Monthly Archives: February 2016

Up on The Downs

A girl sits under skylark and buzzard, her shoes and knees scuffed with chalk dust, she tosses a stone to the millpond. She is beautiful but this doesn’t matter. The wind in the wheat and the distant hum of the contented dairy herd. Below the hills sits the world. A world of avenues that look like hedgerows from up here. A world of toy villages with silent church spires. A world of kissing gates in the twitterns. She tilts her head and sends a mercury glint of glass rushing along hidden country roads. Up here just the rolling green, the song and the sky. Up here, stiles on broad tracks.

She tosses a stone and watches that perfect circumference expand, touch the edge and bounce back, meeting its children coming the other way. This is practiced and perfect.

The kestrel on the fence post stares. He tilts his head as if he’s a songbird, considers her, then he’s off, to hover swoop and abort, hover swoop dive and abort, until a dive takes him in to the long grass and out of sight.

There’s a horse that gallops but never goes anywhere, he doesn’t need to, from up here everyone can see him. And people will come to see him. The horse means the hills belong to her. So she tosses another stone and watches the ripples slow their children.


I enjoy the morning in coastal towns, this is not an Instagram thing, it is not sunrises and picturesque people sipping lattes outside artfully independent coffee shops with watercolour filters thrown across the whole scene.

I enjoy the morning in coastal towns, the morning after paintings by Atkinson Grimshaw, the mornings that start as early as it’s light enough to inspect the streets.There’s a sense of survival, of having made it through another night, a sense of wishing to check, to see, it’s all still there; that the defences weren’t breached; that the pier didn’t wash away.

I enjoy the morning in coastal towns, regardless of the weather we seem to need to sweep away the sea’s detritus. Half a mile from the beach and there’s seaweed in the streets. In the morning when we see what she’s done, what she’s given us and what she’s taken, in the dark. In the morning when she may still be rumbling on or may have calmed and slept. In the morning when we’re just pleased to be beside her.