“The road in front of us grew bleaker and wilder over huge russet and olive slopes, sprinkled with giant boulders. Now and then we passed a moorland cottage, walled and roofed with stone, with no creeper to break its harsh outline. Suddenly we looked down into a cuplike depression, patched with stunted oaks and firs which had been twisted and bent by the fury of years of storm. Two high, narrow towers rose over the trees. The driver pointed with his whip.
“Baskerville Hall,” said he.”
From “The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, first published 1901-2
Probably the most famous story set on Dartmoor, where we now find ourselves, back to getting the usual skewed view of Africa by watching wildlife programmes on TV (the new Attenborough is very good though, we can jump up and down on the sofa and say: “we have been there”).
Are we staying in a high, narrow tower? Not quite, it’s a barn conversion on a working farm.
Ugandan subsistence farming meant hours of digging with a hand hoe. Farming here seems to involve rushing around in big machines through narrow farmyards and much moving of mud from here to there.
I remember, when we came first came back from our two years and nine months in Gulu, my eye kept being drawn to the skyline, Gulu was low rise and flat.
The dramatic height changes of London were mesmerising at first, although like so much of the once so familiar that had then become strange, it quickly became familiar once more.
Our new situation? Yes it is in a bowl, or ‘cuplike depression’, as most farms seem to be; “muddy bottoms” Mary calls them.
It is a world of mists, soft light across undifferentiated fields leading to a clearly differentiated skyline; what appears to be a relatively close horizon. Some sort of metaphor for our quest to find a new life? No, it’s just quite misty.
Big tractors running through the yard again with dogs snapping at their heels, many dogs, also quite undifferentiated, they never quite seem to get out of the way of the vehicles. Our dog, clearly designated as pet, lies in her basket looking puzzled, as indeed do we (appear puzzled that is).
“Through the gateway we passed into the avenue, where the wheels were again hushed amid the leaves, and the old trees shot their branches in a sombre tunnel over our heads. Baskerville shuddered as he looked up the long, dark drive to where the house glimmered like a ghost at the farther end.”
How will the story end?