maculate

I moved back to the UK some years ago, but the time spent in Spain, and in particular, the years spent en el pueblo, still influence my thoughts. Today, for example is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a fact I would never have paid any attention to before living in a Catholic country, but which today has prompted me to feel nostalgic.

When we signed the papers on the house in the village it was early autumn, although we continued to dither between Madrid and the country for quite a while after that. So we were still not really on top of the intricacies of rural life as that first year wound down towards las fiestas de navidad.
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neighbours

It’s Sunday; it’s the first of December. Which means that here in the UK, some people are celebrating the first day of Advent.

But the first day of December is cause for celebration for other reasons and in other places. In Chad, it’s Freedom and Democracy day. In Romania, it’s Great Union Day, celebrating the Union of Transylvania with Romania. It’s Myanmar’s National Day, and it’s Military Abolition Day in Costa Rica.
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thistles & things

Today is St Andrew’s Day, the national day of Scotland.

So, since Andrew the Apostle, also known as the First-called, includes among his patronage, fishermen and rope-makers, it seems reasonable to mark the day here on the blog by posting a selection of images of ropes, fish, fishing boats, and fishermen.

As well, of course, as thistles, which are the national flower of Scotland.
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wings and words

I guess I will always think there is something magical and mysterious about flight. Not flying in an aeroplane or helicopter, but real winged flight like that of bugs, butterflies, birds and mythological creatures.

butterfly wing

As a child I was sure I could fly, but knew this was an ability you lost as you got older. I don’t know if I thought the skill was lost at a certain age, or weight, or quite what, though remember Catherine Jones, a classmate just a few months younger than me, claiming she still retained the power when I was already grounded.
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something to look forward to

The tomato plants I put in pots rather later than intended this year seem to be growing reasonably well. They are tall and leafy, although bushier than they should be, as I missed a few side shoots.

We don’t have a lot of space and, as I said, it was a bit late before I got my act together to buy seedlings, so there are only three of them: one Gardener’s Delight and two others, which the ironmongress couldn’t remember the names of. I reckoned we could just call them Tom I and Tom II, as they weren’t likely to answer anyway.
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(not very) centred

Apparently today is World Oceans Day, in honour of which, I have spent a stupidly long time researching things online. I started with the innocent question “How far am I from the sea?” and then fell down the rabbit hole of “What’s the centre of England?

The answer to the latter question is by no means clear cut: according to the Wikipedia page on centre points of the UK, depending on the calculation method used, and on how much of Great Britain or the UK is included, you can even find a centre that is in the middle of Morecombe Bay. That would be a centroid point, the calculation of which is described by Rob Andrews from the Ordnance Survey in a BBC article as: “If you imagine cutting out the whole of the UK with a giant pair of scissors and balancing it on a church spire, it’s the balancing point.”
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small gratitudes

There’s been a lot written in recent years about the importance of being grateful.

The traditional definition of gratitude is probably focused on the recognition and appreciation for things we receive, or actions that benefit us, particularly when we’ve done nothing to warrant these.

The problem with that idea, though, is that it implies the existence of a benefactor – someone who does something for us, or gives something to us. There are so many things in life to be grateful for and many of them just seem to happen without any external intervention; if you don’t believe in a Higher Power, there’s no one specific to thank. Perhaps the thing to do then, is to convert gratitude into an attitude.
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