Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Stray

I got a bit obsessed with Hob Moor when we were looking for houses to buy. After 10 years of living somewhere where you could cycle into town in ten minutes and also be talking to sheep in riverside meadows out of sight of houses within the same time, I was rather used to feeling as if we lived as close to village life as is possible in a city.

So when I realised that there was a bit of Holgate sandwiched between West Bank Park and Hob Moor, I was smitten. We could still see real animals of a sensible size (cows graze on the moor) as well as get into civilisation.

And it was worth waiting for this house for. It takes us approximately 3 minutes from our door to the stray (assuming that Nathaniel isn't walking. If he is, then you have to stop at the gate for opening and shutting for many hours). And once you get to the stray, you are greeted with this view:

I love the fact that you are in a giant space of wild flowers and trees and can still see the Minster. If you walk to the other side of the stray and look back, this path leads straight to the Minster. I assume that it has been a right of way for hundreds of years, though that may just be sentimentality. Nevertheless, in true Ransome style, we have originally named it the Minster Way.

You can't get an idea of how big the stray feels in these pictures. Although it's got houses and a railway bordering it, and a tarmac cycle path through it, you do somehow feel as if you have left the city and are out in the wild. It's very calming.

We've taken to taking a morning or evening stroll across it. We go for a cow hunt ("cow hun(t)"), which eventually Nathaniel reverts to calling a bear hunt, and and persue the cows across the stray and into the hummocky bit.

Nathaniel walks for quite a bit of the walk, stirred into action by the opportunity to chase dogs, and is starting to be brave enough to leave the path.

It's strange the things that he is uncertain about! ("no(t) sure, no(t) sure") I am just waiting for him to discover the multitude of thistles that have grown rather tall. That'll scare him off the long grass forever! But in the meantime there is lots of buttercup picking to be done, and then several frustrating minutes while he tries to thread the buttercup into his dungarees buttonholes, gives up and asks me to, and then pulls them all out with relish!

Eventually he gives up with the idea of walking and insists on being carried. But it's hardly boring. Who says there's nothing to investigate when sitting on Daddy's shoulders?!

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