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Christmas 2002

I know: most people send these things out with the Christmas cards.  Well, so am I in a way, but more on that later.

A brief update then of the last year for those who have lost track.

January 2002 found me quitting Cambridge and the corridors of power, and moving up to the flatlands just west of the Lincolnshire Wolds in search of ‘simplicity, solitude and silence’ – the less conventional lifestyle of the religious hermit.  I was fortunate to find a very practical house on the edge of a small village – the last in a run of council houses, with a small paddock separating me from the local pig farm.  From my upstairs windows I can see 8 miles in one direction, 5 miles in the other, mainly over farmers’ fields and other agriculture land, across a plain bounded eventually by the A15 and the A46 respectively.  

The gardens, “laid to lawn” front and back, have been the scene of most of my practical endeavours this year.  Anybody aware of my obsession with order and neatness will laugh to see the vegetable beds laid out regularly, equidistant, resembling nothing quite so much as a giants’ grave yard.  Very tall, thin giants!  But I am proud to boast that I have not bought a single vegetable since May of last year.  Not bad for an amateur.

Recreation facilities in the area are limited – Grimsby & Cleethorpes are 40 minutes drive away and offer good shopping facilities, sea and sand - but the wry mutterings of a fellow pleasure-seeker feeding the parking meter on the sea-front on a foggy November Sunday afternoon, “they should be paying us to come here!” were not without justification. This is the 70s revisited, without the added gloss of ‘retro’ – we have the genuine article.

Meanwhile there is always walking.  Although footpaths are not scarce, most appear to cut directly across ploughed fields.  I am used, in these circumstances, to balancing precariously on the uncut verge all around the field in assault course type gymnastics, joining the footpath again with relief on the other side.  You can imagine my surprise and delight therefore, when, espied by an irate farmer, my excuses were soundly rebuffed and I was sent marching by him straight across his crop of newly sprouting sugar beet.  Apparently that is “the way things is done” around here: needless to say I have adapted with enthusiasm, and a very good pair of Wellington boots!

Simplicity comes fairly cheap, but the solitude and silence have to be paid for somehow.  I have continued my teaching career in a rather different form, working occasional supply days in 2 local schools.  I know from the stories other supply teachers tell, that I have been fortunate in my experiences, but I would seriously recommend a sabbatical year of purely supply teaching for any teacher (and I have heard they do exist!) jaded and worn down by the unrelenting demands of the profession.  Without all the prep. and admin. and marking, teaching can be hugely rewarding.  Honest!

I am also continuing my work with the Redemptorists, providing copy for their Sunday liturgies for children, and for weekday meditations following the daily missal.

The birds were singing their spring-song in January this year, a timely reminder that hope is, at the very least, perennial and often comes upon us when we least expect it.  Wishing you every blessing for the rest of this year.

Love, Rachel