nick north days 009There would be no beautiful dawn today. The sulphurous glow of the city turns to pitch as I climb towards the hills; I will not see them this time. The road, flooded still from the weekend’s rain, gleams in the headlights as the wipers clear the screen, their movement a parody; a metronome counting moments lost to necessity. The long dark of a wintery morning stretches ahead for predictable hours as the familiar journey takes me through sleepy villages, each with their cenotaph still garlanded with the sodden paper poppies of memory.

The market traders in Bakewell seem the only ones awake as I drive through the town, passing the tiny cottage by the church with its sign that says ‘To Let’ leaning awry in the wind. Then on, into a darkness broken only by the glare of headlights. In these first miles it seems as if that darkness is complete; as if nothing else can exist beyond the small patch of brightness that I cast before me to illuminate my own path. Strange shapes loom from the roadside, glimpsed and gone as I drive. The world is silent save for the engine noise and the sound of wheels in water.

As I pass between the twin mounds that guard the way near Arbor Low there is a shift in the blackness and great oaks, ivy wreathed, lift hoary fingers to the sky, vague and illusive giants that clutch at the clouds. Ashbourne, devoid now of the bunting it wears all summer is decked with the skeletal shapes of the Christmas lights yet to be lit. Sudbury, Yoxall… the dawn had met me here on my last trip north. The sun was still hiding beneath the rainclouds today. I could sympathise… the duvet had seemed like a good choice for me too this morning.

nick north days 005The light grows, grey and chill. Birds hunch in the shelterless trees; only the magpies braving the rain and the glassy tarmac in search of breakfast. Only magpies and commuters and impatient reluctance.

Lichfield; a final choice… the long way home or the motorway? I choose the latter with some misgivings, but the road seems clear….until I pass that point of no escape and join the queue of cars, my silver roof just one of the myriad scales of a slithering serpent of humanity that creeps towards rush hour through the grime and spray. We grind to a halt, waiting for the tragedy of accident to clear the route. There are no hawks, no sunrise to lift the wings of morning. Muscles tense, shoulders seize. I breathe a sigh of relief as I hit the final stretch of road… seventy miles to go. Miles of tarmac lie behind, miles of grey, featureless spray marked only by the red glow of tail-lights.

I leave the motorway early, taking the lanes through Oxfordshire villages where rain-damp thatch lies dark over mellow stone and berries clothe the walls in scarlet. Bark, blackened by the rain, highlights the grace of ancient trees and is a perfect foil for their final breaths of ochre and flame, as the trees and hedgerows smoulder into winter, casting the warmth of autumn’s robe over the morning. Cherries drip their last leaves like fire; oaks cling to copper crowns, wrapped in garments of ivy. Beeches shower golden treasure on the road and roses bloom incongruously in the dark light.

A red kite answers a silent call, the great sun-bird spreading its own dawn for me, flame-marked circle on its wings. A welcome. Even the misery of a wet Monday driving south can be touched with beauty.

more kites 001

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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21 Responses to Monday…

  1. I am sure you hear this all the time, but you are such a good writer. I wish I had that skill to take people on a journey with words as you do. 🙂


  2. socialbridge says:

    Oh Sue, such a wonderful ending …


  3. That cherry dripping line is wonderful. The rest is too 😁(Phew, just got that in) but that line is magic.


  4. Ali Isaac says:

    Such a beautiful atmospheric piece of writing! I love how you turn the mundane into something magical…


  5. Eliza Waters says:

    Your last descriptive paragraph is so marvelously written – a joy to read!


  6. Clearly you write in your head while driving and snap pictures while in traffic snafus. Gorgeous photos, gorgeous writing. Why were you on the road so early????


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Always am on a southerly Monday, Noelle.. the weekends in the north end when my host leaves for work at six a.m. In summer that is delightful, as I see so much. In winter… not so much 🙂


  7. jupiterbeings says:

    I really liked the journey too. Great writing.


  8. ksbeth says:

    what beauty, indeed. both words and pics –


  9. Noah Weiss says:

    The mentions of the blackness except for your headlights remind me of winter mornings in which I would drive to school in the city from my house in the county. As from a previous comment, your words turn the ordinary into the amazing.


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