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2016 || 16


Paths past garden gates, those neglected places where stinging nettles and wild flowers thrive. Next to a railway line and over a stream that is obscured from view throughout town; behind the houses, buried under streets, channeled through concrete, feeding into the Ouse somewhere in the Railway Land. It’s running high and fast now as winter’s rain drains from the Downs into the overflowing chalk aquifiers deep below. Alleyways, brick walls, fences, hedges, sneaking around the edge of town. Edgelands, the liminal places. A smattering of colour amongst the trees beside the chalk path. Guerrilla gardening or seeds fleeing from manicured lawns and tidy beds? Past the back of the prison and up through the tunnel of trees to the race course, the track rutted and pockmarked with hoof prints. Out of the shadows into the sunshine and wind.

Something is riding the wind just ahead. Looks like a raptor of some kind, not a crow or magpie, maybe a buzzard. Then it’s tail flicks round, forked, then a flash of red as the sun catches it’s torso. A red kite? Wow! not seen one of these here before and never seen one so close. Stop to watch. Ten, fifteen metres away, a metre from the ground, then further up to catch the breeze and hunt along the ridge. Hassled by a crow it circles up into the sunlight, silhouetted, splayed feathers at the wing tips, definitely a forked tail. Yes, a ride kite. Glides down on the other side of the track, surfs the wind along the hillside. I watch until it is little more than a dot fading into the blue.

Lambs bounce around in little gangs on the bridleways. Having snuck under metal farm gates, they seem to be looking for mischief. It’s all gone a bit Shaun The Sheep up on the Downs this week. They loiter by the South Down Way gates. Waiting to make a break for freedom?

Warmth and little wind. Busy at the golf course, a full car park and cars parked on the grass verge. Sunny day cyclepath anarchy with added smell of barbecue. A French school coach stuck in a failed three point turn down by the marina.

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