Chanctonbury Ring, early morning on May the 1st 2013 and one of those quirky, very English customs – morris dancing. An annual ritual to welcome the coming of Spring by the Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men. But this morning the Spring and the sun forgot to turn up on time.

Well that’s not entirely true. The sun did follow me, half hidden behind the low lying clouds, as I trudged up to the top of the South Downs Way. So why blog this? I want to show a bit more than wedding photography here from now on. The reason I fell out of bed at 4am is my love for photography, for reportage photography.* It’s been a few years, since I first witnessed this event, that I’ve been able to cover it. I arrived well before the morris men, and quickly regretted not bringing my gloves, it was very cold up there, in defiance of the calendar date. A dense fog clung to the southern, coastal side of the hills and what proved to be the last of the sunshine ( until we were all back down the hill ) lit up the Sussex Weald to the north.

So bitterly cold ( almost didn’t take my jacket – how I would have laughed! ) but peaceful on the hill overlooking Sussex. As I waited for the morris men, Spring played out in front of me, as I witnessed the birth of a lamb just after 6am, beside the Ring. You can see a shot below, of the mother encouraging the lamb to stand up within minutes of the birth. They remained seemingly unfazed by a dozen men in white, wearing flowery hats, with bells on their ankles and often wooden sticks in their hands, then dancing and singing near them. A ceremony to a sun that stayed hidden behind the clouds.

( Chanctonbury, a local landmark, is the remains of a small Iron Age hillfort. Legend says if you can count all the trees there, then Julius Caesar and his legions will appear. There is thought to have been a Romano-British temple there once. The Devil likes to hang out here too – especially around Midsummer they say. 😉  )

Shame about the weather this morning but it’s great that customs like this, that frankly have no real purpose, still continue. The eccentricity of the English! Hopefully the weather will be better next time – like the last shot here, taken about six years ago!

( Today’s photos taken on a Nikon D3S  and Fuji X-Pro 1  )

Early morning view from the South Downs taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro 1South Downs way sign at sunrise with a Fuji X-Pro 1View from Chanctonbury Hillfort at sunrise on the 1st of May 2013 taken with Fujifilm X-Pro 1Morris dancers hat with badgesBells on the legs of morris menMorris dancer smilingChanctonbury Morris dancers celebrate the start of SpringMorris dancers atop Chanctonbury Hill on May day at sunriseChanctonbury morris dancers on may 1 at the hillfort taken with a Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and 14mm lensChanctonbury Ring Morris menNew born lamb on the South downs yet to stand upChanctonbury Morris dancers

* this wasn’t an assignment but maybe part of a personal photography project.

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