Saturday 18 March 2017

In My Garden

Hello, thank you for calling in, it's lovely to see you here.  Today I am linking up with Amy at Love Made My Home as she hosts Five On Friday for the last time, so you are especially welcome here if you have come via Amy's blog. 
My life hasn't been very exciting recently - it has been quite full, but full of small, ordinary things, not interesting things to share with you.  There has been a lot of knitting, but also a lot of frogging so it's not ready for a Ta-dah! yet.  There has, as always, been a lot of cooking, but everyday meals, not wow-look-at-this creations.  There has been time spent with friends, but I couldn't POSSIBLY tell you what we've talked about!!  There have been some visits to old churches, but I am not ready to share yet, and I don't want to be the woman whose blog posts are all about old churches.  However, I was very keen to take part in Five On Friday this week because it's Amy's last week as host and I wanted to acknowledge her sterling work which has introduced me to so many of your blogs and brought me many more readers than I would otherwise have.  My only difficulty was finding five sufficiently interesting things to share with you.
Mother Nature brought them to me on Wednesday when I ventured out into the garden.  My back garden always looks very scruffy through the winter as we don't tidy it up in the autumn, a deliberate ploy to provide food and shelter for the little creatures which visit here.  It doesn't bother us because we can't see the back garden from the house and rarely have cause to go out there during the winter months, so it is deliberately planted to look its best during the summer.  The tidy-up usually happens in April during the Easter holidays but on Wednesday the sun was shining and the temperature a balmy 16 degrees Celsius  so I decided to make an early start on the pruning and weeding (these are my jobs as the Best Beloved only likes the kind of gardening which involves A Machine). 
I was stopped in my tracks by this sight in my neighbour's garden and hurried back indoors to get my camera -
The dying camellia flowers have dropped and landed in a bed of crocus.  I found the image arrestingly beautiful and I am aware that I haven't caught that on camera, but to me, it also symbolised the turn of the seasons, the fading of winter and the vibrant life of spring.  Looking up, there were plenty of glorious flowers still holding onto the shrub -
I sat beneath a buddleia and looked up through the new, lush, green growth at the blue sky above -
Further down the garden, the forsythia was absolutely glowing in the sunshine -
I spent a couple of hours out there and it felt soooooooo good; not only the warmth of the sun on my body but the satisfaction of a tired body after physical exertion and a tidier patch of garden.  If you have been reading here for a while, you may know that I am an astronomical kind of gal and I define the seasons by the movement of the Earth around the Sun, so Spring can't begin until the equinox on 20th March, but as I sat in the sunshine looking at the new growth and listening to the courting birds I had to acknowledge that Spring is already springing - but of course, I couldn't possibly admit that in public!
So there you are, five photographs taken in my almost-Spring garden on a beautiful March day.  Huge thanks to Amy for building the lovely, warm community that is Five On Friday and good wishes to her for her future.  I hope to be here next Friday for the first Five On Friday to be hosted by Tricky and Carly at F.A.S.T.  In the meantime, I really ought to sort out that flamin' knitting.
See you soon,
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Wednesday 8 March 2017

The Tiniest Church in Wales

Hello, thank you for dropping in, it's always lovely to see you.  The sun is shining as I write this, actually shining, and for the third consecutive day!  Oh yes, I feel that spring is definitely around the corner. 
When the Best Beloved and I went to Anglesey during half term we planned to stop on the way and visit the tiniest church in Wales, Capel St Trillo at Rhos-on-Sea.  "It's on the promenade, just west of Rhos Point," I said to the Best Beloved.  So we drove all the way along beside the promenade until we had left Rhos-on-Sea behind and reached Penrhyn Bay, but we didn't find the tiny church.  We turned the car around and drove all the way back along beside the promenade, but still we couldn't see the church, so we stopped the car, dug out the satnav, programmed in the church and set off along Marine Drive for the third time.  "It's here!"  I said when we reached our destination.  "Where?" said the Best Beloved.  "It must be here," I replied, "Satnav says so."  We parked the car and then I saw this sign -
and when we got out of the car and peeped over the wall, we saw the little chapel, hunkered down against the stonework -
It's no wonder we almost missed it.  We walked down the path to the prom and found that the chapel sits in a tiny churchyard, too small for a burial ground but big enough to declare its presence -
Very little is known about St Trillo (pronounced Trith-lo).  Born in the sixth century, his father was a Breton prince and Trillo and his siblings came to Wales with St Cadfan as his students.  Trillo found a well here in about 570 AD and built an enclosure around it, covering the well itself with a tiny cell, probably made of wattle and daub.  It is likely that the well was the only one in the area, which kept it in use after Trillo left in 590 AD, and certainly pilgrims came here for the water's "miraculous" healing properties.  Eventually, a stone structure was built, although nobody seems quite sure when, and in 1756 Thomas Pennant, the Welsh naturalist, traveller and writer wrote this:

"Saw, close to the shore, the singular little building called St Trillo's Chapel.  It is oblong; has a window at each side, and at the end; a small door and a vaulted roof paved with round stones instead of being slated.  Within is a well.  The whole building is surrounded with a stone wall."

Any visitor today would recognise the chapel from that description, although the building was comprehensively restored in the 1890s, having become quite dilapidated.  It was reconsecrated by the Bishop of St Asaph on 16th June 1935.

So there is my potted history of Capel St Trillo.  I stood in the doorway and looked in and this is what I saw -

"Tiny" is definitely the right word":  the chamber measures 11' x 8', that's smaller than my bedroom, and seats six people, although I believe they can squeeze more in if the chairs are removed!  There were flowers on the windowsills and on the altar, some with cards explaining that they had been given in memory of a loved one, or to celebrate a family occasion; also on the altar were a cross, a lighted candle, prayer cards with pens and a noticeboard inviting you to pin your prayer requests there, where they would be used in the communion service every Friday before being passed to the Mothers' Union Prayer Group, which meets weekly.  Beneath the altar is the holy well.
That's what struck me most about this chapel: not its past but its present, the fact that it is a vital, living, caring church.  Capel St Trillo may not be the smallest church in Britain but it is the smallest active church in Britain as at least one service is held here every week.  Somebody cares enough to keep it swept and clean, to remove the dead flowers and refresh the vases, to offer prayers for those who visit, to hold that weekly service.  Water is drawn from the well for baptisms in the parish.  As I entered, I was overcome with a wave of emotion and found myself fighting back the tears which filled my eyes and I couldn't understand why, but when I talked it over with the Best Beloved that evening, he said that it was because of the love and care which I felt there.  Perhaps St Trillo hasn't left, after all?
After I left the chapel we sat on the prom for a while, watching the cormorants which come to feed on the extensive mussel beds between the shore and the sea.  The Best Beloved went to investigate some ancient wooden stakes among the stones on the beach - we think they may be remnants of the fishing weir which was here for more than seven hundred years before it fell into disuse during the First World War. 
All this time there was a steady stream of visitors going in and out of the chapel, solitary walkers, families, grandparents with young children, young couples.  I realised that I was fortunate to have been able to spend some minutes in there by myself, and I felt pleased that this special place continues to attract pilgrims more than 1,400 years after St Trillo left to carry on his mission elsewhere
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Friday 3 March 2017

A Week of Days

Hello, thank you for calling in, and thank you if you left a comment on my last post.  I was surprised to see how many of you had never heard of a mermaid's purse, but then again, there are lots of things I have never heard of until I read about them in Blogland, it's one of the reasons I like it so much.
So, today I am linking up with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five On Friday so if you have time, please hop over there and see what everyone else is sharing this week.  Here are five days of this week:
1.  Shrove Tuesday

On Tuesday evening, the Best Beloved called in at the supermarket on his way home from work and arrived home bearing...a packet of pancakes.  Never before has a ready-made pancake crossed my threshold and I was, shall we say, extremely surprised.  He said that he had bought them because he wasn't sure what my plans were!!!!  So, we heated them up in the microwave oven, on the plates off which we then ate them.  It was quicker, easier and much less messy than making them, for all of which I am grateful, and they tasted perfectly acceptable...and at the same time, felt all wrong.  After all, the whole point is to use up the luxurious butter and sugar which are in the house before the onset of Lent, and buying a ready-made pancake doesn't really fulfil the brief, does it?  Still, the Best Beloved's pancake need was met and he was happy.  But honestly, I can't show you a photo of a shop-bought pancake, can I?
2.  Ash Wednesday
Do you give up something for Lent?  Like many people, I used to give up something indulgent like chocolates or biscuits, but a few years ago I decided that I wanted to do something which demanded more discipline and give up something which I have every day so I gave up bread.  I found it very difficult and took some satisfaction in that.  The period of Lent lasts for forty-six days of which forty are fasting days: the Sundays of Lent don't count because in the Christian tradition, the Lord's Day is always a day of celebration.  Honestly, it's true, not just a cop-out!  This made my "deprivation" bearable: no bread from Monday to Saturday but on Sunday, scrambled egg on toast for breakfast and sandwiches for tea, for six weeks.  The Best Beloved ensured that the bread was homemade so it really was a treat.  In a perverse sort of way, I enjoyed the rhythm of it so I did the same the following year.  Last year, I decided it was time for a change so I gave up...tea.  This was very challenging for a person whose name, it is joked in our house, means "Grumpy 'Til I've Had A Cup Of Tea".  Fortunately, I was surrounded by sympathetic people who understood how difficult it was, but I was surprised by the number of people who suggested alternative comforting, delicious drinks and while thanking them, I reminded them that my denial was supposed to be a bit difficult. 
On Tuesday evening I said to the Best Beloved, "I'm thinking of giving up tea again for Lent this year.  Was I a nightmare last year?"  "Yes," he replied, a little too quickly, "I think you should give up smoking."  I was nonplussed.  "But I don't smoke,"  I said.  "Exactly!"  he replied.  Hmmm.  So, after a lot of thought and discussion, I decided that as I already have quite a lot on my plate at the moment, and adding in a physical challenge might just tip me over the edge, I will instead participate in one of the online Lent photo challenges.  This will give me a daily discipline and rhythm and perhaps help with the reflective process, too. 
3.  St David's Day
Of course, Wednesday 1st March was also St David's Day.  I think I like St David; I certainly like the fact that, unlike the patron saints of England, Scotland and Ireland, he was a native of the country which adopted him as its patron saint.  He lived a simple, frugal life in the sixth century and his last words to his followers were,  "Lords, brothers and sisters, Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed, and do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. And as for me, I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us."   Do the little thingsI like that. I don't think I can do big things but I can do little things and make a difference that way.
By the twelfth century, St David was considered to be so important that the Pope declared that two pilgrimages to St David's  Cathedral in Pembrokeshire were equal to one pilgrimage to Rome and on a gloriously sunny day in 1990, I made half a pilgrimage to Rome.
4.  St Chad's Day
St Chad died on 2nd March 672 AD.  A humble, devout man who is said to have always travelled on foot, he became the first Bishop of Mercia and was given land in Lichfield on which to found a monastery.  Now, there is a cathedral there and it and many churches in the Anglican Diocese of Lichfield are dedicated to him, as well as the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham, while he is represented in stained glass and in statuary in many others - including my own parish church, as much of Shropshire lies in the Diocese of Lichfield.  In England, St Chad's Day is said to be the best day of the year on which to sow your broad beans!
5.  FriDay
I LOVE Friday evenings, at least, I have done for the last nine years or so, now that neither the Best Beloved nor I work at weekends.  Friday evening is a time to light the fire and the candles, open a bottle of wine and get excited about the weekend ahead, two whole days of being on our own time rather than somebody else's.  I love it.

So now it's almost 9pm on Friday, the fire is lit and it's time to light the candles and open the wine.  Cheers! 
See you soon,
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x