Monday, June 29, 2015

Beautiful Places

Today started with storms and rain and wind but by midday it had cleared to balmy gorgeousness, and so I decided to take a walk with the dog. Recently my daughter's boyfriend told us about a circular beach walk that we hadn't known about it in 4 years of living here. It's called:

 It starts by walking up the aptly named Rottington Road, which involves a very steep hill:

The views, however, were well worth it. When you finally emerge from between the high hedgerows, the world spreads out before you like a living map: sea on one side and rolling pasture on the other, the sky high and blue above.

Have you ever seen something so beautiful you feel frustrated because you don't know if you can appreciate it enough? You look and look but it's as if you can't take it in; your heart hurts. I felt that way today and I recalled one of the first time I felt that way, when I was twelve and my parents took me on a trip to the Cotswolds. The memory was poignant as we are sad to leave Cumbria, but in moving to the Cotswolds we are going to another beautiful, heart-hurting place--I mean that in a good way, of course.

From the Rottington Road I turned onto the footpath that led to the sea, down grassy slopes dotted with sheep, a scene that was perfectly pastoral.

With lovely summer flowers along the way:

And helpful gates across the stiles:

And finally the sea emerged in the distance, like a promise:

And I finished with a lovely walk across the beach at low tide!

I will miss this place so much when we leave, but I was encouraged that beautiful places can be found just about anywhere, if you have the heart to look for them. I'll leave you with a last photo of the beck I passed. Can you see the mother duck with her ducklings? Rebirth is always happening.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hope Amidst Uncertainty

It has been a hard few months for our family, our church, our school, and our whole village as things end, people move away, and life moves into a new and uncertain phase. We will be leaving our Cumbrian village in a month's time, and I will start blogging about a different sort of village life, down in the sunnier Cotswolds.

But for now, amidst all the uncertainty, stress, chaos, and pain, I cling to hope that things can get better, that God has a plan, that children will adjust, and life will even out.

This is a photo taken the other day when we are having dinner with some parishioners. It is the most complete rainbow I've ever seen; you almost want to start looking for the pot of gold! It cheered me up, and I hope it does you as well, if you need cheering!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer Walk

We had a week of glorious weather but it's gone cold and grey now, as it does. Still I thought I'd share some snaps from a walk on one of the sunny days:

I love bluebells. The trouble is I always try to pick them and they only last a day, if that, once picked.

The green of the grass here never fails to stun me. It's so vibrant, verdant, overwhelming, and lush. It almost makes all the rain worth it. Almost.

The hazy sunlight makes this photograph hard to make out, but if you can imagine a warm(ish) afternoon, and the sunlight giving everything a softened, almost sepia kind of glow, like one of Instagram's special effects, but for real.

If trees could talk, I would love to know this one's story. It looks like its trunk is having middle aged spread. It must be hundreds of years old.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Reflections on the Pub

The other night I went to our local with a friend and as usual came across several people I know inside, making it a bit of a cheerful gauntlet to run as you chat to everyone before you get to sit down with your drink. The pub in our village is somewhat of a community centre; people gather for meals, for drinks, even for school meetings. The Village School Association has long held its meetings for parents and teachers in the pub, most people with a pint in hand. Very civilised, I say.

I don't go to the pub very often; at most every three months or so. The last time I went I was waiting outside for my friend when a dear lady walked by with her dogs and, eyes twinkling, said "The vicar's wife standing outside the pub! That's one for the books!"

Another time I managed to go to the pub without seeing anyone I knew inside; my friend and I had a nice chat and the next morning, on the school run, a different friend came toward me, finger wagging. "You were seen in the pub last night!" I stared at her, flummoxed. "Who saw me?" I demanded. It turned out I'd missed the person who knew me sitting in the corner. News travels amazingly fast in a village like ours. I've barely thought something myself before someone else seems to know.

In my novel Rainy Day Sisters, set in the fictional village of Hartley-by-the-Sea, I've named the pub The Hangman's Noose and it is modelled on the pub in our village, but with a more atmospheric name! I did an Internet search of some of the most interesting pubs in England and here is a selection:

The Signal Box in Cleethorpes, which is in an actual signal box, and at 8' by 8' is the smallest pub in England:

Then there's The Crooked House in Dudley, which is indeed quite crooked:

Some other pubs with interesting names are: Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, The Blind Beggar, Dirty Dick's, Bag O'Nails, The Bird and Baby (also known as The Eagle and Child, in Oxford), The Dirty Habit and, here's an oxymoron, The Jolly Taxpayer.

In the village where we're moving to, our local will be called The Shaven Crown, which is a reference to a monk's tonsure from days of old. It looks quite spacious and comfy (we've been there for lunch) with vaulted ceilings and open fires. But I'll miss the cozy, crazy warmth of our current local, and the fact that when I go in everyone (almost) knows my name.