Alexander Averin

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Warmth and Returnings

Dear Diary,

“Let me light my lamp,”
Says the star,
“And never debate
If it will help to remove the darkness.”

Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet.

I dedicate this entry today to J who was very ill and has now moved on from this world. She was a regular borrower at the library, a member of our book group and a dear and supportive friend. She was one of those special people who was perhaps too gentle, too good for this world.

May God rest her soul.


Back home again.

We drove home from Surrey sunshine yesterday and when we reached Wales we encountered the White Stuff: fields, hills and cars covered in real snow! The air turned very damp and chilly and we were reminded that it was indeed late November. We had been warned of course because my daughter had kindly phoned to forewarn us in case there were problems on the journey. The famous reversal of roles kicks in when you reach a certain age and your kids start to worry about your safety in the same way that you (always) worry about theirs.

It was M’s birthday so, when we were not too far from home, we treated ourselves to a pub lunch near Hay-on-Wye. The Hollybush Inn, we hadn’t been in it since 1988 would you believe, when we were house hunting in the area and planning our escape from the other world. The present owners have been there for three years and I can really recommend the food, there is a wonderful menu, a simple and tasteful interior (Country Living would approve) and they have varied live music evenings too. M let slip it was his birthday and a diner played Happy Birthday on the piano as the staff sang along. It was a very pleasant stop on our journey.

But it’s always good to be back home. I am such a home bird, I am like a fellow blogger friend who says she gets homesick walking to the post box. I have two more days off work as I am having to take all my leave that is owing to me. I shall also be taking some time off in December so I can finish my main and long-outstanding writing project.


The stone walls of the cottage quickly lose their heat and take even longer to warm up again. A joy in the hot summers, the cottage is pleasantly cool, but not so pleasant to return to in these dark Winter days and I secretly vow to not go away in the winter again.

Come Home to a Real Fire, Buy A Cottage In Wales.

A few daft sayings enter my head. Do you remember years ago that was an in-saying, when there was really bad feeling in some parts of Wales towards the English incomers. Never ’twas round here, I hasten to add.

But joy of joys! Our dear neighbours have lit both our fires, the ancient Rayburn in the little snug and also the woodburner in the parlour. They are so kind, they’ve also cared for the two dogs and Molly the cat. The dogs have spent the days in their house, probably being spoilt and lying in front of their fire. It has been known for Finn, our lurcher, to sleep on J’s bed!

Wet leaves are knee-high in the yard outside the back door and are a bit of a death-trap so I don warm clothes, gather up the broom and barrow, sweep them up into a huge pile and then put them to rest and decompose on the compost. I like a mixture of materials on there. I always find leaves less of a hassle to clear if they are wet as they merge together in a soggy mass and can be pushed easily to where I want them to go. The light is fading but I just have time to go over the road to the old forge and fill the wheelbarrow with logs, some are freshly delivered by E our local wood angel. I have blogged about him in the past. He has left us offcuts from fencing posts and now we have a real mix of woods. Silver birch, ash, pine and oak which is the best of course as it is slow burning. There is also some applewood from a tree our neighbours took down; that smells divine when it burns. We are lucky to have such a selection of wood for the fires as we also get some delivered by a local person .

When I take the logs back to their little winter space in the open front porch, I notice that M has also been there before me so we have a huge pile ready to burn. M says that’s OK as they all burn too quickly!

I haven’t posted any Blessings for ages so I think there had better be some today.

Home. Hiraeth, as the Welsh say, though I am told that there is no real English translation for that word as it is more a feeling in one’s soul, much like the love I hold in my heart for Ireland.

Our neighbours and their kindness.

I missed my computer too, how sad is that? Or rather I missed my purple coo friends and look forward to catching up on their news and their blogs.

My own bed, there is nothing like it is there, however comfy anyone else’s is. That leads me to my last blessing which is my new acquisition.

My new patchwork quilt. I will plug a local firm here, Pretty Practicals and try
and do a link, I’ve never done one before so please let it work.

I notice the owner of this company also has a blog that would be quite at home with purple coo, I will maybe send her a link. I am ashamed to say I ordered the quilt over the Internet and asked for it to be delivered through the post when I could quite easily have driven to pick it up as their unit is in a local market town, not that many miles from me. But I was very busy at the time and what with the ever-rising cost of petrol I decided it wasn’t too much of an extravagance really. But I see that they are opening a shop very soon and feel sure that V and I will be wending our way to Rhayader to have a look.

I’d best not forget the joys of our weekend away, it’s not all about the coming home. It is good to be with my brother and sister-in-law. We were both adopted and had little to do with each other when we were growing up, there was a big age difference, but we have become close since we have been adults. We share the same strange childhood with its terrible memories and when we get together we always end up talking about it. We laugh as well and that is the best therapy! We also enjoy good food and wine and much time was spent talking, either reminiscing or putting the world and especially the UK to rights. Isn’t that what most of our generation (and those younger!) seem to do all the time? I also met my nephew and his wife and their two young and beautiful children.

Life goes on and too quickly passes. Makes me feel old. Stop me now as I am sounding like a real wrinkly.

Before I go, here is something topical but please don’t think I am a supporter of royalty. I do steadfastly refuse to be anyone’s ‘subject’. I don’t even accept the sentiment in the poem. I just like the wording.

Diamond Wedding

Love found a voice and spoke two names aloud -
two private names, though breezed through public air -
and joined them in a life where duty spoke
in languages their tenderness could share,
A life remote from ours because it asked
each day, each action to be kept in view,
and yet familiar in the trust it placed
in human hearts, in hearts remaining true.
The years stacked up and as their weight increased
they pressed the stone of time to diamond,
immortal-mortal in its brilliant strength,
a jewel of earth where lightnings correspond.
Now every facet holds a picture-glimpse;
In some, the family faces and the chance for ordinary talk and what-comes-next;
in others, shows of pomp and circumstance.
And here, today, the diamond proves itself
as something of our own yet not our
own -
a blaze of trust, the oneness made of two;
the ornament and lodestar of the crown.

Andrew Motion

Enough of paradox, I shall sign off now. An unexciting blog, I admit and I do apologise that mine are always a tad too philosophical with not enough ‘content’. But personally I don’t want an exciting life but rather a quiet and peaceful one.

Peace and blessings to you,
Go mbeannai Dia duit


snailbeachshepherdess said...

Cait not ever aplogise for your blogs...they are lovely..relaxing and so full of thoughts and bits of info and snippets of news I am so pleased when i find you have put a new one up.
Will you be in the vicinity of Builth Wells Winter Fair next week?

mountainear said...

I agree - don't apologise they're super blogs.A good read.

I found your link - excellent.

Pipany said...

Golly Cait, you scared the life out of me! Forgot the speakers were turned on and everyone else is in bed...could hear whispering and thought someone was in the garden but it was singing on your blog playing very quietly!!!! So funny!
Well done for the ;link. I had a lokk at the site and there were some gorgeous things on it. I shall look again soon. How on earth did you work out how to do it?. Lovely blog as always xx

Sam Fox said...

Yes, a lovely blog, thanks for sharing. Don't stop!

Frances said...

Hello from New York to you Cait and a great big welcome back home.

I so agree with the earlier commenters. Apologize. Never even think of it. What you write in your blogs is so transcendent.

You let us see a surprise birthday song. May I add another belated chorus, Happy birthday, indeed.

You let us feel what is like to return home. Be so happy to return. And then, to know that your kind neighbors have set a warming welcome for you. Beautiful.

(And Cait, as I was reading I just the let the random music play and got to hear V. Morrison and J. Lennon. Well. Another thank you.)

The quilt is so lovely. Another way that you remind us of the beauty that time may provide.

Honestly, I could just go on and on and on. (Lennon, again.) But mainly, want to say welcome back.

I keep thinking of the lucky ones that encounter you at the library.


CAMILLA said...

Dear Cait,

I am so sorry to hear the sad news about your friend 'J'. Friends like this are so special to us, sending my deepest sympathies.

Your Blogs are just breath-taking, and they could never be boring Cait, such a treat to read. Beautiful writing, beautiful poems, and beautiful music.

Best of luck with your writing Cait, if you have not wrote a book already, get to it quick, your writing is simply divine, and thank you sooo much for the link to Pretty Practical. I have visited, and what can I say, simply GORGEOUS.! I shall order the CHERUB BUST, have been searching everywhere for one like this, will order Patchwork Quilts too, so pretty, thank you again Cait.

You have wonderful neighbours, how kind they were to light the fires on your return.

CAMILLA said...

P.S Forgot to mention Cait, beautiful pictures too.


Casdok said...

I just love the music on your blog! As the pictures too.
And good on you for doing a link!

Suffolkmum said...

Had a quick look at your link and off to browse now! Totally my kind of shop, although my wallet really should be in hiding at the moment. I LOVE coming home too, there's nothing like it, though I know what you mean about cottages getting so cold so quickly in winter,ours is the same. Sounds like you have lovely neighbours.

Exmoorjane said...

Not remotely unexciting - as always so much to savour and enjoy. How very kind of your neighbours to light the fires and look after the pets- good neighbours are a boon in the countryside, what would we do without them?
Love your blessings as always. Adore the quilt. And a silent prayer and blessing for J.....wherever she may be. Jxxx

annakarenin said...

It has been lovely catching up with your posts. For some reason Bette's The Rose (my usual) wouldn't play but really enjoyed Halluluah (sp) instead.

Been trecking across the garden for my logs and didn't think that I could be stacking them in the back porch as we don't use it in winter anyway. So love the photo of the fire. How lovely to come back to all that after a trip what kind neighbors. Ours are moving and though I have only known them a year I will miss them. I am sure our new ones will be lovely but it is the not knowing, as good neighbors make all the difference to a home.

Finally how sad to have lost a friend and for such a good person to have to leave.

Kitty said...

Cait - no apologies, your blogs are wonderful, full of warmth and soul and creativity. And not to mention the moon phase thingy. H and I often argue about how many days until full moon - I know how to settle it, by having a little look on your blog. And H is fascinated by the music too!

PS good advice on mine about the dreams. I have just changed the bedding, and after tomorrow presumably the moon will wane. Perhaps some peace at last?


A lovely, thoughtful read. And a beautiful patchwork quilt - I expect it's warm. And despite not being a royalist, either, I did like that Andrew Motion poem, too - you can't go wrong with a bit of blank verse.