Simple View, Utter Beauty

At the moment, I’m reading Bill Bryson’s The Road To Little Dribbling, and as always I’m torn between helpless nostalgia and loud laughter — my general reaction to Bryson.  But the reading has pushed me into homesickness for Britishland, the feeling all the sharper because under current Chinkvirus restrictions, I can’t go back there and do all the things I love doing, such as driving through the countryside and marveling at the towns and villages as so memorably described by Bryson and embedded in my own memory from countless trips past.

I don’t often do this, but I thought I’d share with you the picture that’s currently my laptop’s wallpaper (right-click to embiggen to its original 1920×1200 size):

I don’t know if I’ve ever driven through this particular village, but I’ve driven through so many like it that it doesn’t matter.  Frankly, after a while they all become a blur, another “OMG that’s-so-beautiful-I-want-to-live-here” moment.

Of particular interest, nay even alarm to my Murkin readers would be the fact that despite the single tire-tracks in the road, it is in fact a two-way street which leads itself to moments of sheer panic should you encounter, for example, Bob The Plumber’s oversize Ford van coming the other way.  Such a situation requires either

  • pulling to the side (left) as close as possible to the walls / hedges and hoping that Bob will be able to get past without scraping the side of your (rental) car, or
  • driving on regardless while hoping that he will squeeze to the side leaving you enough room to get past without scraping the side of your (rental) car, or
  • pulling into a driveway — which action is inexplicably frowned upon by the householder
  • or else in the final resort, reversing back towards a “wider” portion of the road so that both you and Bob can pass by each other with a friendly wave from Bob at your patience and good manners.

When Mr. Free Market sets out for a destination outside his own village, he as often as not takes a completely different road each time, just to take in the exquisite countryside.  I once asked him if he’s ever got used to, or even bored with the countryside he drives through every day, and his answer was succinct:  “Never.  Not even close.”

I can see why.  Scenery such as the above plays a huge part in my laptop wallpaper selection — I don;t change it because I’m sick of it, only because I hanker after another scene.  Here, for your delectation, are a few others (ditto the embiggening):

(that’s a giant pic;  allow some time to load)

More, upon request, if like me you’re a fan of the English countryside.


  1. With the exception of the fox hunters (but not the church and setting), there are a plethora of these vistas in up-state NY and New England you can find on any warm sunny October/November morning. I haven’t seen them anywhere else in the U.S.

    1. There are a goodly number of hunting clubs in Maryland. One such rides through my son’s property near Westminster. They are very courteous, careful of damage, and always call for permission before they come.

    2. There are several Hunt Clubs in upstate NY ( Columbia County ) all along the Farm roads . Here in the Boston Exurbs there is the ” Old North Bridge Hunt ” here in the Concord, Mass area and the ” Myopia Hunt ” in Hamilton Mass which also even still host Polo matches . Lots of ” Old Money ” New Englanders still hanging on to the traditions. But they are all ” Drag Hunts ” where the dogs follow an artificial sent trail because the Fun Police and the animal rights people get all upset when the dogs find a real Fox Trail ( or take off after Deer ).

  2. When I was in Kirky Lonsdale years ago, a local showed us the setting for a painting by Joseph Turner. Your screensavers look very painterly as well.
    And yes one track roads are a way of life to this day in Scotland and Ireland as well.
    Nice place to visit as the saying goes, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

  3. I misspelled Kirkby, the second “k” is silent it seems anyway. The site being near Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The Lake District reminded me of Maine as we drove through. Lovely little town.

  4. I have found views that resemble England and Scotland a plenty in the north east part of the USA. In the west we have Vistas.

    I think it depends on how many members of the old country settled an area as that seems to affect the styles of building and from that the views. The French influence on building style is big in parts of Wisconsin and Michigan.

    I have never been over the pond, and doubt I will ever be, so seeing them on your site is a vicarious pleasure.

  5. Years ago my wife daughter and I took a driving tour through southern of England, absolutely beautiful country. The only pace in the US remotely like it is New England.
    We returned the rental car with all mirrors and hubcaps intact, which I regard as a feat….

  6. The English Countryside, and its roads, as long as the weather is fair, were made to be enjoyed on a motorbike……but that didn’t work out so well for Lawrence, did it.

  7. I would suggest you explore the gentle foothills of Oregon, specifically east of Eugene and Cottage Grove.

    During the decades I lived in this region, my mid-week drives are isolated and often solitary.
    The first week of October is always a brazen blaze of changing colors.
    Floating through shadows with distant misty mountaintops occasionally peeking in is a time to reflect on — and celebrate — my insignificance.


    I would suggest touring these foothills, but the MARXIST arsonists of summer 2020 have different plans.
    Our traditional early-October drive illustrated the futility of humans temporarily converting these Cascade Mountains to anything habitable by other than berries and bears.

  8. I like taking the “road ends” small roads here in the Texas Hill Country where they get down to a single lane, small bridges over the creeks that lead up into the various valleys and then after maybe seven or eight miles the road ends. Lots of deer and turkey running round and small curves with sudden vista’s, both down hill and up hill cliffs. We don’t have the old world charm of the small villages an we don’t yet have all of the social changes that have gone on over there.

    Damn, I do like taking meaningless drives on pretty days and we do have old Spanish Missions and Old Antebellum US Cavalry forts like Fort Phantom out of Abilene which are fun to locate.

    1. Stopped off in Fredericksburg on the way back from the NRA Meeting in Houston (?2013?) and rode those roads for 2 days on a new Bonneville – best two days I ever spent in the saddle. Would have stayed longer but a serious storm rolled in and chased me west – but the bike and I were nice and dry in the van.

  9. Except for the antique chimney pots and the thatched roofs, just about any place in the US that has deciduous trees and back roads has places that look very similar to those photos. Except for the fox hunt of course, I can show you a stone church in that same setting right here in central KY. In the first two pictures, simply replace the thatch roofed buildings with million-dollar horse barns, and it would look just like something in the bluegrass region. That second to last photo could have been shot just outside of my back door – including the haze – and the very last one about a mile down my road.

    But, of course, our esteemed host is not talking about just beautiful scenery. He’s talking about the scenery AND the old-world ambiance that goes with it – the thatched roofs, the chimney pots, and the fox hunt. THAT, can only be gotten over there.

  10. What we don’t get in the US, is the sense of time- I was startled , moving to the west cost, by how new everything was, compared to new England- the land there was settled in the 1600’s, and buildings from the 1700’s were still around. In England, the local pub might be 600 years old, and they are digging up Roman relics all the time. And say what we will about the aristocracy, it did keep vast areas in pastoral splendor. Like Italian hill towns, the English countryside has it’s own very special beauty. I hope to tour it again some day, preferably on a Triumph 1200 Speed Twin.

    1. I’ve heard it said that one major difference between Americans and Europeans is that Americans think 200 years is old and Europeans think 200 miles is a long way.

      1. There is a story, Mark Twain IIRC, about a Rich American who buys a Title and lands in the English countryside. Out for a stroll, he comes across a couple guys carefully fitting oak timbers to repair a walking bridge over a tiny creek. The Transplant asks them why they are going to so much trouble, can’t they just put a couple of 2×10’s over the water? Be way cheaper and faster.
        The workman replies,” you don’t understand, Sir- this bridge has been here for 300 years.”

      2. The Minster church in my home town, was founded in 979. Not 1979, but 979. There has been a small chapel there since the 7th century. The Abbey was founded in 1121 by Henry 1. Kim may remember visiting. A few miles away lies Blewbury. A small country town that I spent a lot of time in as a child. To me, it is the epitome of the English countryside. I have stayed in the White House in the picture, and lived every summer, at The Red Lion at the far end, that my aunt and uncle ran. Kim, I’d like to show you and new wife, round one day.

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