Tag Archives: friends

At this table

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A meal in the garden in the company of friends is a great blessing, one Mrs T and I shared this week in Wales. Good local food well cooked. Our friend’s granddaughter has a chef for a brother and seems to share his love for cooking – one passed down the generations!

There was talk of the brother as well, of course, of cabbages and kings. The lad takes a pride in his work, to the extent that he has persuaded his bosses to buy butcher’s meat and fresh fruit and vegetables so that he could prepare better meals at no extra cost. He is feeding young people on activity holidays.

‘And now, instead of frozen, ground down whatever and jars of sauce, they have spaghetti Bolognese with proper, lean minced beef and sauce from scratch.’

…….

I hope you enjoy a few outdoor meals this summer, and that the cooks enjoy them as well as the diners. The next day was bread and cheese for just the two of us, halfway up a hill in Herefordshire. That was enjoyable too: we’d walked up an appetite!

 

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On the move.

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I was waiting at the seaside bus stop when a handsome young lad arrived, a smile on his face. He was dancing on the spot, though his headphones were off his ears and indeed switched off. He looked crazily happy, but not crazy!
One of his mates got on a couple of stops later, and so we heard just why the firstcomer was so happy. He’d just got accepted at university. ‘I can’t wait to get out of here, man, and get to university. This place is dead, there’s nothing to do.’
I got off at our local university, to walk home in the Spring sunshine across the green of the campus. Two students alighted in front of me; quite a few prefer to live in the peaceful resort rather than the city.
No doubt there will be young people coming to Canterbury from the town where my fellow-traveller is going, glad to get away from somewhere that has grown too small for them. Many come from London, glad to get off  their patch and out from under their parents’ eye.
I trust and pray the fire that made the seasider dance will burn within him all the days of his life.

Gardening: a gift economy.

 

periwinkleJust before it got dark I went out with the secateurs to take a few cuttings from our periwinkle. It is excellent ground cover, smothering weeds around the roses but allowing the daffodils to burst through. Even in winter there are a few flowers around (the picture was taken in spring though).

Down at the L’Arche Glebe garden there is a patch of shady ground under a hedge where these cuttings can find a home. While I was gathering them I remembered Mabel, who gave me some from her garden across town. I didn’t hear of her death till after the burial. Her vicar said someone described her as ‘the soul of goodness’. I totally agree. She was an inspiring person to be working for, and deserves recognition at Canterbury Christ Church University, for which she did so much in its earliest years.

Even though none of the present L’Arche Community knew her, she did know about the community in its earliest days and thoroughly approved. Even Mabel, however, could not stretch herself any further to play any part – except to pray. She prayed, she encouraged, she shared her knowledge and skills freely. The soul of goodness indeed.

We enjoy her periwinkles, and tradescantia, and various other perennials, and I treasure her memory.

The Clones go marching on.

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 Promise

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We buried our friend Mrs O a few days ago. She had a good send-off, the church comfortably full. I was comforted an hour earlier, to see a rainbow, arched over her house as the rain drifted away into the North Sea. A promise that she will not perish! And the thrush and blackbird were singing.

‘Safe’ by Mary Webb.

Under a blossoming tree
Let me lie down,
With one blackbird to sing to me
In the evenings brown.
Safe from the world’s long importunity –
The endless talk, the critical, sly stare,
The trifling social days – and unaware
Of all the bitter thoughts they have of me,
Low in the grass, deep in the daisies,
I shall sleep sound, safe from their blames and praises.

That is one of Mrs Turnstone’s favourite poems.

This particular rainbow over Mrs O’s house occurred a few years ago.

 

Cornish and Kentish foraging

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I was beginning to fear that this year the chestnuts for the Christmas goose would have to be bought, as the opportunity to gather them in Kent never quite presented itself. I have not cycled home through the woods this autumn as work has taken me elsewhere. This meant that I missed my favourite crab tree as well.

Last year our god-daughters helped with the harvest on the side of Abbot’s Hill, and they roasted a few by our fire before taking their share home to London. But this year our chestnuts will be Cornish ones. As Patrick, an old school friend, lives in the Duchy with his wife Rosemarie, we took ourselves over to see them, and there along their footpath into town we soon gathered sufficient stuffing to satisfy the discerning Turnstone crew.

There’s just the small matter of peeling them to look forward to. Not good for the fingernails, but it’s a congenial task for a dark autumn evening with the music playing.

The real reason for visiting Truro, of course, was their company. We had not seen them since the time our daughters brought us together again: theirs graduated as a teacher, after teaching ours during her final practice at college; those dozen years – and a great many more – to catch up on; that gave us another blessed day.

Here is last year’s story:

Two lively god-daughters gave us a good excuse for a muddy Autumn walk up Abbott’s Hill. Like moths to a flame, welly boots were drawn to the squidgy puddles, but the girls’ mother had packed a change of clothes; she knows her children. Amy tumbled backwards with all the grace of a ballet-dancing eight-year-old. And did it again.

We had no time to float sticks down the stream; we were out hunting, not for rabbits or squirrels, but for another wild food – chestnuts.

On the way up to the spinney, Juliet was able to identify some of the trees, like the silver birch and oak. We saw the magpies and squirrels busily gathering acorns, but would they have left us any chestnuts? A green woodpecker was so intent on the acorn feast that it merely hopped a few yards from the path as we walked by. A magpie scolded us from the topmost branches; the squirrels just scrambled round the far side of the tree.

And chestnuts there were in plenty. Great fun was had in gathering them, rolling the spiky husks under the soles of our boots till the shiny fruit lay open to view in its soft bed. There was much critical appraisal of our harvest, and before the girls were bored, a respectable bagful was gathered.

Not living in London where such luxuries are regulated, we were able to light the fire and invite Juliet and Amy to take turns cooking the nuts on the roasting shovel brought back from a holiday in Wales. There were still plenty for them to take back home, while I cooked and froze the rest: our Christmas stuffing was guaranteed local produce!