We found ourselves today, unexpectedly, some 2,000 ft over Shropshire. Strapped securely into the seats of a small and insubstantial plane - and humming soto voce 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines....' - we took off from Welshpool Airport for the wide blue yonder.
And what a wonderful day it was to take to the skies, clear, crisp and blue. Beneath us we saw, in Gerard Manley Hopkins' words, 'Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough'. It was both familiar and strangely revealing from this unaccustomed perspective, like discovering the depth of wrinkles on the face of an old friend.
How neat it all looks. How many sheep there are. Water glints and flashes. There is no time to study anything before we have soared away. And there is so much to look out for - field patterns, earthworks, woods, lanes, dingles. Where we used to live. Where we walked the dogs. This magnificent empty landscape flowing beneath us, spreading, rising, creasing into folds and gullies, sheltering clusters of houses, cottages and farms. Hidden mansions amongst the trees. One could surely never tire of this.
Over Long Mountain, via Trelystan and up the Rea Valley to Westbury, spotting familiar landmarks below. On to Shrewsbury - the sinous curves of the Severn clearly visible. Over Pontesbury - Asterly with its windmill in the distance - and Minsterley, to the Stiperstones. Then turning west across Long Mountain we head towards Middletown and the Brieddens. We take a close look at Rodney's Pillar. (Erected in 1782 by the grateful Montgomeryshire landowners whose oaks were bought by Admiral Rodney to build his fleet.) The walker enjoying a solitary stroll at the summit must have thought we were going to join him...Finally we turn south passing Powis Castle and take a look at Castle Caereinion where Alan shoots. Then all too soon with barely a hiccup we are back on terra firma. Mid Wales Airport. Welshpool. It's been noisy, bumpy, draughty and brilliant.
Here's a view of the barn and its environs - our field is across the centre. The teeny dots in the 'triangular' field are 3 cows and two calves.
Next, Westbury where we lived while waiting for the building works to be completed. Jubilee Mews and "Bob's pub are slightly to the left of centre, at the top.
Then over to Shrewsbury where the old town can be seen in the loop of the Severn. The Abbey is a third of the way down and two-thirds of the way across to the east - by the English Bridge.
And finally over the Stiperstones, looking north.
Thank you Russell for an exhilarating morning's flight. When can we go again?