The booming of the bitterns over the Somerset levels today has been rather muted as late on this Friday afternoon, the hoar frost hangs heavily on the hedge rows – and even ground exposed to the weak wintry sunshine remains white and frozen. Minus 10°C here at Yeovilton last night – and our thermometer hasn’t registered as high as 0° all day long. Not only has the cold silenced the bitterns, the herons and kingfishers, all of which love this watery landscape, have been chilled into silence. A thin coat of ice has covered all but the fastest moving waterways hereabouts. The Yeo and the Ivel are certainly flowing normally through Ilchester – but beyond Pilbridge and towards Long Sutton, the rhynes and drains of the flatlands are still, cold and frozen, and so the fish-eating birds are having a considerable struggle getting enough food to survive. As I look through the study window now (1630) there’s a full-ish moon rising over Kingsdon, the sky is a curious purple-grey and not a cloud to be seen through the feint evening mist, so another cold night ahead methinks! The dozens of birds who have been feasting on our bird feeders today are the lucky ones – because I doubt if the insect-eating birds have had any more luck than their piscine inclined friends. The frost-covered “winter-wonderland” look of the countryside is certainly very beautiful, but takes its toll on the bird-life.

But there’s been plenty of life here at “Dunpreachin.” Fr Callon very kindly popped-in yesterday afternoon and has generously offered to take Fiona and me out to dinner tonight. Fortunately the admirable Kingsdon Inn is only five minutes away and its excellent menu is well within the range of a naval chaplain – so we look forward to that with the keenest possible anticipation. In fact we were well served by clergy yesterday as Fr John Webb a retired Army chaplain who lives in Podimore stopped-by with a very welcome jar of Podimore honey; and later former colleague Fr John Morris called in for a (weak) evening’s libation on his way West and his Devonport-based ship.

You may have seen a picture or two here on the blog of my cab ride in a Virgin Train last year – well my good friend and shipmate from HMS ALACRITY Dave Startup (“Flash” to his friends) was also here last night and we managed to persuade him to stay over as the Juice of the Juniper flowed rather well as the evening wore on! And today, me old mucker Fr Mark Jackson – as ever full of the joys of spring - stayed for lunch at which we managed to reunite him with a former member of his Hong Kong congregation, Lt Col Peter Poole, who also managed to squeeze-in around the lunch table where tales of colonial days in the far east vied with stories of the ups and downs of being a very modern train driver and the joys of Network Rail.

I have just heard that hopefully I will be in hospital in Bristol next week for the removal of the growth on my scapula. Please God, that will only be for a couple of days, before my week of radioactive isolation starts on the 26th. All updates of course here on the blog. I hope you have a pleasant weekend – ours is starting very nicely as Fr Andrew’s guests tonight. God bless him!

Comments on this entry:

  1. Graeme,

    got a paper copy of the last entry at St Bart’s today and wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much we think of you and hope that things go OK over the next few days.

    Do let us know if there is anything at all we can do to help – I know that transport might be a bit of a bugger, and am ready to help if needed.

    All the very best

    Steve George

    — Steve George · Sunday 11 January, 2009 · #