NEW BLOG: the white stuff has finally appeared!

Well the white stuff has finally appeared! Great excitement for some members of the family, while Anne and I are banned from leaving the house! This turned out to be no safeguard in my case as I re-discovered how much a head wound can bleed. I have a splendid photo, but the family won’t let me use it!


For our animals, since the cattle are all housed and there is little potential for snowdrifts, life, even for the sheep, is not too disturbed.

This last week has been a remarkably quiet period on the farm. Tim returned to work on Tuesday, Chris took ewes to market on Wednesday and afterwards, as so often, regretted doing so because the prices were so low. Without the boys the farm feels very quiet as we settle in to the normal winter routine of stock feeding. Anthony wrote a very nice piece on their joint account for our wwoofer web site. Hopefully their last placements this year are going very well.

The week was actually enormously busy for the parents of our grandchildren, with carol concerts, nativity plays and school Christmas Fairs all to be attended and appropriately enjoyed. It was with very mixed feeling that Anne and I were unable to attend any of these.

Needless to say, with my back still severely limiting my mobility the ‘grey cells’ have been overactive. The centenary celebration of Sibelius provided fantastic music but, if anything, inspired further brain activity.

The two personal lines of thought of the week were quite different.

The first was occasioned by a Radio discussion by a mix of literary, historical and social critics, on the novel Moby Dick – a book which I had first read around the age of 11 and found to be an exciting read, since in those days one was accustomed to long sentences, long words and long paragraphs.

I tried to read the book again as an adult but just couldn’t get into it. Perhaps because whaling was no longer an acceptable activity even if the ‘courage’ of the whalers shone through; and also, because the issues arising out of deeply flawed personalities were rather too close to my working life.

From an early age I read anything I could lay my hands on. I had obvious advantages: asthma which for some years dominated my life, parents who assumed that before sleep a story and a poem were essential, a local library 50 yards away managed by a librarian who loved books and read widely herself, a household in which one room was devoted to books, and parents who both read widely themselves and one of whom was an English graduate. As a consequence, by my early teens I had read just about everything then available, from sociology through history, through the English classics to everything published by Penguin Books in their various guises.

This radio discussion of Moby Dick highlighted the disadvantages of devouring books at an age when lack of experience and maturity meant an inability to ‘get under the surface’ of novels, in particular, which meant much was missed. It also confirmed me in my adult view that my taking GCE. English Literature at the age of 14 was a nonsense, even more than taking it at 16.

Also listening to these analyses by ‘experts’’ leaves one uncertain as to how much such analysis tells one about the analyst rather than the subject under discussion.

The second line of thought was a re-affirmation of the limits of my knowledge.  Casually asking a friend if she would be attending church at Christmas and indicating my assumption that it would be Lutheran prompted the reaction that Lutherism is as plagued with division as every other religion or sect.

Being forced to turn to Wikipedia since Diarmaid MacCullock felt just too demanding, I was staggered by the enormously complex history of the development of Lutheran thought. My reaction was of course appalling since that trend in religious development has been, and is still being, replicated in other Christian beliefs and other faiths.

On a more prosaic note, I am able to reveal the pecking order in one family of birds. Blackbirds give way to all thrushes, but fieldfares give way to mistle thrushes when it comes to pulling worms out of the ground!


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