The first church we had visited wasn’t the one I had been looking for, so we went exploring. Overhead the kites still wheeled. We looked for the chalk-cut cross in the hillside above Bledlow but it proved impossible to locate, even though we drove up to Wainhill. We did, however, have the pleasure of watching the steam train pass by, waiting as the crossing gates were manually opened and closed by guards as the train puffed quietly away, waiting for them, in shades of a bygone age.
I know the area pretty well but could not recall seeing a church in Bledlow and it ran in my mind we needed to visit this elusive building for some reason. I turned down a lane I knew to be a dead end in the hope the village church might be hidden down there. A few hundred yards later I stopped the car… it might not have been the right lane, but there was a reason for being there… a red kite perched on top of the telegraph pole. I waited expectantly for my companion’s comment and swift action with the camera he was holding. Nothing. The huge bird launched itself into the air and finally there was a reaction. I had not taken into account that he could not see the top of the telegraph pole as he is so much taller than I… his view obscured by the roof of the car while mine, being so low, was clear. All was not lost, however… a heron fished in the pond just in front of us.
The kite flew overhead as we continued our futile search for the missing church. I crossed the main road and tried another lane… then realised where we were. Horsenden… and that was the church we were looking for.
We had been here before on several occasions and failed to get in. Then, after seeing a red kite land in a tree on the edge of the village we had tried again and fallen lucky; there was a small group of people being given a tour and the guide allowed us to come in. Strange things had occurred and it had been the first of what we came to think of as ‘raids’… brief and opportunistic visits of places we shouldn’t have been able to access for one reason or another, but which seemed to open up for us somehow. From there a chapter in The Initiate had grown.
We entered once again through the ancient doorway that has served the church for over 700 years. The church, though, dates back to the 12th century and the passage of time rests with a light and graceful touch on the stone. The church was only open as they were preparing for the Harvest service and it was filled with flowers and fruit. This time we had time to take in the carvings and wall paintings, the stained glass and symbols.
By the time we left the sun was shining; another kite flew over and squirrels scampered away through the trees. We continued along the road, stopping at a pub where there are always kites to see for a little refreshment. One or more of the two of us may have explored the children’s adventure playground at this point, but over this I may draw a veil of silence. The kites, however, were watching, teasing, just out of reach of the camera lens. It didn’t matter… watching their grace in the air is enough.