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.

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

Outside inside

Screen 1

This was the last weekend of the ALTered art events at St Andrews Church; and this picture is of Emily Tracy’s ‘Screen’ (see Modern art in a medieval world) on Saturday evening. As we arrived there were children running in and out of the doorway, looking up at the trees and searching for a mouse lurking somewhere in the picture.

This modern screen stood where there would once have been a wooden rood screen in the past, between the nave and the chancel, separating priest and laity. But this screen invites the visitor into the chancel to play and discover the animals and plants that decorate the medieval church.

I loved the trees ‘growing’ in the centre of the church. In the same way as those who made the exuberant carvings of human, animal and plant life hundreds of years ago, an artist has once more brought the outdoor, living world into this space of stone and light and quietness.

A sense of history

So far only a few people have posted comments on this blog. I’m hoping for more as time goes on, since I’m loving the ones that have arrived. I’ve enjoyed friends making connections with places I’ve mentioned in my posts on Heckington Windmill and Skegness.

But most of all I like all the comments on my post called this too shall pass about the sense of perspective or wonder or groundedness that comes from the presence of the past around us in landscape, buildings or objects. I loved history as a child, at school and later at university and I am still always prodded into musing and wonderment when I find myself in an old church or gazing at ancient hedgerows and fields. Most of all I find myself pondering on the ways in which people living, say 400 years or 800 years ago were like or unlike us living here today. Which, again, is part of my enduring interest in what makes us human and makes us like other humans, and in the connections and divisions between one part of humanity and another.

And I’m interested as well, reading the comments, on how for some of us it is landscape or buildings, the physical environment, that give us that sense of roots and history, whereas for others it may be found in ancient tools or household objects.

So if you’ve not looked at this too shall pass and the comments on it, go and have a look now. You can get to the individual posts with their comments via the links in the text above.

Skegness, looking the other way

Skegness, looking the other way

The camera is pointing northwards up the coast this time; a more usual view of Skegness perhaps, with people, seagulls and funfair rides.

I listen to people speaking Polish and other eastern languages I don’t recognise. I wonder how much this beach is like the wide, sandy, (cold?) beaches of the Baltic. No pine forests here behind the beach; though more caravans than you can possibly imagine. The North Sea connects us: massive, icy, tangy, exciting and unknowable.

Of trains, work and people

image

Over the past year I’ve been learning how to be a family mediator. Today is my first day back at my training placement since the move; so a new journey to work.

At 8 a.m. I was at Heckington station with the sun rising over the fens as I watched for the little train to arrive from Skegness, an hour away on the east coast. Now I’m writing this over a coffee at Grantham, waiting for a much posher train (East Coast Line, fast and pricey) to Doncaster.

I woke this morning feeling anxious. It’s an age since I did any mediating, or anything like work at all. But I opened my book on the train, looked down the index for something interesting to read (feelings, communication, questions, conflict…) and felt excited and pleased about sitting down to work with some real people again. It can be hard seeing how tough life and relationships are for so many of us, especially as times get harder; but still I get a buzz from encounters with people, seeing if, with a little help, they can work out something better for themselves and their children.

I love being on my own, out on my bike or walking, with empty fields stretching all around me and not a soul in sight. And since the move, this uplifting solitude is so near at hand, so everyday, so easy; not a struggle as it was in crowded Manchester. But other people are the stuff of life and I wouldn’t be without them all the time.

What’s the difference between solitude and isolation? Musing about this on the train; much more to explore another day.