As I walked out this morning towards the moor all the church bells rang. Bells all around the country rang at 8.12 for 3 minutes, to mark the official start of the Olympics. Even Big Ben in London rang for the 3 minutes. Martin Creed had the brilliant idea for this mass bell ring and what a wonderful way to wish all the athletes success.
There is something wonderfully English to hear church bells near and far, tolling across the open countryside. As I walked The Collie along the footpath to the moor, passing the grazing sheep, I felt stirred by the peel of bells from our local church. The resonance of the sound signified the excitement and importance of the London Olympics, even for those of us that live so far away from the venues.
Today has a far more British feel to it, we have lost the Mediterranean heat that made the road surfaces shimmer even at 8 o'clock in the morning. The burst of welcome continental heat broke the wet weather that was draining away our summer but it has now lost its intensity. The farmers have taken advantage of this break in the weather and been frantically harvesting hay crops and ripened wheat and barley fields. We have heard the tractors working late into the night.
I quickened my pace towards the open space because I was sure I could hear other church bells - one, maybe two other churches were ringing out across the countryside. It was a wonderful experience to stand under a blue sky, surrounded by ponies and sheep (and a collie dog) and have the air reverberate with bells ringing. It truly felt like a celebration.
We have just returned from a two week holiday in Norfolk where there is the largest concentration of medieval churches in the world. Norfolk is a very flat county and the church towers stand out. We could count six churches when we stood on the sand dunes near to where we were staying. We visited many of these churches and climbed Ranworth and Happisburgh church towers. While the climbs seemed a little perilous( the towers were narrow and the steps plentiful!) both climbs were worth it for the view. At Ranworth you can get a proper understanding of the Norfolk Broads and a sense of their size. At Happisburgh (which we visited just before a thunderstorm) you can appreciate how flat Norfolk is and see the effects of coastal erosion and coastal tourism.