One of my favourite things, fog in the downs. Did I really live here? This most beautiful and peaceful place. Maybe it was a dream.
Homesickness is like grasping at fog.
Hedgers always worry about frost because it kills the living cells of wood exposed by cutting. Some even light small fires along the hedge to keep it warm. But the work must be done in winter when the hedge reveals its architecture. Since it involves pruning the trees, a temporary reduction of their substance, this is a labour for a waning moon, the low tide of sap.
Wildwood Roger Deakin
The plant shop I worked at has closed. That’s not very surprising as it rarely had any customers, it was in an old barn in the Ashdown Forest, miles from anywhere else.
I watered the plants everyday, swept, talked to Mylo. Occasionally a posh person would drive by in their Land Rover and buy £500 of plants, but most days we’d have had no sales at all.
When the owner sold her house for £millions, she brought all her unwanted antiques into the shop to sell and we became even more ramshackle and phantasmagorical. Painted screens around fruit trees, ceramic ducks amongst ferns.
She didn’t price anything and would sometimes phone at the end of the week to ask what I had sold and for how much. I have no idea how to identify antiques. What should I charge for this life-sized statue of Pan kneeling?
A real duck (not a ceramic one) laid her eggs in a nest by the door. I asked Mylo to leave them alone and he did. After they hatched, I watched the chicks walk in a line to the lake.
I cycled there everyday along quiet, single-track, potholed country roads. It was summer then late summer.
I held on to the burdock and the burrs held on to me.
I am back in Sussex and I feel like a river that’s burst its banks.
Today, my first day back, I went for an early walk. I went to listen to the dawn chorus and watch the sun rise. I got to the foot of the downs but not any higher, the borstal was muddy and the mud is sticky. I nearly lost a boot.
When I got back I pulled Sussex from the bookshelf, opened it and twenty pressed green leaves fell on the floor..
All dwellers need the downs are familiar with the word borstal, meaning a way up the downs, and often named from the nearest village at its foot, as Ditchling Borstal or Washington Borstal. It is derived from the Saxon words beohr, meaning hill, and stigele, a steep ascent.
Sussex Esther Meynell
- Dave’s photo, the River Allen in September
The river strove to its goal; Siddhartha saw it hurrying along, the river that was made of himself and those he loved and all the people he had ever seen.
And all of this together -all the voices, all the goals, all the longing, all the suffering, all the pleasure, everything good and everything bad- all of it together was the world.
Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
Yet I can distinguish neither blackbird, nor robin, nor hedge-sparrow, nor any one voice. All are blent into one seething stream of song. It is one song, not many. It is one spirit that sings. Mixed with them is the myriad stir of unborn things, of leaf and blade and flower, many silences at heart and root of tree, voices of hope and growth, of love that will be satisfied though it leap upon the swords of life.
The South Country, Edward Thomas
The word ‘whiskey’ is the same word as the Irish and Scots Gaelic word uisce, meaning water, and that the River Usk in Britain is therefore to some extent the River Uisce (or Whiskey); and so in my mind the stream was suddenly turned into a kind of linguistic river of rivers issuing from a pristine Celto-British Land of Cockaigne, a riverrun of Finnegans Wakespeak pouring out of a cleft rock of some prepolitical, prelapsarian, ur-philological Big Rock Candy Mountain - and all of this had a wonderfully sweetening effect upon me.
Seamus Heaney’s introduction to his translation of Beowulf .
When I first saw the water tower I thought it was ugly, but now I think it’s beautiful!
Sometimes it takes everything in the sky and shows it back to you.
Sometimes it looks like a club and will murder you.
The walls are alive. Wet, living walls. Wall-rue and maidenhair ferns.
"I had been very melancholy in my walk back. I had many of my saddest thoughts & I could not keep the tears within me"
Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal
Things I miss about Sussex
- the sound of the waves over the pebbled beach
- cleaning my feet in the waves over the pebbled beach
- the view of River Ouse from Itford Hill
- climbing Mount Caburn
- cycling to Lewes
- my apple tree
- my friends
Things I like about Dublin
- Pink mornings
- Pink evenings
- Chocolate biscuit cake
- National Botanic Gardens
Frost, my mentor, shows me how to identify elm leaves (asymmetric at base).
Testing out my new cape today.
Good morning, friends!
Happy Apple Day!