Suffolk churches 11: Snape, Sternfield and Hemingstone (May 2017)

The following Monday I had arranged to meet a friend, Cristina, to visit the Alde Valley Spring Festival at Great Glemham before a rehearsal in Rendham church. I left home in high spirits: I had just heard the tit chicks cheeping in the kitchen ceiling for the first time– the nest entrance was a hole in a wall beam – and the first ox-eye daisies were coming into flower by the driveway.

Unfortunately the morning’s adventures did not start off so well, as neither of us had remembered that the festival was closed on Mondays. Annoyed with myself for not registering this important piece of information when I looked up the website the night before, we came up with an alternative plan to park at Snape Maltings and go for a walk on the marshes – it seemed a promising location to find somewhere to leave my cello for an hour or two.

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Suffolk churches 5: Brettenham (May 2017)

I sometimes have the tendency to think that poetry and art – sometimes even music, although I grew up immersed in it – do not speak to me, that I do not have the ability to appreciate them. My father used to sigh deeply, in half-comic despair at having a philistine daughter, when he would quote poetry to me and I could not tell him who wrote it – nor feel it in the way he did. But then I happen across a work that does speak to me, and I realise I am wrong. Perhaps he would not despair of me after all. And in fact, of all art forms, poetry may be the one I would choose first to express my emotional response to the natural world.

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Swallows

7/4/2017 I put off going to my parents’ grave. I still rebel against the reminder that they are in the ground while spring is in the trees. And although I feel I should look after the flowers and shrubs on their tiny patch of ground with as much diligence and attentiveness as the larger version not two miles away, it is too painful and I cannot. A green slate headstone and small patch of ground honouring their deaths; a green slate worktop and large patch of ground honouring their lives.

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Medicinal walking: the Isle of Wight and Suffolk

7th February I have learned two things today. First, that never having had any historical personal bond with the sea or coast, they have become part of me. Second, that one can walk off pain, as one can walk off calories. Perhaps not in quite such a calculable fashion, but walk for a day and the burden of pain at the end of it is noticeably less than it was at the start. I can almost physically feel it lessen with every step that I take.

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Autumn revisited

_DSC080316/11/2016 After last year’s wondering about whether autumn was hopeful, this year I decided to anticipate my reluctance at the change of seasons and try to embrace the autumn spirit in advance of its arrival. Towards the end of August I bought a newly published book, Autumn: An anthology for the changing seasons (edited by Melissa Harrison). Even admitting to myself before the end of summer that it would arrive was a big step forward for me, but I had been encouraged by a little surprise not long before: I had caught in myself a moment of rising excitement when I noticed just a hint of autumn on its way – I don’t remember whether it was a sight, smell, sound or feeling, but the reaction was instinctive and unexpected.

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Remember how you used to hear it…

9/7/2016 The other evening while driving to a concert I was playing in, the gleeful thought appeared in my head, as it does on a regular basis still: ‘… and I get to live here ALL the time!’.

The memories from my childhood and later times spent in Suffolk are tinged with the wrench of having to go back to London after a few days or weeks. My father’s moods – steadily increasing depression at the prospect of having to leave his beloved house and garden as the end of the holiday approached – are also engraved on my memory. There were things that, as a child, I looked forward to in going back to the city – principally going back to school, which I enjoyed up to the age of 14, and seeing friends there – but these gradually became fewer as I got older.

Particularly in later years I felt the crucial necessity of catching at least a little part of each season in Suffolk, especially May and June, which have always been my favourite months. I had a keen sense of what I was missing out on when I wasn’t here. But it surprises me, having lived here full time now for nearly five years, that I am still struck by this ecstatic thought, if it could be called a thought. It is more like a revelation that strikes me at random moments.

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Spring launch

bridge5/4/2016  It is the perfect moment to be embarking on a new (ad)venture: spring has finally made a confident appearance, after an early start and delayed progress. The blue tits are checking out the nestbox opposite the kitchen window, the goats are shedding their winter wool, and I have found the first duck’s nest in the garden.

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Walking and wildness: the Shropshire Hills

6/11/2015 My choice of walk this morning was partly due to the weather: it was blustery and raining. Since it was expected to improve mid morning, I thought that if I followed a circular route on Wenlock Edge, starting off in the woodland and then returning along the ridge of the hill, I would be sheltered from the worst of the wind and rain. Just now it occurs to me that rain has a linguistic advantage over wind. It can be rainy or raining, but it can only be windy. I wonder why something that, by definition, is moving, does not have its own verb.

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Autumn – a hopeful season?

Autumn light4/10/2015 A friend came to visit two weeks ago and we started talking about the seasons. It was a beautiful day, but one of the first to feel definitively like autumn rather than late summer, having been preceded by a few weeks of cold, rainy weather that felt like no particular season at all – the light seems to be so central a factor in the feel of the seasons that when the sun doesn’t shine you can lose your sense of what season you are in, regardless of the air temperature or the day length.

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Origins

Autumn leaves5/10/2013 Sometimes it takes the unthinkable to strip your life down to its basic truths; to disregard expectations, both your own and those of your family, friends and society. Sometimes you aren’t even aware of these expectations, until you find your body and mind refusing to comply.

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