My mother grew up in a small, close knit community in South Wales and only started speaking English when she went to senior school.
It must have been quite a culture shock for her when she chose to come to England to do her teacher training in Eastbourne in Sussex, and it was the little primary school in Alfriston nearby where she was sent to get her first work experience.
This week we stayed for a few nights in the lovely village of Alfriston where she first taught, which is nestled underneath the South Downs.
To the south of Alfriston, Seaford Head has an iconic view of the Seven Sisters, although I personally find the white cliffs around Dover to be more majestic and breathtaking:
The Long Man of Wilmington was cut into the chalk of the South Downs possibly at the beginning of the 18th century. At 72 metres high, he is Europe’s largest portrayal of the human form.
One day we parked in the little village of Firle, where nearly all of the houses are still owned by the Firle Estate and it feels very much like you have stepped into the past.
We did a circular walk from Firle up onto the Downs and taking in Firle Beacon:
The camera has a high drama setting which nicely accentuates the abundant sheep paths:
On another day, we really enjoyed a visit to the 780 acre Scotney Castle estate, now owned by the National Trust:
Back home again, I have been trying not to get excited about a Tawny Owl, who was spending time sitting near a Tawny nest box in the wood. But this week any such self-control has proved impossible, once I had seen these next two photos.
This may be blurry, but we have never before seen two owls together:
This is the photo that got me dancing round the room:
A Buzzard also likes to sit on the same branch:
A Sparrowhawk comes down to a wood pond to take a bath:
By this point of the year, the Fieldfare seem to have gone but they have been replaced by Redwing. I remember this same pattern last winter as well. Two Redwing here:
We have now finished coppicing for the season and it will be interesting to see how this newly-cleared area develops over the next few years:
The next job is to get the rest of the Dormouse nest boxes up before the animals emerge from hibernation.
Across in the meadows, I first got a photo of a Magpie with a stick in his mouth on 24th January. That is six weeks ago, yet still they are at it:
X9LT, the female of our pair of Herring Gulls, poses up on the strip:
It is really nice that the male, Chuckles, continues to be seen with his chick from last year:
When a new Herring Gull has the audacity to try to come in, Chuckles with his chick on the left, is seriously displeased:
A Kestrel on a perch:
A fox sits and looks across the meadow at night:
My last photo for today is of the tadpoles that have already started to hatch in the pond:
It is estimated that it is only one in fifty of the eggs laid make it out of the pond as froglets and so I wish them the best of luck.