My first realization of Oatley Hill came shortly after my fifth birthday. I remember being stood in front of an easel in the main school hall. There were about a dozen other children and we were all strategically spaced like pawns on a chequered board, facing due South. Mrs Perrett, our teacher, came into the room and announced”that “Today we will all be drawing flowers“.
I suppose this was to be my first act of defiance, the first inklings of non-conformity. But I couldn’t help myself. I was in awe of it. The miles of gently undulating fields stretching up to it, the hill itself – the beauty of it.
Lord knows they were already there, the abrasions. My being plucked from the sanctity of my own front garden, my safe cocoon for the last five years – and now this.
The dark-suited headmaster, Mr Jack Walpole, was sent for. Words were exchanged. Oh, how I wish I still had that first sketch of Oatley Hill – rounded and crowned with magnificent elms.
Oatley Hill – A poem
Oh dominant when reaching crest,
And seeing forth the venerable best;
Crashing tumbling then flowing lands,
Stretching out like wave-worn sands.
Ancient trackways hedged with bine,
Reminiscent of more dilatory times.
Magic stones along the ridge.
Traitors Ford without a bridge.
Where soul and being are matched elated,
Meadow-sweet hay in fields ungated,
Freedom ascending, birds that trill,
Where on Earth but Oatley Hill.