January 15

St Margaret’s, Ringwould, Kingswood: a drive over the downs, the road following the cliffs’ edge at a respectable distance. Acres of undulating green, three dark Scots Pines looking more Japanese than Scots, against a sky streaked with ice-blue and bruised clouds mimicking the shape of this landscape. I slow on the narrow road at works. A man with a perfect heart-shaped birthmark on his cheekbone straightens his back and waves me by.  Small pellets of ice begin to bounce on the windscreen.

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