“The budding twigs spread out their fan…” (William Wordsworth)
After nearly three weeks of being confined to quarters, two of them compulsory, I awoke one morning to find the hedge outside my house had sprung into life with blossom, flowers and tender ferns unfurling in front of me. In the weeks of ‘lock down’, the phrases ‘social isolation’ and ‘social isolation’ have come to figure large in our lives. Living our lives mainly in the seclusion of our own homes and gardens, if we have one, daily conversations with friends and neighbours have become a virtual experience. Resounding ‘pings’ announce a range of conversations have arrived through messaging, texting, emails and video links. Sessions of electronically engendered conversation have become the new modus operandi and in between times, we have more opportunity to pause and reflect. The pace of life has slowed down.
I respect the privacy of people who contribute to Facebook and continue to record the headlines of the postings on the Trimley page. In the last week, principle concerns revolve around:
- Appreciating and valuing the landscape we occupy
- The Deer
- Waste disposal – collection and altered times
- Reminders from the Parish Clerk about governmental guidelines for handling the Covid 19 crisis
- The round of applause for the N.H.S.
- Notifications of businesses offering home deliveries
- Photographic views of the countryside
My personal journal entries noted:
- Increased use of video links for Book Groups/ Whatsapp for the family/ ’phoning friends
- A short appearance of Felixstowe Radio
- The emerging difficulties in finding farm workers for the new season’s crops
- Reading and writing Book Reviews
They say in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again,
They say that just after a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
Across the empty square…
These thoughts resounded with me during the week. For instance, on Sunday, missing playing the organ at church, and gathering with the community there, I tuned into radio and television services. This Sunday’s Songs of Praise revisited people interviewed during earlier recordings. I was particularly touched by a dear 93 year-old D-Day veteran, Harry Billinge, who spoke of his faith and sacrifices made by many of his comrades. As he sat among the crosses in The Normandy Cemetery he said he felt he was with the boys again, he always remembers them, he continued, ‘ To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die. Love is stronger than death.’
Frequently, in these strange times we find ourselves, my thoughts turn to my Dad. I wondered if my Dad had ever met Harry Billinge, as he too landed in France on June 6th 1944. My Dad kept a diary of his experiences. My word, what a contrast to our reflections. Our diaries show the joyous, though sometimes frustrating, modern technology we have at our fingertips. We can chat with family and friends, join online choirs, I am enjoying singing along with Gareth Malone! Together with our Zumba teacher sending classes that arrive in Drop Box, with a lot of remote help from my son! Face Time and House Party even let us see each other as well as talk and play virtual games with our family.
On 28th June 1944 Dad, and the remaining members of his Regiment, were marched off to start their journey through France and Germany as prisoners. According to Dad’s diary, it was September before he received his first letter from his family in Hasketon. Yet, I now know, they wrote every week.
During the bitter winter of 1945 Dad, together with his comrades of Stalag VIII he undertook a forced March which lasted months. The conditions must have been horrendous, unlike the lovely health walks we are still able to enjoy around the footpaths of Trimley. I am especially struck for Dad’s entries for this week. Holy Week in 1945 was late March, and although very weak by now, Dad still mentions beautiful scenery and signs of Springtime. On Good Friday, March 30th 1945, he writes of deep thoughts of home and the preparations for Easter Sunday there. I cannot begin to imagine the hardships Dad went through, but throughout his diary his message of hope shines throughout. This has helped strengthen me too. Thank you,Dad. So, although feeling a little sad not to be able to have our usual joyful Palm Sunday walk, as we take our health walk on Palm Sunday, I shall hold my Palm Cross and in my heart, ‘Sing Hosanna!’
Here’s wishing you all a safe and healthy first full week in April, the weather forecast for next week seems to look good for gardening! See you next week!
I managed to buy a fistful of new paintbrushes before the DIY places shut up shop. I am wearing the things out, bristles are splaying out and putting paint blobs where they shouldn’t be blobbing!
Someone we knew has succumbed to this deadly Covid and it brings it home hard. I am extremely concerned too for a dear friend who lives in London. We speak frequently. Like others, we cannot believe people who flout the instructions and continue to mass gather. Our cat, Puggy, knows all is not right, she is my shadow and has, quite literally, learnt to watch paint dry!
Meanwhile, observations in the garden tend to lift one’s heart. A peacock butterfly posed beautifully for a camera close up. So did a squirrel with a mouthful of moss as he gathered some lining for his drey. It’s a game of wits trying to hang the coconuts somewhere for the birds that the squirrel CAN’T reach! The blue tits are checking out the nest boxes. The magpie is picking up mud to stick a nest of twigs together.
The beauty of having less traffic roaring down the A14 is that the birdsong is a joyous soundtrack to the day. More bumblebees are on the go. We have four birdbaths, all of which need refilling twice a day. It’s all happening in the natural habitat.
Stay cocooned everyone … hopefully we can burst free like moths before too many months.
‘B’ – a 7 year old school girl
I’ve really enjoyed making all of my dens this week. I have made a huge den in my bedroom and one in the living room and one on the stairs. My daddy made a gigantanormous one in the garden today!
I’ve also enjoyed being able to go outside in this sunshine. I’ve planted lots of meadow flowers to grow in our garden. I have also planted potatoes and carrots and tomatoes and lettuces.
I’ve done dance classes on my iPad with my dance teacher but I’ve missed going to school and seeing all of my friends. It’s hard getting stuck in this house. I was excited at first when I knew we were all going to be together, but now it’s getting hard. I can Facetime my two best friends and that is good. We just talk and talk.
Garden and countryside
29th March It’s time they stopped this clock changing nonsense, my circadian cycle will be confused for days. It’s obviously upset the weather control system, peeing down with rain in bright sunshine, a near gale and then soft hail, all before coffee time. I wish they had forecast the rain, I might have fertilised my grass.
The grocery delivery arrived, it looked like Christmas after the last two weeks Admittedly, there were a few extras, as replacements.
An interesting item on the Farming programme talking about a major egg producer say there are ‘spare’ eggs and as hotels etc. are closed, even distribution wasn’t a problem, but as eggsfor trade are packed on trays in boxes, retail packaging is the problem. Apparently there are only three producers of egg boxes in the world, and one of those is closed for’ holidays’ ?
30th March. Good old sun was there again, even shed some warmth for a little while.
Had a yarn with my neighbours, ‘through’ the fence, about which local footpaths seemed to be getting the least use. Did a bit of weeding, a new patch of bindweed has appeared , that’s going to be a pain. Sat on the bench in the sun in shirtsleeves. Sweet William and Yellow corn Marigold seeds have germinated.
When this is published, the Nightingales may be singing at the lower end of Gosling’s Track and on the cliffs, and, with luck Swallows and House Martins over the lake.
The big yellow ball is here again. Uneventful day really, still being visited by the squirrels on a daily basis as they have been for the last eight months. Our neighbour has a large hazel bush in his garden , and ours is catching up. The two Crows are still regular daily visitors, coming within twelve feet of the house, far less wary than they were. A pity we can’t add video, the hedgehog antics would cause amusement. Cycled up to Morston, not much happening, just a few sheep finishing off the cauliflowers.
Didn’t spend long by the A14, plenty of lorries but very few cars. Could be false impression owing to time of day, about 2.15 pm.
1st April Let’s hope there aren’t too many fools about !
Extremely quiet mid-week, mowed the grass, dead headed some daffodils, attacked a new patch of bindweed that’s appeared, watered the green house. Did my daily cycle rides, had Thorpe Bay / Loompit all to myself, looks as if the river has been ‘over the wall ‘ again recently.
3rd April. Time to think about food again, the supermarket seems to be almost back to normal. A bit disappointed that a lot of the extra visitors to my regular habitat for over 40 years, don’t have the courtesy to even pass the time of day. I may be taking a risk saying it but the last few days almost seem to be normal.
You know how it is with Marmite, you either love it or hate it. Well, in this household the man loves it, the lady doesn’t. I was clearing out my food cupboards and taking out all the food and checking their sell by dates and even noting the ones coming up, which I’ve never ever done before. Lurking at the back and hidden from view was a little Marmite jar, probably from the last century. I checked the date 2002 and told my husband I was going to throw it out. He said no coronavirus was going to live in that and it wasn’t to be chucked. Each morning I put the jar in his place, for some mysterious reason it just seems to disappear back into the cupboard.
Another thing that was well timed out was a half open jar of mincemeat from last year. Whoops that should’ve been kept in the fridge. Well we finished it off inside some baked apples. Also timing out were some cocktail cherries in syrup and so we had some of those on ice cream. We seem to have cast iron stomachs and haven’t had to resort to the Rennies yet. There is some shredded wheat which I was keeping to make little Easter nests for our three-year-old granddaughter who would’ve been coming up with her family for Easter weekend. Alas, this is not happening so we’re having them for breakfast instead.
Hubbie is making rather a rum trifle. We’ve run out of sherry so he’s using rum instead, so I suppose it should be called a Caribbean trifle. Also lurking in the cupboard we found some sponge fingers which are making up the base of the trifle and some Hershey’s chocolate pudding which we brought back from the States in 2017. When added to milk this is more like a deluxe version of chocolate Angel Delight and so he is using this instead of custard. The top will be decorated with the rest of the cocktail cherries. I’m really looking forward to this trifle tonight. So this crisis is cause for a bit of creative cookery all round.
We can’t go shopping as I have asthma and we heavy breathing asthmatics are told not to shop. Some people have offered to shop for us, but as they are shopping for others as well, I don’t think this is fair and also in some supermarkets they are limited to the quantities of certain items that they buy. I would never forgive myself if anybody shopping for us caught the virus.
So we have to rely on deliveries. We heard that the local Farm shop were doing home deliveries and when I rang them they said they could deliver on Tuesday morning but I would need to phone in my order on Monday. When I rang just after nine on Monday morning they told me that all the slots have been filled, as people had been either emailing in or rung in from 7 o’clock. For the first time in my life I actually envy people who don’t like salad, fruit and fresh vegetables because that will not be a problem for them.
Now for online shopping. When we contacted Morrison’s we were told there were 37,000 in front of us. We have already done online shopping with Tesco and Sainsbury’s but this didn’t seem to account for anything. Sainsbury’s have added us as vulnerable people to their very long waiting list. Iceland, bless them, are dedicating their online shopping to elderly and vulnerable people only and we have been able to register with them. We have logged on but so far no joy. I remain the eternal optimist and know some day my slot will come.
We are fine for food, but I do worry about vulnerable people who are too frightened to shop and too proud to ask for help. On one of our daily walks we saw a very elderly, frail man with a stick who had obviously been shopping at McColls. I know that there are lots of young, kind people around us who would help him but I wonder if he is determined just to do it himself.
All is not lost though. The Sunday Times wine club still delivers so we can drink to that. Maybe we should put in an extra order.
It’s such a lovely sunny Sunday and the world almost seems normal at home, doing the usual Sunday things that we do.
This week has been one of settling into a routine. We’re up rather later than normal in the mornings and the days are taken at a slower pace. What joy! I could get used to this and I must say I’m rather comfortable with ‘isolation’ if that means not having to get back into the fast lane of life for a while. I have more time to just sit and gaze, read, contemplate and reflect.
This week has seen us all settle in the uneasy, new routine of school life.
Between two and six children arrive at school each day to be cared for whilst their keyworker parents go to work, or because they are vulnerable in some way and school can provide a safe haven for them for a few hours each day.
This week children spent most of the time outside, regularly visiting the pond to pond dip. A record 14 newts were found on Friday, as well as masses of frog spawn. For one 4 year old, this was his first experience of getting up close and personal with nature and he spent most of the day, actively engaged and in superb sustained, shared thinking with the member of staff. It absolutely delights me that child and educator can still share these special learning moments. The spring bulbs are in full bloom in the school garden, a delight for the few that are in each day. Some things are indeed carrying on as though the pandemic had not happened.
We have also now been given the facility to send supermarket vouchers to all children eligible for free school meals. The online system was a breeze for my amazing office administrator…not sure it would’ve been for me! Initially, the voucher scheme was for term time only and was not to include vouchers to feed the children over the Easter holiday, but a late change over the weekend means these families will now get vouchers over Easter. Another job for the office administrator to change on Monday. I feel grateful that families who usually receive free school meals now have some additional funds to buy lunches. I am also grateful that my staff do not need to make additional trips to the supermarket to buy supplies and distribute them to families in need.
We are now taking children from 2 local pre-schools that had to close this week and furlough their staff. Parents of these children are worried about their children starting at a new setting and with new staff. I have done all I can to reassure these anxious parents that my team are exceptional and are superb at settling new children. However, during such uncertain times, I also understand the anxiety parents are feeling – leaving their child at a new setting with new adults to look after them and then going to do their own, difficult and tiring jobs. I hope I have reassured those parents that we will give their child the best possible care and they do arrive at school tomorrow as planned.
The online picnic
Sarah and I have just finished eating a picnic. We shared this in a virtual way with some friends of ours who live in Trimley St Mary. Who would ever have dreamed of such an event?
The week has melted by. We continue our walks each day, the weather has been kind. We tend to walk on the country roads, avoiding narrow paths, which make passing others at a safe distance difficult. We do a circle route and have “met “some lovely people, but most of all Meg, a gentle lovely lady, 11 years old, a collie.
We look for the deer and the subtle changes of Spring coming forth. At times it does seem that we are living in a parallel universe with all that is going on.
I have also started taking photos, using my phone on our walks. I choose one then post it on my Facebook page. So many people are enjoying them, as far away as Canada.
The one clear shot that eludes me is the white deer, if any of you have one, would you share it with me?
Well, we’re now into week 3 and settling into the routine of self-isolation. I have finished painting the bedroom, and now everywhere else looks a tad shabby, so the hall, stairs and landing will be next on the list. Fortunately, I had stocked up on paint before the lockdown, with a view to decorating ‘in the Spring’. I never, for one moment, envisaged having all this free time to do it.
I still go on my daily walk/jog down the lanes and across the fields, and am amazed at the number of people I see, whereas in the past, I never usually saw anyone. I can’t help thinking that maybe we’ll all be a bit fitter once this is over.
My car sits unused on the drive. I read somewhere that to keep it in good repair, it should be started up and moved slightly, reducing pressure on the tyres, and also to prevent the battery going flat. It should also be left in gear, with the handbrake not applied in case it locks on. The neighbours (who are obviously all at home) must have found it strange, if not amusing, to see me reversing to the gate, then going back up the drive several times, to keep things ticking over.
I ventured over the footbridge this week (a cyclist waited patiently at the other end for me to cross – the width of the bridge is certainly not 2 metres – so I thank him for that). I needed fruit and vegetables and Roselea Farm shop had a good supply. I was also able to get a fresh loaf of bread. Carrying a heavy bag of potatoes, carrots etc back was not the easiest of tasks, but no doubt will help to banish those bingo wings. Next time I will take two bags.
Stood at my door and applauded the NHS on Thursday evening. I cannot be the only one who found it incredibly emotional. Not sure why, but I did have a tear in my eye.
We are fortunate to have had such beautiful weather over the weekend. I have re-potted many of my tender seedlings, using home made compost. Hubby has converted my old brown bin into a new compost bin, seeing as the council have temporarily suspended all garden waste collections, so I was able to empty the old bin, and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the compost. Let’s see if it works. Time will tell.
Adrian spoke to me on the ‘phone and announced all bets concerning Trimley Station are off. During the course of the week, he’d received a letter from the Heritage Lottery fund relating to the Trimley Station. He was thanked for his expression of interest but current applications were negated. All funding has been diverted to fight the effects of the Covid 19 and details of this and the Heritage Emergency Fund were announced last Wednesday 1st April[i]. They weren’t turned down and will re-apply when the opportunity re-opens later in the year.
Video linking has just become a part of his life with its many opportunities to chat to friends for hours. Unfortunately, he will not be going to Italy on Friday as he had intended but is hoping for some lemons to hang in his conservatory. Combined with a good bottle of Italian wine, he will use his imagination.
Well another week has gone by and life is far from getting back to normal, whatever that is supposed to be.
Part of my day is spent taking my canine companion out. Although his sight has been poor since he was two, due to an infection and cataracts now have compounded the problem, he enjoys this time together. He might not see the bluebells starting to emerge but that matters not, I certainly find it lifts one’s spirits to see nature continuing through the season.
Did you know that the roots from bluebells contract, enabling the bulb to pull itself deeper into the ground?! Bluebells can spread to form vast colonies but it takes a long time, around five to seven years from seed to flower.
Years ago, when I was a carefree child we had a cottage which backed onto some woods which had masses of lush bluebells. It also had lots of garlic which if the cows got hold of it would lean over the fence and goodness, the smell!
I will leave you with that picture (and aroma)!
As ever, I welcome further contributions from those who wish to give their own reports of The Great Pandemic in Trimley St. Martin. If you have any comments or would like to be part of this Trimley St. Martin project, please contact me at: