Tag Archives: peace

From my nest on the cliff

7.06 am 25th December 2020, looking out from my static caravan window.

Click on any image to see it full screen.

As some of you will know, every other year I escape Christmas and find a hideaway where I can be on a blissful tinsel-free retreat.

This year, I could not go too far from home, but luckily a friend owns a caravan at Sandsfoot Castle, overlooking Portland Harbour, just 10 miles from where I live and she was kind enough to let me have it to myself.

I have not been away from my house overnight for about a year, so it felt very exciting to pack a suitcase and stuff the car full of craft supplies and head off to the sea.

8.00am  30 December

watching the sun come up each morning was the biggest thrill.

Each day a constantly evolving Rothko painting would gently, gradually, change with the light across the sea and sky

Lots of people seem to find it too odd to comprehend that I enjoy going away on my own to be in some far flung place in isolation – but I LOVE it. My very own silent retreat, away from village life and all the practical ‘to do’ lists of home and garden.

I often get asked “but what do you do?”

Most of what I do fits around Tide Timetables, the weather forecast and the time the sun rises and sets  – and that is a wonderfully calm and simple way to live for a couple or more weeks every other year.

In 2008 I went to California for six weeks,

In 2016 I stayed in a treehouse on the Pembrokeshire Coast from the 15th December to 15th January.

paddle boarders

This year, I was able to walk from my nest, along the Rodwell Trail, that follows the old railway line, from Weymouth to Portland. From there I could tramp up along the top of Chesil Beach

This photo was taken at 1pm on Christmas Day. Whilst so many were tucking into a turkey, I was walking for about a mile along the top of a nearly isolated beach in crisp clear air and glorious sunshine – it felt SO good!

I say nearly isolated as there was one family having a windy picnic lunch looking out to sea and in the carpark, looking out over the harbour, where it was a bit more sheltered, there was a couple in red and white Father Christmas hats sitting at a picnic table covered in decorations and having a lobster and champagne lunch. Fabulous! The camaraderie of doing things differently.

There are plenty of old rusty bits and pieces to enjoy along that stretch

I would love to know the story behind this abandoned boat

The Pheonix

But oh the shed!

Look at those doors – all that texture, the colours! the corrugated rust!

ART!

So, dear readers, I am sure YOU don’t need to ask me, “but what do you DO?!”

 

 

Magic, Serendipity and Remembrance

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John Henry Absalom 1898 – 1916 was my Great Uncle who died in the battle for Mametz Wood in Northern France in July 1916.

He was the older brother of my maternal grandfather, who was 12 when John died. My Grandad, George Owen Absalom O.B.E., a teacher and Headmaster, often talked of John, and of the ridiculousness of War and the folly of Governments.

On 8th November my cousin, H, put a post on Facebook with the above poster. A school in Nailsea, Somerset had contacted her because the pupils were doing some research into fallen soldiers and had found the photo of John Absalom that  H had posted. They had chosen him to be one of the 32 soldiers they were honouring at their Remembrance Service on Friday, 11th November.

The posters made by pupils of Nailsea School:
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Given that over 700,000 British soldiers died in the First World War, it is remarkable that Great Uncle john was one of those chosen by Nailsea. I contacted the school to ask if I could attend their Service. I received a very warm invitation to do so and an equally warm welcome when I arrived.

I was met by teacher Jeff and introduced to two pupils who proudly showed me round their really rather beautiful school. I then met with the tutor group who had created the poster for my Great Uncle John. I had taken with me a print out of a letter John had written to his mother

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France, 13th 1916

 

Dear Mother and All,

Received your most welcomed parcel safely everything was allright packed a treat.

You can imagine how glad I was to receive it, quite a change from our Army diet, hoping you will continue sending them the same, the battery fitted my flash lamp a treat. Received John Bull and Reynolds a few days ago. We have had glorious weather up to date with the exception of a few showers just what you can expect this month.

Our furlow have been cancelled for the time being, but I think we will get it shortly again as they tell me that they often cancel it out here and in a few weeks it starts again.

We are going back to the line again tonight but it is a very quiet place.

Now that the weather is coming we are much more comfortable wile in the trenches.

According to the papers the allies intending to advance all along the line. The sooner it comes the better. Well as we are barred from saying to much about our doings out here I will conclude hoping to find you all as it leaves me in the best of health.

Yours etc John

mind write by return JHA

The Headmistress, Dee, read it out to us and it brought a tear to her eye. We chatted with the pupils and they asked a few questions. I showed them some photos of John’s family.

I asked what would happen to the poster after the ceremony and was told that they were going to present it to me – that brought a tear to my eye!

I gave Dee my desktop Peace Pole and I was given flowers, chocolates and a birthday card!dsc_0022-1

All very emotional!dsc_0023-1

I was so pleased I had thought of giving the Pole to the school. The thought had occurred to me after reading Cathy’s post about making her own Peace Pole – ‘ripples in the pond’, thank you Cathy.

If you would like to find out more about Peace Poles, click on this link.

We went outside for the Remembrance Service on this crisp sunny November Day.dsc_0026

I stood with the staff and around 900 pupils for a moving speech by the Head, and to hear the 32 names read out, the posters held proudly on display and the Last Post played beautifully by one of the pupils. It always gives me goose-bumps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99tCg596QSc

Back inside I was so glad to meet with Laura, the teacher who had instigated the projectdsc_0029then I went to see the posters being put up in a display in the school’s magnificent atrium dsc_0072 dsc_0073 dsc_0075

Jeff showed me a cross which had been made by the pupilsdsc_0058I put John’s poster with the others, so that he could take his place with his comrades of the daydsc_0031and had a farewell photo with Jeffdsc_0046

I handed in my visitors badge which just happened to be number 11 – adding to the feeling of magic and serendipity!dsc_0028

before saying goodbye.

What a birthday! What a wonderfully warm, heartfelt and meaningful time!

In my heart I took all my Welsh cousins with me and relatives past and present. My Great-Grandparents had no body to bury. I don’t know how they commemorated their lost son, I know his death affected the whole family very deeply and has helped to instil in me the importance of family connections and support.

John’s name is on the Thiepval Memorial along with 72,245 other soldiers missing in action. My sister Sue went there with a group in 2014 and read his letter out. I don’t think I could go there.

I am grateful to H for researching family history and posting information and photographs. I am grateful to Laura, Dee and Jeff, the pupils I met and the whole of Nailsea School for such a warm welcome and beautiful way of making this year’s Remembrance Day so very meaningful to so many people. It feels important, I can’t find the words to express that as well as I would like to, but my hope is that in remembering, we go forward and each one of us, in our way, work towards PEACE, in our heart, in our home, in our community, our country and our world.

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With love ❤