John Cowper Powys on Lamb’s Last Essays of Elia:
He pities the unpitied, he redeems the commonplace, he makes the ordinary as if it were not ordinary.
The Spirit of the Downs, Arthur Beckett:
Thus on top of the hill I received the great gift of the Spirit of the Downs - the gift that makes a man master of the world. It is a gift that is given to all who find the spirit and commune with it.
I asked the Spirit to explain the gift. “The gift,” said the Spirit, “is the power of interpreting the Commonplace… The gift gives him golden days, the existence of which he has only suspected. He will return to his toil, but his spirit is freed and dwells, as he works, on the joy of the new days he has found.”
"The hills cast their spell upon me, and fascinated me, making me feel of but little account as I walked beneath them."
A Sussex Highway, Ruth Cobb
On top of the Seven Sisters, the backbone of a great beast, long buried. A beast with bones of white chalk.
"Buttressed hills lie couchant on the plain of the Weald, leading one to think of huge beasts in repose - the embodiment of quiet, mighty strength."
The Spirit of the Downs, Arthur Beckett
I was out walking on a lunch-break, back when I was working at Sussex Uni, and a bloke came up to me and asked “how do I get to the south downs?” I said: They’re right here! Under your feet and as far as you can see! Here we are! Here we are!
I felt so happy.
I considered that he might be asking for the South Downs Way, and he was. I gave him directions to that.
Two days to go.
roll, orland, roll.
There were a few suggestions for this. Toll, Roland, toll. It crossed my mind that that could be German, I felt like Sideshow Bob and said nothing.
Then he instructed the plains
How to roll sweetly to the horizon
He directed the valleys
To go deep
And the mountains to rear up
Humping their backs
Tales from Ovid, Ted Hughes
The chalk hills of Sussex are every where deeply furrowed by coombs or narrow undulating ravines, which uniting, form vallies that terminate in the grand transverse openings, through which, as already mentioned, the rivers flow into the ocean.
Illustrations of the Geology of Sussex, 1827, Gideon Mantell
There is a lovelier smell than cut grass, and that’s cut grass and two-stroke oil, together. The smell of cutting grass.
As a gardener, I found the joy of cutting grass diminished by having to mow in neat stripes. Mowing neat stripes into lawns full of fucking trees and flower bed enclaves aaaaaaaghh.
The best smell of all is motorbikes. The petrol-leather-motorbike smell which reminds me of my dad, specifically, of dad arriving home.
I couldn’t sleep. I lost four hours to dark thoughts.
I thought about camellia flowers to fall asleep.
Barclay Wills describes counting sheep in Shepherds of Sussex thus:
The sheep were allowed to run through a hurdle
two at a time
One-erum, two-erum, cockerum, shu-erum
Wine-berry, wagtail, tarrydiddle, den
- that “den” meaning a score
Now the camellias are flowering.
Virginia Woolf:Let us examine the rose. We have seen it so often flowering in bowls, connected it so often with beauty in its prime, that we have forgotten how it stands, still and steady, throughout an entire afternoon in the earth. It preserves a demeanour of perfect dignity and self-possession.
Camellias do not preserve a demeanour of perfect dignity and self-possession - they’re too good for that. The flowers have too many too-bright, pulpy petals. Too heavy to hold their own heads high.
At home I would collect up the fallen flowers and fill the bathroom with them. The fallen flowers fall apart within a day and I’m left with masses of petals.
Grey is the best colour as it contains all the other colours and is in everything.
"Or is it, that in essence whiteness is not so much a colour as the visible absence of colour, and at the same time the concrete of all colours"
In the time of no aeroplanes, during the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, I took a walk. The sky was so clear and quiet.
Last weekend I walked up Loughcrew, where 5000 year old tombs sit atop a hill, above those sang a skylark.
WH Hudson on skylarks:
To say of a sound that it is bright is to use a too common metaphor; this sound shines above all others, and the multitude of voices made by one distance is an effulgence and a glory. I have listened to it by the hour, never wearying nor ceasing to wonder at that mysterious beautiful music which could not be called crystalline nor silvery, but was like the heavenly sunshine translated into sound; subtle, insistent, filling the world and the soul, yet always at a vast distance, falling, falling like a lucid rain.