How swiftly the strained honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness
and the closed bud shrugs off
Old Bladbean Stud Garden is a most unusual place, created by one woman from a rough smallholding on ground high on the Kent downs from 2003 onwards, and without a gardener. It's a deeply felt place where the creation of each internal garden and the placing of every plant is the result of philosophical as well as botanical enquiry. Carol Bruce's written guide to her garden is a meditation on the usually hidden forces of artistic expression as she aligns them with nature. A fascinating garden, even in the dog days of summer, that I will return to in spring or summer to see it as intended.
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The importance of our parish churches to their communities seems to be under attack in several ways but particularly, though shortfalls in funding.
The issue has been brought into the open by an article in the Church Times by Rev'd Stephen Trott on 10th July 2020. He argues that the decision of the Synod in the 1970's to 'centralise' the funding of parish churches has lead to a withering of the centrality of the parish church in the life of the community in favour of the diocese.
The explanation of what has been happening cames a great surprise to many who had scarcely appreciated the danger, and it might have remained of minority interest before the issue was taken up by Canon Giles Fraser in a fine piece in the Daily Telegraph:
Finally, Jason Goodwin has spoken up strongly for the parish churches in a powerful piece belowIgnore parishes at your peril
The town responded to the Lockdown magnificently. A plan called 'Help for Stockbridge', written by Roger Tym and David Roberts, divided Stockbridge up into 12 sections while Chantal Halle recruited volunteers who were then assigned to each section*, Particularly vulnerable people were identified and leaflets distributed offering help, with a named 'buddy's' email and telephone number and list of what could be given. Listed services provided were shopping, prescription pick-up and drop off, posting letters and friendly chats to help with people feeling too isolated and alone. Counselling services from Ali Deveral were also offered for those who were struggling with Lockdown, together with medical assistance in case of emergencies from Emma Montgomery, a nurse.
As the group developed, they were offered the use of the kitchens at Stockbridge Primary School by Emma Jefferies, the head, and free lunches were cooked by the school chef, Shawn, and delivered to vulnerable residents as requested until the children started to return at the beginning of June.
Thereafter, some of the traders stepped in and Prego, Thyme & Tides and Robinson's donated lunches at a very low price (£2.50 per lunch for Thyme & Tides and Prego and cost price from Robinson's for their fresh-frozen meals). Vishnu at the Co-Op also offered free baked goods when he had deliveries available. Chantal Halle prepared Robinson's meals with some vegetables and the buddies picked them up and distributed them. On Mondays and Fridays, various volunteers cooked, and again the buddies picked up from their houses and distributed them. There was no charge for the lunches, but donations were welcomed and given. Thanks are also due to Cllr. Andrew Gibson of HCC and Imogen Colley and David Gleave of TVBC for grants.
And some of us were lucky enough to be on Liz Cox's list for her delicious lemon drizzle cakes that she would normally have sold in the Community Market (which has fortunately now re-opened).
There have been no deaths in Stockbridge from the virus, although some have fallen ill and and strictly isolated themselves, before recovering.
Stockbridge was strangely quiet throughout Lockdown, and even now has not recovered to its usual busy state. The government guidelines have become beset by mixed messages so that people aren't really sure what they can and can't do, but the wearing masks has become mandatory and the shops have been assiduous in making themselves as secure as they can, with one-way systems and hand sanitizers and in the case of Beccy's the greengrocer, allowing ordering only from outside the shop.