Nice weather – but not for ducks

The gorgeous coast road between Bridport and Weymouth is misty with mizzle this morning as I take the granddaughter to her work experience.

She’s lucky it’s this week and not next. Schools across the country will close their doors tomorrow until who knows when.

May blossom is beginning to burst from the trees. Glossy green wild flowers that look like angelica line the verges. Nature goes on, as does life – although not as we know it.

In front of me a white van ploughs through a group of mallard ducks minding their own business on the road just outside Portesham. A female duck is wiped out in an instant as her confused friends fly off in all directions.

The sight upsets me greatly and I begin to weep.

The van just carries on ignoring the 50mph speed limit and I realise that, despite this new-found kindness many people are showing to others, there are still some morons out there.

I tune in to a Spotify playlist created by a funny friend with impeccable music taste and wish it would all go away.

Any road up, here it is for you to enjoy. But you’ll need Spotify to access it.

Don’t tell the trees

The pussy willow, oblivious to the outbreak

I was listening to the Venerable Liz Adekunle this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme’s Thought for the Day.

It’s not something to which I usually tune in. I’m always in too much of a hurry. But hurry has currently gone out of the window in these troubled times. Unless you’re a panic buyer in a supermarket and depleting the shelves of much-needed provisions.

If you listen via the link above, her tree analogy when talking about the need for community and inter-dependency strikes a chord.

‘Trees,’ she said, ‘are rooted and steady and unite together to create an eco-system that moderates extreme heat and cold. Healthy trees, if in close proximity to the roots of unhealthy trees, can even help nourish dying trees to survive.’

I thought about that as our house temporarily became a communications exchange, with Mr Grigg, as community shop chairman, liaising in person and on the phone with staff and volunteers, while I sat at my laptop re-editing the parish magazine to take out all the events cancelled in April.

In spite of the restrictions, we all have to work together to get through this. It will pass but it’s going to be hard for us all.

Up in the field on my dog walk, I saw pussy willow, oblivious to the outbreak, bursting forth from bare branches. New life in a new world in which one virus is threatening to turn our future into a dystopia.

We have to have hope. We’ve got to have hope.

Startling the dogs, I began singing Whispering Grass in the style of Don Estelle but without Windsor Davies.

Don’t tell the trees, because the trees don’t need to know.

I thank God, Zeus, Allah, Mother Nature – whichever deity is listening – that we we live in such a beautiful part of the world. It’s some consolation in uncharted waters.

Keep well and safe.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

The corvid chorus for COVID-19

© Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

In the upper boughs of next door’s ash tree, the rooks are calling.

The corvids’ cacophony. They shriek a shrill chorus as COVID-19 advances. It’s a fitting soundtrack to a village about to go into lock-down.

Across the road and up the path, the church stands elevated from the rest of the village, an ancient sentinel which could tell us so much about our local history if only it could talk. Like places of worship all over the country, services here have been cancelled, for the time being at least. No more blood or body of Christ. The wine and wafers have been put away.

This is the church where, in the 17th century, that old wit Dr Thomas Fuller, who is credited as the one who coined the phrase ‘charity begins at home, but it shouldn’t end there’ preached to a congregation so overflowing that people out in the porch cupped their ears to catch his wise words. In the days when it was standing room only. In the days before Strictly Come Dancing, box sets and Facebook.

And coronavirus.

Today, our lovely vicar and her family are social-distancing. Like others all over the village, along with those preparing to go the whole 12-week hog and self-isolating.

And what of those celebrating weddings or mourning at funerals? Who knows.

Our brilliant primary school, with its hardworking new headteacher and staff, is just about coping. But only just. It won’t be long before the doors close.

Meanwhile, volunteers and staff are rallying round to keep the much-loved community shop open. It’s our hub. Plans are being drawn up for deliveries to those stuck at home.

The twice-weekly post office in the village hall was open for business today, but without the promised tasting of hot cross buns. There wasn’t any point. The Hot Cross Bun Morning on Good Friday will be cancelled, along with all the other coffee mornings, barn dances, film nights and events that bring this community together.

Curry night at our usually busy pub is still going ahead tomorrow, although booked-in customers are increasingly taking up a new takeaway option after having second thoughts.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It’s the dear little chip van trundling into the square. Make mine a battered sausage and chips with lashings of curry sauce please. Grab it while you can.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

Life in the time of coronavirus

The mist shrouds the summit of Dorset’s highest point

As the realisation dawns that coronavirus is going to have a huge impact on us all, I’ve decided to keep a journal during the lock-down.

I used to write an award-winning blog about an enchanted Dorset village where I’ve lived for nearly twenty years. I called it The World from My Window and I renamed the village Lush Places, after the nature column by William Boot in Evelyn Waugh’s satirical novel, Scoop.

I kept the blog going for twelve years and it was picked up by The People’s Friend, the world’s longest-running weekly magazine for women. Five years ago, I got an email out of the blue from the editor who said she liked my ability to write with humour about the minutiae of daily life, but with a touch of emotional depth, too. 

As a result, I now write the magazine’s Maddie’s World column.

Earlier this year, I decided to close the latch on The World from My Window for the last time. I felt I’d written all there was to be written, especially as I was saving the best bits for the Friend.

But then this terrible virus comes along and, suddenly – just like the rest of the world – Lush Places faces an unprecedented and uncertain future.

So I hope you’ll check in with me via this blog every now and then. We’re all in this together.

That’s about it.

Maddie x