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I usually take a number of photos of the things I see each day but don’t manage to include them in a post.  This post is a mixture of those photos, a few memories of my father and a mention of a couple of things I have done during the last two weeks.

The weather during the last few days has been pants (to use one of R’s expressions).  When it hasn’t been raining it has been very dull and chilly, and with a strong easterly wind blowing it hasn’t been pleasant out-of-doors.  I have a slight cough as well and no energy: this post will have photos I took when the weather was better.  The children are on their half-term holiday this week.  They can’t be having much fun unless their parents have taken them abroad.  As I look out of the window this morning there is a steady drizzle falling and I am not looking forward to going out to feed the birds.

R spent a couple of days in Manchester the weekend before last.  His poor Mum is finding it very difficult getting used to having more carers coming into her home.  She feels as though her life is now out of her own control and is quite depressed.  She knows she needs the help and is pleased to be able to stay in her own home but all the same….  R was able to give her a hug and some sympathy.  His brother is doing all the duties I do with my own mother plus some, and is finding it all extremely trying, so R got a couple of rants from him too.  R feels bad that he can’t help more but I think he does very well considering he has a full time job with lots of travelling away from home.  He phones his Mum regularly and is in constant touch with his brother.  He visits every month or two and provides equipment and other financial aid.  R went on the train so wasn’t able to drive them about when he was in Manchester but they did have an enjoyable walk in the local park in the sunshine.  The sun shone brightly and it was very warm so my mother-in-law was cheered by the flowers, the other people in the park, the ice-cream R bought and the coffee in an outside café sitting in her wheelchair under a tree.

After dropping R off at Diss station on the Sunday to get the train to Manchester, I drove back to Fressingfield to pick up Mum and took her to church in Eye.  I do spend quite a lot of my time in the car it seems!  The retired priest who has been looking after Eye church had just returned from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella and spoke movingly about his experiences.  He started walking from the border between Portugal and Spain with crowds of other people from all nations and walked about twelve miles a day through beautiful countryside.  He said he was fortunate to have his luggage sent on each day to the next hotel and only needed to carry a few necessaries with him.  Many of the other pilgrims had to carry all their belongings with them in large packs and either camped or stayed in hostels along the route.  Poor man!  He retired and moved to this area to be near his family and almost as soon as he arrived he was asked to look after churches in two different benefices and has therefore worked an extra year already with lots of driving to do.  He decided to go on the pilgrimage (organised by the diocese to celebrate its centenary) before he realised he’d be so busy at home.  He also directed our attention to the scaffolding in the church across the whole Rood Screen.  He said it was ‘Holy Scaffolding’ – there to remind us of the scaffolding God provides for us in our journey through life – the props and supports He gives us out of love.  Being in Eye church always reminds me of my father as there is so much that he made there.  He was a cabinet maker and above all loved working in churches.  He left school at the age of fourteen and became an apprentice to a joiner/cabinet maker.  His parents were too poor to allow him the luxury of staying on at school.  He had to do his National Service in the RAF and hated it and shortly after leaving he decided he would become a friar.  He joined the Friary at Hillfield near Cerne Abbas in Dorset and was known as Brother Dunstan.  He was also known as the laughing friar as he was always cheerful.  He worked as a joiner/cabinet maker while there and also ran the local scouts.  He eventually started to have doubts about whether he should stay in the friary as I think his parents put a lot of pressure on him to leave.  They thought it strange for a young man to stay celibate and not to marry and have children.  He left while he was still a novice friar but always hankered after the life he had led there.  He certainly never gave up his vow of poverty – we were always poor and Mum is still struggling to find money to look after her house from her own small pension.  We often visited the Friary when I and my brother and sister were small and loved these jolly, kind men who played games with us and were so happy.  We went to the seaside once taking one of Dad’s friends who rolled up his habit and paddled in the sea much to everyone’s amusement.  We often had friars staying at our house when I was young; one I remember who thundered about in his sandals and got up noisily very early in the morning.  One day we got up to find water and blood all over the bathroom and no sign of the friar.  He had fallen over while getting out of the bath, cut his head badly and taken himself off to the local hospital.  By the time Dad had died only one of his old friends was left and he kindly came and spoke at Dad’s funeral  Mum loves being in Eye church too, as she likes to see all Dad’s things about her (he never had much time or money for improving his home so there are few pieces of his furniture there!).  Both my mother and mother-in-law find great comfort from their religion.  I try my best to get Mum to her own church where she is so happy.  It is unfortunate that there are not enough people in her church willing or able to give her a lift as I miss going to my own church with R.  Mother-in-law is more unfortunate than Mum in that her own church has changed so much and has side-lined all the elderly members in favour of its younger ones and has virtually stopped using the set services.  Even if she could get a regular lift from someone who could manage the wheelchair she wouldn’t come away from church feeling refreshed and comforted.  I think rural churches like mine appreciate their elderly members more than town churches do – I don’t think the churches in the country would exist at all without all the old stalwarts!

Another conversation R and I had before he went off to Manchester recalled my father.  R was saying the containers he has for screws and nails and such like are starting to fall apart and he was wondering what he could replace them with.  He said his father used to use old tobacco tins, St Bruno ones, and I said that was what my father used too but his ones were Balkan Sobranie.  My father began smoking at the age of fourteen when he started work and continued until shortly before his death from lung cancer four years ago.  He preferred smoking a pipe and my memories of him are with a pipe in his mouth working in his workshop or sitting in his garden in the evening.  He was a careless smoker, throwing matches about and leaving smouldering pipes in places he shouldn’t, including the back pocket of his trousers.  You can imagine the damage done to trousers, underpants and flesh that ensued.  I am amazed he didn’t set fire to his workshop too with all the heaps of wood shavings and sawdust about.  He was never happier than when enveloped in a cloud of smoke.  His pipe or cigarettes of course, and then bonfires were a favourite with him too.  His excitement on finding that a fire was still alight next morning!  He loved a good blaze and couldn’t be done with an incinerator.  He got through tons of firewood and coal in the house.  He was given the job of thurifer at Eye church.  The thurifer is the person who swings the thurible or censer full of smoking incense during the service and he was very good at it.  I remember my mother telling me of an incident one Palm Sunday when they were to process through the town from the Town Hall or the school, I can’t remember which, to the church.  They all started to sing the processional hymn, my father began swinging the thurible and next minute the fire alarm started wailing!

I had been thinking how fortunate I was to have four different types of warbler singing in my garden, Blackcap, Chiff-chaff, Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler and another one, the Lesser Whitethroat, singing in hedgerows four minutes walk away when all of a sudden they all stopped a week ago.  I hear the Garden Warbler and the Chiff-chaff every now and again but the others have gone or just stopped singing.  Ah well, it was very good while it lasted.  I heard a Turtle Dove briefly last Wednesday but it didn’t stay around.  I don’t know that it is warm enough for Turtle Doves at the moment.  I can only remember them singing on warm and/or sunny days or is that my memory playing tricks on me?  We have lots of other birds about with their fledglings demanding to be fed.  The woodpeckers are so grubby looking from their constant feeding of young in the hole in their tree.  Instead of white markings they have beige feathers now.  As I type I can see a large group of young greenfinches on the telephone cable fluttering their wings while the parent birds stuff food into each one in turn.

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White doves visiting our garden

What a wonderful thing it must be to own some doves!  You provide them with a dovecot and pamper them to your heart’s content.  You don’t need to feed them much as all you do is let them fly off each morning to gorge themselves, with other pigeons and doves, on farmers’ crops and other peoples’ peas and beans and bird-table food!

004Male House Sparrow

A male House Sparrow

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Swallows on the electric cable.

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House Martins on our roof.  They land in large groups and sun themselves and then fly off and return quickly- flitting about.  Their song reminds me of budgerigars.

In a post last week I included a blurred photo of a damselfly.  I managed to take a few more pictures last week before they all disappeared.  The red females went before I could photograph them but a different type of damselfly arrived with green and brown females and these are my photos.

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021Damselflies

020Damselflies

The damselflies have all gone now but I managed to photograph a dragonfly which had just emerged from the pond at the front of the house and was drying its wings.

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A Black-tailed Skimmer

029Dragonfly M Black-Tailed Skimmer

Another not so pleasant insect I saw in the garden last week was a Flesh Fly.

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A tiny bee on a Welsh Onion flower.

In the second part of this post I will include the flower photos I have taken recently.