Over the bank holiday weekend we made a stealth-trip to Dartmoor, stealth because we really ought to have been visiting friends and family, but, well, we were rather in need of some time away from everything and everyone. The hard drives wanted de-fragging. Next time, I promise.
We managed to fit in three long walks, all around Lustleigh.
I don't think I am happier than with a map, a thermos of tea, my walking boots on, and several easy miles under the legs.
Everywhere you go, great boulders of granite jut up out of the ground. Some are covered in ivy or moss. All are coated in lichen. Granite is my favourite kind of rock. According to the hymn by Reginald Heber, 'the heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone', but why wouldn't you? It makes perfect sense to me. I feel the urge to touch them, to show respect, to make offerings. Some feel quite numinous, almost alive.
In Lustleigh it was May Day. There was Morris Dancing, a Maypole and a May Queen, who processed around the village accompanied by the local town band.
It's tempting to read the day as some latent and half-remembered piece of sinister Wicker Man voodoo but it's nothing of the sort. A bit daggy at the edges, it's so wonderfully English.
On our way home we were hailed by a friendly stranger, Suzi, who recognised me from Telling the Bees. You know when you're on the right path when you pass unnoticed and ignored in the city but get flagged down in the middle of Dartmoor, and by a maker of shamanic drums at that. A fine meeting indeed.
One last walk took us to Bowerman's Nose and Hound Tor, where Nomi, more keen-eyed than me, spotted an adder sunning itself by the path. Neither of us had seen one before. Shortly afterwards we heard our first cuckoo of the spring tootling in a copse.
Three days on Dartmoor had finally worn off, and the cares of the city were quite gone. The hard drives were working again.