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the arun, peter in chains


Friday 31st July, sunny and clear, about 28 degrees. Lovely weather for cricket, a bit malicious of the weather gods to lay it on for Brighton, given that they are apparently planning to drown Pride tomorrow.

Marcel walking in Paris, a summer evening in wartime, the sky still a sea of turquoise:

"But if one looked for long at the sky, this lazy, too beautiful sky which did not condescend to change its timetable and above the city where the lamps had been lit, indolently prolonged its lingering day in these blueish tones, one was siezed with giddiness: it was no longer a flat sea but a vertically stepped series of blue glaciers. And the tower of the Trocadero, which seemed so near the turquoise steps, must, one realised be infinitely remote from them. . ."

Immediately, I long to be somewhere where I can see the immensity of those "glaciers": but you probably need to be in a city, and you must be on a hilltop. Here in West Sussex on a summer afternoon, there's no trick of the light or angle to break the illusion. The height of blue sky, with all its ranked clouds, seems to match exactly the space of meadow and woodland below the horizon. The Arun harbours yellow waterlilies, the Wey and Arun canal, a project of restoration that's fallen on hard times, hides between drifts of purple loosestrife. We'd been drenched in The Mens, hiding under a tree in the shadowy beech and holly woodland, we were hoping to find lunch of some kind in Wisborough Green. In the church of St Peter ad Vincula, extraordinary little treasure, we were waylaid by an agreeable church warden or similar, who may have turned up to make sure we weren't nicking anything but stayed to tell us all about it, the tour guide experience. Saxon foundation, Norman structure, fourteenth century wall-paintings, fifteenth century side aisles, the tower had to be built inside the body of the church because otherwise it might have fallen off the knoll, and into the river which used to flow just below us in those days. The Huguenots came and made glass hereabouts, bits get dug up in gardens, there's a tiny window pieced together from scraps of blueish, very thin, mediaeval glass. . . Thank God, says I, as we finally left, all of that lot wasn't in French. Almost drenched again, we made it to the Three Crowns, a very nice location on the 272, on one of the prettiest and most touristique roads in the South of England. Startlingly good food, if you are passing on your way to historic Winchester.

Butterflies. The oaks along the field margins. A long halt for sky-gazing yoga by the old canal, listening to a water wheel. And back in the Mens, one lone Parasol mushroom, which I stubbornly carried home, because Parasols are so tasty. It should be a great summer for funghi, the rain has to be good for something, but we saw nothing else edible, except for a couple of elderly horse mushrooms I decided to leave to the invertebrates.

The photo is by Simon Carey, and if you link through his name you can find out how to buy it.

Thanks to Mark Irons, for the nice letter you sent to Aoxomoxoa.

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