The places in the books are real places. Kentish places.
The tower with bells, where Storm and I stopped one important, snowy night in December
Extract from Chapter 18 - Blizzard
"He could see it clearly now. There were lights shining up from the ground and picking out the clock face and above that, the topmost ramparts. He flew twice round, getting lower, then slowly pulling in his great wings and stretching out his back paws, he landed on the top. It was built like a square castle turret, a low wall all around the edge like battlements. His wings spilled over as he tried to fit his body onto the platform."
In this flash, you can see that very tower, there are huge bells inside that the villagers ring. Since Storm went back to Lithuania, I've had time to find out a little more about it.
The tower belongs to a building called a "Church", where villagers go to think, make their hopes known, and for important ceremonies.
This is Charing Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. The tower was built in the early 14th Century (that's 700 years ago by villager counting) and so is very, very old to them. A lot of the Church itself was destroyed in a huge fire in the 16th century, but they saved the stone and rebuilt it nearly as it was.
If you could visit it, you'd see several ruined walls close by, and a very special ruin which they call "The Archbishop's Palace". A King stayed there once - a King who is well known in villager history I think - his name was King Henry V111. Quite recently I know, the villagers who care about these things have tried hard to save what is left of it.
I saw it all from high up there one night. The sky was lit by huge lights shining up from the ground to the tower, but I didn't look too hard - it was very cold and very high up - even for a fairy who is used to flying!
"Looking down, she could see the old walls of a half ruined palace, and the beamed roof of what had once been its magnificent hall. There was a little meadow just there too and a row of ancient houses, some with lighted windows."
Here are two more flashes: the first shows you the little row of old cottages right beside the church. The second is the old Palace taken from Cleward's Meadow.
An old postcard from around 1906 showing part of Cleward's Meadow at the front -
A box for the dormice nestles undisturbed, far back in the wood in the winter hazel and honeysuckle vines
Neighbourhood Bank in the Spring -
so many little hedgerow folk buy my protection charms and hang them by their doors here!
Snippet from Chapter 7 - 'Deliveries'
' She walked along the northern path through the middle of the pines until she came to a steep bank. Here, as in so many other parts of the wood, roots were curved and twisted about in the earth. Amongst them were dark holes and burrows. This place had always been known as Neighbourhood Bank. She knocked on a large door and eventually heard footsteps on the other side.
“Who’s there?” called a quavery voice.'
Dez Rez on Neighbourhood Bank :
The place that all the animals of Hurst Wood call Neighbourhood Bank is a quintessentially English mini-landscape. It is very, very pretty in the Spring. These flashes were taken on one of my journeys across the wood to the bank in April, and I could hardly pull myself away.
The sunlight falls dappled across the slopes and the ivy is covered with white wood-anenomes, purple violets, sunshine celandines and pale, scented primroses.
Most of the animals living here are small. Woodmice, shrews, voles and wrens enjoy the front of the bank, and find or build themselves dez rezzes amongst the flowers.
Above, and a little further into the wood lives a small colony of rabbits and Grandmam Badger.
The first picture here on the left is a double residence, above and below for neighbourly convenience.
On the far right is a carefully excavated tunnel amongst the roots, just like the one where Snug and Serena live in Alison Uttley's exquisite countryside stories- see picture below. The third dwelling is a good example of recycling - an old, hollow tree stump.
Springtime at 'Neighbourhood Bank'
Hurst Wood, Charing
Hurst Wood, - paths for Magics to explore in summer sun and autumn rains
Hurst Wood - Into the Pines in Spring
When Storm first flies across the channel and arrives in Britain, he flies over the Dungeness B Nuclear Power Station, on an outspit of land on the Kentish marshes.He is tangled in the cable on one of the tall pylons which you can see in this picture. Falling to the ground, the first thing he sees is a two truck train carrying 'flasks' of nuclear waste.
Nuclear power stations can be quite safe for humans as long as they don't come into contact with even the timiest bit of radio-active material. BUT no-one realises the effect that they are having on the population of Magics - the fairies, elves, quarry-gnomes (although these are tough little chaps), marsh-whisps and even dragons.
Storm hated the place from the moment he saw it - and a lot of people agreee with him.
Here is an extract from an article in The Independent Newspaper in May 2006. The place hasn't changed!
"Behind the silhouette of the old lighthouse looms a sight as alien and shocking as a spacecraft: a huge grey-green shadow of a building bigger than several tower blocks. Pipes crawl over its surface; clouds of steam leak through the walls. As the darkness deepens this windowless building begins to glow with pulses of golden light. Now you notice the noise: a perpetual high-pitched metallic whine, and also the sound of air under pressure like the jets of an airliner preparing to taxi."
This is a picture of a waste train on its way across the Romney Marsh. The white box on the top is what they call a "Flask".
Although Storm didn't know, it was the radiation coming from these nuclear waste flasks that knocked him out of the Kentish sky.
(This picture from K.A.R.E. Kent Against Radioactive Environment)
From The Times November 9th 2009
Radioactive waste to be put in an £18 billion hole!
"Radioactive waste from a new generation of British nuclear power stations will be buried deep underground in a storage facility that could cost up to £18 billion to build, under plans to be announced by the Government today.
Ed Miliband, the Energy Secretary, will give the formal green light to a plan to construct a “deep geological repository” for permanent disposal of the 200 tonnes of high-level waste produced annually by the ten new reactors planned for Britain.
Each reactor will produce about 20 tonnes of highly radioactive spent fuel per year, which will remain lethal for up to 100,000 years.
One proposed site for a new reactor where an existing nuclear station exists, Dungeness in Kent, may be rejected because of its low- lying location, which leaves it under threat from rising sea levels. But a site for the nuclear waste store, which is expected to take decades to build, is unlikely to be chosen for many years."
All working now, safe and sound for all magics, fae etc. with power online 2009
The Romney Marsh Wind Farm
at Little Cheyne Court near Dungeness
Went to see this place at last - it was a bleak November day. They call it a "farm" but it's really twenty-six giants, turning their blades almost silently against the grey sky and the watery sun. Almost silently you ask? Well yes - you can hear them if you listen, a sort of constant whisper in the air.
Twenty-six elegant titans on the skyline. Did you know that magics can actually live near these? .I wonder if the poor little marsh-whisps could be re-introduced onto the marsh now?
I was told by Queenie that the area was safe and pretty once, when the whisps worked there, carrying tiny lanterns in the night.
Now it can be safe again - no radiation here you see.
I know it's said that these are for villagers - one of the smarter villager inventions. We found a sheet of newspaper back at the clearing - a bit soggy and torn, but readable. 30,000 villager homes can be kept warm and light by the wind!
It was someone a lot cleverer than a villager got these working though, that I know for sure.
If you find them, you will have no idea of the size of their wings! I know - I could fly up to them and see. Each tower is 115m high - and the blades are about 54m long! That's a lot of fairy flying! I have tried to find something to help you understand just how colossal they are! Flying things need to keep out of the way!
Want an idea of just how long each blade really is? Have a look at this!
from SumErgo Video
This is the third of a set of blades which arrived from Germany at Chatham Docks, Kent - June 2008. From the Docks they negotiate this roundabout and then travel on to Little Cheyne Court, near Lydd, Brenzett and Dungeness, Kent on the special lorries.
Each wind turbine is 115m in height, and the completed set of 26 will produce 59.8 Megawatts of electricity.