I think, Yes, I am pretty sure, I have sorted all the festive mailings, both terrestrial and cyber. I do know I haven’t yet hovered over the Eastern Orthodox Christmas greetings for January. A few friends who do celebrate it, seem very happy to be greeted twice, from west to east and east to west.
My cards, packing and parcelling were started later than usual. I really do like to have a couple of weeks total breathing space from it before the actual festivities. I have kind of caught up but, it has been too intensive for me. The energy of youth is not in its first bloom from where I am sitting.
Storm Deidre barrelled through here and was extraordinarily bad from Saturday afternoon and also fearsome throughout the night. There will have been major disruption.
The idea of relaxing in the calm after the storm, (literally) and what felt like Mrs Clause’ marathon without the assistance helpful wee elves, is not easy to adjust to. I must accept that I can give myself permission to sit and read my neglected books. Yay!!!
Justin Welby, Archbishop Of Canterbury, appears to be a more publicly outspoken priest for the oppressed masses than his recent predecessors seemed to be. I do not want to be a spoiler, but, I do wonder just what affects his words would have, uttered as they are, in these isles, far, far, away from the awful trouble spots that are exercising many of us. He rightly points out that the focus of destruction is not just on Christian communities, though, it is those which have come into our focus because the Christian religious group has appeared to be singled out for now, and has been suffering dreadfully. The Archbishop described the dead as Christian Martyrs. Justin Welby’s summary of the politics is interesting, as is his choice of language.
The Middle East is complex, it is a melting pot for which no single answer will do. As if to illustrate this. I heard the following report.
A report on BBC radio this morning highlighted the plight and fortitude of the Syrian refugee children, who, from the age of 4 years old, are taken by open lorries to work on farms, harvesting whatever is in the fields. Their work is unprotected and supervised by an overseer. Supervision consists of threatening to dock earnings if they do not fulfill their quotas of work. I do not know who sets those. When the children return to the camps they are given some schooling. The refugee community want their children to have some education, not to be totally disadvantaged and lost. It speaks volumes.
When the ground coffee flies north eastwards, you know something odd is happening.
When British and other Nationals were advised to leave Egypt, the advice to them was the same, (when you could obtain information) as people have been receiving in Libya. The means of getting to an airport (or other exit point) was up to the individual. This guidance is very limited at the ‘best’ of times, and hardly works for for people who are stuck in the centre of bombarded areas (like war zones in or near Tripoli)or marooned in a desert or anywhere else construed to be the middle of nowhere.
The word has got to the British media by various means, that the response of the British Government to helping our citizens and anyone else, is woefully inadequate, indeed it is pathetic. While other countries have been getting their citizens and other nationals out of the danger zones, where they can, under media pressure, the very best Britain could offer, and very late in the proceedings, was one plane which got stuck on the tarmac for 10 hours going nowhere. Meanwhile, in television interviews, the Foreign Secretary of State, William Hague, sat in a high-backed winged leather armchair, looking serious and important, making disingenuous statements about Government concerns and rescue activities.
While the revolutionary turmoil continues apace in the Middle East, cut backs have been announced in the maintaining of, and staffing of British foreign embassies and legations. We will be told, no doubt, that the services given, (I think we now need to know what they are)can be offered in a more progressive,(which means radical) and efficient manner. If a large number of countries take the same view, there will be no-one to merge with, no country on which we can piggyback minimal services, or ask to act on our behalf for British nationals abroad. What value is Britannia, when she is internationally sinking into an abyss.
While peacefully enjoying some refreshment in the pretty garden setting of the City of London Crematorium and Cemetery café, I gazed vacantly through the boundary railings to the street. What met my relaxed gaze was a steam engine, shiny black and gold, steaming its way majestically along the busy road, with trails of modern vehicular traffic following behind at the same slow pace, (whether the drivers wanted to or not). It’s not what you would expect to look upon in a busy East of London suburb, especially when there was no obvious fair, celebration or rally, for it to arrive at on the surrounding common land.
Up to the first World War, a steam engine of this type would have had a less preened and glorified existence. It would have been heavily worked, probably trailing such ignominious vehicles as wooden accommodation vans for the workers, who would hire out their agricultural labour. The accommodation van did not have the romanticised look of the decorated and cute Gypsy caravans sometimes seen at shows today. It would have been a wooden construction, with heavy wheels. Inside there would have been bunks for the men and a large chunky stove for heating and cooking. In certain parts of the country, the stove is likely to have been stoked up with peat turfs. An accommodation van I saw on a walk, which is a marker on a particular ordnance survey map, though decaying (shame), still contained its neglected stove and the bunks were just still intact. A man on the walk remembered seeing the caravan in use on the local farms for a time during and just after WWII. He added for effect, and just in case anyone thought he was much older than he looked, “I was only a really young lad then“.
We went for a walk along one of the East coast cliff walks, today. It was very cold, bracing and blustery. I fell once. Daft really, I had on the absolute must for walking/hiking boots, but silly me, I forgot to change into trousers that weren’t flared to a skirt width per leg and needless to say, I tripped over one of the ‘skirts’ as I was negotiating a huge uphill tuft. Ah well, at least I landed on soft springy peat. In case any wit asks, hubby has already… No, peat didn’t mind being landed upon. For that matter, I didn’t mind landing on peat. :yes:
On our way we saw this outcrop of rock.
This is another view of the area we walked in.
On the return walk we found we had company.
Even I have to admit that it has been a glorious day here. There has been an Easterly wind which kept the temperatures down a good bit. I went out without a jacket or a cardigan for a couple of hours around lunch time, but after that, it really was essential to put another layer around the shoulders. There were lots of determined hardy souls who were going to get those white sun starved arms exposed to the weather, just as long as they could stand the chill level.
Tonight, it is still wonderfully bright,just like during the day, in fact, it is superb. It is a lovely evening for a gentle stroll with the sunglasses on.
I was listening to a BBC radio 4 programme this morning – Broadcasting House – which, as part of its ‘inclusive’ coverage did a couple of snapshot reports on weather north and south east (Kent to be precise); pity they did not cover the other end of the
country, Land’s End, at least, or the Lizard, which is the southernmost tip of the UK. But then John O’Groats, at the northern end of the country, where the northern elements were broadcast, isn’t the most northerly point either. It is however, closer to the northern most end of the UK than Kent is.
Wales and Northern Ireland didn’t figure at all. You can read between my lines that I was not really impressed with this presentation. It did raise awareness with those who listen to Radio 4 at that time of a Sunday morning, of the differences in climate between one end of the country and another part of that same land mass. As ever, the media was looking for extremes of difference. They got it, by carefully choosing their targets, as they usually do.
We are having yet another ghastly wet blustery day, and in Kent, a lady was sitting out in her garden listening to birds that we could not hear, having her morning cup of tea.