A Home From Home

On Sunday, I went to photograph the River Cuckmere from Exceat HillI after drawing inspiration from a postcard I had sent to my mother during a birthday present holiday in Friston Forest last autumn. The Cuckmere Valley seems like a home from home to me. Perhaps this is because, as a child, I was taken there by my parents and allowed to engage in free, unstructured, creative play. No-one "protected" me from original experience and the unknown. My better qualities originate from early unmediated experiences outside of Sussex too, including holidays in the New Forest, Hereford and Worcester and the Cotswolds. I was perfectly happy to walk into the unknown and keep on going; my experience of sensory reality uncurtailed by external measurable results, concerns about "safety" and other stifling forms of preparation for "adulthood".

The continuing unsettled and rather cold April weather was perfect for Sunday's visit to the Cuckmere Valley. Strong winds and scattered, heavy clouds allowed beams of sunlight to race across the landscape, like a spotlight chasing a jewel thief. I finished the trip with a customary pint of Harveys Sussex Best Bitter; yet another throwback to my misspent youth, when, as a fourteen year old cricketer graduating from Harveys shandy to Harveys neat, I began a lifelong love affair with real ale. Photography had to wait another two years and curry four. 

River Cuckmere

Absolute Shower


Martin Lower said…
The first one's quite an unusual shot. I'm used to seeing pictures looking across the valley (from west to east, or vice versa). Your view is pretty much due south, and all the better for it. The second one is extraordinary; at a quick glance the clouds could almost be mistaken for smoke from a bonfire!
I too spent many happy hours around this area as a youngster, usually canoeing on the dead river. Much enjoyed these pictures, thank you.
Alan MacKenzie said…
Thank you, Martin. Earlier this year, I'd said to myself, "no more Cuckmere Valley or Friston Forest, I've done enough". When I visit West Sussex, I never feel truly comfortable or able to stay there, unlike East Sussex, where I can set up a tent or rent a holiday cottage. I start doing things, which are indicative of a home from home attachment.

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