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.

The bells, the bells…

A bit of an experiment this, as flagged up in my last post: here is a minute of so of bell-ringing as heard from my garden on Tuesday evening just after I got home from the train.

The weekly bell-ringing session is from 7 to 9pm. Church bells, like crowing cockerels, often give rise to stories of townies moving to the country and not liking the noise. But I spent my childhood in a village: bells, chickens, cows, bring them on, I say.

These are accompanied by evening birdsong and some flowers for you to look at. Definitely not an attempt at video art; just a chance for you to drop into my garden for a moment.

I can’t help wondering if the birds take any notice of the bells or not. In the background, at the end of the clip, you can just hear the rooks cawing from their home a few gardens away (see Rooks at bedtime). Now they really are noisy neighbours.

Evening homecoming

evening train

A postscript to yesterday’s notes on travelling from Manchester: here is the ‘little train’ from Nottingham, on which I sat writing my way home. It has just deposited me at Heckington a little after 8 o’clock in the evening.

I’m alone under a luminous evening sky, watching the train pull out of the station. In the photo you can just see the lights of a train coming the other way, from Skegness and Boston.

Tuesday night bell-ringing is in full swing as I arrive home, filling the garden with sound. I try to capture the cheerful clamour with iPad video, though it may make for too strange a blog post – we shall see…

St Andrews Church, Heckington

A large town church in a village, in fact one of the dozen or so grandest churches in Lincolnshire.*

I’ve mentioned our village church in passing: the bell-ringing on a Tuesday night, a landmark to guide me home from a walk, the presence of the medieval world in our modern one, and so on. So yesterday, in the sunshine, I took a few photos of it to put up here.

St Andrews was built in the fourteenth century and I’d heard before arriving here that it is an important church (in this region of many fine churches). In particular people write about, and take pictures of the stone carvings both on the outside and inside the building.

If you like church architecture and decoration, there are many more images, by better photographers than I, to be found on the web. Have a look on the Geograph website, a fun place to visit if you don’t know it (search for Heckington or grid square TF1444).

I love living so close to this ancient building. I love it being open so much of the time and I love the second-hand bookstall inside.

And I’m glad I took the photos yesterday. Today there is no sun again, only the punishing, bitter cold.

* from Lincolnshire by Nikolaus Pevsner, John Harris, Nicholas Antram (2002)