Weds, April 23rd, 2003 Duddon Valley Cumbria

  St George's day. We woke to beautiful blue skies once more. Peter counted his sheep, I went to make the tea and biscuits, orange and crumpet for Gabriel. Sadly, I dont know how to control that wild country microwave so it was a stone crumpet- A cuckoo singing, in the goden green Spring woods above our sheep field across the lane.

   In the morning we took the cats out in the garden. This was a mistake, because we were planning their big walk today. We should have taken them down the river first, while they were hungry for it. As it was, we lay in the sun and played and watched the birds in the twin beeches and the twin-trunked birch, which is just coming into delicate leaf, chased the cats threw ball for the cats and finally lost the cats... Frank came home, like a good lad. Ginger was unbelievably bad, and rolled on the gravel in Low Hollin's yard, taunting me. I grabbed her through the gate & her collar came off so I panicked, and trespassed... Luckily, I think they were out. The bad cat ran straight back to our garden, of course. So then the walk down to the Newfield, over the boghop and the stepping stones. Marsh violets and wood anemones in the rusty bracken, but no pollywoggles in the water. Gabriel crossed the stones Commando style (not refering to underwear. I reserve the right to know nothing of his underwear these days-) which was captured on video. The walk down the river was a bit of a disaster vis a vis senior cat, who legged it and hid in holes whenever let off the lead, but junior cat did splendidly. We stopped at the viewpoint as always, looking down into the gorge and the tapestry of budding trees, but neither heard nor saw the peregrines this year. Met a woman with blond dreads laying an easter egg trail at the skimming beach, she had two loose dogs... well, people will always have loose dogs, and cats just have to beware. The little eggs, wrapped in purple foil, looked remarkably like beetles. We didn't nick any. We skimmed stones and chucked rocks at the boulders under the holly falls, and so onwards, over the arch bridge and through the recreation ground to the pub. We sat in the garden with the chaffinches, and talked to a cyclist who'd just come over the Walna scar road, very fancy bike.

    Ginger then (how lairy is she?) walked immaculately to heel all the way home .

    Peter had agreed to go back to Swinside -having lost all our photos by accidentally formating the card. We could not reproduce the flowery walk of yesterday from Broughton, or the tramp across the fell (where we found a palmated newt beheaded in a cattle grid -obviously a Darwinian loser- and a squashed adder, on the rat-run road . But we drove to the track, and walked up to Swinside in the same perfect light of late afternoon, with the cuckoo's song on our righthand side, and there was the circle, miraculous vision, just THERE in a sloping field under the hill, fifty stones, (apparently, I didn't count), most of them standing and around 1.75 -2metres tall. Reddish, sandstone, rough-hewn, almost Averbury scale, nobody seems to have written much about it, not in local guides anyway. The circle is 24 Peter strides in diameter. Is this the megalithic yard? Peter thinks the megalithic yard is a myth. We climbed them, we made a video, we stayed there for a while. I looked for signs of the Old Religion in practice, but saw none (er, unless you count some fragments of celery?) But maybe it means something that this place was called the 'Sunkenkirk' -as if Norse-speaking people had found it to be a place of worship, in living memory, when THEY arrived here-

      And so, back to the cottage, where we finished the Chicken soup and Gabriel and Peter played Poohead while I soldiered on with The Stand. Narrative tension kind of drops off, but it's a good read. Gabriel (who can still lock himself in the cupboard under the stairs from the inside) loves Tom Cullen, the Tom Cullen and Stu trek, and the Christmas they share in the post-apocalyse American town...


Falling Leaf