Sunday, January 23, 2005

Yes, But What Was The Downside?

Well, yesterday's planned activities with the Philosophy and Astronomy Societies were unfortunately abandoned--the former because I was deep in conversation with some flatmates, and the second because it was too cloudy for observation. But those opportunities should arise again, and I shall most certainly seize them. Furthermore, this morning did bring a different adventure in the form of a guided walk through the South Downs, a series of hills in the midst of which, nestled in a valley, sits the university campus. A small handful of us made it up Boiler House Hill to the sports complex early on a Saturday morning (a notable task on a campus where most people spend not just weekends but most nights drinking in pubs or partying at clubs--drinking age here is 18, folks, and that's so much the culture that there isn't much else to do around campus on the evenings, although fortunately I've found a small group of people who prefer to watch movies or hang around and talk most nights).

We left campus through the neighboring village of Falmer, which is absolutely miniscule and one of the cutest things you'll ever see. Most of the houses and walls are made of flintstone, which makes up a good portion of the landscape here, along with deposits of chalk. There's a church built in Norman times that looks like a miniature castle, right next to a duckpond and surrounded by grass and benches. From there we took a trail bordering some farmlands up a hill to South Downs Way, a walking trail kept up, I believe, as some kind of nature reserve. It basically winds its way up and down the downs, along ridges and through valleys, past snatches of woodland and flocks of sheep, through a number of fences in gates which divide the landscape into individual farms and fields. We saw a depression used as a settlement in Stone or Iron Age times, complete with the remains of some earthworks, as well as dewponds lined with clay to catch the rain and dew that will otherwise permeate the chalk and sink underground, so the cows and sheep have something to drink. Also learned the meaning of a few Sussex-originated words, like bourne (a spring that spends part of its time underground), dean (a settlement in a valley), twitten (a small alleyway), and weald (a flat plain between areas of higher ground). The weather stayed sunny, although chilly and brisk, and we ended up doing a lollypop loop of about 13 kilometers, which I guess is about 8 miles. Quite pleasant.

There are a few more walks in the nearby countryside coming up this week, including some led by biology tutors (their word for professors) which focus on the local flora and fauna, which should be very interesting, so hopefully over the next few days I'll get a pretty good idea of the university's surrounding areas. I'm looking forward to lots of walks and picnics while I'm here, especially given the openness of my schedule. And the nice thing about arriving this time of year is, the weather will only get better and the days longer. Hm, quite a pastoral entry, this. Next thing you know I'll be spouting off rhyming couplets about daffodills, so I'd best be off to do some reading for class before I become entirely Wordsworthian and go prancing off into the sunrise with a wreath of daisies in my hair, never to be seen again.

7 Comments:

Blogger GrandpaFred said...

I am learning this BLOG posting thing I believe. See my prior posting re "Philosophy is Phun" to which Phred can relate! Anent your latest it does seem that you are well on your way to becoming a "Bogtrotter" and surely destined for an Irish perambulation! I am surprised that I do not recall any comments about the relative age of things in the land of English Kings? This was one of the first things that struck me, coming from New England where we counted things a couple of hundred years old as being steeped in antiquity! And you from California where all is even newer yet!
In any event I do feel the vicarious traveler reading your posts - not that I am inclined toward becoming a vicar - by any means. And you can always read some Browning (either one-or,both)or Kipling to keep Wordsworth at bay!

GrandpaFred

9:40 PM  
Blogger Knightley said...

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, a herd, a veritable hajj, of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, around the corner,
across the pond, atop a hillock which was His,
Fluttering and dancing along with Liz.

Sorry Grandpa Fred; but why avoid Wordsworth?

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I refer to tooters as people who make small farts. What do you know...

Uncle Frank

p.s. I chalk it up to cultural relativity or the converse.

4:01 AM  
Blogger GrandpaFred said...

Oh, by no means avoid Wordsworth; a man of letters aptly named! However, why not dabble in other pots as well? The Brownings have a way with words, do they not? And Rudyard speaks well of things of which we may ruminate. At least I have found him so. But your little verse, Knightley, is said well, too. Such a wealth of poetry and prose is found in this isle called England. And, of course, the play's the thing! Else why is England once again experiencing Elizabethan times?

A great journey made
across a tossing and turbulent

5:25 PM  
Blogger GrandpaFred said...

Oh, by no means avoid Wordsworth; a man of letters aptly named! However, why not dabble in other pots as well? The Brownings have a way with words, do they not? And Rudyard speaks well of things of which we may ruminate. At least I have found him so. But your little verse, Knightley, is said well, too. Such a wealth of poetry and prose is found in this isle called England. And, of course, the play's the thing! Else why is England once again experiencing Elizabethan times?

A great journey made
across a tossing, turbulent
ocean's width
some winged steed of steel
intruding on our earthly stratospheric heights
flew our Elizabeth with swift sureness
to this venerable land of Saxons and
Anglos, Franks and Friscians
She to explore and discover
with transcending path to grasp

5:33 PM  
Blogger GrandpaFred said...

Oh, by no means avoid Wordsworth; a man of letters aptly named! However, why not dabble in other pots as well? The Brownings have a way with words, do they not? And Rudyard speaks well of things of which we may ruminate. At least I have found him so. But your verse, Knightley, is said well, too. Such a wealth of poetry and prose is found in this isle called England. And, of course, the play's the thing! Else why is England once again experiencing Elizabethan times?

A great journey made
across a tossing, turbulent
ocean's width
some winged steed sheathed in steel
intruding on our earthly
stratospheric heights
flew our Elizabeth with swift sureness
to this venerable land of Saxons and
Anglos, Franks and Friscians
She to explore and discover
with transcending path
to grow
and evolve as knowledge and
experience
prosper well for her
in life's journey of mystery
and magic.

5:39 PM  
Blogger GrandpaFred said...

As all can see, I have not quite grasped the mechanics of posting. Which may well explain why I am not one of equestrian leanings. Or mountings, perhaps? Well, in any event my apologies for the repetition as I created a bit of verse. Certainly by no means competing with Knightley's choice of Wordsworth... just a bit of doggerell as I sit here gripped in the subzero temperatures of Maine, surrounded by mountains of white. Anent Wordsworth; at least you did not choose to quote from the missive written about the fair maid reproached for long walks!

10:44 PM  

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