Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Heath for Health

They both led tramping lives, and this woman in Gerrard Street here had been married very young, over the broomstick (as we say), to a tramping man, and was a perfect fury in point of jealousy. The murdered woman,—more a match for the man, certainly, in point of years—was found dead in a barn near Hounslow Heath.                     [Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Ch XLVIII]
                                                                                                                  That our B&B was in Hounslow was exciting enough but when I discovered Hounslow Heath just ten minutes away from the rented property we moved into, literature came alive for me. In 1860, when Dickens wrote Great Expectations, or from 1812-1840 in which the novel is set, Hounslow Heath may have been an avoidable part of Greater London, but not any more.                                                                                                                                                                                               Now The Heath is a haven for the health conscious. And home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, apart from hosting the children's Fun Fair every two months. The walk from 32, Cranbrook to Hounslow Heath     is not without its visual delight. One comes across the eco- friendly construction on the Staines Road and the early sightings of spring in the neighbourhood houses. 
                                          The snowy light pink flowers crown the trees depriving them of their usual green foliage. That nobody minds the deprivation only adds to the glory.                                                                                             

When you've had your feast of castles, bridges and superstores, take a leisurely walk to the Hounslow Heath. You'll come back 
rejuvenated and tanned. And having seen more colours than the dreary winter allowed you to. Don't forget to carry water and your shades. And remember the sunscreen.

            The dryness of the winter gradually gives birth to colour and you see a harmonious co-existence of both. Life unfolds as the dry & shrivelled gives way to the fresh and tender.


                That white can seem so colourful can only be in this English spring! The majesty of white leaves one awe-struck. Giving the serene white stiff competition is the royal red with its grape- like bunches.
What is it about flowers that we don't seem to remember beyond a rose, marigold and lotus? Stretch your limits, says Nature. Learn hibernia, petunia and daffodils. Forget after you've admired my Beauty but call me by name.  

The vast expanse of the Heath beckons you like there is no tomorrow. You can spend one whole day exploring its nooks and capturing its beauty. The bright sun after the cold winter months is like a mother's love after a dismal hostel stint. Warm, caressing, unconditional.    

                                                                                              Avoid the golf course inside the heath, for your own safety. Walk along the water, whistle to the ducks, admire the skylarks, try clicking that elusive rabbit if you can and soak in the smell of earth. But not the golf course. Unless you've gone there to play. There is enough to do on a meaningful Sunday than putting balls in holes.   



                                Come summer, you can do your Nature trail on an empty stomach. There are 

enough apples, berries and other fruit to keep your tummy from growling. And don't, by any means, tell 'em I told you this!
Quite unlike the Indian summer is the English. The flowers here will grow richer in hue, the sun will be           scorching and the natives will want to wear the bronze look. We don't want to. We are born with it! 

The acorn lies safely in its cradle; adventurers look for designer leaves and exotic plants; the cuckoo sings invisible to the human eye; God smiles in Heaven and all is well with the world. 

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