Our Lost Wildflower Meadows

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‘And  that will be England gone, the shadows, the meadows, the lanes….. all that remains for us will be concrete and tyres’

On holiday recently, passing mile upon mile of road-side verges sprayed with weedkiller, I couldn’t help thinking of these ringing words from Philip Larkin’s disturbing poem ’Going,Going’.  Even back in 1972 he was warning of the way we are trashing our environment. Those sprayed verges are understandable as part of essential high-way maintenance yet, in a way, deeply disturbing. With the road-sides looking like a ‘scorched earth’ policy it raises the question ‘Where have all the wild flowers gone?‘

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At Home in the South Downs

The Arun Valley in the South Downs

‘This other Eden, demi-paradise,…This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England’

William Shakespeare

The South Downs

This time I’ve not travelled far– just a few miles down the road. Welcome to my own ‘patch’. Join me as we sit looking out over the beautiful Arun valley – a favourite local view. Our eyes look over the part- natural, yet heavily manicured, countryside of farm fields, the river and up into downs beyond.  As we sit and take in the scene, we begin looking at the details, seeing things we had not noticed before. We become aware of a living landscape.

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Great men have been among us

 

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Durham Cathedral- surrounded by the river Wear.

Some months ago a friend staying with us shared how she had taken a short break in the North, including  a visit to Durham cathedral. For her it was a sort of pilgrimage. While in the cathedral she said she was very conscious of the memories of two great saints, Cuthbert and Bede, who were buried there.  Sadly, I have never visited Durham, but the words of my title from the poem by William Wordsworth encourage me to stay in the North East for this post.  As a ‘southerner’, like our friend, I want to pay my own respects to these two great saints and pioneers of the Christian faith in this country. Continue reading “Great men have been among us”

Holy Island

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There is no escaping from the influence of the sea here. Holy Island, Lindisfarne, off the east coast of Northumberland, is dominated by the rhythm of the tides as they ebb and flow. Nearby are the Farne islands with their colonies of seals and sea birds. When the day tourists have left and the causeway is covered by the sea the island is again cut off from the mainland. The noise and bustle of ‘civilisation’ seems a million miles away and Lindisfarne is left to the wind, waves, the gulls, and other sea birds and the few local residents. Continue reading “Holy Island”