sacred and secular

Today is Palm Sunday – the Sunday before Easter, when the Christian church remembers Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and the welcoming crowds strewing palm fronds in his path. In the UK, there are no native palms, so traditionally we use willow branches; I remember as a child picking branches of grey pussy willow catkins to decorate the local chapel my family attended.

This year, whether it’s due to climate change, the vagaries of the English weather, or simply a later Easter than sometimes, the sleek fur catkins are already fluffy and yellow with pollen.
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needs and wants

All this talk of only shopping for essentials has got me thinking. After all, what is essential?

The shelves in the supermarket suggest that my needs are quite different from others. I don’t think I can remember the last time I ate dried pasta and I probably don’t open more than two tins in a month. But flour is essential for me to be able to follow my usual lifestyle, and so are milk, eggs and cheese.
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on poetry and puppetry

If it weren’t for social media, I would probably have blithely continued to not update this blog. But today my Twitter feed is full of hastags trying to distract us from global concerns and help us focus on other, more enlightening and uplifting, matters and I have been nudged into action.

Without the reminder from Twitter, I would probably have forgotten that it was #WorldPoetryDay. After all, in the UK, we get a lot more excited about National Poetry Day, which happens some time in early October. But I haven’t written any new poems for ages, so why should that make me want to post here after months of silence?

Indeed, it probably wouldn’t have been sufficient if I hadn’t also seen another hashtag and realised that it is also #WorldPuppetryDay. That seems to me to be a day worth celebrating.
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old beginnings

It’s the first weekend of a new year. Whether you think it also counts as a new decade may depend on whether you’re the sort of person who’ll get lost down a rabbit-hole if they google “why numbering should start at zero”.

The fact that last sentence took me over an hour to write would tend to suggest that I am a rabbit-hole explorer who thinks 2021 will be the start of the new decade. But I also think I really can’t justify the year 2020 not being part of the Twenties, so it looks like I’ll stay sitting on the fence.
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the calm before the storm

I think a lot of people feel that 2019 hasn’t been the easiest of years. There have certainly been highs and lows in my own life, and I gather that even the Queen recognised something of the sort in her Christmas speech. I didn’t watch the speech, but the report on Time website says:

Talking about the need for reconciliation and forgiveness, Elizabeth says: “The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.”

Perhaps that’s why my attention was caught by the weather forecast this morning, which showed a constant and unexceptionable temperature all day long.
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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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