We drove down to Little Rissington this morning, early, with very little traffic on the road – for Christmas Day at Hill House. The countryside beyond Oxford was still white with snow and illuminated by a low sun in the most spectacular way. Elaine and I took a walk up to St Peter’s Church before lunch, passing the tiny bridge across which almost 50 years ago a legendary battle was fought out – between one of our young friends with a branch and one of the Misses Le Marchant, whose garden I suspect we had somewhat invaded, who was armed with her walking stick – and who must have been well into her eighties at the time. I think honour was maintained on both sides.
Very aware of the gift of being rooted in this house and this village. Odd mixture of emotions as we headed towards the church, the scene of so many christenings, marriages and funerals in the more-than-50 years we have been in Little Rissington. Particularly sad to walk around the RAF graves, particularly after looking through a number of Tim’s books, including the sixth volume of Robert Taylor’s Air Combat Paintings – which are quite extraordinary. Interesting, too, to read quickly through a new book on No. 1 Squadron, In All Things First, which features both my parents – Tim as No 1 Squadron pilot, Pat as the target of a trio of Focke-Wulf 190 fighter-bombers in 1943.
Last night, I had watched The Tuskegee Airmen, a moving film on the first African American fighter pilots. Sent an email afterwards to Dianne Dillon Ridgly, whose father was one of the “round two” Tuskegee airmen, and who I last saw a month or so ago at the Ecotopia event in London.
Loved the new landscape Caroline is painting up in her studio. And when we were leaving, much later, the frost shone on the car’s roof – and the stars shone brilliantly overhead, a smudged shooting star arcing over the barns towards Burford. A great skein of stars, including the Big Dipper and a brilliant planet, hung overhead, with a half Moon. Magical.