I apologise for not writing about food today, but I have fallen in love. With trees.
I have always liked them yet over the past few years I have gone a bit crazy for them and I fear this is only going to get worse. Give me a bit of heavily textured peeling bark or the glossy shine of a holly leaf, a magnolia tree covered in buds ready to break forth into bloom, and I go a bit weak at the knees.
My sister really is not helping in this situation. Last April for my birthday she bought me this book:
We planned a day out in London and in May went to track down all these grand trees of the city. Considering my sister lives in the Cotswolds (I never tire of saying that!) where there are obviously lots of trees locally, and I live in Windsor where we have all the majestic oaks of Windsor Great Park neither of us were actually tree deprived. So it seemed like a true pilgrimage to visit and appreciate these special trees of London in their perhaps more challenging urban environment. Do you know what? They were doing just fine. The heading photo is one of the London planes on the Embankment; so glorious. I believe this row of planes was planted by the Victorians when they made the London sewerage system. The flaky bark of the London plane makes it especially good at dealing with pollution. Aren’t trees so clever? I love the way they are super strong but also that they are so flexible. It seems in nature as well as in life, (think of buildings designed for use in earthquake zones etc) strength and flexibility are a winning combination. I must aspire to this in my personal life!
Some of the trees were a little hard to find and we had a lot of queried discussions such as “This must be tree no.2”… “No, it must be this one”….“No, it’s not you’ve gone and photographed the wrong one!”…”Well you’re right but I like this one anyway”… followed by …“Is it time for lunch yet?”(me)…“No, we have to do at least another 2 trees to hit our morning target”(my sister). All in all we had a lot of fun and this is my sister at The Brunswick Plane, tree no. 4 in the book:
As my husband and I were walking in The Great Park last weekend (the inspiration for this post), I reflected that even an ugly tree can be beautiful, all gnarled and nobbly. And a dead tree struck by lightning can be even more stunningly photogenic than a live one.. how is that? Strange but true. I particularly liked this trunk:
Ancient trees are wonderful, the older and fatter the better. They have a grandeur and wisdom that makes me want to touch them for them to impart some of their magical knowledge to me. I like to think of our ancestors in times gone by taking shelter from the rain under the same canopy we do so now. One of the oldest trees local to us is the Ankerwycke yew (great oldy worldy name). It is 2,500 years old, try to get your head around that. It is rumoured that Henry VIII courted Anne Boleyn under this tree. It is near Runnymede where the Magna Carta was sealed.
I always consider myself super lucky to pass a beautiful old cedar tree on my way to work. It is in St Leonard’s Road in Windsor opposite The Trooper pub and dates from the 1800s. I love the way it defies convention and emerges up out of the pavement. In 2011 I proudly joined local residents in a protest to save this tree from being cut down and we were successful. I particularly objected to the Council’s wording on their notice: “this tree is an actionable nuisance”. I always give this tree a little stroke as I go by and think of how many continued years of life it has had partly because of me. You can read more about this tree and it’s fascinating history here. It even starred in a Carry on film, “Carry on Cabbie” in 1963.
I really could waffle on about trees all day and I haven’t even mentioned rustic autumn leaves, the awesome prettiness of blossom or the many amazing trees I have come across on my holidays around the world.
Oh, alright then, I’ll show you just one more…an exotic cousin of our friends above.. a palm tree taken in St Croix in the US Virgin Islands..now someone please get me a margarita!