Sri Lanka 1978

I know a married couple, now retired from working in the NHS. During those years they were unable to take enough time off together for holidays of any length. Early retirement was the answer, while they were still fit to travel and explore.

Ten years on, they still live in the same, warm house, with generous garden, where they spent too little time during the decades of long hours on duty. They think how blessed they are compared to many, despite lockdown isolation and missing grown-up children and baby granddaughter 70 miles away. They exercise most days with a morning walk then lunch together before parting company for the afternoon.

She goes to her study, reads or sits at her computer sorting folders. She might look at photos of shared adventures or pictures of the children, before she writes. She tests her imagination and exercises her writing muscles as a tutor on a writing course once advised.

He on the other hand meditates or at least practises his version of meditation and it’s one to recommend. He puts his feet up, closes his eyes, then travels in his mind to the destination of the day. For an hour or so he takes himself to a favourite country, often revisiting a special hotel in Sicily or good friends in the Netherlands. On a cold day he’ll ski in the Aosta Valley, Arabba, Cervinia or Wengen, or maybe even visit the geysers in Iceland.

‘It’s Wednesday, I’m off the Grand Canyon,’ he might say, or ‘Thursday today, I think I’ll go to Vietnam and Cambodia.’

At teatime he reports on his journey and they remember pasties de nata in a square in Lisbon, waffles by the River Scheldt in Antwerp, ice cream with a view of Etna in Taormina. They’ll recall wines they’ve tasted in different countries and think of opening an Italian Fiano or Austrian Grüner Veltliner for supper.

Not a bad way to spend the days until lockdown is done and vaccines given, I think. I plan to take up meditation myself tomorrow, I fancy a trip to Sri Lanka.

Press Release January 2021 — stmaryswivenhoe

WIVENHOE CHURCH STARTS WORK ON THE TRANSFORMATION PROJECT After nine years of careful consideration and planning, St Mary the Virgin church in Wivenhoe has signed the building contract with Bakers of Danbury for work to begin on its Transformation Project. The project comprises the re-ordering of the existing Nave, and the construction of an annexe […]

Press Release January 2021 — stmaryswivenhoe

This press release explains clearly how the Transformation Project will bring something positive to the residents of Wivenhoe, from all backgrounds. It is reassuring for interested local people to learn of the many years of consideration and hard work that have gone into the project, alongside pubic consultation.

I am hopeful this important building, which stands at the centre of our small town, will remain more than just a landmark, and be a beautiful and welcoming place to visit and meet, providing social opportunities and support within the community.

As a member of local writing groups and reading groups I imagine the Annexe will make a great meeting place for some of our meetings and locally run courses. Can’t wait!

Lockdown Isolation

Wivenhoe has been quiet this month. Walks by the river have become highlights of the week and it’s easy to feel isolated from family, friends and the rest of humanity. The good new is that a coronavirus vaccine may eventually be with us in 2021.

Meanwhile I’ve been thinking how much worse this situation of restriction and social isolation must be for those who are blind or visually impaired. Organisations such as the Colchester Talking Newspapers try to help, keeping recipients in touch with local news, delivered by friendly voices.

I’ve been a volunteer reader for the Talking Newspaper for about five years now. Until March 2020 we readers met in rotating groups of three, in a studio at Essex University to create a weekly edition for our recipients.

After the arrival of Covid-19 the studio recordings came to an end and for 20 weeks volunteer readers who felt able to do so made home recordings of the local news stories, taken as usual from the Gazette ( the local paper with whom we have an agreement). This must have been intriguing for the listeners, hearing lots of different and varied voices in one week, rather than the usual three at a time on the rota. Our director, Bob deserves a medal for sorting out the variations of sound quality he must have dealt with along the way. The studio opened up again for 6 weeks when the first lockdown eased, but now in November, and for the immediate future, we are back to ‘back bedroom recordings’.

Colchester and District Talking Newspapers is therefore still alive a well. Edition number 2400 was posted on November 19th, plans are underway for a special Christmas edition in December ( recorded from our homes of course) and then the volunteer team of trustees, readers, sound recordists, dispatchers and everyone else who helps, will work on into 2021.

If you know anyone with visual impairment who would benefit from receiving the Talking News, do get in touch – the details are here on the poster.

An October feast

This October I completed a four week online course in micro fiction delivered by the excellent under the umbrella of based in Wivenhoe. The course has resulted in a host of ideas to develop in response to her challenging prompts and exercises. We used pictures, random word lists, fairy tales, and starter sentences from other writers as inspiration. We attempted 6 word stories, OULIPO and snowball writing as well as more traditional 100 word stories. It was a great way to spend Wednesday mornings in these times of restricted activity.

Happily socially distanced walks were still allowed and made a perfect change after a morning at the computer . Tramping through the woods and along the Colne was great for consolidating thoughts on a cool autumn afternoon. The fungi along the riverside path had woken up and multiplied – it would have been rude to not take pictures. Once home I set about identifying what I’d seen but then got side-tracked by the bizarre lists of mushrooms and toadstool names I came across. Many of these would not be edible ( please don’t even try) but an imaginary feast, menu set out as a piece of snowball writing, was the end result.


Scurfy twiglet

Starter mealyoyster

Main course bitter poisonpie

With pancake crust potato earth ball

Bonfire cauliflower with witches butter dressing

Wine served in turquoise elfcup

Dessert of upper crust

Plums and custard

Whiskery milkcap