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 walk on Star Fen

If you walk about a mile out of the village from our house, you find yourself on ‘the fen road’, Littleworth Drove and off this is Star Fen Road. It leads you past farmhouses and smallholdings, most with chickens roaming around, some with pigs, sheep, horses, llamas (yes!). It is very quiet here. When you turn onto footpaths you are on your own, surrounded by ploughed fields as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by drains and hedgerows, and the odd scarecrow.

These are pictures from my walk round Star Fen on Monday (without dogs this time – see Spot the Dog). I hope they give you a tiny idea of the qualities of light and colour you find here, that give me such a buzz. As with previous galleries, click or tap on a picture to see bigger versions that you can scroll through.

Car Dyke, in the bottom left photo, was made by the Romans; that gives me a buzz too.

Landmarks in a flat country

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I’ve written before about my pleasure in being back in a landscape full of medieval churches. This one is in Folkingham, a village about ten miles away from us, with a nice campsite where we stayed in June and August 2012 while looking at houses in Heckington. We walked through cornfields, our route a triangle marked out by the churches of Pickworth, Walcot and Folkingham itself.

I think that soon I will be able to find my way around by the church towers I can see. Some have squat, square towers, others soaring, pointy ones. You can see them from miles away because the land is so flat. Driving back from putting daughter and family on train at Grantham yesterday, I stopped to take a picture of the church in Helpringham (below, in too little light at dusk) which I think particularly pretty. Then as soon as I leave that village, I can see in the distance Heckington’s own church, marking my home – though there are two more villages, two more churches to pass before my journey’s end.

Hundreds of years ago, other people would have seen these same towers, guiding them through the flatlands.

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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.

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.