Alexander Averin

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Sunday Apr :27:40
By Cait
Dear Diary, Happy Easter to you all, There are two ways of passing from this world - one in light and one in darkness. When one passes in light, he does not come back; but when one passes in darkness, he returns. ~Bhagavad Gita This morning another touch of frost greets me but it is a gentle one which will soon clear. I am writing this in bed enjoying a lazy lie-in. Sammy is busy in the fir tree’s branches which are level with my bedroom window. I wonder if there are babies in the drey? It’s not eight o’clock yet but the sun is doing its caressing thing again (see previous blog). Molly, my cat, is laying on the bed on my much-loved patchwork quilt (Country Living one, bought many years ago, shades of pastels, pink, blue and white). She is also absorbing the heat from the sun’s rays and her body is warming me up; it is like having a hot water bottle on my tummy. My two dogs lie beside the bed; they have reluctantly resigned themselves to the fact that the cat is allowed on the bed and they are not. Later. I have done my yoga this morning, first time for weeks but thank God I feel well enough to start again now. Feel better already. I am now writing on the computer accompanied by music by Jack Savoretti and when he is finished Eric Clapton will call by (I wish). There will be a big blessing at the end of today’s blogging effort. Wales is smoke-free, hooray! From 1st April smoking was banned in all enclosed public places and last night I experienced my first evening in the pub without having to endure the effects of other people’s smoke wafting in my direction. Apart from my dear Ireland of course, which we visit as often as we can; they were the first to enforce the ban. I don’t often go to the pub but when I do I hate the way other people’s smoke would make me cough, also make my eyes run and the way the smell would seep into my hair and clothes so that both would have to be washed the next day. I do feel sorry for smokers, don’t get me wrong; I am the last person to welcome ‘Big Brother’ tactics but I think this is one law that is really necessary, the risks to health from passive smoking being well proven. My son is a nicotine addict and keeps trying to give up. I feel that the law will actually help smokers to stop in the long run if the ritual of smoking in the pub is curtailed. Interestingly, the landlord (a non-smoker) says he has already noticed that he feels less tired and has more energy since the smoking has ceased. We went to the food festival yesterday and the weather couldn’t have been better. Terry Walton came to the library, and signed some of his books. (Do you think it helps to have the initials TW to be on Radio 2?) To be honest (there’s a Welsh phrase creeping in) it was daft for him to be indoors as it was such a glorious day so, after his live radio link up with Radio Essex where he enthused about the joys and benefits to all of allotments and vegetable gardening in general, he moved outside and set up a book signing table in the sunshine. His obvious passion for the subject shone through too, an infectious passion which he said he has had for over fifty years. He certainly didn’t look that old (I must admit that having listened to him on Radio 2 I had expected a much ‘older’ man). He also had that glow, a special aura that people have when they are ‘in love’ whether it be with a person or a passion in which they are strongly involved. I love the word ‘enthusiasm’ as it comes from the Greek ‘en theos’ which means ‘with God’. I am also reminded of Joseph Campbell’s phrase ‘Follow your bliss‘. Also the sudden celebrity which he is enjoying must play a part in his ’glow’ too, and the fresh air which he enjoys all year round, (sometimes a bit too fresh by the sound of his broadcasts!). He told me he came to fame when Jeremy Vine put out a request for an allotment to ‘adopt’ and Terry’s son kept on pressurising his Dad to put his forward. He seems to be the perfect candidate as, apart from being a great gardener, he can also teach the subject, write about it and has a great sense of humour as well. He has already done over twenty radio broadcasts promoting his new book, including one on ‘Midweek’ on Radio 4 . The book title by the way is ‘My life on a Hillside Allotment‘, it can be found on Amazon and has already received rave reviews. Needless to say we bought a copy for our library and they will probably get more copies soon for elsewhere. We have our very own ‘new’ celebrity of course, this one also sprung to fame from small beginnings, he is resident in Llanwrtyd and has also been on Radio 4’s Midweek programme. His name is ‘Rob the Rubbish, you may have heard of him. He started off getting up at the crack of dawn and going round our little town picking up all the rubbish, voluntarily and at first anonymously. He was plucked from obscurity when his admirable efforts were discovered by the media. Now he has been travelling the world clearing up rubbish, up mountains in Nepal and all over the UK. He has established a link with a school in Nepal and our local Ysgol Dolafon which is wonderful for the children of both countries. We watched a couple of the cookery demonstrations at the festival. Both given by friends of mine, one is Christopher Challener, the BBC Radio Wales chef, teacher and food writer and the other by Roger Woodley, another excellent chef and proprietor of a fine hotel in the town, the Lasswade Country House hotel. I gained some very good tips from both these excellent ‘food artists’ who are also enthusiasts who love to share their passion for their subject, an essential trait for any teacher don’t you think? Well the tourist season is upon us now. I can always tell the people from ’Off’ by their unsmiling and tightly-set facial expressions. For example they do not smile in greeting or on meeting a stranger in passing on the street. ‘A stranger is a friend you’ve yet to meet’ after all and this seems more true in rural communities. I grew up in London and when I moved to the Surrey countryside way back in the seventies I thought it strange that people would smile and actually strike up conversations with strangers. And now here in Wales it would be considered ‘rude’ not to say ‘hello’ to someone you pass on the street or meet in a shop for example. The visitors drive differently too, they race along at full speed, seem very aggressive and get right up behind you and can’t wait to pass. My daughter, who had a weekend in London recently, described Londoners’ lives as seeming to be all about the ‘rushing to the destination’ and not about ‘enjoying the way, the moments in between‘. I thought this was an excellent description and one which sums up the difference in our lives, we country mice and those town ones. Yes, we do still suffer from stress, no-one can escape it and we have had our fair share recently, but it is softened by the backdrop to our lives, the support of friends, relatives and neighbours. The slower pace of life and the beauty of nature must also play their part in cradling us in troubled times. I noticed the visitors on Thursday in the supermarket in Brecon employing the same tactics with their shopping trolleys as they do with their cars by showing so much desperate intent to ‘get it all done’ in the quickest possible time and woe betide anyone in front of them who might be ‘taking their time’ (excuse the pun, unintended). I am always meditating upon time. It doesn’t exist really, it’s a man-made thing. There is only the Present. At last I have a ‘free’ day and feel well enough to start getting the garden straight. I must take it slowly as I am a typical Arian, wanting to do too much and get it all finished in a day type of person which I know you are thinking goes completely against the grain of what I have just written! M has to be careful because of his heart condition, he mustn’t overdo it, so it is mostly down to me to look after the flowers, do the weeding etc. M is the ‘tree man’, he loves growing them but I am not so interested. I look forward to my retirement so I can potter in the garden to my heart’s content and do a little every day which I think is what’s necessary if you want it to be a success The ‘Open Garden’ season starts today as well. I love this time of year as it fulfils a lot of objectives: money is raised for one of my favourite causes, the MacMillan Nursing charity, a chance to visit other people’s gardens and to be inspired and a chance to buy plants cheaply and usually they are ones that are suited to the local soil and climatic conditions. And sometimes I can also enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of home-made cake as well. I sometimes drag M along or my green-fingered daughter though with three children, a farm, her degree and her adoption panel work she has very little time for gardening at present. Before I go here are some lines from a song written by Cat Stevens, (now called Yusuf Islam): Jesus They used to call him Jesus Oh long time ago They're still calling him Jesus Don't you know They crossed the wood and hanged him Oh long time ago They still misunderstand him Those who don't know And in the evening his love will lead the blind In every secret corner there in your mind They called him Gautama Buddha Oh long time ago He turned the world to order Don't you know He used to sit knowing Oh long time ago Where you and me were going And in the evening his love will lead the blind Blessings today? The smoking ban. Free prescriptions here in Wales now (but so unfair on the rest of the UK who do not have the same privilege). Time spent with special friends yesterday. The Archers omnibus, usually a Sunday morning ritual for me. New babies. I found out last night that one of my borrowers has finally had her baby which was overdue. All her family had bets on the date she would give birth. I joked with her that I would like the baby to come on April 5th, my birthday and guess what…… yes her baby son arrived on the right day. Wish I had put a bet on. Welcome to the world Evan. Well it is 12.12 now and that is just another a sign of the nearness of the angels and guess what……….. A white feather has just flown past the window, ‘ang passe’* May the angels watch over you this Easter Sunday, Bye for now, Caitx * See previous blog.
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Dear Diary (Country Matters)
I have hairs standing up on back of my arms. There is a white feather right by our front door! Am going to go back an pick it up. I must start listening to the Archers...and doing yoga!... warmest wishes this Easter Cait. x
Posted by ChickenLicken
April 08, 2007 01:42 PM
Dear Diary (Country Matters)
You are such an inspiration, Cait, I loved the first quote and the bit about the white feather. Glad you are feeling better. I agree whole heartedly about the smoking too. warmest Easter Wishes, Elaine x
Posted by inthemud
April 08, 2007 01:53 PM
Dear Diary (Country Matters)
Happy Easter Morning to you, Cait. Again, you have given us much to think about. In my shop, we make a point of greeting each person who comes through out door, and also to wish them well when they leave. Our feeling is that we want everyone to feel comfortable and to return to visit us again and again, whether they actually purchase something on these visits or not. xo
Posted by frances
April 08, 2007 02:22 PM
Dear Diary (Country Matters)
Cait, I always find your blogs inspirational and so much food for thought. Here in Scotland the smoking ban has already been in place for a year and it is just the best thing in the world. I quite often asks the angels for help. Sometimes I think that just speaking out loud to them helps. Take care and have a peaceful and happy easter - jacqui
Posted by JacquiMcR
April 08, 2007 11:12 PM
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Dear Diary (Country Matters)
Friday Apr :48:30
By Cait
Dear Diary, Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. We cut them down and turn them into paper to record our emptiness. Kahil Gibran I wake to see the sun which this morning ‘must have crept around the edge of the window, caressing my face and sleep-filled eyes everso tenderly. I prayed, I hoped, that it could be you’ Those are lines from a poem which I loved when I was a very young and romantic woman. Ah those were the days! …. Or were they? But I always think of the lines when I am awoken by the sun on my face. Looking out of the window each morning I never know what birds or creatures I will see. Today it is Sammy Squirrel and Woody Woodpecker (how original is THAT name?) who are amicably spending time together at the bird table. Woody is on the nut holder and Sammy just below him sitting on his haunches nibbling away at nuts and seeds and any little offerings that Woody lets slip from above. And then they swap places, almost as if it was pre-arranged. Woody moves off and flies down and Sammy climbs up the post of the bird table. He has got his positioning down to a fine art as he drapes himself around the post. Then Mrs Squirrel appears and she grazes around on the grass next to Woody. A cosy pair. We are looking forward to seeing the baby woodpeckers and the baby squirrels (what are they called, I have forgotten?). I wish we had red squirrels, I saw one once in a nearby village; he looked down at me from the branch of a tree on the banks of the River Wye. I can also see the little lambs from my bed. They are brave lambs now. Quickly grown and settled in, full of confidence, they are being very adventurous and playful as they gambol together; leaving their mums to have a peaceful solitary time tucking in to the lushest green grass in our field. There was a slight frost this morning but it is quickly disappearing in this warm April sunshine. A visit is planned this weekend to F. one of our neighbours who I refer to as ‘The Honey Man’. He lives ‘across the road’ in a well hidden little bungalow beside the river in the foothills of the Cambrian mountains. A very gentle man, he lives alone, tends his well stocked vegetable garden, a plentiful flower garden and of course his many beehives. He also loves his bird visitors and looks after them very well. We both shared the ‘care’ of a one-legged pheasant for many months. We get the odd pheasant seek refuge hereabouts. This bird would alternate between F’s garden and ours, it was quite comical. He was obviously a (wounded) refugee from the Killing Folk, those people who get a kick out of shooting birds who can barely fly and are trained to come towards humans to be fed and who have been bred specially for ‘sport’ (don’t get me started). F’s expertise of course is in beekeeping, he is well known in the area and his honey is sold far and wide in Wales. He keeps hives in other areas in Powys. I was never a lover of honey but was always in love with the idea of it; its magical healing powers for example and I was convinced of its health-giving properties. I just didn’t like the taste. But when I tasted F’s honey I actually enjoyed its mild, delicate flavour. I wrote in an earlier blog about taking one teaspoonful of honey in the weeks leading up to the hay fever season. I have done this the last few years, I add a spoonful or two to my first cup of tea of the day. Its taste is not overpowering, it gives energy yet is relaxing at the same time (I told you I was Irish). If you ever have catarrh or are needing something to help you sleep honey also helps with both. It is also great for healing wounds and burns. At the risk of repeating myself it must be local honey to ease your hay fever symptoms so that you can become ‘desensitised’ to the pollens in your immediate area. I have been a sufferer for 47 years and, having tried every remedy known to Man, had given up hope of finding anything which helped. Until I started on the jar of nature’s wonder from ‘The Honey Man’. Speaking of delicacy. I bought some delicate little viola plants yesterday. My middle granddaughter, S’s favourites are those plants of the heartsease family. I bought the girls two each for Easter so they can plant them in their own little patches of garden at home. It is a shame that they are all allergic to chocolate, especially hard at this time of year but I bought them some bags of yogurt coated raisins from Holland and Barrett instead. I have tried carob products but they are not keen. Now the good weather is here we will soon be taking the girls on a train ride. We are lucky in that we live fairly close to the Heart of Wales railway line which runs from Shrewsbury to Swansea. It is a little single track line with a train of just a few carriages but, though it is well used, like everything else, it has been under a threat of closure a few times. In he summer they have Rail Rambles, guided walks, led by members of the Ramblers’ Association which are arranged from various stations along the way. We have a very ’intelligent’ free monthly paper ‘The Free Flyer’ which covers local issues. As well as advertisements it covers the arts, the environment, political issues and more. In this month’s issue I was drawn to a piece about bats and it reminded me of my concern about what I think is a decline in the numbers of bats in my little ‘nature reserve‘. There were loads when we first moved here, over ten years ago. I know of locations in this area which are home to many rare species, I just wish that more would return here. Yesterday we drove over the Epynt mountain range to Brecon to get supplies, a distance of about 20 miles yet we hardly passed another vehicle. How many people can go shopping in such a fashion? The area is now owned by the MOD having been compulsorily purchased some years ago. The views were clear and far-reaching as it was such a beautiful sunny day. When we got back my son and I went to see a couple who are our neighbours. G and Y. Y is a student of theology, G a retired GP. They also live ‘across the road’ up a long track, beside the river and hidden in the foothills of the mountains. M looks after the ducks and chicken for them when they go away. Their land and garden is so relaxing, peace really does come ‘dropping slow’. Every year they hold a few ’retreat’ weekends to raise money for the local church; they provide home-made soup, salad, bread and drinks and people can just come and picnic, walk in the flower meadows or by the river, sit in the woodland or the beautiful cottage garden and just ’be’. They call it ‘spiritual refreshment’ and it is indeed. I am aware of energies and their garden and its surrounds are really very special. But then the whole of our little valley is the same and luckily I live in my very own ‘retreat’. I don’t want you to think that in these environs everything in the garden is rosy though. The last couple of years have been taken up with a huge campaign to prevent the possible expansion of a nearby quarry and to make sure that they work within their legal obligations. It’s a long story, I won’t bore you with it now. It has been exhausting but there has been massive support from all and sundry and people in ‘high places’. (I don’t mean just the mountainsJ). All has died down now, but only for a while. But the protest campaigners are far from dead; we are very much alive and still kicking. Watch this space. It’s the downside of country living always rearing its ugly head. So much of our time is spent campaigning to save something, fight for our ‘rights’. Let’s be positive. Blessings to day? Morning sun Flowers, bees, honey, beekeepers. Holidays. Free treasures A special delivery of pink roses from my newly found sister, C, a birthday gift for me. We share a great deal as well as the same mother. C is dear to me. Finally today’s poem is written by my daughter. It came into my mind today as I was thinking about the three girls who were playing in the river yesterday. They were fishing in the stream, hooking out great lengths of green slime and taking delight in bringing it into the cottage to scare Nanny or at least make Mum feel uncomfortable. They always look for treasures here and there is much for a child to find, albeit stones, flowers, little creatures, insects, sticks or whatever. The best things in life truly are free. Here is the poem. Faith My children sit, under the elephantine limbs of the great beeches. They are looking for treasure. Dappled sunlight bounces off the greenery and flits across their concentrated frowns as they scrape and push at the leafy soil. Wholesome black earth fills behind their nails. A glimmer of something. Glass? Metal? Gold? The search intensifies. Shoulders taut with exertion. Faith. At last, a brown glass bottle is discovered from its hiding place. Its deep lustrous colour is treasure indeed for them, in their plastic reality. Fingers stroke the smooth polished glass; confirmation that treasure exists. And princes and dragons. And happy endings. Treasure too, for me, In this moment with My children. My faith. And a tiny memory of this day. And a Brown glass bottle. Verity Ellen Jones I’m off now to enjoy the sunshine, I may even find some treasure, Bye for now, Caitx

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