This corner of Canterbury is called the Bomb Crater. Don’t dispute its right to that name, but …
As traditional as the name is its status as the venue of choice for sledging. The local hills, including the one from which it was gouged, may feel steep to climbing cyclists, but they are neither steep enough nor deep enough for sledging. The ‘Beast from the East’ weather system has given the children a few days off school – a gift such as most of them cannot remember – and many locals were enjoying the bomb crater when Mrs T and I walked by. Joy!
Who could begrudge their happiness by saying they should be in school, in uniform, when they can have a taste of winter?
I can remember snowball fights against the teachers – how many Health and Safety and Child Protection issues would that raise now?
Indeed I do walk this way most days (see post 26 December) but today it was head down into the wet mistiness. Until a song stopped me in my tracks: our all-year-round warbler, the blackcap, as grey as the day, apart from his black cap, happy to have survived the winter thus far.
And across the tracks, another calling in answer.
When I got home Mrs T announced that the frogs had begun to stir in the pond. Something is happening.
There was some excitement about a blue moon the other day. A freak of our regular – or rather irregular, with its months of 28, 30, and 31 days – calendar mixing times and seasons with the moon’s regular one. But it was the same dear satellite that has been circling around us for longer than anyone can remember.
So here she is, lovely as ever, through the leafless trees at Northfields station in West London. There was actually a hint of blue in the halo around her, but it hardly shows in this clip. Shine on!
The mediaeval tower of St Mary Magdalene, just in front of St Thomas’s Church.
We never know what to expect of the free promenade recitals of classical music at Saint Thomas’s parish hall Canterbury. ‘All will be revealed!’ said Fr Daniel this morning. Once again Director of Music Ben Saul discovered a pair of talented young musicians in pianist Greta Åstedt and Lucia Veintimilla on the violin.
Mozart settled the audience into listening mode. One of the toddlers in attendance was transfixed at the sight and sound so close to her. Her face increased my enjoyment of the music.
A piece by Japanese composer Takemitsu evoked an invisible and not necessarily friendly, presence in the room, chased away by de Falla, inviting the little ones to dance. Another contrast from Lutoslawski, by no means going gentle into that dark night, while there was one more chance for the dancers to go with the music thanks to Slavonic dances by Smetana.
Two more names to watch for: the players are just starting their professional careers. And if you are in Canterbury on a Saturday, come to Iron Bar Lane for 10.45. And next week? All will be revealed. The preschool children were well behaved and in no way diminished anyone’s enjoyment.
A retiring collection goes to pay the musicians and towards the restoration of the church organ.
Sometimes Mrs T and I need to get out of the city and breathe fresh air, so we took a walk, or rather a wade – across muddy fields – on raised paths built by mediaeval monks – to a pub lunch. We were walking mostly beside reeds like these, behind and amidst which were swans and assorted ducks, blue, great, willow and bearded tits (chickadees), robins, wrens, finches; overhead crows, gulls, cormorants and – believe me – or not – a pair of parrots. They are established about 20 miles away, allegedly escaped from a film set in the 1950s – but rarely seen that close to Canterbury.
I may have enjoyed umbrellas as a child, admiring the exploits of Gene Kelly Singin’ in the Rain, but when I came to man’s estate, with a heigh ho, the wind and the rain, I became wary of them in other people’s hands. The ends of the ribs are often on a level with my eyes, and I feel even less safe when the umbrella-walker is lost in a mobile phone! The trivial trials of city life!
Heigh ho, the rain it raineth every day, or so it seems this last week, so I don my own protection in the form of a canvas sunhat with a wide brim. After turning off the main road, where all I could hear was the prolonged and monotonous schweeeesh of car tyres on wet asphalt, Kirby’s Lane offered a rain recital.
There was an amplified rhythmic bass line in the hammering of drops on my hat. Unlike much music played on headphones, I doubt anyone else could hear – there was no-one else to hear. The amplification came from the rim’s proximity to my ears.
My feet splashed through shallow puddles, of course. If Abel had been there, we’d have sought out the deep ones, and then the gutter at the edge of the carriageway, which was happily – allegro cantabile – chuckling an alto melody until it giggled soprano into the drain. For tenors I had the downpipes on the houses – one side of the Lane is the backs of tall Victorian buildings clustered around the railway station.
A foolish thing is but a joy, for the rain it raineth every day.