‘Chankie’

There is a hill, a tall, tall hill, tallest among his downland friends,
with a circular stand of beech rising up upon his very top ,
which they call Chanctonbury Ring, but to us he will always be
most affectionately known as ‘Chankie’, good old ‘Chankie’!.
Most folk find it is guaranteed that after just one trip,
this magical place will surely win a special corner in your heart.
If you travel the road from where we live, amidst
of the South Downs Park, along towards the Brighton coast,
dear ‘Chankie’is a well known sight, you can see him for several miles,
from Midhurst and Petworth and almost as far as Shoreham town.

I have seen him in the summer time against a bright blue sky
with green, green meadows full of sheep and lambs below,
I have seen him in autumn with swirls of mist and clouds
so low, they alternately hide the stand of beech or shroud the hill,
leaving rusty trees to hover above an island of mist, with
oyster coloured skies behind and brown ploughed earth below.
I have seen him in winter when the beech are bare of leaf, black lace,
Silhouettes, upon the hilltop slopes white with virgin snow,
and the sky a menacing purple cloak gathered around his shoulders.
And I have seen him in the May spring time when the beech ,
Crowded upon his very top, are touched with citrus green,
the sky like bleached blue cotton and the hedgerows, they are
dusted softly with the pink and white of hawthorn blossom.

I have seen him in the evening against a sky of flaming orange,
A huge red sphere floating off towards the western reaches all
streaked with gilt and gold and purple, ready to take it’s rest.
I have seen him against the indigo night hung about with twinkling,
Silver diamonds scattered on the wind and above them all,
a crescent moon, through wisps of cloud valiantly shining.
I have seen him in the burning summer mid-day sun,
the sky a cerulean hue filled with Buzzards soaring high.
And I have seen him in the early morn standing proudly tall,
Reaching up to touch a heaven spread with peachy coloured
painted silk, his beech fingers gently touched with silver beaded threads.

He proudly stands, this tall, tall beech topped hill
amongst the Southern Downs, to reach 780 feet above the sea,
and when you stand upon his top you can see for many miles around,
across the weald, across the Downs and far across the Channel sea.
Folk come up here from Worthing town and places there about,
They come and climb to see the view and play beneath the beech,
They come up here to stand and stare, breathe in the clean fresh air.
They come with families, Aunties, Grannies and children,
they come with picnics, with dogs and horses for riding, or just
to hold each others hands and watch the world go by below.
They come up here to make a wish, to exchange their private vows,
They come with good exercise intentions or just to have a snooze,
And some will come to find some time they need to call their own,
time to be quiet and quite alone away from the busy zone.

There is a hill, a tall, tall hill, topped with a ring of beech like a royal crown,
Which they call Chanctonbury Ring, but to us he will always be
Most affectionately known as ‘Chankie’ dear old ‘Chankie’!
and when you stand upon the heights of this dear familiar friend,
and you take time out to soak up the sights and sounds of his high world,
you may listen hard with all your might, re-tune you ears and focus your sight,
but the only thing to disturb the quiet, grass scented air, so still,
will be the silently beating breath of the Kestrel’s feathered wing
or the distant peeling of a holy bell, a honey bee or a cricket that zings, or maybe,
just maybe, someone who quietly snores the peaceful afternoon away.

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