Spot the dog

imageCan you see a long-legged, tan-coloured lurcher in this picture? Nope? Me neither.

This is the view I was looking at for some time on Sunday, while calling and waving my arms like a lunatic. We thought it would be nice to take dogs out for a different walk; set off on grassy footpath past fields full of bunny rabbits and a small sewage works, up onto the banks of one of the long, straight drains which run through the fenland fields.

Lovely sun, clear sky, long views over the land; then off goes naughty Doris the lurcher, hops across the drain and speeds off into the distance, at least three fields away and doesn’t come back for ages.

She’s part Saluki, we were told by the rescue place; and it shows. Like Greyhounds and Afghans, Salukis are called sighthounds or, in the past, ‘gaze-hounds’; domesticated thousands of years ago, they were used for hunting by sight and speed in wide open spaces like deserts.

Certainly Doris’s gaze is always on far horizons; on crows in a field, a plane in the sky. Fortunately, this time she didn’t see all the way over to the smallholding we found later, with all the chickens running loose…

Have to find a different walk next time.

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.

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!

2012: a year in pictures


Aldeburgh, Suffolk in March; while visiting friends in Essex.


North Yorkshire, while visiting more good friends in September.
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The Thames, taken from a balcony at Tate Modern; a few days holiday in London in September. We saw Munch at the Tate and Bronze at the Royal Academy – both great exhibitions.


Dogs in empty dining room on moving day, December.

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St Andrew’s Church, Heckington, in a brief moment of winter sunshine amidst all the rain in the last days of December.

Plum plum pudding

I’ve been looking for years for a Christmas pudding recipe that I like enough to use more than once – and think now I’ve found it. Called Plum Plum Pudding – plums twice because it uses fresh plums as well as prunes – it’s from Dan Lepard’s recent book, Short and Sweet and is delicious. I also made Figgy Pudding and a more classic Xmas pudding from the same book, but we’ve not eaten them yet.

Just now I’m too full of Christmas dinner to think about eating anything else for a long time…

Less rain today. Took dogs out for v quick walk before we sat down to eat, a little before dusk. Had brief glimpse of the kind of view I love – vast sky of bright, pale blue washed pink around the edges, green grass and skeleton black trees, intensity of colour that catches me by the throat. Turning back, I head for the church spire standing tall in the flat landscape.

We’ve been here a week. In some ways it’s still like being in a holiday house where you don’t quite know how everything works. But out walking in the fields it already feels like home.

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Yesterday’s landscape photos too dark, but here is a picture of the village green with the church behind.

And now we’re here…

What I said on Tuesday, as we drove away from Manchester, about goodbye rain…

Ha! It’s been raining non-stop since soon after we arrived in Heckington, the village where we are making our new home. Hence no pretty pics of the garden, house, fields etc. Will take some photos when the sun comes out.

We unloaded almost all the boxes into one room, an annexe to the main house, which used to be a shop. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it is terrifying seeing all our stuff piled up in boxes, all in one place. So much too much of it – never get to heaven or through the eye of a needle or whatever with all this in tow…

On the plus side, have found where to walk the dogs, organised daily delivery of Guardian, found even more shops here than I remembered, including hardware/DIY shop and chemist’s, all ranged around the village green. Jolly useful. Tuesday night was rather noisy, being bell-ringing night. Church is just along the street, as is a good butcher’s.

Farewell Manchester

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 outside our comfy suburb. I don’t want to be here when the going gets tougher.

Meanwhile, more prosaically, the cardboard boxes are piling up ever higher around me and there still seems to be stuff everywhere.