Happy Blog Birthday

From the park
This was one of my favourite views back where I used to live in Manchester; and this photo of it was taken this time last year. Coming home through Chorlton Park, I would look through trees to little rows of little houses running down to allotments and the park.

For a few seconds home looked like part of somewhere greener, smaller, without the surrounding acres of buildings, cars and people.

More photos taken back in December 2012 are on the Facebook page.

Now home is marked by the church tower seen across flat fields, sometimes from miles away. It is very strange to read my first post, written one year ago today, written when we were making ready to move but had no idea what the new place would be like.

It was a planned move, a long-desired move, but a step into the unknown for all that.

I stepped into a new life and found myself at home.

Not-so-wild swimming

I love swimming outdoors. I am a bit of a wimp though, about the fish, weed, mud that may lurk in rivers and lakes – not a wild swimmer at all. So what I really, really love is an outdoor pool. Through many years of family holidays in France, I always found us a campsite with a pool. Every morning I would be there, ploughing up and down in the water, amid birdsong, pine trees, scents of rosemary and lavender.

So imagine my delight when I found found that Heckington has its own tiny, outdoor, community swimming pool. At the Ladies Swim yesterday evening I watched rays of the setting sun fall on tree tops and the church tower; I heard birds singing and was transported back to a favourite Provençal hillside with lavender and views of vineyards.

Walking home in the twilight I felt contented beyond measure. Today I have been thinking about moments of joy in my old life back in Manchester, moments of sunlight through trees and the company of lovely friends. I used to feel anxious even as I felt happy, afraid of the joy passing and the gloom returning.

Here in this new life, in this still-new-to-us village, there is plenty to worry about (money, work, family… all the usual things), but something else is different. When a brilliant moment comes, I no longer fear its passing; I know another one will be along in a while.

Last Ladies Swim of the season next Monday. Looking forward to it already. I like it here.

Quite a big kitchen garden

As said in the previous post, my mum and I spent a day seeing gardens in Norfolk, of which my favourite parts were, as they always are, the kitchen gardens. Those pictured above were are Houghton Hall where we also saw a collection of paintings which once belonged to Robert Walpole but have been living in Russia since his heirs sold them to Catherine the Great.

The Rembrandts, Van Dycks and the like filled me with wonder; the octagonal fruit cage pictured above aroused instead a childish covetousness. I don’t think we’ll have room for one quite that big…

Truckstop, Norfolk

Suffolk view

To Suffolk on Tuesday to see aunt and cousins. Enjoyed the three hour journey in campervan through a rural landscape that moved from pancake-flat fenland to low, rolling Norfolk hills. And now am on my way home again. Here was my coffee stop, somewhere near Thetford – noticed the field colours like the ones in my last post, the picture taken by friend on Star Fen. So great to see so much green at last. I love all these fields, trees, hedgerow, cow parsley, reminding me of childhood summers.

Coffee stop

Bumpy way home

Peak District

I’ve mentioned before (Heckington, Grantham, Doncaster, Manchester) how the train from Manchester to Sheffield passes through lovely Derbyshire scenery. I captured a swift peek (no pun intended…) through the train window on my way home from sweet day with daughter and grandbabies. More rural England, but with bumps.

I’ve lost what little tolerance I once had for Manchester traffic. Out on a walk I was so happy once off the streets of Gorton and onto the Fallowfield Loop cycle track, surrounded by trees and birdsong instead of cars. It’s a pity there are so many disused railway lines, but lovely when, as with this one, they have become peaceful green corridors for bikes, dogs, grandmothers and toddlers.

And now I’m at Nottingham, safely on the little train to Heckington. Feels like home already; even though part of my heart is left behind, over the Pennines, in the smoke.

Rooks at bedtime

Rooks at bedtime

The estate agent’s details for the house we have moved to showed a picture of the garden looking lovely with a rainbow over the garage (an older and more picturesque building than the house itself). This prompted many quips by friends along the lines of did the rainbow come with the house.

Tonight I was just sitting down to eat my supper when I saw a perfect rainbow over the garden and the garage roof, just like in the agent’s photo. I rushed out with my iPad in camera mode to take a picture for the blog.

Then I stood outside for a few more moments as the sky darkened (and my soup cooled sadly in the conservatory). There is a rookery not far from us, a noisy place during the daytime. As I stood watching the lovely sky, a group of rooks flew over from their main hangout to roost in a tall tree in the garden next to us.

The rainbow came out a bit faint in the photos. And I like this picture better, even though I know it’s a fairly rubbish portrayal of rooks in a tree. I hope you can use your imagination and share a little of the magic of my garden at twilight tonight, with the rooks, silent for once, falling through a violet sky on their way to bed

Dances with daffodils

single daffodil

And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils

After writing my host of golden daffodils’ post, I looked up Wordsworth’s poem, I wandered lonely as a cloud, where the daffodil reference comes from. Click on the link above to see the poem – on the Poetry Foundation’s website – if you don’t know it.

I’m not sure if I have ever read the whole poem before. It is so familiar that it’s hard to read it without being tripped up by famous phrases. But I was struck by the last two lines (see above) and the image of the poet remembering the beauty of the mass of flowers after the event.

It has left me thinking about how, when so many of us lead such indoor lives, we hold on to that lift of the spirits that being outside in nature can give us.

There are two parts of this for me. The first is remembering how good the outdoors, open space and nature are for me, so I remember to spend more time there and not let myself get trapped in the house. And the second, perhaps more challenging, is how to bring the daffodils, the trees and waves back inside with us, keeping the dance and the freedom in our hearts even when we cannot see the light.