C.S.I. Cumnor

Only 10 miles walked this weekend – we must be slipping. 4 around Watlington on Saturday to demonstrate the red kites to my parents, and 6 around Cumnor on Sunday, finishing to gaze in awe at a stone fireplace in a churchyard.

The kites obligingly went through their paces, swooping and diving and soaring like they were being paid for it. Go up Watlington Hill and you can look down on them swooping and diving etc, which is even more fun. Beautiful, fantastic birds, and even though I had exactly nothing to do with their extinction, reintroduction or subsequent success I do feel immensely proud of them.

The Cumnor fireplace is an Elizabethan crime scene, the site of a scandal that rocked England at the time. Amy Robsart, wife of the Queen’s favourite Robert Dudley, fell mysteriously to her death down a staircase in Cumnor Place, after which he was not perceived to act as a grieving husband ought. Cumnor Place was pulled down in 1810 and its site is now an overflow graveyard next to the church. The fireplace is set into a bank and is all that’s left of the building.

Robert may not have valued his wife that much. At the top of Watlington Hill we unexpectedly encountered what I’m guessing was a local mosque picnic, 10 or so families with the girl children already sporting headscarves on top of the usual kid attire and the women utterly featureless in full hijab. Some at least allowed to show faces, some with just the eyeslits. What the kites made of all the penguins, I don’t know. Left wondering exactly what kind of culture regards women as irresistably tempting, wanton, slutty etc if they don’t have everything but the eyes covered up. You can value your wife too much, too.

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