At Home in the South Downs

The Arun Valley in the South Downs

‘This other Eden, demi-paradise,…This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England’

William Shakespeare

The South Downs

This time I’ve not travelled far– just a few miles down the road. Welcome to my own ‘patch’. Join me as we sit looking out over the beautiful Arun valley – a favourite local view. Our eyes look over the part- natural, yet heavily manicured, countryside of farm fields, the river and up into downs beyond.  As we sit and take in the scene, we begin looking at the details, seeing things we had not noticed before. We become aware of a living landscape.

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Great men have been among us


Photo of Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral- surrounded by the river Wear.

Some months ago a friend staying with us shared how she had taken a short break in the North, including  a visit to Durham cathedral. For her it was a sort of pilgrimage. While in the cathedral she said she was very conscious of the memories of two great saints, Cuthbert and Bede, who were buried there.  Sadly, I have never visited Durham, but the words of my title from the poem by William Wordsworth encourage me to stay in the North East for this post.  As a ‘southerner’, like our friend, I want to pay my own respects to these two great saints and pioneers of the Christian faith in this country. Continue reading “Great men have been among us”

Holy Island


There is no escaping from the influence of the sea here. Holy Island, Lindisfarne, off the east coast of Northumberland, is dominated by the rhythm of the tides as they ebb and flow. Nearby are the Farne islands with their colonies of seals and sea birds. When the day tourists have left and the causeway is covered by the sea the island is again cut off from the mainland. The noise and bustle of ‘civilisation’ seems a million miles away and Lindisfarne is left to the wind, waves, the gulls, and other sea birds and the few local residents. Continue reading “Holy Island”

Traces of Eden

‘ a river watering the garden flowed from Eden..The Lord God took the man
and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’
                                                                   Genesis 2
The Eden Project in Cornwall  attracts 1 Million visitors each year. In its huge ‘biomes’ all the natural habitats of the world are represented by a whole host of plants. A similarly impressive display can be found in the glasshouses in the historic Kew Gardens in London.Today there is much concern for the preservation of the environment against its many threats. However, this world is still at heart a beautiful place.

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Nature’s Classroom

Elkstone village church in the Cotswolds
St John’s Church, Elkstone.  Photo  by  Bob Embleton  – Wikimedia Commons

A Cotswold Village

Nestling into the Cotswold hillside, as if sheltering from the bleak winter winds that blow in from the east across the exposed fields, is the little village of Elkstone with its cluster of typical Cotswold stone buildings. At almost 1000 feet above sea level the parish is the highest in Gloucestershire and was mentioned in the Doomsday records. The ancient Norman Parish Church dates from 1160 and is renowned for its unusual dovecote above the chancel and its exquisite Norman arches in the chancel and sanctuary. Continue reading “Nature’s Classroom”

This Green and Pleasant Land


‘There are many things in life more worthwhile than money. One is to be brought up in this our England which is still the envy of less happy lands’.                                        Lord Denning

The English Landscape

We live in a beautiful country, envied by many people who live in some of the more remote places of the world. Our’s must be one of the least ‘wild’ countries, a homely, man-made, manicured, and cultivated countryside as  countless generations, have lived and worked on the land moulding and shaping it for their use and livelihoods. Roman, Anglo Saxon, Norman, Medieval, Middle ages, and more recent times, each leaving its characteristic footprints on the countryside as we see it today.

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This series of posts on the category ‘The English Countryside’ is an anthology of prose, poetry and pictures based on personal reminiscences and happy memories of special moments spent in , and (more recently) reading about, the English countryside.  It’s primarily for my own pleasure, but also for any other lovers of the English scenery who may care to read it. I’m so  grateful for having been born in such a lovely land. Continue reading “Maps and Memories”