As a boy I used to cycle beside Kent hedgerows to places like Eynsford and Shoreham. My primary school was located next to a farmer’s field. That sounds more bucolic than it was, when minutes away you found council houses with unpleasant boys who stole my stationary and on one occasion, tried stealing lead from the roof of a derelict house. I saw them and joined in having no idea what they were doing or why. The climbing looked fun. The leader, who lived near the field near the school, was perhaps under instruction from his father. Swanley is pleasant geographically but not always sociologically.

I didn’t recognise or appreciate the benefit of agricultural countryside as a boy. I’m a hill walker now who also spends time at nature reserves and parks. I wonder about those fields and what part they played in my developing psyche. We had Sunday walks across them and on one occasion, a school trip across the field to a pond. I remember jam jars with educational aquatic life. We were asked to bring in the jars from home.

This is the Knatts Valley. I vaguely remembered the name but not being here. I never did go here, I realised, but it was signposted at nearby West Kingsdown and seemed intriguing. It’s a long road aptly described as a valley, fields both sides sloping up to trees, a few houses.

I’m not a fan of rape but it’s now common in Kent and has been in Sussex for many years. The yellow is pleasant, stunning when you first see it, but undeniably garish. I first saw it in Sussex. Travel around this area and you also find lavender fields, apple trees, and Kentish hops. I saw houses with lilac blossom trained to brick walls. It was a strikingly beautiful blend.


Fields of Kent

Sunday May 17, 2015