On a dismal midday I walked down to The Trusty Servant, turned right and visited the church at the top of the hill, before returning home.
A clique of cyclists laboured up the road past Minstead Hall as I was walking down towards them. ‘Hey, it’s Father Christmas,’ called out one, peering through specs which could have done with a lens wiper mechanism. Given that I have had a good haircut and a beard trim since 1st December, I was a little surprised at this until I reflected on my walking boots and bright pink tracksuit bottoms. This time my disguise was unwitting.
This was my first visit to the church to which I must bring Jackie on a better day. All Saints, Minstead dates, in parts, from the thirteenth century. The Grade 1 listed building offers glimpses of past and present ages, from the Saxon-made font to the 1938 lychgate commemorating three successive members of Squire Compton’s family, Rectors of this parish for 90 years.
When we first came to live in Castle Malwood Lodge Jackie noted the profusion of lichen in the area. She said it signified the clarity of the air. As I entered the churchyard I was struck by the presence of numerous different lichens on the stones and on the trees.
Wandering on this hillside wondering at the writhing shapes of the branches and the tilted angles of the weather-worn gravestones; buffeted by the howling wind; and blinking through the raindrops glazing my eyes, as I sought out the last resting place of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who is buried here, it was impossible not to reflect on the writer’s novel ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. No doubt a balmier day would have conjured up a different image.
This evening Jackie produced a delicious lamb curry complete with special fried rice, popadoms, paratas and relishes. I finished the Dino. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Ian Peroni.