I’m still trying to get my head around the idea that I am all the way across the other side of the world. England is damp and green, with layers and layers of history crammed into tiny spaces. It is also hilariously small. Every time I plug an address into the GPS and it tells me I’ll be there in less than an hour, I actually laugh.
This week, I went to Sutton Hoo, the Anglo-Saxon burial ground where, 70 years ago, an untouched 7th century ship burial was discovered. The burial ground is covered in grave mounds, and I walked among them trying to feel something. I don’t know what I was trying to feel. I had so much riding on this visit, I was bound to be disappointed. My kids were being noisy, there was a loud tractor hedging nearby, and a big guided tour seemed to get in every photo I took. And then… Mirko took the kids off (there was much talk of impending wees on the video footage when I watched it again this evening), and the tractor faded into the distance, and the guided tour moved away, and there were a few quiet moments: the wind rose off the estuary and shivered across the long grass, and a gull squealed, and my blood sped as if a door had opened and the past was right there with me. Just for a moment. Then the door shut again and the tractor noise was back and I had a family to find, but it was enough.
Now I’m sitting here in a warm little cottage on a wet Suffolk evening, drinking a glass of wine and listening to Hammock and working on my story. A thousand words came out without my really intending to write anything, so that’s a good sign. I’ve been stuck with this story for a while. Expectations too high. But there’s something about paying thousands of dollars for a research trip that galvanises you. That and the occasional door opening somewhere, and letting a little bit of mystery through. Hu seo þrag gewat, agenap under nihthelm, swa heo no wære.