Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Silence the Sheep! Walking in a rural idyll of no where special

Walking along the hill tops across the vast expanses of fields,
down on through the hedgerows, scrub and silhouettes of trees either side,
no noise to be heard at all, the air still, the sheep poised all in a line as if about to stage a horse race,
the blue sky spread out in tones of light and dark blue, the Hampshire hills visible across to Membury,
south south west I look, clouds only whisps in places but much heavier in others, deeper and darker small lumps, like someone had decided to place settees next to cushions.

A view that was 80% sky and 20% land, and yet in the shear brightness, with the sun to one side I removed my sunglasses and found that everything was just blue, the 3D depth I could see was only visible with the aid of glasses.

A view, of rolling hills and ‘rural idyll’ countryside, no farmer could be heard but like dots the machinery crossed the fields. The sheep back across the way. The sheep following, knowing, all aligned ready for the boss. But no sheep dog, looking on down at the 30 or 40 of them, they all were moving gradually in line, no one commanding their direction. Suddenly the one on the end saw the displaced group up above on the hillside where they walked in the flatten bed, scared it turned to face them.

All of the sheep on the lower area turned at exactly the same time as the scared one on the end did. Like a domino effect sped up, suddenly all in a line they walked one foot in front of the other head to tail up the hill to the hillside group.

If it wasn’t for the silence no notice would have been taken, but since that was the only activity on real show against the sky, the eerie affect of these sheep all turning in time to this group sent shivers down my back.

Up and over 2 miles later and stuck in the hedgerows again, descending in to the village, the route stopped. No more path, un-trodden for so long impassable for just a wee footman.

Plodding on back the route I’d come, silence no longer, the thrashing machinery of the farmers scouring could be heard rattling across the fields. As I grew nearer to where the sheep had been, none were around, all away. Meanwhile the clouds seen and in depth had moved across five or ten miles, down below the sheep walked in toe of the clouds remaining in their line. No noise could be heard from their direction.

Across the skyline, from the Ridgeway route set into the land over the centuries, the tree line remained visible, marks distinguishing signs of which major formations they were- Hampshire, Downs, Chilterns…

The nearest mark of humans except for the farmers was the Membury radar stack and the transmission booster mast out beyond in the Letcombe direction.

Certainly if you wanted to feel separated from humanity, alone with the world, this would be a starting point. But truly this area remains fictitious, so much for rural idyll. Just a rural fiddle.

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