My archery fanatics (daughter and husband) took me along for a weekend away when they shot at the Brighton Open Archery Tournament. Brighton Open was in Horsham (quite a way from Brighton but it was run by Brighton Bowmen archery club). While my sport-enthused kin used bits of high tech to hurl pointy things at teensy target faces in a chilly sports hall, end after end, I ambled around a couple of nature reserves and then, as sleet struck, holed up in Holbrook sports centre’s cosy club (with peppermint tea and excellent fruit loaf) to write a bit more of The Novel. The actual ending was written a couple of weeks ago but I was struggling with a pre-ending scene which I couldn’t quite choreograph until this morning when – Eureka! – it has clicked.
Southwater has a leisure park with a lake. Like everywhere in February the paths were brown-grey and muddy, except where they were closed to build a dinosaur-themed play area (knee deep in even more mud).
Meanwhile, real dinosaurs (modern morphology: cormorants) dried wings on nearby trees or dive-bombed walkers who might drop a few crumbs (assorted gulls).
Warnham Nature Reserve is a gem even if it is all about mud – it’s a wetland (and wet path in February) reserve. I wished I’d taken binoculars in case a bittern was lurking in the reed beds.
As it was I had a lovely peaceful walk right to the far end (via boardwalk – I love boardwalks) and up the (muddy) hill to see where they will be awash with butterflies come summer but now is bare silver birch trees and hazel catkins.
They have a captive breeding programme for harvest mice – wonderful to watch.
Sunday morning we all walked up Juniper Hill (near Box Hill). It’s not changed much since I worked a season at Juniper Hall Field Studies Centre in the late ’80s while I was deciding what to do after my Biology degree. My husband proposed while I was based there. No fox cubs playing in dead leaves this time: too wet and too many people crashing about. The Belted Galloway bullocks were new, though, and very handsome.
Back home to chuck muddy trainers and clothing in the wash.
I’ll be bashing away at The Novel till I manage to get from where my characters are now (one has surprised me; this may or may not be allowed in the big scheme but, at the moment, his dialogue has me hooked) to where they damn well will be for the very end.
Meanwhile poetry is on hold because I only have one mind and it also has to manage family and day job and it’s not entirely capable of reality at the best of times. But I was wandering (and wondering) around the Sussex lakes taking in our February: mud (so much mud – and how mud varies in its glorious gloopiness); twigs flushing with sap ready to burgeon; so many colours of green (early fine grass; seedlings; moss; lichen; ivy and holly; brambles’ wine-tones; pond weeds); textures (leaves, twigs, path, mud, sky); bird songs, scutterings; wood smoke, car fumes and so on. Close observation. One day these will drop into a poem. If not, they’re in my head and heart and that’s maybe even better – for me, at least.