Sunday 24 February 2013

Rocky Outcrop (Twisty Tree)

Would you believe that this is just a few miles from the centre of Leicester?

It's scarcely typical of the county's landscape, which is dominated by rolling hills over reddish mudstones. Here, though, at Bradgate Park, the rocks are volcanic in origin - and excellent for clambering over, as well as being extraordinarily picturesque.

I took my children to Bradgate last week, during their half term holiday from school. It is a place that I remember fondly from my own childhood in Leicestershire, and it has lost none of its charm. As well as the fabulous rocks (and twisty trees!), the park has an idyllic river meandering through it, a ruined Tudor mansion (once the home of Lady Jane Grey, the "nine day queen"), lots of deer and - new since my childhood - a couple of tearooms. One of the latter came in quite handy. I'm happy to report that my children enjoyed their visit (which coincided with the best day of the week) and wanted to return. Which, I am sure, we will.

I was quite struck by the fantastic shape of a certain tree on the rocky ridge that leads out into the park from the Newtown Linford entrance. Combined with the abundant rocks, the orange-yellows of the February vegetation and the cloudless blue sky, I think it could be the wilderness setting for a creepy tale of witches, wights and wolves.

Oil on linen canvas (clear gesso), 70 x 50 cm
23 February 2013

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