said. A bricklayer! Born and bred in Liphook, I asked if they knew Peter. After a false start, they both did. The Pin Stripe or Suit, he was known as. They were at Peters funeral. Being on the other side, they went to the Bear afterwards.

It was a sweet and fundamental find this connection. The same as the Lynchmere connection, and the river of the Portsmouth road, that links Charlie to this place where he lives now, and roots him here. Let me come back in the spring, I said to Charlie, to walk again and see the old pollarded oaks, and explore more of the woods around.

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