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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The sun is rising, the sun is rising,
as it has since all time began, as it has since all time began…

Today, 1st May, in the dawn darkness of Lawn Woods, early birds were in full song when I arrived to check sunrise time, grass length, and general layout in preparation for this year’s Festival Dawn Chorus.

A lone fox was litter picking, a quartet of mallards were schnabling in the dewy grass, but it was the birdsong that was most magnificent. Robert Browning is right: ‘the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,/Lest you should think he never could recapture/The first fine careless rapture!’

I went to check for chairs in the old Holy Rood Church. The chains on the gate clanked and the church door creaked. Spooky, in the dark.

By 5.30, I was standing on the ridge between the stone plinths looking east, over sleeping or slowly waking Swindon, at a misty-orange but ever-brightening horizon.

At 5.37, a slither of sun, its upper edge, peeped above the horizon. By 5.45 it was fully-up, a great orange orb, big and bright, hanging over the twin towers of Park South.

Lawn Woods was suddenly lit up, by daylight. The birds had stopped singing but the day had begun.

The first human to appear was a morning-friendly woman, looking for ‘the Festival thing’, five days too early. Next, a bearded man in jogging gear came by, stopped, and said ‘I see them every year’. Minutes later, three fat dogs and their owner, not unlike them, came a-sniffing. He said, ‘Oh yes, when I smell coffee, I know they are here. Lots of of them. I give them a wide berth, because of the dogs. Not everyone likes them.’

If it’s anything like today, then Lawn Woods at 5am on Monday 6th May, is the place to be.

Hope to see you then.

Matt Holland