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Going Viral II: In the garden

Continuing our reflections on life under the corona virus, this is an extract from a letter to customers of a Seed Merchant, Suttons.

Yesterday in conversation with an enthusiastic gardening journalist we were discussing how gardeners are generally an optimistic bunch of people. We take tiny seeds, put them into the ground, hoping they will germinate and flourish. Many of us have planted trees that we don’t even expect to see fully mature in our lifetimes. Our plants are blissfully unaware of the troubles of the world and caring for our gardens, patios and windowboxes also gives us the chance to escape for a while.

Gardening is a wonderful hobby where in a large garden or even a balcony a few plants can provide months or even years of pleasure. We recognise how important this hobby is to our customers so I can assure you that we will continue to do all that we can to help you to enjoy your outdoor (or indoor) spaces.

Happy gardening!

David Robinson, 
Managing Director


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by | March 20, 2020 · 18:25

Going Viral I: no more school.

We will publish occasional reflections on the corona virus’s effect on our lives.

Four and a half year old Abel received the news about school closures level-headedly. He’s looking forward to donning his Hi-Viz vest and using the litter-picker, as well as gardening again.

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by | March 19, 2020 · 08:58

August 1: A Pilgrim.


terrible london

Not a view of London any of us will have seen, though the crowded streets are still there. Saint Paul’s too, miraculously remains, but it has been overshadowed by the temples of Mammon. This picture and text are from ‘London Impressions’ by Alice Meynell, illustrated by William Hyde, pub; Archibald Constable, 1898, available on Project Gutenberg.

Now and then a firefly strays from the vineyard into the streets of an Italian city, and goes quenched in the light of the shops. The stray and waif from ‘the very country’ that comes to London is a silver-white seed with silken spokes or sails. There is no depth of the deep town that this visitant does not penetrate in August—going in, going far, going through, by virtue of its indescribable gentleness.

The firefly has only a wall to cross, but the shining seed comes a long way, a careless alien but a mighty traveller. Indestructibly fragile, the most delicate of all the visible signs of the breeze, it goes to town, makes light of the capital, sets at nought the thoroughfares and the omnibuses, especially flouts the Park, one may suppose, where it does not grow. It hovers and leaps at about the height of first-floor windows, by many a mile of dull drawing-rooms, a country creature quite unconverted to London and undismayed. This flâneur makes as little of our London as his ancestor made of Chaucer’s.

Sometimes it takes a flight on a stronger wind, and its whiteness shows dark with slight shadow against bright clouds, as the whiter snow-flake also looks dark from its shadow side. Then it comes down in a tumult of flight upon the city. It is a very strong little seed-pod, set with arms, legs, or sails—so ingeniously set that though all grow from the top of the pod their points together make a globe; on these it turns a ‘cart-wheel’ like a human boy—like many boys, in fact, it must overtake on its way through the less respectable of the suburbs—only better. Every limb, itself so fine, is feathered with little plumes that are as thin as autumn spider-webs. Nothing steps so delicately as that seed, or upon such extreme tiptoe. But it does not walk far; the air bears the charges of the wild journey.

Thistle-seeds—if thistle-seeds they be—make few and brief halts, then roll their wheel on the stones for a while, and then the wheel is a-wing again. You encounter them in the country, setting out for town on a south wind, and in London there is not a street they do not recklessly stray along. For they use our arbitrary streets; it does not seem that they make a bee-line over the top of the houses, and cross London thus. They use the streets which they treat so lightly. They conform, for the time, to human courses, and stroll down Bond Street and turn up Piccadilly, and go to the Bank on a long west wind—their strolling being done at a certain height, in moderate mid-air.

They generally travel wildly alone, but now and then you shall see two of them, as you see butterflies go in couples, flitting at leisure at Charing Cross. The extreme ends of their tender plumes have touched and have lightly caught each other. But singly they go by all day, with long rises and long descents as the breeze may sigh, or more quickly on a high level way of theirs. Nothing wilder comes to town—not even the scent of hay on morning winds at market-time in June; for the hay is for cab-horses, and it is at home in the clattering mews, and has a London habit of its own.

White meteor, lost star, bright as a cloud, the seed has many images of its radiant flight. But there is only one thing really like it—the point of light caught by a diamond, with the regular surrounding rays.

Alice Meynell and her husband Wilfrid were the first to publish Francis Thompson’s poetry, and did much to rescue him from his addiction to opium, welcoming him to share their family life. They would surely have said ‘Laudato Si!’ with Pope Francis, as this observation demonstrates. And the seed could have come from a goatsbeard head, like this one from near Elmstead in Kent. Goatsbeard is a very large dandelion.


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by | August 1, 2019 · 01:18

24 April: Editor’s Introduction: The Virtue of Prudence.


Dear Reader,

What did we read yesterday: we should be grateful to Thomas for his doubts – people do not come back to life, do they?  

Thomas wanted facts. Well, more facts. That his friends, whom he trusted, were so changed by what they had seen and heard that Easter day, that was not enough. He probably saw himself as a prudent, thoughtful chap. And then when the evidence is flesh-and-blood before him his prudence throws him on his knees.

He should have read Sister Johanna; she has got me thinking. I trust she’ll get you thinking as well. Her series of reflections on the Virtue of Prudence might sound a bit dry, but take it from me, you’ll find well-presented food for thought. And Thomas Aquinas follows on nicely from Thomas the Twin.

I got to choose the pictures this time – a privilege, because Sister has a good eye for a picture herself – so I allowed myself the luxury of using this one. The houses at the back of my mother’s place represent Prudence since their builders chose a site and aligned the building with prudence to capture as much light as possible for the weavers at their looms upstairs. Of course there would have been no sycamores to overshadow them in the 18th Century, but no decent artificial light either.

When the series ends, I’d recommend you go back and read them all consecutively.

God Bless,

Will Turnstone.



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by | April 24, 2017 · 00:44

Interruption: Why I walked out.

Nobody would accuse Friar Austin, this week’s writer, of being a boring preacher. Nor Friar Tom, nor Friar Stefan. All worth listening to, or sitting under, as the Scots used to say. Having said that, this piece by a Jesuit in South Africa, Russell Pollitt, is salutory reading for preachers and hearers. The link is to his article in Independent Catholic News. Do read it! What do you think?


Why I walked out.

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by | June 6, 2016 · 20:20

Interruption: Introducing Stations on the Way to Emmaus

John McCluskey is a Mill Hill Missionary who has worked in Europe and Cameroon, Africa. He now teaches at the Institute of Saint Anselm, Margate as well as at the Franciscan International Study Centre. He offers these reflections on the Way to Emmaus as a way to take stock of our situation today, as individuals and groups in the Church and World today. I am very happy to recommend them to you as our posts for this week of Eastertide.


If your New Testament is not handy, try this link to the Gospel text, which is Luke 24:13 – 33.


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by | April 3, 2016 · 00:12

Interruption – Me Time!

pilgrimsindunes (2) (800x342)

Llanddwyn, Ynys Mon, MMB

When Doug proposed writing about Marriage, I had just put down an article about ‘me time’ in one of the newspapers. No doubt it was urging the reader to make a new year’s resolution to be nice to him- or her- self, and spend money on the products advertised around the article.

I set Doug the task to write about ‘Me Time’ for the blog. I don’t see him selling many spa weekends for one, somehow, but any holiday can become a holy day; you can make a pilgrimage of a walk at the beach or the local countryside… or even a lifetime.


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by | February 20, 2016 · 00:35

Interruption! 14th February: Love and Marriage


First of all, welcome to Doug, who writes from California on the joys of marriage: he is worth listening to. When Doug said he wanted to write about marriage, I was looking for reflections for the week beginning on Saint Valentine’s Day. A match made in Heaven?

Before I give him the floor for the week, a few words from Canterbury.

I was wondering how to celebrate John, whom we buried on Thursday, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Fr Anthony told us how his own parents got together on a pilgrimage there and were engaged within six weeks. It took rather longer for John and Merlyn to get together after meeting at Lourdes, later in life than most. They always radiated love; it wasn’t something to be kept to themselves. Thus they have done so much to support the  Franciscan International Study Centre. John had prayed to Mary to help him find a wife; she found exactly the right partner for him!

Also this week, The Tablet has published a prayer from the Bishops of England and Wales for those, like John, who are seeking a lifelong companion, a beloved other half.

Bishop of Plymouth, Mark O’Toole encouraged people to come to Mass, where like-minded souls would gather:  “You never know, you might meet someone at church this Sunday.”

Prayer for those seeking a spouse

Loving Father,

You know that the deepest desire of my heart is to meet someone that I can share my life with.

I trust in your loving plan for me and ask that I might meet soon the person that you have prepared for me.

Through the power of your Holy Spirit, open my heart and mind so that I recognise my soulmate.

Remove any obstacles that may be in the way of this happy encounter, so that I might find a new sense of wholeness, joy and peace.

Give me the grace too, to know and accept, if you have another plan for my life.

I surrender my past, present and future into the tender heart of your Son, Jesus, confident that my prayer will be heard and answered.





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by | February 14, 2016 · 01:21

Interruption: the Church and Good Science


Sorry to interrupt again! The Catholic Astronomer website offered this link to a couple of articles about a recent Faith and Astronomy Workshop in Arizona, led by Vatican Observatory staff. Interesting to me that they are finding many people still seeing faith and science as opposed.

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by | January 27, 2016 · 22:28

Interruption: Bonaventure on the Child Jesus

As seen by the Cistercian Fr Stephen Verbest, of New Mellaray Abbey, Iowa.

Follow the link below, then you want his homily for 30th December.

And thanks to Sheila Billingsley for the link in the first place.


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by | January 7, 2016 · 00:38