I have had a pleasantly quiet week this week – which was great because it means I have happily recovered from the little medical procedure (radio frequency ablation) I had on Monday (see previous entry for details). It wasn’t of itself too terrible a thing to have done – but I suppose if someone is going to s tick a catheter in your side three times and start cooking you from the inside out, then it’s bound to have a bit of an effect! But I had two particularly pleasant diversions over the past couple of days. On Thursday two of my former colleagues, Fr Mark Jackson and Fr Andrew Hillier called and very kindly took me out to lunch at my local – ‘The Kingsdon Inn.’ It was great to see them and catch-up on the news, and when I began to fade after a couple of hours, they were perfectly understanding, drove me the short distance home and left me to repose upon my virgin couch! And yesterday we drove to see some former parishioners – now well into their 80’s - Ron and Joan Checketts at the charming home of their son Adrian. Joan is far from well, but, like me, did justice to the fabulous insalata pomodoro and pasta tricolore that Adrian had painstakingly prepared. And delicious it was too! Fortunately as Fiona drove, I was able to get my regulation afternoon nap on the way back. Early on this Saturday morning as I look through the study window at Dunpreachin, it is clear skies and sunshine and looks as if it might be a lovely day here in the “Land of the Summer Sun.” This part of England has always been special with its legends of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and of course of the visits of Joseph of Aramathea and the boy Jesus. But out on the levels, few places are more special than the Island of the Princes, Athleney – just a hop, skip and a jump from where I am now. Athelney can be translated as 'Island of the Princes' and evidence suggests that it was used as a site for defensive settlements since the Bronze Age. Its significance in English history lies in its links with King Alfred The Great who used the remote marshlands as a hiding place and an area to re-launch his campaigns against the Danes in 879 Ad. After regaining his throne in later years and sending the Danes out of Wessex and Southern England, Alfred erected a monastery on the site to give thanks to his victory. A recent Time Team dig has revealed the remains of King Alfred’s fort as well as the remains of the Abbey walls and some burials.

A monument was erected in 1801 to commemorate the significance of the area and reads:

'King Alfred the Great in the year of our Lord 879 having been defeated by the Danes fled for refuge to the forest of Athelney where, he lay concealed from his enemy for the space of a whole year. He soon regained possession of his throne and in careful remembrance of the protection he had received under the favour of heaven, erected a monastery on this spot and endowed it with all the lands contained to the Isle of Athelney. To perpetuate the memorial of so remarkable an incident in the life of that illustrious prince, this edifice was founded by John Slade Esq of Maunsel, the property of Athelney Farm and Lord of the Manor of North Petherton. Ad 1807’
More next time because as Alfred burned the cakes, I shall be burning the porridge if I don’t give it my immediate attention! Have a good weekend one and all.