Wonderful walk, stunning sunset

And so this glorious weather continues, at least until the end of the week, when colder temperatures are forecast. On the hill behind the cottage the hollies and the large cotoneaster trees are completely covered in berries. Meanwhile the golds and russets of the bracken glow in the sunlight beneath the trees.

Very often we have spectacular sunsets filling the view from the cottage, especially during autumn and winter. This evening the entire horizon lit up as the sun sank below the Downs in the far distance.

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A fabulous day out

We are always on the lookout for exceptional days out to suggest to our guests. This week we experienced a morning we will never forget and intend to repeat at the East Sussex Falconry at Herstmonceux Castle, about half an hour from The Cottage in the Garden. www.eastsussexfalconry.co.uk

It really is impossible to put into words the magic and the thrill of those hours. Gerard, the Head Falconer and his assistant Adam introduced our small group of six to three birds.

We walked into the ancient woods which surround the castle with the first bird “Ash” a Harris’s Hawk, a character of such intelligence and charm that he quickly captivated everyone. He showed his party trick of running up a wooden handrail on a steep flight of steps in the wood and then staggered us with his flying skills through dense tree cover to land effortlessly on a gloved hand. He is affectionate, relating to humans in an extraordinary way and with an intense, trusting relationship with Gerard.

Secondly we flew “Halo”, a Barn Owl. Despite his apparent bulk he is so light that landing on my shoulder I really could feel no weight, just the softness of his magnificent plumage which resembles the finest gold embroidered lace. He glided silently through the darkness of the trees and when we emerged into the open he floated over the fields, ghostlike, landing silently on a gloved hand.

Finally we flew a Lamar Falcon “Neo”. With the backdrop of the 15th century castle we watched him soar out of sight then swoop down at jet speed to catch his prey at our feet. The centuries fell away as we experienced the ancient collaboration between falcon and man.

For anyone who loves wildlife this experience is not to be missed.

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 Gerard with Neo

Gerard with Neo

Sumptuous Sussex

Autumn is here in our beautiful Sussex woods bringing a bright tapestry carpet of leaves. The dappled sunlight through the canopy catches the mass of red hawthorn berries and the toadstools beneath. The squirrels are busy burying nuts in the soft earth. Walking in the woods yesterday along narrow frondose paths, we emerged overlooking a sunlit valley where the buzzards were wheeling overhead, mewing to each other as they circled in the thermals. Our dog was fascinated by the multitude of scents as the tracks of deer and badgers criss-crossed our path.

Meanwhile in our garden the roses are in a final flush and the recent warm weather has encouraged herbaceous plants into a second flowering. I picked armfuls of flowers and ornamental grasses to decorate the cottage.

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