Healing, holiness and history

remaking the wooden fence

Healing, holiness and history

Lichfield Cathedral is the first UK cathedral to be used as a Coronavirus vaccination centre. And why not? It’s a huge undercover space, and, quite probably, it’s underutilised. It seems fitting for cathedrals to be places of healing once more, and for the community to benefit from their existence.

The second daff is flowering. Days slowly lengthen. I started walking at 4.20 yesterday and was still back, after a fairly brisk circuit of the fields with Jennydog, before darkness fell. She’s been unwell for the last couple of days – probably to do with eating something disgusting – so I’ve taken her off her normal food and put her on bland stuff (including boiled rice). She’s much improved.

Despite being closed to visitors, this little farm still needs to be looked after and maintained. Things wear out. Things break. Yesterday the chaps, ( the husband plus one other), were remaking and repairing a short run of wooden fencing. They just finished before the light went.

They’re at it again – my sister and my cousin – on the family tree/history trail. Regular updates are popping in by text, message and email. My sister’s tracing the Mansells back, (the direct line from our father), to South rather than West Wales. It’s quite a task as more ordinary folk tend to leave less of a written trail.

My cousin sends more random nuggets of information, often about the Blathwayts (from my father’s mother’s line). Friday’s snippet was that we share a seventh cousin – Benedict Blathwayt, a children’s writer.  Without visual aids, I’m afraid a seventh cousin is a connection too far for me to grasp.

The smalls next door in the cottage were drawing and painting yesterday – a competition entry for Santes Dwynwen’s Day on 25th January. Though nowhere near as widespread as Valentine’s Day celebrations, poor Dwynwen, (unhappy in love according to the tales), is widely commemorated in Wales now as the patron saint of lovers. She’s also known as the patron saint of sick animals.

Art, artists and a competition

The headlines have been proclaiming it’s back to school in Wales. This is an over-statement. The eldest small went back to school yesterday morning for three hours. Six children took up the invitation to return. They have two more Monday mornings in this very different school setting and then, it’s the end of term.

In Orla’s absence, her younger sister watched the husband working through a small box of things-to-be-fixed. Mostly bits of jewellery. I’ve always loved jewellery, generally vintage or handmade by a craftsperson. Often with little financial value. But, to my eyes, pretty. Some things were not repairable or had missing hooks or clasps. My talented sister silversmiths. I know that’s a tongue-twister but am not sure if it’s a verb. Amazingly, a little package arrived from Buckinghamshire this morning with some spare parts. Thank you, sis!

Jewellery components from my sister

 Years ago, a local painter was running workshops in our Old Dairy. Presumably she had more than enough fish at home as she started populating our little tank-cum-trough, (aka pond 1) with fish. She did this gradually and by stealth. When we had five new aquatic residents, I mentioned this strange occurrence to her. Her face gave her away. Five became four a while back. We’ve noticed that one of the survivors doesn’t seem to be thriving. While we became custodians of goldfish by accident, not design, I don’t like to see any creature ail on my watch.

An entry just popped into the letterbox. We’ve been running an art competition for children here to draw or paint something from the last three months of lockdown. The idea is to use elements from their pictures to create a mural. This would then decorate a rather ugly wall in the farmyard.

The dull, the drab and the dreary has seemed dominant for the last few days. Any bright flower emerging is cause for celebration!

The hole is plugged. Glass now exists where it was formerly absent. It’s less draughty. However, when asked if the job was finished, his response was slightly shifty. ‘More or less,’ he said, ‘but don’t open the window yet.’

While sweeping up shavings and splinters of wood and other evidence of the recent activity, I came across clouds of soft fine dark hair. This was from Sunday afternoon, a socially distanced visit by a chocolate lab called Millie. Her humans came too.

A trip, a poem and a theft

I seem to cross the bridge less often these days, and of course, it’s not possible at all right now. In Midsummer 2009 I drove from West Wales to Northampton in my little mini to collect a prize and to visit old friends. The prize was for the poem ‘On Meeting my Cousin’, in which the cousin is called Mark. The poem was inspired by the time my cousin Paul came to live with us when I was a child of five or six, just after we left Wales.

Looking back from the situation we’re in where an outing to the nearest little town to visit two shops and the vets for essentials becomes a brief respite from cabin fever, this solo outing to Northampton seems like an adventurous frivolity! I must have spent more on fuel than I won in prize money. I also got horribly lost, and to cap it all, the husband’s motorcycle ‘tomtom’ was pinched when I left the car to pay for fuel and chewing gum at a garage. Net loss then, chalked up to experience.

My last post was about Paul, who died last week. Here is the poem loosely based on the time when he was a significant figure in my childhood.