My bathroom rebuild that has taken on the proportions of one of those epic constructions in World history like the Pyramids, Stone Henge or even the last time I got involved in a bathroom rebuild. My house is not my home any more but the sun is shining and my heart is light in the expectation of a lavatory that flushes, a bath that isn’t peeling paint and a shower head that doesn’t suddenly decide to crash down onto your head.
I decided this morning to clear my lungs from tile grouting and to take a walk around my home town of Lewes in Sussex, England, on a day when that special December sunlight livens your spirit in celebration of a pleasure short lived as we approach the shortest day of the year adter a period of intense rainfall.
The rain has cleaned the sky as well as the ground or so it seems up there at a time of year when we can also newly appreciate the beauty of our evergreen trees now that November’s deciduous colour has fallen to earth.
It is time to enjoy views long hidden by rich greenery and to be reminded of just how near open countryside is to the centre of town where I live snuggled up to the 11th. Century Castle’s precincts and a minute’s walk from the High Street.
The countryside is just a short walk away but even here in the middle of town, there are trees and open spaces enough as you can see from this view of Brack Mound, the possibly Bronze Age artificial hill that on its other side slopes down to my back garden. Up here at the top of the hill it was not just me who has enjoyed this view. It has been a defensive outlook position for more than two thousand years. It is also just a really beautiful place to walk when your house has become a building site.
December sunlight loves the traditional Sussex flint walls which meander around the Castle’s open spaces with their rough three dimensional surfaces catching the light and shade.
This is the time of year too when plant colours are supplied not just by our evergreen firs and yews but also a new harvest of berries which are also seen at their finest when contrasted with flinty grey.
Everywhere up here by the castle, early winter light is enlivening and reinventing familiar views by finding visual tricks to play as you approach the Barbican Gate with its Romanesque arches.
It is as if those stout Norman builders created their stern military masterpieces just for our dilettante pleasure as we are satiated in studies of light and shade.
The remains of the castle which dominate the town from its position at the very top of the hill are never as warmly Romantic as they are on a day such as this when it is illuminated against pure blue and surrounded by the skeletal remains of Summer’s greenery.
Heading into town now, my eyes have been trained to appreciate the beauty of our historic buildings which are now taking on the spirit of Christmas in this most sociable of places.
There are still natural decorations here too, even in the busy town centre as this rather random but gloriously colourful Mahonia demonstrates as it livens up the sensible Victorian brickwork of a municipal building.
It is all still about light though as some clouds pass over the blue to create an air of mystery over the River Ouse as it makes its progress from our High Street to the sea some ten miles to the South.
How is the World for you where you are? It is pretty damn good round here.