Rosemary, Rodborough Common
In Greek Mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth - the primal Mother Earth goddess. Today the Gaia theory or principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated with one another and form a single but self-regulating complex system, which maintain the conditions for life on our planet.
During this quiet Easter holiday whilst taking my daily walk around our Common, I reflected on just how quickly things have changed for all of us this year.
The bulk of 2019 manifest itself in continual processions of protest around our globe, whose populations, young and old called upon our governments to change course. Protect the world from climate change, the environmental impact of plastics, and damaging vehicle emissions.
As recently as December 2019 the United Nations Climate Change Conference met in Madrid, but following two weeks of deliberation and talking, most of the issues raised remained unresolved.
Why am I having these ironic thoughts? My thinking leads me on to consider “could this be Gaia’s revenge?” Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen considerably all across the globe as countries try to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Is this simply a fleeting change, or could it now lead on to longer lasting falls in emissions, and a much cleaner planet? We now know that sustainability is in fact a possibility.
David Horovitch, Twickenham
Feels like a day of reckoning, a day when I have to climb out of my ivory tower and smell the napalm. I dreamt that I was with my mother on an aeroplane. She wasn't a bit like my real mother, being an eminent physicist and rather stout; she was taking a wok full of some sticky substance with her to an unspecified destination. I wasn't sitting near her but way back in the plane. She had entrusted me to hold on to the precious cargo while she got on with some important work. I held it on my lap. I was fascinated by it; it was dark and viscous and I kept moving it round with my fingertips. As we neared our destination I took it back to my mother. She was angry with me for touching it and complained that I had made a hole in it. She then explained that the substance was uranium. I woke and turned on the Today programme. A woman was talking about the death of her husband from the virus. She had been through a terrible ordeal and it was heartbreaking to listen to her. She had watched him die in hospital, watched his agony, only peaceful in the final moments. Her children were in Canada and India but it wouldn't have made any difference if they'd been here - they wouldn't have been able to see him anyway. Or her. At the end she said several times that she wasn't lonely, she had great support from friends on the telephone but what she wanted was a hug, there was no-one there to give her a hug. She was a Christian. I hope that helps. I'm sure it does.
Over 10,00 so far in the UK, 10,000 stories like that. How can we even begin to comprehend the suffering?. But how can we not try?
I'm still learning the sonnets. I've had an infestation of ants, been troubling me for several weeks and I've been spraying them with something from the hardware shop in a rather half-hearted way but today I rolled up sleeves and gave them the water and vinegar spray treatment. Broke a rather special plate made by a friend of mine while I was washing up which reminded me that I hadn't responded to her email so I did so. I finished Uncle Henry in the Springtime yesterday, don't know what to read next, early Thomas Hardy probably, at the recommendation of Peter Scupham. My hot water's packed up so I've put on the immersion.
We must go on living, Uncle Vanya.
David E, East Norfolk
We are truly fortunate and privileged in our small rural community to have gardens which provide enjoyment and exercise in these challenging times. With the warm spring weather everything seems to be in a faster gear, the shoots in the herbaceous border, the broad beans in the veg garden and the marsh marigolds around the pond, all accompanied by the full panoply of bird song.
With such activity I temporarily forgot that at this time of year young rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are getting adventurous and seeking out fresh grass and young Delphiniums! The other morning I felt like Mr MacGregor when I looked out of the living room window to see three, yes three, young rabbits merrily hopping round and round the large ash tree across the lawn. I had failed to completely check the security of the rabbit fence and upon investigation I found a small gap in the fence behind an old wheelbarrow abandoned behind the shed! My instant reaction was to secure the hole, hoping that the intruders had departed by the same route. You can imagine my reaction the next day when two sets of ears peeped round the tree - disaster - what to do now?
After examining every inch of the fence on hands and knees I was as certain as I could be that there was no other breach so somewhat reluctantly I decided that those pesky intruders would have to be contained beyond the ash tree. I erected a new wire fence to cordon off that corner of the garden, including the shed and to my great relief there has been no sign of rabbits since.
Where have they gone? Is there another exit that I haven’t found? Is there a huge warren under the shed full of rabbits waiting for me to drop my guard? Has the mother hopped over and rescued them? I may never know.
Today is the first chilly day for more than a week so I’m looking out of the window again, Is that the soft furry leaves of lamb’s ears (stachys lanata) or………...
Mary's Projects Mostly
Mary Hildyard, Bristol
For the past 15 years I have lived around the corner from a Waitrose Local and only a short walk from shops like the perennial Bristol favourites, Reg the Veg and Papadeli. A daily paper and a bottle of milk – no problem. If a garlic was suddenly needed it was easy to procure one. So I was unprepared for the role of Quartermaster in Self Isolation. Despite masses of advice I am still floundering and our food store is in some chaos.
Lovely J who lives downstairs volunteered to shop for us at the beginning of our quarantine over three weeks ago and has continued valiantly – never complaining. But we would like to relieve her of some of the effort and the exposure. She is often busy as she continues to work from home and waiting in the queue outside Waitrose can take a lot of time. So, shopping on-line in some orderly fashion is the goal.
We are being encouraged to use local shops with local delivery, if possible, to keep the shops from bankruptcy. So, we try. But the availability of products and when they can deliver them are highly variable. A regular delivery from a well sourced supermarket would be ideal. But delivery slots prove elusive - mostly “Fully Booked” and “Not Available”, so I grab available slots willy nilly when they appear – sometimes I am making that order in a 5 am moment of insomnia.
My lists of orders from Waitrose, plus the local deli, plus the local greengrocer plus the list for J dovetail each other and need a lot of checking to see if I am duplicating or missing an item. This is all frustrating and time consuming but not without humour. Last week, when I realised that toilet roll had not arrived in the supermarket order I hastily scribbled “loo paper” on the list for J. When she returned with the shopping later a pad of lined paper was included. She texted me later “ I hope that is the right paper. I didn’t know what you meant by one hundred paper.”
Hello from Eastbourne
Indestructible eggs by Franklin Lewis Macrae
Over the weekend we did fun family stuff together. The weather was abnormally hot for this time of year. It was sooooo hot that my mum's tulips bloomed. We went for a walk on the beach and it was deserted. The tide was out and we could see the rockpools. Normally when we are there I jump off the groynes but I couldn't because of quarantine, we had to be quiet. We did go in the sea and even though it was hot, the water was a chilling cold. It was still fun.
On Easter morning I made a start on my chocolate egg right away until mum stopped me. Me and my sister decorated hard boiled eggs to roll down a hill later in the afternoon. I did a treasure chest, a radioactive egg and a Ninja egg. We walked up a gargantuan hill next to the golf course and rolled them. Mine were indestructible and took ages to break. A huge dog ran towards us and started chomping the broken eggs even the shells. I tried a bit but it was horrid. My parents only do religious stuff twice a year at Christmas and Easter. No-one at school does the egg rolling game, they don't know about it. We've done it since we were tiny. My mum said everyone did it in Scotland when she was a child.
Today we are back to my mum's school. I did handwriting practice again, it is getting better. We have chosen our new animals for our projects and I am doing a giant squid. I find it very hard and mum has to sit with me or confiscate my yo-yo or Rubix Cube. She is doing her best but this house is not a professional environment.
Aquabelle By Marli Rose Macrae
I woke up on Friday feeling excited because it was Matilda, Kitty and Cotton Tail's birthdays. They are my dolly-bunnies. I found a scone in the larder and I gave it to them on my Emma Bridgewater tea set with jam and butter, strawberries and blueberries. Daddy sang Happy Birthday to the dolly-bunnies and afterwards I started to sew a tiny mermaid named Aquabelle. Mummy decided to have forty winks but it turned into a hundred winks and she woke up at tea time! Daddy made sausage sandwiches, salad and homemade rose lemonade in the garden. We bought a glass jug in a charity shop ages ago, it was dusty but when we washed it, it was beautiful. There are blush pink amaryllis on the jug and it has gold edging on the top and the spout, it looked wonderful with the rose lemonade in it. I miss charity shops during Lockdown. Mummy takes me to her favourite one after school. After the tea, we raked the soil and planted poppies. The flower beds are mostly green at the moment, only the wallflowers are in flower. They smell divine. I pick them and put them in vases in the hall and on the table outside. Soon we will have hollyhocks, allium, foxgloves, roses, columbine and much more ready to explode!
We went to the beach too but we had to do some shopping first. There was a fat bossy lady with a clipboard standing outside the shop, she was rude and even smelled horrible! The beach was good fun, it was sunny but the sea was cold. I took my clothes off and had a swim, it was freezing, I felt like an ice cube.
On the way home, we passed cherry trees that get pink puffs of candy floss. We used to have a cherry tree that was as old as our house but our wicked neighbour poisoned it and it died. We had strawberry and blueberry tarts when we got home. Me and mummy watched The Nutcracker ballet, I liked the dances of tea, coffee, turkish delight, sweets, snowflakes and the sugar plum fairy. I did a bit more of Aquabelle afterwards.
On Easter Sunday, I put up the honeycomb decorations, they are giant eggs and carrots. I had a tiny bit of my chocolate egg but Franklin ate lots of his. I finished Aquabelle. She is wearing a navy blue bikini top and has an aquamarine blue tail with gold dots. She has fiery red hair and a bottle green necklace that shimmers slightly. Mummy boiled some eggs and we drew on them. I drew a mermaid, some flowers and a rabbit with the dolly. We rolled the eggs down a hill in the afternoon. A huge dog gobbled up the broken bits. Later we had an easter Egg hunt in the garden. Franklin hid a chocolate egg in a pipe and I hid one in the ivy for him.
Today I am doing some maths on the computer because daddy doesn't need it for work today. Mummy is going to help me with telling the time. I am tired today.
Musings from self isolation
Billy Hearld, York
Having, the day before yesterday, attempted the dyeing of our hair with food colourings to little or no avail, myself and my sister and mother have resolved to order some stronger dye online. Other than this development, the last few days have been quiet here in York, a tad overcast, and rather sleepy. One finds oneself losing track entirely of time, spending whole days reading or lounging about. It is certainly very peculiar that the mind cognates time in increments of days and that, when made to confront longer increments, seeks to fill up every second with some pursuit or other. For me, I have devoted much of my time to writing and reading, studying my latin, and listening to music. As a family, we have often spent our time gardening and it was with immense excitement that we noted the first bluebells nodding their somber heads in amongst the grass. Yesterday, of course, was Easter Sunday, and so my mother, sister, father and I had a wonderful breakfast of hot cross buns and bacon sandwiches before taking a walk to my grandmas village where, having knocked on her window and then retreated to the other side of the road, we shouted to her and to my grandad who stood at their door. Although standing some five metres away from their house and being forced to holler somewhat, it was quite lovely to see them, even from a distance, and my grandad lost no time in singing the praises of his famous red cabbage, which he intended to prepare for his and my grandma’s Easter meal. (I was informed this morning by my grandad that the cabbage went down a treat and that the recipe has been saved for future meals). Today I have reorganised my bedroom, sifting through the some 600 books which were, hitherto, scattered over the floor in a somewhat scruffy manner.
Snippets from Somerset
Daisy and Caroline, Somerset
We’ve been very fortunate that while this pandemic has been going on around us we’ve been concentrating on lambing 2020.
While it came to an end a couple of weeks ago, there is always something that needs doing when you have animals. This week has been a super busy week! We moved all last years ewes to new ground, they were incredibly happy and bounced around on all fours... you can really tell it’s Spring time because the sheep are certainly frolicking! We moved all the ewes and lambs to new grass, trimmed feet (gave some of the ladies pedicures!!) protected them from maggots by covering them in a treatment for flystrike, renumbered the little lambies and generally have just been on the go with one thing or another.
I’ve tried to get out in the garden as much as possible, usually this time of year I am busy with B&B guests and not able to get out in the garden so really taking advantage of the extra time I have. The cats love it when I’m out in the garden, the three of them hang out together enjoying the lovely sunshine we’ve been having.
Well today the weather has turned slightly and it’s awfully windy out there so I am not forcing myself to do anything and instead am having a day off! I’m still in my pyjamas, have just eaten my lunch and am enjoying the last few sips of a pot of coffee, this morning I finished watching the latest series of Last Tango in Halifax.. how good is that series!? I love all the actors in it and the writing is simply perfect! Plus I lived in Yorkshire for almost 10 years so it’s nice to see some of the old places I used to visit! And that’s it.. no other plans for the rest of today.. absolutely bliss!
Love to all!
We got this! This could be cool!
t, Rural Norfolk
It rained! We had fabulous electric storm blow over last night. Not enough to soften the ground much, but a start. Not cold enough to light the stove, but it’s getting there and I’d like that. I’m never ready to put the log basket away until late May, just in case.
Yesterday was a fun day with treats, and games. The old Mastermind set is my favourite game from our collection. Not because we don't have better games, or games without that creepy man on the cover (was it just me?) but because this is the only one where I have more than an outside chance of winning. The teen is a superb problem solver, he takes an overview, and is most often many moves ahead at any given time. In some instances he has already thought through every move to game over.
When we play the more strategic games, like Hive, or Catan, I sometimes see in his face the same amusement that my grandfather used to display when trying to teach me chess. It says ‘You have no clue what I’m going to do next, do you?’ And he’s right, I don’t. In games as in life, I'm muddling along, hoping I won’t fall flat on my face with my next step.
We also play Scrabble, a particularly fun pastime when your opponent has severe dyslexia. Our House Rules are that if you can plausibly justify the word, or if the English language is being an arse, you can keep the point. Needless to say it makes for extended debates in which the O.E.D. is of no use whatsoever! You should try it, though if playing a teenager, I recommend extended rules relating to the use of cuss words!
Today is Monday. Tomorrow is Tuesday. I have decided that Tuesday is henceforth, and for the duration of lockdown, Pancake Day. Because I can.
Hilary Q, North Norfolk
We are happy because a bird has chosen to build its nest next to our front door.
A nest is a precarious thing, and yet it sets us to daydreaming of security.
Victor Hugo wrote that for Quasimodo ‘the cathedral had been successively egg, nest, house, country and universe.’
Our house has become our universe ... safe but precarious ...