Two weeks ago to the day, three generations of us climbed up Loughrigg Fell. The picture above is of our view of Grasmere coming up to the top of the ascent. It was a gloriously clear and bright day. The view below us in the sun was incredible and I doubt any photo could do it justice. I remember distinctly the amazing white of a swan at Grasmere’s edge where a young family were feeding it – the brightness. All of the colours below seemed almost hyper-real.
But what about the sound I heard on that fell side? Well, that’s a curious thing. There was little bird sound – a couple of jackdaws earlier on, a lone rock pippit. There was also the voices of fellow walkers. But over all of that was one particular sound – the sound of the traffic making it’s way along the road though and out of Grasmere. It was constant, it was distinct……
But then over the peak was another sound all together. A quietness punctuated by the voices of walkers dotted about continuing their walk or eating sandwiches. There was also the delicate sound of the herdwick sheep nibbling on the grass, almost like a brushing sound. So light and delicate and gentle. I have no recording of it, just the memory of it’s softness on that beautiful day.
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
Autumn introduces itself with mornings that seem darker than the one before. Mornings that have a surprise crispness to them. But then September has so suddenly burst into sun and blue skies and late harvests.
I could see it glistening on the dirty grass of the kerb as I looked from the window. I knew straight away what it was. I wondered how it got there as I walked across to see it closer. This used to be a much more common site.
Spun out reel.
A thin line of shiny brown tape leading to a messy tangle.
A shivering cluster.
On these squiggly lines is a message, a message I can hear just by piecing it back together. It will play, it will make some sort of sense because this isn’t a collection of invisible numbers. This is sound held on by the particles of it’s being.
I went to London for a couple of days with my family (to see the Dr Who Experience, which was great).
London is amazing, incredible, complicated, grimy, noisy, confusing, busy and many many other things. I’m not sure I could live there but I love going there all the same.
I love the snow. I love the snow for many diffrent reasons – personal, artistic, social – I just love the snow! So when I came out of the Corn Exchange in Cambridge this weekend after watching the City of London Sinfonia perform Ralph Vaughan Williams‘ Scott of the Antarctica I was very excited.
The photo above is of Kings College, Cambridge as the snow was falling down. The photo below is of locked bikes outside, the snow piling up agaisnt the wheels.
When we came outside everyone was moving about, pulled up collars and hoods, heads down, glimpsing up a few short seconds at a time, catching the snow in your face. Voices were raised some in dread and some (most) in giddy excitement. Through pub windows you could see people huddle into seats glad to be inside, talking about outside. The journey home was a bit hairy in the snow but, that’s the thing about snow – it changes everything. Each step you take, how you drive, how you see things. It is a leveller.
The following morning we saw this all the more clearly. Dad’s are playing with their children. The light has a new quality to it. Everything sounds different. There are fewer cars. Amongst the new soundscape birds can be heard, more excited voices, the crunchy sound of the snow beneath your feet. Everything you do is new but it’s only there for a short time and then it’s slush and then it’s gone. A memory.
I love the snow.
We went for a walk. Last out the door, I patted the dog and set out across the fields.
As soon as we went passed the last house and into the first field you could feel the wind. Pushing at us, passing all around us, pressing clothes to bodies. Dipping our heads down ( in defence? Respect?) And the noise, roaring across the ears. I pull my wooly hat down lower over my ears, a gesture only.
As we went into the next field, I could hear the voices of children playing football in Fleckney, carried by the roar, in the roar, over distant hedges, other fields, finding me here. But we keep walking and the sound is gone.
Yesterday I took a slow stroll with some friends and our children to the top of Beacon Hill in North Leicestershire. Sheltered by some rocks for tea and biscuits then went to look out over Leicestershire from the trig point. The wind was incredible – I put my hood up to cover my ears somewhat but still the roar was there and constantly pushing, touching everything. It felt fantastic.
Met up with a friend in Birmingham a few months ago and noticed he was using a Silvine notebook. This instantly took me back to my youth, where these little red books were staple features of a Post Office or corner shop’s stationary shelf and would always be longed for – the allure of fresh, new, unwritten upon pages.
So my friend picked one up for me the next we met. But what shall I use it for?