extract from Chapter 1:
sit with my back against a dark, coarse-grained
boulder of gritstone which is patterned
with lichens resembling huge rose
flowers, each one pressed flat and
seemingly made of grey cheese. The
boulder juts from the thick heather
smothering the steep mountainside
of Stone Cloude. Between my boots
and far below is a saucer-shaped peat
bog or 'moss' a couple of miles wide.
An isolated cottage grows out of a
small, dry spot in the middle of the
Moss, between the curves of two fast-moving
streams. Smaller than a 'Monopoly'
house from here, I can barely make
out the thick walls of the cottage,
though I know it is built of huge
hand-hewn blocks of the same stone
as the mountain on which I sit. Even
the roof is tiled with slabs of the
same stone. The cottage is half-hidden
in a miniature nest of tree-scrub
that is the only growth of any height
on the plain of boggy heather surrounding
it. Beyond the group of trees a herd
of Shetland ponies graze between low
clumps of bilberry, and pause to drink
from the network of streams.
Through my binoculars I can see Christine,
my wife, walking amongst the ponies.
A timid foal has come to her and she
gently scratches its neck. No bigger
than our collie dog, the foal 'grooms'
Christine in return, gently chewing
her sleeve as if it were another pony's
fur. Beyond the scene the hills ripple
away in a series of rock-tipped peaks
that hide secret caves and narrow
gorges in their folds. Only the long,
eerie calls of curlews and the occasional
barking cry of a grouse break the
What am I doing up here, looking down
on things like this?"
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