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Monday, 28 November 2022

Donna Nook

 I've had one of my favourite days out last week.  I went to Donna Nook.

This little chap is just a few minutes old and is still stained yellow

At first sight Donna Nook isn't very appealing.  It's an RAF range on a salt marsh next to the North Sea.  Salt marshes next to the North Sea have very limited appeal in November!  Or rather they have very little appeal for humans.  Halichoerus grypus thinks it absolutely wonderful!

Halichoerus grypus?  That's the hook-nosed sea pig or grey seal.  Donna Nook is a favourite birthing site with over 2000 seals born last year.  The site is managed by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and, thanks to their efforts, seals and humans co-exist very peacefully.

There's a double fence between humans and seals and the seals seem to regard homo sapiens as being provided for their entertainment.  There's less than a metre between them and us, necessary to stop us touching them (our smell on a seal pup might make its mother abandon it) and to stop them biting us (their teeth are like those of dogs).  

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

J is for Jack

 I wouldn't like to say that hints have been dropped on this one, but hints have been dropped!

He first came as my chimney sweep about twenty five years ago ago.  So far so good.

Then he came to see me about his daughter's wedding.  As he left he said, "Your garden looks a mess" to which I replied, "If you think it looks a mess, you do something about it!"  Which he did.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

He moved from being the chimney sweep to being the gardener, to being the handyman and gradually he became my friend.  And I conducted the weddings of both his children and the funerals of both his parents and his brother.    My need to isolate during the pandemic meant that I couldn't do the same for his wife when she died but I was able to write material for someone else to read at the funeral.  
You may have noticed that Jack and I moan about each other.  Sometimes I have been very tempted to give my side of some of the things he writes about but I have admirable restraint.  Jack doesn't. 

We talk on the phone most mornings and he often calls me Joan.  Or Ann.  Or Hazel.  But he also calls Joan, Ann and Hazel Mary.  Or he may even call them Vicar.  That confuses them

But thank you Jack.  For what you do in my garden.  For your friendship.  And for the rare times you do actually call me Mary

Sunday, 13 November 2022

St Peter's, Normanby le Wold. Treasuring.

I've been to the highest point in the wolds today, to the tiny village of Normanby.  These villages with a population of about 60 are quite common in this part of Lincolnshire but each has its own church which is treasured by its community.

I feel very treasured by the congregation here.  During the pandemic, when I was fairly rigorously isolating, they made it possible for me to celebrate the Eucharist on Christmas Day.  It was the first time in over nine months that I could do so.

There has been a church here since before the Doomsday book of 1086 but the present church is much newer, dating from the thirteenth century.  By 1867 it was very dilapidated so it was "restored" and a new chancel built.  It's open daily for visitors, often people walking the Viking Way.  I helped to provide some benches so that walkers could take off their boots and have a good look around without fearing of leaving muddy footprints!

It is cleaned (and loved!) by a wonderful lady and she is a treasure!  During the pandemic I was one of a group of well wishers who assembled (socially distanced of course) to sing Happy Birthday when she was ninety.

Friday, 11 November 2022

Patriotism is not enough

 Nurse Edith Cavell was the daughter of a country parson.  The Reverend Frederick Cavell brought up his children to have care for those less fortunate than themselves.  Edith became a governess and she didn’t start to train as a nurse until she was 35 and in 1910 she was recruited to be matron of a newly established nursing school in Brussels. 

 When World War I broke out, she was visiting her widowed mother in Norfolk but she returned to Brussels where she began sheltering British soldiers and getting them to the neutral Netherlands.   It wasn’t just Brits either: she sheltered British and French soldiers and Belgians and French of military age. She was arrested and charged with harbouring Allied soldiers.  She was held in prison for 10 weeks, the last two in solitary confinement. She admitted she had helped about 60 British and 15 French injured soldiers and about 100 French and Belgians of military age.

 She made no attempt to deny the charges and she even told the court that the soldiers she had helped escape thanked her in writing when arriving safely in Britain. This established that she helped them escape to a country at war with Germany.  As the case stood, the sentence according to German military law was death.

 The German civil governor said that Edith should be pardoned because of her complete honesty and because she had helped save so many lives, German as well as Allied. However, the military governor of Brussels ordered that the execution of Edith Cavell should be carried out immediately.

 The night before her execution, she told the Reverend Stirling Gahan, the Anglican chaplain who had been allowed to see her and to give her Holy Communion, "Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.  I have no fear or shrinking; I have seen death so often it is not strange, or fearful to me!”

 One of the first memorials to her was unveiled in October 1918, even before the war was over when Queen Alexander opened a nurses’ home named after her in Norwich.