A landscape that I love

Here is another re-blogged post, written when we had been in Heckington about two weeks or so. I wrote the other day about running from and running to. When I think about this and about this move that I made, it seems to me as if I was both running from myself and to myself. I was afraid, before the move, that perhaps, as I have done before, I was running away from problems that in fact were part of me, afraid that, as they say, I would be bringing myself and the pain and problems would come along too.

And in a way it was true. I ran from Manchester, arrived in Heckington and found myself already here. But in a good way…

Flat Earth, Big Sky

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I took this picture on a walk with friends on New Year’s Day, on the way going north out of Heckington near a very small place called Howell (with a lovely, very old church – picture another time) on the way to another village called Ewerby.

It was one of the few days since we moved when it wasn’t raining and the light was nice enough to take photos. This shows the flat fields of the fens and the black earth; the wintry colours that I love and a landscape that warms my heart and makes me feel at home – far more than I realised it would when we decided to move here.

I barely know Lincolnshire, but the views across these fields remind me of the landscape I grew up in, around Grantchester, near Cambridge. The village of my childhood is south of Cambridge so not in the…

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On people and places

This was another very early post, written when I was wondering how it would be to leave Manchester, before the new life started for real. Funny to read it again when we have just been to Manchester and back in the past 24 hours.

Yesterday I walked through the streets where I used to live and saw some of the friends that I miss most. Today it was Queen’s Park in Rochdale and daughter and grandchildren whom I miss all the time. And now I am a world away and so happy to be home, despite the missing. When I wrote this post all those months ago, I knew how much I would miss people and yet I left, as though my life depended on it.

I remember a very dear friend, years ago, saying how it was important, or useful, to know whether a person running (self or someone else) is running to something or from something. I think about that often.

Flat Earth, Big Sky

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This avenue of trees in the park near our house makes me think of walking back from school with our daughter in autumn, very slowly while she looked for conkers among the fallen leaves. And even further back than that, of walking with our first dog, in the days when I didn’t know that I would have a daughter or that she would go to the school in the park.

In these last days of life in Manchester I wonder how I will feel about the place once I don’t live here any more. I’ve spent so many years grumbling, never quite felt at home or at ease. And yet, it is here that I have had most of my ‘grown-up’ life, here that I became a step-parent and a parent and came to terms, of some sort, with my own troubled childhood. I have found good friends here, got…

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1 year, 11 months ago…

…I began this blog, just two weeks before moving from Manchester to lovely Lincolnshire.

Before I started posting a friend gave me some advice: ‘Never blog about why you haven’t been blogging!’ It seemed sound to me, excuses and apologies never making for interesting reading; and I decided that when my posts became apologies it would be time to stop.

I posted 110 times in the first 12 months of the blog but in the past 11 months I have only written 27 posts. I think it is time…

I can think of reasons good and bad for the writing having dried up. It has been a hard few months, with family demands and problems taking me often away from home and distracting me from myself. I have had very little time for the walking, outdoors and landscape which inspired much of my thinking and writing last year. I have been preoccupied with worry about people I love but about whom I am not going to write about here. I have had less time to savour that sense of freedom and lightness that I have written about finding since moving to Heckington.

And yet, there is something more, something different. I began this when about to make a giant step (for me) into a new life and in the following months I explored what it meant to have made such a choice. At some point earlier this year I felt I had reached a different place in my understanding. I think I had said what I wanted to say here. But I have enjoyed writing and having people read my words and making new connections. So I couldn’t quite bring myself to leave – although I’ve written very little.

I’m winding up the blog in a month’s time, on my second blog birthday. Between now and then I am going to revisit posts I wrote along the way and reflect on the journey. In my first-ever post, Farewell Manchester, which appears below, I wrote about the things I would and wouldn’t miss about the city. I don’t miss all of them as much as I thought, though I miss people just as much as I knew I would.

This picture is from Chorlton Meadows, where I walked with my dogs for years and years. In the winter of 2011 it was an amazing winter wonderland. I miss seeing it in all its different hues and seasons. And oh I do miss my dogs!

Meadows Winter 2011

Farewell Manchester

Flat Earth, Big Sky

Very soon now we will leave the South Manchester suburb where we have lived for over twenty years. We will put our two elderly lurchers into the equally elderly camper van and set off for south-ish Lincolnshire, to a village called Heckington where we will presumably rendezvous with the removal van and our worldly goods. Keep thinking of a scene in 1984 film, The Chain – people in car watching dodgy removal van drive off in wrong direction, with all their belongings, never to be seen again…

It’s proving hard to say goodbye, though I’m longing to be gone. I will miss kind, funny, clever, lefty friends and neighbours, good food shops, the allotments, nature reserve, lovely dogs and dog walkers, friends at the farmers’ markets and the brilliant tram. I won’t miss the noise and traffic, nor the grim, outrageous poverty that spreads over so much of the city…

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On the road

Bassingthorpe turn off

Another random landscape, this time taken from the car window when I was en route between home and my mother’s house near
Cambridge. Looking at it now, in some lights, some moments, it is nothing much; but I remember how it grabbed me as I turned off the road for a quick break from driving. Perhaps this year I am astonished less often by views of landscape, as my drives along certain routes become more familiar, but still there are times when some juxtaposition of field and sky shouts out at me as I come round a bend in the road to meet it; making me shout in turn. There is always so much sky and it is different every day. As I have said in other posts (this one or this one), I love the blocks and colours, lines and angles of this so-English landscape; nature and agriculture making art together under the light, wide sky.

Thanksgiving

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I had little time for cooking last night, after a long afternoon of weeding while partner struggled manfully with putting up a new chicken run.

But our soup and salad meal included celeriac, chard, carrots, lettuce, potatoes and apples, all from the garden, plus pears from a neighbour’s tree. There could have been cobnuts too, if I’d had time to shell them. And the basketful of peppers and tomatoes, pictured above, is still untouched, demanding my attention today.

I know, I know that all this bounty does not come by magic, but after weeks and months of sowing and tending by partner (mostly) and weeding by self (mostly). But at this point in the year, when there is just so much and it is so good, it seems like a miracle, like manna from heaven.

And when I look at the enormous tomato plants, the weighty fruit hanging from them, and remember the tiny seeds they came from, I am amazed, as every year, by the magic that turns one into the other; by nature’s conjuring trick that gives us all this food. It is one of those moments when this lifelong atheist craves religion; I would like there to be someone to thank for the magic and the bounty.

Well a blog is not church, but here I am saying thank you nevertheless. All this food is amazing and I love it. Below is a picture from three years ago, taken in our Manchester kitchen, with bounty from our allotment there. I’ve been looking at pictures (see the Facebook page) from past years, remembering friends and fellow plot-holders, loving it as the start of a journey which brought me here.

Manchester bounty

Coming home

Field and sky near Dembleby

I’m back, I think.

I’ve not finished my other writing yet; and I’m still musing on what this blog is about now that my Lincolnshire life is no longer shiny new, now that I’m seeing and doing things for the second not the first time.

But in recent days I have found myself thinking often of this, and you, my readers; and on Tuesday evening I had a moment, en route home from a visit to my mum’s near Cambridge, that felt a very blog moment.

After the M11, A14, A1 and A52 I turned at last onto the back roads for my last, cross-country half hour. Imagine yourself with me in the sudden peace as I stopped the car here: no more road noise, engine noise, the A52 only yards and another world away. I heard birdsong, breathed cool, sweet air and looked over golden fields and a limpid blue sky: just a small road on its way to a small village somewhere in England, and something like heaven.

And oh the irony that my first thought is to share this sense of peace with the world, when what I am loving is the emptiness and people being so beautifully not there!

The rest of the photos, as ever, on the Facebook page.