About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Friday 26 August 2022

Visiting Beacon Mill

On every trip to Sussex Beacon Mill stands dark on the skyline, and there've been several times I've tried to get up there to take a closer look but have been thwarted. The last visit, though, was the time everything came together to make it possible, and it's formally ticked off my list, but like so many of these interesting places, I left feeling like there was much more to explore.

The mill isn't often open to visitors, but was during our sojourn, so we got the chance to go inside as well as admire its brooding exterior. 

The mill - a grade II listed smock-mill - was constructed in 1802 and in continuous use until 1881. It then fell in disrepair and was allegedly used by smugglers for signalling purposes before undergoing several restorations, the most recent being in the 1990s.

The Friend who was on duty at the entrance was keen to test our knowledge to make sure we'd read all the boards properly, but Never mind the weight of a bag of corn, tell us about the skeleton! I cried and so he did.

When the foundations were first dug, two workmen unearthed a skeleton complete with a sword. (Of course they did, all exhumed bodies have to be tribal chiefs with an impressive weapon, the story demands it.) (Although this isn't entirely implausible, since there are believed to be at least two Anglo-Saxon long barrows on the site.)  The men claimed they went into town for something to eat at lunchtime and when they came back, it was gone. More likely, said the Friend, that they found someone they knew who might buy it, and that's where it went. We Shall Likely Never Know.

I wanted to go for a prowl over the hill so the Offspring sat on a bench for a bit and then sheltered from the spotting rain in the cafe. 

It's been so dry and hot this summer, most of the wind-stunted flowers were a  frazzled brown, and I made a note to return earlier in the season another year. There were still a few butterflies about and lots of bumbles ... 

... white-taileds mostly, I think, but also a common carder with a very high whine on milkwort (also common). 

Sadly there wasn't enough time for much more than a quick gathering of impressions.

Looking west over Rottingdean village and the Church of St Margaret, where the ashes of Edward and Georgie Burne-Jones are buried

Looking east towards Brighton

Back down on the beach - because there always has to be a sit-down on the beach with an ice cream - I gathered the day's quota of treasure:

a jackdaw wing feather from the hill

a lump of chalk also from the hill, a hagstone, and a pebble that looks quite a bit like a toffee and is pleasing to hold

Looking towards Saltdean

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