Stratum

These are my twisted thoughts, perched on the Weald in early autumn, a rich canopy of oak, beech, silver birch, alder, spruce, chestnut, hazel and ash ready to offer their autumn display.

Exposed grassy chalk ridges of the North and South Downs either side, and in between dense woody patches sitting on shifting Purbeck sands and clays, a hundred trickling rivulets and streams; a swirl of tightly packed contour lines of the Weald-Artois Anticline.

Deepest, darkest Sussex proper: the place where Britain was cut off from the continent by the glacial floods; a place where the smugglers and outlaws took refuge in the valleys of Anderida. I will trace the pattern of relief on a map when I return home to make plans to explore further – a refuge of my own into the unknown.

There’s history here but there’s a tight grip on the secrets of the past. There’s more to learn and to understand which will shine a light on the perspective of here, now, today. I’m looking for the harsh reality shedding away the dark layers and the cosy trappings of the 21st century.

I want to feel cloying mud and clay up my shins and the physical effort to move and travel between places, to find the light switch which will open up a new perspective or help to find the one that I have neglected and forgotten about, because there’s still time, the sands will not run out just yet.

“Climbing hills on a bicycle can be a great school of stoicism… I’m not prepared to believe that all that effort, all that suffering, teaches one nothing.” JM Coetzee.

Anderida