Prevailing Winds.

Loved these trees on our walk this morning. Guess which way the wind blows…!

In the UK the most common winds (known as the prevailing winds) are from the west or south-west. These winds arrive in Britain after crossing the Atlantic Ocean, from which they pick up moisture.

‘O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing…’

Ode to the West Wind, Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792- 1822.

Cuckmere Valley to Birling Gap.

Last Sunday saw us walking another stretch of the South Downs from the Cuckmere Valley to Birling Gap.

Cuckmere Valley is a civil parish in the Wealden District of East Sussex, England. As its name suggests, the parish consists of a number of small settlements in the lower reaches of the River Cuckmere.

Birling Gap is an idyllic coastal hamlet nestled between the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. It is famous for its Coastguard Cottages and Cliff Falls.

It was a tough but exhilarating walk across four of the Seven Sisters, helped along with a flask of sweet tea and a Mars Bar in a sheltered spot.

South Downs Smugglers and Coastguards.

I walked a National Trust section of the South Downs this morning, from Went Hill to Brass Point.

Walking, my mind was full of mariners tales, coastguards, forgotten villages and smugglers- all fighting to survive in the rugged and wild conditions.

I will never tire of this landscape and its rich history!

A Smuggler’s Song.

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street;
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark —
Brandy for the Parson,
Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, 
While the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again — and they’ll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining’s wet and warm — don’t you ask no more!

If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you “pretty maid,” and chuck you ‘neath the chin,
Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house — whistles after dark —
You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie —
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance,
You’ll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood —
A present from the Gentlemen, along o’ being good!

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark —
Brandy for the Parson,
‘Baccy for the Clerk;
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie —
Watch the wall, my darling,
While the Gentlemen go by!

By Rudyard Kipling.

The Jackdaw.

Went for a winter walk up here:

Sussex Downs

And saw several of these little chaps:

Jackdaw

These cheeky little birds love humans and anything shiny. They pair for life and stalk around with a dignified bearing. They love human structures and a church steeple is an ideal spot to set up home:

‘A great frequenter of the church, Where bishop like, he finds a perch And dormitory too’

William Cowper (18th century poet).

They have their place in folklore too. A jackdaw on the roof meant a new arrival, or could mean an early death . Encounter one on the way to wedding and this was meant to bring good luck.

Sitting against a stone wall, with a flask of tea and a slice of homemade cake they entertained me on a sunny January morning.

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.

Goblin Market (again)

By Christina Rossetti

Stumbled across this guy on a walk at the weekend. So had to do another Goblin Market post…!

Batemans, Burwash East Sussex.

‘…

So without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits though much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I toss’d you for a fee.”—
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One call’d her proud,
Cross-grain’d, uncivil;
Their tones wax’d loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbow’d and jostled her,
Claw’d with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soil’d her stocking,
Twitch’d her hair out by the roots,
Stamp’d upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeez’d their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat…’

(Extract)

The Secret Garden.

Bateman’s Robin. Burwash East Sussex.

‘The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off—and they are nearly always doing it.’

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Chapter 8. “The Robin Who Showed the Way.

An autumn walk around Bateman’s gardens and this engaging robin reminded me of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. A childhood favourite book.

Charcoal Burning in the High Weald.

Charcoal burning is one of the world’s oldest crafts dating back to pre-Roman times. It has a long history in the High Weald, being used in the production of iron from the time of the Roman occupation. Low value, coppiced or ‘waste’ wood is normally used for charcoal production.

http://www.highweald.org › local-products

National Trust
Charcoal Burner

An wet autumn walk in the High Weald and a bit of history about ancient woodland.

Village Cricket.

“You don’t win or lose the games because of 11 you select. You win or lose with what those 11 do on the field.”

Rahul Dravid

Cricket Pavilion Sheffield Park

A key part of cricket is the pavilion- the main building in which the players usually change and the main location for watching the cricket match for members and others.

It’s also the epitome of Englishness- the place where the ‘cricket teas’ are served. Pots of tea, sandwiches, sausage rolls, scones, cream and jam and of course cake. Summertime personified.

The 2020 cricket season is now over, for what it was worth this year, in England. Let’s hope village cricket has a better ‘run’ in 2021.

Bodiam Castle.

We spent Bank Holiday Monday at Bodiam Castle on the Kent/ Sussex border. It was built by Sir Edward Dallingridge c. 1385.

Sir Edward was born into the minor gentry c. 1346. Lady Elizabeth, sir Edwards wife, was a key figure in the castle’s history. She was heiress to the land of Bodiam and considerably wealthy to boot! Upon marriage Sir Edward was entitled to her land and money, which helped him to build the castle. A castle the size of Bodiam was large enough to house up to eighty servants.

On a natural note the castle plays host to bats, particularly the largest Daubenton maternity roost in England as well as well as a maternity roost of Natterer’s bats.

The castle stands alongside the River Rother and there is a beautiful walk following the river. The Tenterden to Bodiam railway also runs alongside the Castle stretch. There is nothing nicer than walking alongside the river with the castle on one side and the steam train passing by on the other. East Sussex is diverse and beautiful.

The Mill-Pond by Edward Thomas

The Mill pond, Batemans, Burwash

THE sun blazed while the thunder yet 
Added a boom: 
A wagtail flickered bright over 
The mill-pond’s gloom:

Less than the cooing in the alder 
Isles of the pool 
Sounded the thunder through that plunge 
Of waters cool.

Scared starlings on the aspen tip 
Past the black mill 
Outchattered the stream and the next roar 
Far on the hill.

As my feet dangling teased the foam 
That slid below 
A girl came out. “Take care!” she said— 
Ages ago.

She startled me, standing quite close 
Dressed all in white: 
Ages ago I was angry till 
She passed from sight.

Then the storm burst, and as I crouched 
To shelter, how 
Beautiful and kind, too, she seemed, 
As she does now!

Peak District National Park and the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Spent a couple of days tramping around the Peak District National Park, specifically Dovedale, a valley in the Peak District- owned by the National Trust. The valley was cut by the River Dove and runs for just over 3 miles between Milldale in the north and a wooded ravine near Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill in the south.

The beautiful countryside got me thinking about literature connections to the area- any great poets or writers. There was no one that wrote particularly about the area, however a few very famous writers had passed through, lived or stayed in the area:

Daniel Defoe (1661 – 1731)- passed through.

Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)- visited.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778)- visited.

Charlotte Bronte (1816 – 1855)- visited, (around the time she was writing Jane Eyre).

D.H.Lawrence (1885 – 1930)- lived.

George Eliot (1819 – 1880)- visited.

So although the area hasn’t produced a Wordsworth or Coleridge, it still has some literary history.

W.G.Grace and Sheffield Park.

W.G. Grace, English amateur cricketer who established and popularised the game of cricket . Born: 18 July 1848,Died: 23 October 1915. Test debut (cap 24): 6 September 1880 v Australia.

He was important in the development of the sport and widely believed to be one of its greatest players.

He was good friends with Lord Sheffield of Sheffield Park, now a National Trust property. He played for the Lord Sheffield XI many times home and away.

If you visit the property today you can see the cricket pitch and the foundations of the original players pavilion and the ladies pavilion. Also the original rollers that rolled the pitch and the oak tree that Grace hit ‘full toss’ when hitting a ‘six’ in July 1883.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden in