Grantchester: bringing it all back home

Footpath to Barton

I’ve had a brief visit to Grantchester, where I grew up, to see my mum and to go to the Advent Carol Service in Kings College Chapel, a great treat.

As a teenager I used to queue with friends for the more famous Christmas service, but the service for Advent is my favourite. There is always some very early music which I love. So in this flying visit I spent time in a beautiful, old building, listening to beautiful and ancient music; and took pictures of winter farmland.

The medieval world and the outdoor world are both part of the fabric of my childhood and adolescence. Much of what I have written in this blog deals with a sense of connection to the past and to a particular landscape (see Childhood landscape and Landmarks in a flat country). On Thursday it will be the first anniversary of beginning the blog and soon after that, the anniversary of us moving to Heckington.

So my next few posts will be a kind of retrospective; a chance to think about what I have learned about connection to place and people through this adventure of moving to somewhere new and finding myself at home. I will put up my first few posts from this time last year on the Facebook page.

I have also put up an album of photos taken in Grantchester, some, but not all, of which have appeared in earlier posts. The Facebook page is public, like a business page or website, so you don’t have to have a Facebook account in order to visit it and look at photos. You would have to be on FB yourself in order to ‘like’ the page or post comments on it.

I have loved writing this blog; it has been a focus for my thinking about history, place, belonging and so on. It has also been a reason to take more photos than I had done for a long time before.

So thank you to everyone who has come along for the ride, especially those of you who have been reading and following since very early on. You know who you are!

Bridle Way

Grantchester reprise

Grantchester meadows

Here’s a little more of Grantchester, where I grew up. These are from Tuesday’s walk with my friend and her dog. We started in Grantchester meadows where, in the summer, you see tourists and students in punts on the river.

We ended on a footpath past more workaday farm fields. Picture below is a stretch of farm road that I know like a piece of myself, that was a short cut from my house to another friend’s, when we were all still children together at the village primary school (wonderful but long since closed).

The river and the meadows are lovely; but it’s the farm road picture that tugs at my heartstrings. These paths remind me of the hours I spent walking and talking with friends as a child and teenager. I think of how we used to walk one another home, then turn back to walk the other way because we were still talking. Tammy Wynette’s Half the Way Home takes me straight back there (and makes me cry, as a good country song should). The sky, the field and track, my friend beside me; all so vivid. But what on earth were we talking about?

Farm road, Grantchester

Childhood landscape

I’ve written early on in this blog about how the Lincolnshire countryside, though unknown to me before I moved, seemed completely and instantly familiar.

Here are pictures I took yesterday, on a walk from Barton to Grantchester, a few miles to the south of Cambridge. I’m visiting my mum, who still lives in the village where I grew up – and I have walked this way often over the years since childhood. You can see from these why arriving in a flat, agricultural landscape would seem like coming home to me!

As with other galleries, tap/click on a picture to see them in bigger versions.

A landscape that I love

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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 fens proper (which start to the north of the city), but it is still pretty flat and an agricultural landscape like the one here. I look at medieval church spires, visible from miles away, and the leafless, winter trees black against the blue/white sky on the distant horizon; and I feel right here, feel I can breathe here, am allowed to be.