Monday, 26 December 2011


Waltham Brooks
The sky over the Downs glows, as if some unseen fire rages on the southern side, hidden from view by the grey whaleback slopes.

Waltham is still saturated with the rain of the previous few days and flocks of mallards chatter excitedly from the flooded meadow; here and there a gull swoops in to share the waters. Kicking up the soil near the old canal path reveals the foundations of the long-demolished lock keeper's cottage, the rain and vegetation indicating the rod straight canal locks running away towards the Arun.

The school holidays are here and the footpaths are busier than I am used to. Brightly coloured garb, excited chatter and barking dogs do nothing except drive the owls to the other side of the river. One shifts across by Greatham Bridge, and drops into the grass as a child squeals in excitement. Eventually he rises to a post where he can survey this stranger in his domain.

kestrel quarters the field, settling on a hover near the brooks before plummeting from sight into the long grass.

Darkness brings a chill.

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