|William Henry Hudson|
National Portrait Gallery, London
Artist: William Rothenstein
It was published originally in 1909 and is still in print. I so enjoy reading a gentle book such as this that tells of the author's rambles - by foot and on bicycle - about the English countryside.
I have only read a couple of chapters - one is about the timelessness of guide books. Another offers the author's conviction that places shouldn't be revisited as one can never quite capture the charm and excitement of a first discovery. A third chapter tells his tale of arriving at a village near dark and his conversation with the vicar about how toads came to live in the pews of the damp old church and were fed by the female parishioners on Sundays.
Now there is a story you won't hear every day!
William Henry Hudson was born in 1841 near Buenos Aires, Argentina. He settled in England in 1874 (his parents were of English and Irish origin) and wrote all sorts of ornithological studies and books about the English countryside. He was a founding member the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Perhaps you know him best as the author of Green Mansions.
Here is a sample from Afoot in England:
It was the end of a hot midsummer day; the sun went down a vast globe of crimson fire in a crystal clear sky; and as I was going east I was obliged to stand still to watch its setting. When the great red disc had gone down behind the green world I resumed my way but went slowly, then slower still, the better to enjoy the delicious coolness which came from the moist valley and the beauty of the evening in that solitary place which I had never looked on before. Nor was there any need to hurry; I had but three or four miles to go to the small old town where I intended passing the night. By and by the winding road led me down close to the stream at a point where it broadened to a large still pool. This was the ford, and on the other side was a small rustic village, consisting of a church, two or three farm-houses with their barns and outbuildings, and a few ancient-looking stone cottages with thatched roofs.
I swear this is a scene right out of Lark Rise to Candleford and I can't wait to read more.