Heckington, Grantham, Doncaster, Manchester…

Grantham

Four railway stations I’ll have visited between 10 o’clock and 5 o’clock today; each one bigger than the last. Tomorrow I’ll do the journey in reverse, together with daughter and family, coming for a few days visit – nice treat for me! Today I’ve been sat alone on trains, checking email and reading cheery documents about the likely impact of Universal Credit. Tomorrow I expect instead to be entertaining small grandchildren during the rigours of the journey. Only now do I remember that I meant to bring with me a new book called Maisie’s Train… Oh well.

The picture above is Grantham station, with the little train I get on at Heckington just pulling out on its way to Nottingham.

Last time I did this journey it was dark by the end of the afternoon. The year has moved on a little so today there’s light for me to see the Peak District between Sheffield and Manchester out of the train window; those smooth green hills stunning even under dark, lowering rainclouds. As at home, in that very different landscape, the green of the fields has a strange intensity as twilight falls.

Time passes and travel is such a strange thing: it seems only moments since I was looking out on those grassy, ancient slopes, but now it’s dark, I’m on the tram and Manchester is all shops and lights and rain.

Change at Cornbrook: a cold wind blowing as always, but worth it for the sunset over a city skyline.

Moonrise

Some of my best thinking has been done on trains in the past. Just now travel seems instead to interrupt thought and thus writing. I had another quick trip away last week, to London this time, for a mediation course. And as before, I came back with a jumbled mind and nothing to say.

For years I have felt that I needed travel to give me inspiration, ideas or stories; and have felt frustrated, angry, prevented from writing. Now ideas come at home; nothing earth-shattering perhaps, just the bits and pieces which end up on here, but so welcome. It’s such a relief to feel that openness and expansion from which thoughts bubble up, unforced, unanxious, surprising, like the best of good friends.

So perhaps, I think, it was space and light I was after, all these past years; space, light and this so-English landscape of field and hedgerow and water.

When the dogs and I came to the field yesterday afternoon, I mistook a smear of yellow light for the last of the sunset – even though, as we know, the sun sets behind the church, in the west and not the east. Then, a lovely thing, the moon appeared, a pale vast gold sphere, striped with cloud, hanging low over the fields. Found myself wondering if one can call the moon gold when traditionally she is silver; thought of Romeo and ‘yonder blessed moon… that tips with silver all these fruit tree tops.’

Today at twilight I was on my way to Grantham station. Driving due west, my way ahead was all black trees against a yellow sky fading to white; mile after mile into the dying of the light.

Collected partner off the train from happy jaunt to see Man United beat Fulham at Old Trafford. Home again in the dark, but all the way we had that moon again, huge and low and orange as a harvest moon; symbol of plenty in the depths of winter.

Monochrome

Last night when I went to bed the garden was white, under a blanket of snow as unreal as cake icing. I heard rain in the early hours and this morning, no more snow, just an ordinary garden, green again.

Some pictures I took on a walk with partner the other day have come out looking as if taken in black and white; reminders of that beautiful, bleak monochrome world that has disappeared.

If you tap or click on an image, they should come up as a gallery of larger pictures you can scroll through.

A sense of history

So far only a few people have posted comments on this blog. I’m hoping for more as time goes on, since I’m loving the ones that have arrived. I’ve enjoyed friends making connections with places I’ve mentioned in my posts on Heckington Windmill and Skegness.

But most of all I like all the comments on my post called this too shall pass about the sense of perspective or wonder or groundedness that comes from the presence of the past around us in landscape, buildings or objects. I loved history as a child, at school and later at university and I am still always prodded into musing and wonderment when I find myself in an old church or gazing at ancient hedgerows and fields. Most of all I find myself pondering on the ways in which people living, say 400 years or 800 years ago were like or unlike us living here today. Which, again, is part of my enduring interest in what makes us human and makes us like other humans, and in the connections and divisions between one part of humanity and another.

And I’m interested as well, reading the comments, on how for some of us it is landscape or buildings, the physical environment, that give us that sense of roots and history, whereas for others it may be found in ancient tools or household objects.

So if you’ve not looked at this too shall pass and the comments on it, go and have a look now. You can get to the individual posts with their comments via the links in the text above.

View from the dog field

imageLike it says: this is the view at present from the field where we most often take our two lurchers, only a short walk from the house. The older of the two is pretty old and pretty doddery sometimes, but both of them are frisky in the snow. Another photo cadged from partner’s camera – thank you, partner.

Originally this picture came up larger – no time to fix it now – but if you tap or click on the photo, you can see it full size, which is better!