February 2015

I got a call from Bradford City late yesterday afternoon. Fortunately I was already back in Crawley, if I’d still been at Basil’s I might not have picked up the call. 

I’ve been surprised and delighted by the number of old friends getting in touch; some completely, and delghtedly, out of the blue. 

Basil took me for a walk on the scrubby heathland around his monastery. Up until 1914 it was mostly heather, with hardly any trees, because it was common grazing land. When the grazing stopped trees grew, in a fascinating, self seeded, mix.

Oaks and sweet chestnuts on the patches of clay that hold water and nutrients. Scots pine and larch in dense clumps, some quite large, presumably on the better sandy soil; and birch on the worst of the free draining sand. 

The birch is my favourite tree. I always associate it with my mother’s home in Finland, more so than any pine. I love the way it looks. The way it simmers and lets the light through in full leaf. The way the bark turns from grey, to white, to mottled as it grows. The way the branch tips turn red before the lime green leaf buds appear ( more obvious in Finland than England); but most of all for the way it adds variety to areas that might otherwise be bare. 

The cell I am staying sometimes gets 3G, but it comes and goes like the sun on a cloudy day. If there is no picture of the Abbey’s service time table, that’s why.

Guests are expected to go to some of the services.

This is an untouched photo. That is what it actually says outside. My mum would have laughed.




Walburgas Day is now the anniversary of my mother’s death. This is the first year in decades I have not done a card (I did one last year to e-mail out on the day, but never sent it).

This time last year I set off from Crawley to do a little, Walburgas eve, show at the Jerusalem Tavern.

My mum was watching telly and crocheting. She said goodbye, hugged me and told me she loved me and me and my brother were always in her prayers. My last sight of her she was of her crocheting.

When I took her her coffee and pills the next morning she was gone.

Bradford City have managed to promote themselves to the Premier Twatdom League with their ticket policy for sale of F.A. Cup quarter Final tickets. Season ticket holders only for a few days, but no limit to numbers, and only £15 (less than some non-league clubs charge for home games).

The result is that thousands of season ticket holders have no ticket, and a spiv was offering tickets for £135 on eBay less than an hour after City sold out!

I may yet get a ticket, but in some ways it’s probably best I don’t. I am running out of time to sort the family home, and not getting a FA Cup ticket will mean I give up the idea of seeing the League games either side. So time and money saved.

The first couple of pictures are of one of the only two sources of heat in my 1957 childhood home (the other was a coal fire!).



The next two things are from the final loft clearance. The chest was well over 25kg, and I’ve called the feather mattress Jabba the Hut Junior.



I dropped the mattress first, to cushion the drop, then had to pull the loft ladder up after me because the chest would not fit with the ladder there (I cannot imagine how the hell my mother got it up in the loft). To lower the chest I used a length of old rope, which broke.

All seemed fine. Then I discovered a cracked floorboard, pushed in an inch!

This morning I fixed it! Screwed in a big wood screw, used a jemmy on that to leaver the board up, then took the screw out and screwed the back plate from the electric fire over the crack.

The mortgage application has to be moved back.

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