An eventful walk

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Mark Baker (Group Editor)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The time was about 12:15am and I was trundling along the back streets of Lewes, a strange and curious historic town with a castle, Anne of Cleves house, the Grange and old timber-frames aplenty. It does have one downside in that there is very limited parking for those requiring a long stay at an affordable price.

For those who don’t know, I work away from home, staying in Lewes during the week and going home at weekends or when practicable, rather than risking a veritable bun fight in trying to find a parking space on a Monday mornings.

As previously mentioned, Lewes is a bizarre and wonderful place and one of its quirks are its twittens. Numerous, narrow and meandering, these are usually paths in between houses or at the bottoms of gardens, marking boundaries or rights of way. It is along these that I walk for part of my journey from the car to my lodgings.

The half moon was high in the sky and the night was silent, with not a breath of wind, other people or cars. All of a sudden this almighty, high-pitched screech ripped through the air. Well, to say that it caught me by surprise would be an understatement! Having regained my composure I looked around and, to begin with, saw nothing. But as I looked up there was an owl with its head cocked over to one side watching me from on top of the wall. I looked at him, and he at me for about 5 minutes. It didn’t move; I was transfixed. I love owls and to be this close to one was something else. I didn’t move a muscle. Even in the dim light the markings of the feathers were visible. It did let out one more screech during the few minutes or so I was studying it - or maybe it was me - and after it had no doubt got bored of me gawping, it flapped its wings and was gone into the darkness, leaving me a happy chappy.

Further along the twitten I saw what I thought was a dog coming towards me, and wondering where its owner was I suddenly realised that it wasn’t a dog, but a fox. Bold as brass, it was coming towards me. It had seen me and decided to carry on, obviously not deeming me to be a threat to it. Every other fox I have come across has run a mile when near humans, but not this one! It kept on loping along towards me, so I moved over to the right hand side of the twitten and as it got with in a few yards of me, it looked at me, sped up, and ran past. It had no doubt been on a rummaging trek through the bins as I could smell the faint whiff of chicken curry and heaven knows what else. It was a large specimen, not a lean looking thing; it obviously dines well in the environs of Lewes. I have never met a bolder fox in my life, and in the 10 years I have worked in Lewes, I have never encountered a more eventful walk!

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