A northern light

winter field

There is so much light here. I think the brown, gold, green fields have drunk the light from the sky and hold it like water. On the greyest day they seem luminous to me.

A yoga class has started in Heckington – an excellent thing for the start of a new year. It is a long time since I went to one and beginning again after a gap takes me back to other classes in other places. The very first, in my twenties, was in a huge hall in Brixton, full of people, none of whom spoke at all. I never went back.

The relaxation at the end is supposed to be the nicest part, but only in my fifties am I beginning to enjoy it. Still I sometimes find myself tetchily wondering why the teacher is visualising for us a sun-kissed beach, somewhere far away I can’t imagine.

I liked the beach in today’s class, with dunes, wild flowers and a sunset. I imagined myself not on warm sand but on a beach like those I visited last winter at Saltfleetby or Skegness.

Years ago those yoga relaxations always brought tears, as I let go of the tension holding me together. Today I felt the lightness at my core rather than grief; today I was dancing by a northern sea under a light, bright, endless sky.

A train of contrasts

Mill and station

Here is Heckington station, early Friday morning, with Heckington Windmill behind it and the man opening the level crossing for the 6.27 to Nottingham. This is when I have to leave the village on rare days when I have an early appointment at my family mediation placement in Doncaster. This first train of the morning is only one carriage long; and station and train are both very quiet.

It was a very different picture on the way home, getting on the train at Grantham (see Of trains, work and people). There were two hen parties on their way to Skegness, one group of women already wearing pink fluffy ears. I have been on the train a few other times when it has been full of suitcases and people in holiday mood. Summer is here, in spirit if not weather.

Also at Grantham a small child watched the train pull in and said in amazement to her mother, ‘It’s little! It’s little!’

The Poacher Line, as it is called, is a community rail partnership. It is indeed little, but also local and lovely.

Heckington Fen wind farm

Wind farm from car

It’s strange to have the area in the news briefly, when most people we know from our old life had never heard the name Heckington before. Ecotricity, green energy developers and suppliers, has had plans for some time for a big wind farm development on Heckington Fen, a few miles away from us. It’s been in the news this week because it has finally been approved.

The pattern of development here is interesting. There is a string of villages along what is called the fen edge, from Heckington and southwards to Bourne, each with a rectangular parcel of fen stretching eastwards from the village. So Heckington Fen itself is quite a way from the village it belongs to. There is a much smaller settlement, East Heckington, which will be more immediately affected by the development.

There is no doubt that gigantic turbines change the view across this open, agricultural landscape, as electricity pylons did when they first appeared. And, like pylons, they have a strange grace all their own. When I hear people call them ugly, I think, no, ‘ugly’ is Aberfan, is Chernobyl, Windscale. Our insatiable desire for energy, at low cost and with a childish disregard of consequences for other people in other places, other times, is certainly ugly when you look it in the face.

Enough of that: this was meant to be a cheery note to say the wind farm will be an interesting development in the area. Wind energy was used in the draining of the fens, before the arrival of steam, as well as for grinding corn and powering sawmills. See my post on Heckington Windmill, about which I will no doubt write more in future.

Photo of a wind farm above was taken from the window of the camper on our drive through the wolds. One below is a huge offshore one that you see from Skegness beach.

Skegness wind farm

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.

It’s cold outside

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The cold weather is frustrating in some ways as we would love to be getting stuck into the garden. There are leylandii hedges to be cut down – before birds start nesting in them – and much planning to be done, measuring of space for chicken run, costing of fantasy greenhouse and so on.

But the garden is very beautiful in the snow and ice. Everything is outlined in haw frost: great trees and small, the washing line, each twig or tiny leaf fallen on the ground become something distinct and extraordinary.

And the landscape from the train window yesterday (when on my weekly trip to Doncaster) was like a Christmas card: field after ploughed field striped with snow. The morning started badly, with train from Skegness nearly half hour late. Our picturesque local station is much too small for waiting room or coffee or anything warming like that. But I haven’t fallen out of love – still seems a miracle to be able to walk ten minutes down a village street and get on a train at all.

I think that if you tap on these images you can see them full size, which looks much nicer.

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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.