I LIKE to think I’m a pretty rational person.

I believe in science over superstition. I back the rational over fear and I think most things are either provable or not.

So why have I started seeing ghosts?

I saw one, or perhaps I should say more than one, last week.

I was off for a few days and decided to explore a bit of the South Downs.

More particularly the parts immortalised in the paintings of Eric Ravilious.

The Sussex painter died in 1942 when, as a war artist, the RAF plane in which he was flying disappeared over Iceland.

He was dismissed as a minor artist, his watercolours of the Downs thought unremarkable in comparison to the seismic art movements that were to challenge orthodoxy after the war.

But in recent years Ravilious has been rehabilitated and rightly so.

I went to the block-busting exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery last year which put him right back, excuse the pun, in the frame.

His watercolours are far from chocolate box images.

They show a Sussex at once beautiful but also troubled by the massive changes about to be wrought on it.

I decided to set out for Furlongs, the flint shepherds’ cottage below Beddingham Hill on the Firle Estate.

It’s on the South Downs Way.

Ravilious first visited the modest Furlongs in 1934 and over the next five years returned to paint some of his most remarkable landscapes.

He’d been invited there by another artist, the formidable Peggy Angus, a communist who found the cottage on a walking tour and camped outside its door until the reluctant tenant farmer agreed to sub-let it to her.

Peggy turned Furlongs into a mecca for artists like Ravilious insisting they join her for evenings of folk songs fuelled by gallons of her homemade elderflower champagne.

Many artists completed their works the next day through the haze of a hangover.

Furlongs still sits unheralded along the Way, with nothing to suggest it was a spiritual home for Ravilious and some of the most well known artists of the era.

As I came upon it the sky was turning grey, and no-one could be seen for miles around.

Perhaps it was because I’d been on my own for most of the day, perhaps it was the lunchtime pint (or two) at the nearby inn, but as I looked over the wall I had a powerful sense of the past, almost like a jolt.

I could almost hear the folk songs, Peggy’s stout nasal singing, all those egos, doused in elderflower fizz, packed together in the small front room.

All that pre-war passionate debate about the role of art in society, a topic soon to be seen as a hopeless frippery amid the destruction.

Those young optimistic party lovers could not know that some of them, Ravilious included, would not see out another decade.

And in the corner of the garden where he painted perhaps his most famous Downs work, Tea at Furlongs, was that him sitting at the table protected from the sun by a parasol, teapot and buns at the ready?

It certainly felt like it. I walked on with a little shiver of pleasure that the spirit of those years at Furlong lives on.

It’s not the first time I’ve felt this way.

If you visit Monk’s House in Rodmell near Lewes the ghost of Virginia Woolf, the mother of modern English literature, certainly haunts the beautiful little building and its exquisite garden.

Woolf lived there with her husband Leonard from 1919. There were good times discussing art in the idyllic summer house but there was melancholy too.

Plagued with depression Woolf loaded her pockets up with pebbles and walked into the nearby Ouse in 1941.

The loss and despair permeates the walls of Monks House like nicotine.

It’s not just the famous though. I suspect everyone leaves a feint outline of themselves at places where they made a mark, a now barely audible laugh or sigh.

Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking as I get older.

The Argus: No way out … Óladfur Darri Ólaffson as Andri in Trapped.  Picture: BBC/RVK Studios

I’m a sucker for these high production value crime thrillers from cold countries. They call them Scandi Crime. The characters barely speak, the murders are gruesome and the temperature drops in your living room just by watching.

The latest, Trapped, from Iceland has just finished on BBC4 and was tremendous. On paper the plots of this genre are either wafer thin or preposterous (see The Bridge) but that’s not the point. In Trapped a blizzard blew for the entire 10 hours, the townsfolk had nothing to do and I didn’t see a smile.

To be honest all I kept thinking was how on earth could the chief cop, Andri, go out with no gloves, hat and with his anorak unzipped. Heroic.