A miner turned gardener taught me the old Yorkshire adage: After breakfast, walk a mile, after dinner, rest a while. I was reminded of this the other morning when I met a friend in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral. I knew she had had knee surgery but was able to congratulate her on how well she was walking. ‘Oh, yes, thank you. It’s going well. We walked back from Chartham the other morning.’
Chartham is three miles from the city centre.
This column tends to celebrate the natural world, but time today to praise the work of orthopædic surgeons and all the scientists, engineers and technical staff as well as the nurses who enable them to do such fine work.
Three miles from Canterbury in another direction, another fine walk.
We had an appointment in Canterbury city centre and were almost there when we spotted something white in the tree downstream. Stop. Stare. Stare again. It was not witches britches – air-borne plastic impaled in the branches – but a little egret, shining in the sun. Not long ago a rare visitor to Kent, now almost a familiar friend.
By the time we’d done snapping with our phones, a small crowd had gathered. I hope the sight lifted hearts a little.
One rooted cutting of Mrs O’s Veilchenblau has moved half a mile to the Franciscan International Study Centre in Canterbury; Sam and Richard are deliberating where to plant it beside their new woodland walk.
Another has gone to my mother, who says it is thriving; one will go to my brother and one to the dear friend whose willow tree I wrote about a while back. A little joy that will last for years; if Mrs O knew – and I’m not convinced she doesn’t – she would be pleased.
This afternoon I met B, a neighbour, looking for a rosemary bush to raid for her roast lamb. It was more than a little joy to me when I was able to give her a rooted cutting, grown in Mrs O’s greenhouse. B and her family were good friends to Mrs O, so that cutting will truly be ‘Rosemary for Remembrance’.
A few weeks ago it was primroses all the way along the line from Dover to Canterbury; today the predominant flower is that pilgrims’ joy, the Canterbury Bell, that sings out from the walls of the cuttings. And so, my journey home is a pilgrimage – as it indeed ought to be, every time.
At the shrine of the common table Mrs Turnstone has prepared a feast of home grown salad, with a handful of sungold tomatoes and pizza from Enzo’s Bakery at the Goods Shed.