Column: View From The Downs September 2014

Column: View From The Downs September 2014

By Roger Linn

We’ve enjoyed day after day of blue skies and the sort of temperatures that tempt a person into the injudicious wearing of shorts, and the exposure of more pale skin than is attractive, or wise. And the sea warmed up enough to brave a paddle, almost up to my knees.

vftd Sept 14My dog spent two months dozing and panting under the apple trees while Speckled Wood butterflies danced around his head. And what a joy the butterflies were; more Marbled Whites, Small Tortoiseshells and brilliantly marked Commas than I can ever remember and there was the wonderful sight of tiny, orange Gatekeepers rising in clouds from the hawthorn and bramble bushes.

Where the Downs have not been cultivated or grazed, my grandchildren were able to run through
an ever-moving, wind-blown quilt of lush meadow grasses, speckled with wild fl owers and exotic pink and blue orchids. I picked and ate fully ripened, juicy blackberries on the second day in August and the first of the apple windfalls were already scattered on the lawn.

In the coming winter nights, I’ll certainly think back on this summer and remember not just the
weather but some of the sights I’ve seen up on the hills. Above Hassocks I watched three buzzards lazily spiralling upwards in a hot air thermal when they were attacked by two kestrels in an aerial battle over territory. The kestrels, less than half the size of the interlopers, succeeded in driving them away.

Although I suspect the buzzards were just too hot to be bothered with a scrap. I saw deer perfectly silhouetted against the night sky on Amberley Down and on Devil’s Dyke, I watched the sun rise on the longest day of the year. Sussex Living at it’s best.