Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Green Chapel

Of course, the other thing that happens when putting a book sequence together is that you discover you don't have some of the pictures you need. In this case, I realised I needed some much better shots of the Mizmaze, the turf-cut maze up on the top of St. Catherine's Hill. So, it being a beautifully crisp and clear March day on Monday, I got in the car and went to get some.

Talk about "sixpence a pint"... The air up there was intoxicating.  As I walked round the ramparts of the hill-fort deer started up out of the undergrowth, and the thickets were alive with birds seriously getting into the business of the nesting season. It was a perfect afternoon just to be out and standing on what passes for the roof of the world in these parts, and I think I got what I went for. Though a very tall step-ladder would have helped.

The top of St. Catherine's Hill, within the embankments, is a strangely compelling place, especially during the week when you more or less have it to yourself. "Numinous" is not too strong a word. That some idiot has burned the bases of a couple of the tall beeches in the crowning copse, undermining the trunks so dangerously that they have had to be felled, seems a most unwise act of impiety. If I had to find a suitable location for the "green chapel" where Sir Gawain has to encounter the Green Knight and submit to his axe, this would certainly be high on my list. I suspect some kid in Winchester has some bad dreams and weird encounters coming his way.

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