Summer’s lease

By Heckington Eau Swallows swoop and skim over the grass when I walk Doris the dog round the village sports field, telling me it’s summer even with a gale blowing and grey sky overhead.

Blue sky later: good for an evening walk. The footpath runs along the bank of Heckington Eau and I look over fields of wheat or peas, stretching like a dark green sea below me. The banks of the drains, so plain in winter, are bursting with grasses, cow parsley, wild flowers.

Many fields have wide verges left uncut for wildlife: crops and grasses make stripes of light/dark green, grey, yellow.

Stripes bring to mind the Isle of Wight, 1970s, bottles filled with layers of coloured Alum Bay sands. Before that, in my grandmother’s house, stripy sands in a bottle were from the Egyptian desert: my teenage summers or my mother’s lost, hot childhood, bottled.

And watery fen or arid desert exist under the same bowl of sky.

image

Summer is icumen in – at last…

Delicious roses

Well, I’m sorry about the spring we didn’t have, but glad that it’s summer now. Everything feels late and little – given that we are only starting out in this garden, but there are some things to get excited about.

There are delicious strawberries and rhubarb left by our kind predecessors; potatoes thriving on what was more or less a patch of rubble; lettuce improbably large for the tiny seed they come from; swiss chard coming along nicely; beetroot and turnips needing urgent weeding; squash plants romping over the lawn and two tiny courgettes not quite big enough to leave their mother…

And there are the most fragrant, beautiful, sweet roses, piles of which are about to turn into rhubarb and rose petal jam. Already I’m imagining it as dessert on some dreary cold day. That’s the magic we make with preserves, we bottle summer, make ourselves a memory and a promise it will come again, for when we are lost in depths of winter.

The sun was shining when I began to write and now I look out of the window and it is raining – hooray, the garden needs it!

Postscript: if I believed in heaven, it would smell like this jam…

Rose jam

Cross-country

Here is England, seen fleetingly through the van window, from Heckington to Manchester and back again. We pass fields of sheep and steelworks, cranes and turbines, service stations, farm shops, church towers heading for heaven, footpaths winding off the page. We travel across England’s middle, through green England, tarmacked England, under impossible, painted skies of blue and white and thunder-grey. And as I look out, and when I remember it later, writing these words, I can taste the green and the rain and the grit and I could eat it up, it’s so good.

Yet another sunset sky

Sky 1

This was taken from our bedroom window at about 9.30 pm. We have just moved from the back of the house to the front, seeing if early morning traffic noise (yes, there is some) disturbs us less than the noisy dawn chorus. The front of the house faces almost north, just a little west, so at this point in the year the sun goes down behind the houses across the road. Earlier in the year it was setting in the west, behind the church (see Moonrise and This too shall pass).

Picture below was an attempt to catch the very last little bit of light, at coming up to 11 at night. Looking forward to the longest day/shortest night, though with it comes the sadness of the days slowly beginning to shorten again.

Sky 2

No head for heights

More church-related blogging today: there was an open day at St Andrews Church today, including a chance to go up the church tower.

I remember climbing up the Leaning Tower of Pisa when I was 21 and not being scared. In later life I have become much more frightened of high places. The views were great from the top of the tower, but the ancient stone parapet felt flimsy, crumbling and shaky under my hands – strange clash between sensation and reality.

The iPad didn’t make it to the top as I wanted both hands to help me up the narrow, uneven steps – so can’t show you Boston Stump visible across 12 miles of flat fenland. But we also saw the roof close up, the church clock that chimes every quarter hour and the 8 bells that make such a great noise on Sundays and on Tuesday evenings.

The non-church picture in the gallery is a kestrel, part of a display of birds of prey outside in the churchyard. She was chattering and grumbling when we went to look at her, ‘being mardy,’ her keeper said – very beautiful and with, I’m sure, an excellent head for heights.

South Kyme via Ferry Lane

I took my bike out in brilliant sunshine yesterday, up to a village called South Kyme (see Monochrome post from back in the winter, one of our very first walks in the area).

I stopped for my first photos by the River Slea, on Ferry Lane, near Ferry Farm – maybe there was a ferry here once…

South Kyme church was once part of a large Augustinian priory founded in the twelfth century. Nearby is Kyme Tower (see link above for picture) which is all that is left of a fourteenth century castle.

The cows are Dexters, a small, slow-growing breed, rather shaggy and nice-looking; but these ones were too far away for me to talk to.

After cows and church, three miles on road shared with too many lorries, then home on the fen road, Littleworth Drove (see A walk on
Star Fen)
, glowing with exercise, virtue or both.

Gibraltar Point

We walked today at Gibraltar Point nature reserve, just south of Skegness, at the top corner of the Wash. Lots of sand dunes and sea buckthorn and a favourite place for migrating birds in spring and autumn. The sky was grey and dull right up until we were ready to get into the campervan and set off home again.

These were boats and jetties on Steeping River which begins life as the river Lymm, rising in the Wolds, changing its name as it arrives in the marshes inland from Skegness and the coast. It passes by Wainfleet All Saints, once an important medieval port but now some way from the sea.

The tide was going out by the time we saw these boats and it was hard to imagine boats going out on this river and into the Wash. There seemed to be more mud than water.

This part of the coast is expanding, with land being eroded further north at places like Scarborough, then dumped here; a real land-grab.

As with other galleries, tap on one image to see all in a larger version.