The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.

A Christmas favourite. After a night of heavy snowfall, a boy plays in the snow, eventually building a large snowman. At the stroke of midnight, he sneaks downstairs to find the snowman magically comes to life.

They play in the snow and then take flight, flying over the South Downs towards the coast, seeing the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Palace Pier and north along the coast of Norway. They continue through an arctic landscape and into the aurora borealis. They land in a snow-covered forest where they join a party of snowmen. They eventually meet Father Christmas along with his reindeer.The snowman returns home with James before the sun rises and the two bid farewell for the night.

The film is as magical as the book with an emotive score. The first page of the original score of The Snowman, signed by composer Howard Blake, is due to go to auction in aid of the Journalists’ Charity.

I will never tire of this timeless book and film. I am Sussex born and bred and the fact that both Briggs and Blake have Sussex Connections and the book a Sussex backdrop, is what makes it even more delightful.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path 

Raynor and Moth lost everything, including the roof over their heads- they decided to walk the South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall while they took stock. At the same time Moth is diagnosed with a terminal illness. With their possessions in backpacks they battled the elements, walking and living the Path. The Salt Path is about the resilience and resourcefulness of human nature. It is also a story of loss, courage, hope and love.

The Standen Winter Tree of Hope.

Tree of hope.

I’ve seen a lot of these crafting trees around this December. I think that creating them over the lockdown periods have given many people something to do and have helped alleviate loneliness and boredom. These ones were at Standen House, the National Trust Arts and Crafts family home with Morris & Co. interiors, set in a hillside garden.

The Crocodile by Roald Dahl.

“No animal is half as vile
As Crocky–Wock, the crocodile.
On Saturdays he likes to crunch
Six juicy children for his lunch
And he especially enjoys
Just three of each, three girls, three boys.
He smears the boys (to make them hot)
With mustard from the mustard pot.
But mustard doesn’t go with girls,
It tastes all wrong with plaits and curls.
With them, what goes extremely well
Is butterscotch and caramel.
It’s such a super marvelous treat
When boys are hot and girls are sweet.
At least that’s Crocky’s point of view
He ought to know. He’s had a few.
That’s all for now. It’s time for bed.
Lie down and rest your sleepy head.
Ssh. Listen. What is that I hear,
Galumphing softly up the stair?

Go lock the door and fetch my gun!
Go on child, hurry! Quickly run!
No stop! Stand back! He’s coming in!
Oh, look, that greasy greenish skin!
The shining teeth, the greedy smile!
It’s Crocky–Wock, the Crocodile!”

Carved crocodile. Standen House Estate.

Southease and Rodmell, East Sussex.

Today we parked up at Southease and walked across the fields and along the River Ouse to Rodmell.

Southease is a small village west of the River Ouse. It has a church, a small railway station and a youth hostel:

https://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-south-downs?utm_source=google&utm_medium=maps&utm_campaign=google-places#hostel-location-map

YHA South Downs
St Peter’s church Southease

Rodmell is a small village nestling in the South Downs and lying in the lower valley of the Ouse. There has been a village here since the time of William the Conqueror.

It was about a five mile round trip on a beautiful early November autumn day.

It’s Tupping Week.

So this week marks the start of Tupping in the sheep farmers’ calendar, for 2020 specifically, tomorrow (Thursday 5th November).

Tupping

Ewes and rams mate in a process called tupping which takes places in the autumn time. Ewes are only in season once per year – so unlike other animals that become fertile multiple times a year, there is a short time period for them to fall pregnant.

As a child growing up, and still as an adult, it’s as much a part of autumn as Halloween and Bonfire Night. A rite of passage marking the rhythm of the seasons, the farming calendar.