Instead, the Map Twats dressed up as Gnomes (woolly hat, pipe, waistcoat, belt etc) to travel to a beautiful corner of Shropshire (overlooking High Vinnals, near Ludlow) to celebrate Christine's birthday, and the formal unveiling of the caravan she and James won by writing this song.
The Silverline Nova (c. 1980) is a work of unearthly beauty - decorated like a 1970s downstairs lavatory. It is also, under the layers of decoration, a bit of a wreck, despite the best efforts of its proud owners.
So 30+ people gathered with varying degrees of posh camping equipment. My tent was last used by German friends, so everything was beautifully folded and nothing was missing. I'm less organised, so managed to bring a camera with approximately 10 minutes of battery life. The result is that there are no pictures of the stunning ridge with views for 50 miles in every direction - Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and lots of Wales - or of the amazing sunset and orange moonrise. There are pictures of happy liberals, a deaf sheepdog (which amused itself by chasing the sheep away from their water trough), the caravan, and the buzzards which circled us hopefully and hungrily. I was woken around 5 a.m. by the sound of massive wings flapping around the remains of the barbecue.
The blue remembered hills of Shropshire
In summertime on Bredon The bells they sound so clear; Round both the shires they ring them In steeples far and near, A happy noise to hear. Here of a Sunday morning My love and I would lie, And see the coloured counties, And hear the larks so high About us in the sky.
A.E. Housman, 'Bredon Hill'
Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again.Housman, XL
The deaf sheepdog. Appropriately, Christine teaches sign.
You can see more excellent photographs by Carolyn, here. Amongst other things, someone launched a Chinese lantern which flew glittering into outer space, or at least near, and a polymath called Matthew who makes fine plum jam and set up a moth box (a powerful light and box to harmlessly attract moths for study: some amazing fluttery things are out there).