“Missing Ben’s Blog” said a text from our lovely neighbour Christine, this weekend. And I promised that I’d finally write one! There’s been something about this wintery lockdown – partly the doing nothing, partly the fact that keeping on top of work is curiously hard and exhausting, that I get to the end of each week, and on a Sunday or Monday evening, when it has been my habit to write a blog of the weeks’ events, I suddenly feel too tired, and roll into an early bed. Do you know the feeling, I wonder?
But it has been a beautiful month, or even month-and-a-half; days and weeks given structure by nothing other than our once or twice daily walks, and then weeks of working from down here followed by weeks when I will try and compress site visits and London meetings together. I’ve been the only person on the train some days. It’s a bizarre time; we are, I imagine, simultaneously longing for it to be over and yet, and yet will find it curiously strange – like coming out of the cinema on a bright sunny afternoon, eyes blinking.
The last six weeks have seen beautiful clear cold days and then what feels like weeks of grey rain too. It’s been rather lovely looking back at photos from these last few weeks. The funny thing is, you forget individual days. But strangely a photograph brings something ordinary, essentially unmemorable, sharply into focus again…. and that is very nice as I sit here, by the fire, dogs fast asleep on the sofa, Sunday evening…. One day we waked up to the Kingston Russell Stone circle….
Happy times had by all.
Some astonishing mornings….
Remarkable starry nights…
Hard, bitter frosts, the earth blue-grey….
Signs of spring…
Charlie’s huge new show flower patch….
There was a week of snow, but it never got closer than this – we are so near the sea, that it’s snowed just twice since I’ve lived here.
Dreamy vistas from the high ground looking along Chesil Beach to Portland Bill.
Some very early starts, before taking the train to London…. the ground hard and cold.
Giving way to damp fog…. And grey, brown and green. Thank god a decision was taken all those decades ago to paint post boxes red!
Some morning the sun was transcendent, turning even power lines to cobwebs…
One morning, we walked over to Compton Valence to look at the famous snowdrops. No snowdrop festival this year, but the hedgerows were full, and beautiful.
The beautiful little church still and peaceful, sun streaming in.
And then we made a quick visit to East Lambrook Manor, formerly the garden of Margery Fish, to collect one of Charlie’s rare snowdrop orders….
Back to a lowering sun in Dorset.
bright skies the next day overlooking Chesil beach – the vast hulks of anchored cruise liners omnipresent on the shore.
But largely, these last few days, it’s just been brown and green and grey. It will be so startling to see this lane in May, in vivid new green. Not yet – we’ve still got March to go through…
Today I put a small bunch of flowers on Mum’s grave. It was on this equivalent Sunday evening, at exactly this moment, ten past nine in the evening, that I got that call from Dad that she’d fallen over at home. I was with Dad within ten minutes and soon afterwards the ambulance arrived, but it was clear, really, from the moment I got there that she had gone – taken, thankfully one must admit, by an instant heart attack.
How we miss our mothers, and all our loved ones no longer with us, but we can celebrate life too, and a long life, beautifully lived – and that bright and cheerful little bunch of flowers, picked straight from the garden this morning, is full of that sense of hope and optimism too. I can’t help but be grateful that both of my parents – whose principle happiness in life was spending long hours with all their family – have been spared the long imprisonments of lockdown. So many have suffered so much these last few months, nearly a year – but tonight I look to the happy moments too, and to the sense of bursting optimism contained in that small container of flowers, and to remember now that spring is knocking on the door.