Tuesday, 13 May 2014

H(e)aven or where the road runs out

On England's southern margin, where the chalk cliffs dunk into the channel like a shortbread biscuit, lies Cuckmere Haven. 
When the weather is rattling through on fast forward ~ four seasons in one day ~ and the light shifts and pools, the wind whistles in one ear and out the other, then suddenly drops away, silence, the skies darken and the sea mist softens and blurs. The cloud breaks and bright dazzling light bounces off pebbles and glints in pools. It is a pure sensory pleasure to be here...
Walking across the flood plain at Cuckmere Haven out towards the Channel. Green and pleasant collides with coastal wild. Rolling South Downs at your back nothing but shingle and glittering sea horses between you and France. Strips of green along the ric-rac curves of the Cuckmere. Silty banks gleaming like wet clay flaring out to a width of pebbles, strewn and tide tumbled. Groynes stand proud, weathered and softened, ropes hang, knotted and split, flyaway mermaid's hair. The rabbity watchers stand, all seaweed and studded...


 It suits me well this Island life. I happily bowl around my green Sussex landscape knowing that the road ends at the sea. I love to look out beyond these shores. I find large countries both fascinating and intimidating, where is the sea? How far is the sea? When I was in Australia I found the vastness incomprehensible, the views were epic and wide, the horizon impossibly far away. Distance took on a whole new scale of meaning, I loved it but felt like an alien! Only when I returned home did I appreciate the way a well positioned tree, hedges, fields, a church spire conspire to punctuate an altogether smaller landscape.
~Hungry~
 We retire inland to East Dean
 Fish & Chips washed down with a drop of Harveys bitter. Restoration complete. Someone asked me if Boodle is an American Labrador? If portion size is anything to go by then, yes I suppose he is. I walk across the village green and notice that one of cottages has a blue plaque, I investigate.
 
I listen carefully for the strains of a violin.
 ~~~

"At an Inn door stands a young labourer, tall and straight but loosely made...A prince - a slave...He goes into a cottage that stands worn and old and without a right angle in its timbers or its thatch any more than its apple trees and solitary quince which all but hide the lilac and massed honesty of the little garden. This is a house - I had almost said this is a man - that looked upon England when it could move men to song. 
For a moment or less as he goes under the porch I seem to see that England, that swan's nest, that island which a man's heart was not too big to love utterly."
 Extract taken from The South Country by Edward Thomas.
~~~

Thank you for hearing my song
-x-

Find out more about the Cuckmere Valley here




22 comments:

  1. Lovely photos & I love the quote.
    Blessings,
    Georganna

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  2. just beautiful
    those cliffs and the haven
    one day.....
    xxx

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  3. Lovely words for a beautiful post. England at its best - I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

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  4. Your words.... Oh, Sarah-Jane! I was singing along!! :)

    xxo

    Oh! and I know what you mean about countries that are too big. I live in one. I took it for granted - growing up an hour from the coast. Now I die for sea air - to get somewhere else - but it's three hours and some expensive gasoline!

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    Replies
    1. Yay Katie! Sing it!
      Three hours but more wonderous for it? Sending you sea salted kisses --x--

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    2. I've come to visit you and to wish you a happy Midsummer's Day! You and IT seem to go so beautifully together that I can't think of one of you without thinking of the other! :)

      xxo

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  5. Beautiful images, Sussex is such a lovely county. Love the quote, love Edward Thomas.

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    Replies
    1. So glad you like the Edward Thomas quote -x-

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  6. Such a lovely post, and wonderful images.

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  7. Your photographs are utterly breathtaking! So beautiful...

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  8. Lovely photos. This is a beautiful country in which we live.

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  9. Anonymous31 May, 2014

    Thank you - for allowing me to return home whenever I need to. Having lived overseas for some 20+ years whenever I need to feel grounded, calm, I look up your latest post and it removes me from the chaos back to what really matters. For this I thank you!

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  10. Did you ever see the movie "Atonement" from 2007? The Kiera Knightly character was supposed to live in that cottage at Cuckmere! The filmed it there but it was not listed in the credits. Also, they are showing Foyle's War here now (I think you saw it over there years ago) and it is fun to notice Eastbourne in the background!
    My in-laws live in Eastbourne and East Sussex is beautiful, I agree. I am hoping to visit in September, would you please order nice weather for me? Thank you! ;-)

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  11. Such a wonderful post. I love the idea of the cliffs as dunking shortbread!
    Lisa x

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  12. THANK YOU for sharing your lovely posts.

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