One of the charming aspects of my archeology jaunts to northern
is the peaceful beauty of the Northumbrian countryside. It is verdant green, unspoiled and free of most of the annoying aspects of modern life. England
It is not precisely the
that J.R.R. Tolkien was remembering when he created the Shire, but close enough that I sometimes expect to see hobbits ducking behind mossy gnarled trees in my peripheral vision. England
We have rustic cottages and farms.
We have stone bridges and little streams.
We even have an
Inn that brings to mind Tolkien’s description of The Prancing Pony:*
“Even from the outside the inn looked a pleasant house to familiar eyes. It had a front on the Road, and two wings running back on land partly cut out of the lower slopes of the hill…..The door was open and light streamed out of it. Above the arch there was a lamp, and beneath it swung a large signboard: a fat pony reared up on its hind legs. Over the door was painted in white letters: THE PRANCING PONY by BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. Many of the lower windows showed lights behind thick curtains.”
|Twice Brewed Inn at dusk|
Even the Shire had a few glimmers of darkness, both the shadows that could cross even the hearts of sturdy hobbits on occasion, and the fell creatures that prowled outside its bounds.
In my visits to this modern day Shire I have only encountered one possibly evil creature. On cool drizzly mornings I sometimes see on the road what I have come to think of as Mordor Slugs.
*Yes, I know, technically the Prancing Pony was in Bree rather than the Shire proper. We Tolkien geeks are meticulous in these matters.