Well, we are still here, not having left the house and garden for seven weeks. We are mightily blessed to have the garden and, for most of the time, stunning weather so life has been OK. At the beginning of the lock down which, for us, could last for months as we are categorised as old and frail, I said to Deannie that I would need several projects to keep me sane. On good days, I would work on the garden, much of which still required rescuing from the rock hard clay which formed the potential flower beds. On cold days, I would sort out my study; having tipped everything into the room and the cupboards when we moved, life in the room had not moved on and a serious sort out was required. Talking of a serious sort out leads me to the third project – the garage! We have a large double garage and, before we moved, we racked it all out with four 20ft rows of four tiers high racking and, when we moved, everything got stashed higgledy-piggledy into the garage, much to the amusement and derision of all our friends and relatives. Little has changed and I have been receiving a lot of “stick” from anyone who dares to express an opinion. Management has been extremely tolerant, probably because she is totally overwhelmed whenever she attempts to enter the garage and cannot get beyond the door. I have told her that all she needs to do is tie a rope to the door and the other to her waist, thus ensuring that she will always escape – this works well for me but she does not seem impressed by the idea! The fourth project concerns sorting out photos, many of which go back to the early 1930’s (some into the 1800’s) with the intention of turning them into photobooks for the kids to keep. So, all in all, I shall be OK with lockdown until Christmas. Then, of course, all the colour slides from the 60’s and 70’s need sorting out, scanning and turning into books.
Since we have lived here, I have gone to Morrisons’ supermarket in January and February. They sell the most amazing perennial plants which I take home and “bring on” ready to plant in the Spring. This year, I bought Armeria, Knautia, Erysimum, Linaria, Coreopsis, Campanula, Cymbalaria, Cistus, Lychnis, Hesperis and some Berberis and Viburnum. They were all really inexpensive and we are already enjoying a profusion of colour. Online sources have provided dry root plants such as Dahlia, Dicentra, Red Hot Poker and Echinacia and lots of climbers to cover all my new trellis work. I have spent day after day in the garden for the last seven weeks and it is amazing how friendly the birds have become. Of course, the robin sits on my spade or wheelbarrow but I now have pigeons, collared doves, magpies and blackbirds all in amongst my feet. The blackbirds spend all day digging in my newly worked tilth of soil, digging a big hole in their search for worms and scattering the soil all over the patio. All this while I am working four feet away, planting all my new heathers, etc for them to dig up. The blackbirds – mother, father and, more recently, half a dozen offspring – all work diligently, chucking soil about and grinning at me. I am sure that, if they had two fingers, gestures would be made. The big birds fight for the birdbath. So far, the female pigeon is winning – she just sits in it for long periods of time and the others fly around, more and more irritable because they want a drink or a bath.
Happily, we have no Bluebells or (after an initial skirmish with some infested top soil) Bindweed. However, my beautiful new lawn has become infested with coarse grasses, mostly couch, and the current an is to replace it in the autumn. Bluebells are easier to get rid of.
Unless anything dramatic happens, next month’s article will deal with how much all the plants have grown. Also, I may be able to tell you what I have found in the garage during the clear out!

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London Bombing in WW2

The VE day 75th anniversary set me thinking about the war and my experiences. A little while ago someone wrote a letter to the Independent about the London Blitz and it provoked a woman to write saying that, whilst she understood that London had suffered and she did not wish to minimize it, but it was nothing like Coventry. My thoughts were, she’s right nothing like Coventry.
Coventry suffered one particular raid by the Luftwaffe on 14th November 1941. It was a very concentrated raid involving 500 German bombers using high explosives and incendiaries. It was intended to seriously disrupt manufacture of aircraft, aero engines and other war material produced in and around the city. It was devastating, 43,000 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged, roughly half of the total buildings in the town. The official death toll was 550 killed, although it was thought the actual total was nearer 700.
There was a number of other raids on Coventry, but nothing as intensive as that big raid, the total number killed in Coventry through the war was put at 1236.
Between 7th September 1940 and 10th May 1941, considered to be the time of the Blitz, there were 71 raids on London of similar magnitude to the Coventry raid, 22,000 were killed and over 60,000 seriously injured. Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable and hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes. The Luftwaffe concentrated on the City of London and the East End around the docks, but not entirely, during that period the bombing was very widespread also. One must assume that the object was to destroy the morale of the population.

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The Vanishing Cream

I am writing this in the garden just before our Tea for Two (sorry pup you don’t like Earl Grey) in the garden at 4pm to commemorate VE Day on the 8th May. Before I tell you the saga behind the scenes shenanigans of our tea party let me take you for a trip down the lane of a local vicar in lock down.
What has been the hardest? Funerals. I, and many of the people I deal with when arranging funerals at this time, have been heart broken for the family and friends of those who have died as they cannot have a service where all of their friends and families can attend. We can, of course, have a service of thanksgiving and remembrance later but grief needs to be shared.
The second hardest, like many people today, was when my sister went into hospital with a stroke. It was touch and go. The QE Hospital was getting ready to let me gown up and go to say goodbye. But, like our Granny Hearn (my Dad’s Mum) my sister is a tough old Biddy and has now returned to her Care Home where she is loved and well looked after and I give thanks to God for her recovery and the staff there. I can’t however, give her a hug or see her. It is hard as I haven’t been able to see her since lockdown.
Some good times though: Church Services via Zoom over the internet have been wonderful and I have enjoyed taking and participating in the services very much. We all thank Janet Tanton, of West Dereham Church, for her skill in setting them up for us every Sunday. Left to me we would still be waiting.
The next little episode was when I was unwell myself. It went on and on, and so eventually hubby and I toddled off to Peterborough Showground for Covid 19 tests; after all I did not want to pass it on at funerals. The whole event took no time at all with no fuss or bother but my goodness how scary the scene was -white tents, masked and gowned staffers and regiment like order. It was like living in War of the Worlds! We were so impressed and grateful though at the kind helpful people running the testing station
Next day both negative-phew!
And now we come to VE Day morning. One person only, in each church parish, is now allowed to go into our churches. For the first time since lockdown I went to All Saints Wretton and locked myself in, as instructed, and rang the church bell to start the 11am two minutes silence for VE Day. Said prayers for us all including other nations and the world. It felt good and I hope soon we can all meet to have a celebration service when this is all over.
At home I had promised our girls we would have tea in the front garden on VE Day at 4pm – just like they were doing in their respective homes- and we would see each other via zoom. Make a cake Mum. Me ? Yes you! Ok. I am not a cook as many will tell you. The WI in our previous village of Lavendon would never let me bake – Carol, you can wash up! I followed Jane Harwood’s easy recipe for a sponge, she had given it to me years ago, but I had never dared try, and low and behold – a lovely risen sponge! Thank you Jane. I had no cream and no icing sugar!! Daughter number two found me a solution on the internet -place a tin of evaporated milk in the freezer for 30 minutes and then whip the life out of it. So that is what I did. Success! I spread it in the middle and I slapped it all over the top. No strawberry jam, only apricot. Grandson insisted you can’t put apricot jam in a Victoria Sponge; I therefore used cranberry sauce. It looked magnificent until 4 o’clock came and I took it into the garden. The cream had been absorbed by the sponge. Hubby laughed, the girls laughed and the pup yapped for a slice. It tasted lovely!
Never judge a book – or a cake – by its cover and always count your blessings every single day. The sun is still shining. Neighbours are helping neighbours and as we listened to Vera Lynn and drank our tea and ate the cake with no cream this echoed around the garden -We’ll Meet Again —Yes we will.
God Bless Everyone. Take Care.
Rev Carol

God and St Francis discuss lawns

God to Saint Francis Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colours by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.
Saint Francis It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
God Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colourful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
Saint Francis Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.
God The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
Saint Francis Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.
God They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
Saint Francis Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
God They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
Saint Francis No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
God Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
Saint Francis Yes, Sir.
God These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
Saint Francis You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
God What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.
Saint Francis You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
God No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?
Saint Francis After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
God And where do they get this mulch?
Saint Francis They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
God Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
Saint Francis ‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about….
God Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

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