Woman of the Chalk Hills

Saturday 1282  –  16.01.2016

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Today  I went to visit my 89 yr old mother in Wiltshire, it’s a 7-8 hr round trip so I don’t see her often, especially at this time of year as my night vision isn’t great. I normally try to avoid long journeys and too much night driving.  

Mum lives in a residential home,  has early dementia and is nearly blind. My visits can sometimes be difficult, particularly if my mum hasn’t slept well the night before because tiredness makes her more confused and uncooperative, especially when eating as she now needs to be fed.

Today was different.. she had slept well and was in excellent spirits. I always arrive in time to feed mum because it usually takes ages and this helps the staff and of course mum. Today she ate quickly and really enjoyed lunch, especially her dessert. ( I get my sweet tooth from her)  We chatted, most of it was sensible, even from me!, and we laughed a lot; sharing memories.

I left feeling very happy, the sun was shining still and instead of driving straight home as I normally would, I decided to take a detour through parts of Wiltshire I was so familiar with, from when I was student nurse. This was at Pewsey Hospital for people with Learning Disabilities, or the mentally subnormal as they were called then. Isn’t that a terrible term?

Anyway decided is the wrong word really, as it was more of an emotional pull than a decision. I believe the reason why this happened on this particular day was because on Friday my Facebook “memories” ( you won’t have a clue what I’m talking about if you’re not on Facebook! ) decided to show me a photo of myself, aged about 18 or 19 that was posted, 6 yrs ago, on the timeline of an old flame and which I had commented on. The photo is from my student nurse days, back in the early 1970’s and here it is.me aged about 18 or 19

The drive took me through the chalk downs in an area known as the Avebury World Heritage Site and you can see a map of this below.  You can read more about this whole area by clicking here  

A little excerpt –

“Within the 23 square kilometres of the WHS the monuments are of exceptional size and interest, including remains of the largest stone circle in the British Isles, the longest stone avenue (West Kennet), one of the longest Neolithic burial mounds (West Kennet long barrow) , one of the largest causewayed enclosures (Windmill Hill), and the largest prehistoric mound in Europe (Silbury Hill).”

All of this is close to the very famous Stonehenge site and the whole area has a truly mystical feel tied to its history.

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How I love this area, with its rolling chalk hills, straight Roman roads, ancient White Horses carved into the chalk and not forgetting the trees; so many beautiful, mature, native trees.

I was born in a little village called Badbury on the edge of these chalk downs. The village is still there,but alas the house is not, as part of Badbury was knocked down to make way for the M4 motorway. Such a shame

You know how some places hold a very special place in your heart that never leaves you? This is just such a place for me and whenever I am in this area I always feel the pull. On this day I felt a great inner joy and peacefulness; both rare for me in recent months. 

Along the way I stopped and looked at Silbury Hill, below, a massive prehistoric artificial chalk mound. The reason it was built is still unknown even after several tunneling excavations. 

Most Mysterious Of All Monuments, Silbury Hill, Wiltshire, England.

Most Mysterious Of All Monuments, Silbury Hill, Wiltshire, England.

 

You are no longer allowed to climb to the top but back in the 70’s you could, and indeed we did. I remember a group of us climbing it one summer night, sitting or lying on the top of it, drinking cider and watching the sun rise while someone played Guitar, another old love. ( unless I’m mistaken? ) Well it was the 70’s !!  We may even have sung, but alas my memory is hazy.  A truly Halcyon day though.  We thought we could change the world in the 1970’s and I’m still trying. :0)

As we age I think we do look back on our memories: reliving and refeeling how we felt at the time. This is especially good in places like this that have changed so little over the years. There is a tremendous reassurance in that lack of change.

I rediscovered that I am indeed a Woman of the Chalk Hills and in the spring or summer I shall give in to the pull, go back and stay longer to explore once more. Expect photos! 

Which reminds me, none of the photos on this page were taken by me for once!

Your thoughts are very welcome as ever.

Saturday Girl signing off.. 

You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

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15 comments on “Woman of the Chalk Hills

  1. LensScaper says:

    I’m with Adrian – we must all be of a similar vintage. What a fantastic decade the 70s was. I played guitar too – late 60s into 70s – Joan Baez, Dylan, Pete Seeger et al. I look back at those times and think how privileged we were to be young people during those years. Then I qualified as a Medic and the hard work took over my life. And now I’m retired and what a great life it is to be free of all the stress of a demanding profession. My Mum lived down in Sidmouth for her last few years and I recall visits to her – often eight hour round trips. I wish I had listened more acutely to what she had to say about her own life. The memories die with our parents and I stare now at the fading pictures in the old photo albums and wonder who all those faces were.

  2. Adrian Lewis says:

    An absolutely wonderful post, Helen, you should do more like this. I love the account of your visit to your mother, its so good to read; and the early photo of you is wonderful too. And I know the Avebury area well, its not far from here – I used to walk there a lot some years back, as a way of getting over tragedies. And you’ve never said a truer word – yes, as we age, we do look back on our memories and relive them, and sometimes in astonishing detail too – well, after all, we oldies are losing our short term memory, I can never remember what I went upstairs to get >>> but our long term memories are getting stronger all the time. Thanks for a very enjoyable post. Adrian 🙂

  3. Mary says:

    Ahh Helen that’s a lovely photo😊
    My mam is not in a good place mentally and it’s very demanding emotionally to visit her in the care home She is very troubled. looking forward to more from Saturday Girl 😀

  4. scillagrace says:

    Oh, Helen, I love meeting your mystic self! What a beautiful photo! Very faerie/angel/nymph/spirit, in the 70s style. I am looking forward to more about this special place and the timelessness of place that gets into our souls!

  5. tunnelmental says:

    If there is such as thing as “magic” it can be found at this place for me, I used to live in sight of the Avebury stones and I have spent many magical hours there. I always make a visit to the stones when I visit the UK. I feel more connected to the world in Avebury and a few other places around ancient area’s of the UK. A feeling I find difficult to achieve sometimes where I currently reside. It is an interesting thing to search for a “home” on this beautiful, abundant planet, maybe I too feel the pull of the “chalk hills” of my youth or maybe I just feel nostalgic for nature. I believe in “magic” and will allow the beauty of it to flow in me and through me. Love and Peace will be my guide.

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