Monday, 8 February 2010

I have sinned ...

Which way? I cannot see the wood for the trees ....

Today, Raymond and I celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary. We have both had a hectic working day; and delighted in together preparing our evening meal. We talked and talked, of our wedding day in 1958 - icy cold with snow in the wind - of the guests we invited, the embarrassment when we decided to marry of going from church to church within the near environs of the London districts in which we both lived to find one we 'liked the look of'; to then explain to the incumbent priest that we wanted to import our own vicar (my godfather), our own organist (my uncle) and our own choir, fellow musicians from the Royal Academy of Music, where Raymond and I met in 1957 as students; he studying the clarinet and I the teaching of theatre and speech and drama. (And I was only studying there because my father was professor of conducting.) We met, Raymond and I, though it wasn't love at first sight on my part; we married, we had (and have) three beloved children and nine grandchildren, set up our own publishing business; and the rest, as they say, is history.

I digress from the title of my blog: how have I sinned? I was reading the latest copy of 'Artful Blogging' and the advice given to intending bloggers: thou shalt and though shalt not. In my case, "advise your followers when you will be absent from posting for a while." I have sinned because I did not say that I would not post from 1st January until now, more than five weeks later.

My apologies. Had I known what was to happen in the last five weeks, I would have said. But I didn't know - how can you explain in advance that in the coming weeks you will need to survive winter temperatures the like of which we have not experienced since 1963; of the need to earn even in so-called retirement because our life-savings - all we have ever worked for since we set up our own business in 1967 - now earn but a few paltry pounds a month. The lock on the door fails so we cannot turn the key, we shiver outside in the cold, wrestling with it for ten minutes, are about to smash our way in; the boiler throws a wobbly and disintegrates, flooding the floor; the clothes dryer shreds a bearing; all need replacing. Bottles of olive oil cloud and all but solidify on the kitchen shelf; we only have heating from the wood-burning stove in the living room, and the load of logs I bought was not seasoned as advertised, but green, green, green- sycamore and chestnut (not oak) and will not burn.

So I spend hours canvassing articles, researching those that are commissioned, have to meet deadlines - five features in two weeks right now. This is not a sob story, for I really love the retirement career we have carved for ourselves over the last ten years; what I cannot admit to (though now you will know what frightens me) is that the mind may be willing but the body faints. No longer can I manage the all-night writing sessions of years past; yet I must remain as professional as I ever was; age is no excuse. Something had to give - I am afraid it was blogging; I signed in of an evening, read my favourites but lacked the energy to even respond or upload photos. Thus have I sinned.

But reading blogs has sustained me throughout my absence; thankyou so much to my three followers who have supported me because you took the trouble to email in my absence (you know who you are); thankyou to those who have become recent followers - if you have an email I will make contact; thankyou to all those who have been reading my past posts even though you may have wondered if I had dropped off the planet; and I am sorry that I have lost others along the way, that is galling. I can understand.

My love to you all. I am as wild a child as ever; just not as young as I once thought I was. But, as I read only recently in the poignant 'To Travel Hopefully' by Christopher Rush: "A man must keep moving in his mind and soul, otherwise he goes dead." For man, read woman. I tap away arthritically on my laptop; Raymond is watching the tv Parliament channel; illuminating, but so soporific that his eyes close. Snow is forecast again this week, the north-east wind blows bitter into every nook and cranny of this old house. But in the orchard, hazel catkins suddenly elongate, yellow and limp with pollen; within the 'plum patch' - snowdrops emerge and the first faint whisper of amethyst crocus tinge the grass overnight. Our 53rd year begins, and we have more projects on hand than ever before. Where there's a will ......

a faint breath of Spring; though it is grey, the sun does not shine and the pale crocus petals remain unfurled.

P.S. A warning received from my blogging friend, Helen (formerly Cocoa & Blankets); beware comments in Chinese; a hoax and malicious virus through which she has lost all. You can follow her new blog at 'A Time to Dance', the first post as lovely as were all her former ones.


  1. I have hoped that you were not ill--after that mysterious episode of pain and a hospital stay. I am in agreement about the spirit which is still willing to work half the night--and the body which says, "I really can't do this, at this pace, anymore!"
    We are about to "retire" and make a move across the country--hopefully we can handle the changes with a bit of grace and a good deal of humor.

  2. Welcome back, all is forgiven and I hope your practical domestic troubles will ease as the temperature goes back up. I had some birds tweeting tentatively on the way to work the other day (6am) and it gave me such a lift at the thought of spring.
    and Happy Anniversary
    thanks for sharing

  3. 52 years - thats incredible! congratulations to you both.

  4. Lovely to hear that you are well ( if more than a little cold). As one on the possible brink of formal "retirement" , I find you an inspiration!

    Many congratulations on your Wedding Anniversary.

  5. Dear dear Anne how lovely to have you back. I can just imagine you and the lovely raymond on you cozy kitchen .... Our place has been freezing too and life has been quite tough. Will email you later. I now awaity poor lap top which won't stray from it's black screen. I think of you both often. Hope you are keeping warm. Congratulations we are twenty years and I don't know where it's gone. Love and hugs Helen

  6. you have not sinned and no need to apologize. WE all need breaks and life gets in the way all the time. I am just so glad you are well. Soon the weather will turn warm.

  7. Thank you for the warning about the virus, I am glad I deleted it.. unopened...

    I am sorry to hear that you have had some misfortunes with the onset of January, I am sure with the warming of the earth and the sun raising herself up higher in the sky all will come good.

    We have had some blue skies and white fluffy clouds scudding across with the odd flurry of snow. As usual here on the Somerset Dorset border it has not settled.

    Big warming hugs and its been lovely to meet you.


  8. Happy anniversary, that is quite an achievement 52 years!

  9. Sinned you have not. Down with all those blogs "shoulds" - you should do as you please. Beautiful blog entry, well worth the wait.

    I'm afraid the brutal cold we are experiencing this winter is simply traveling across the Atlantic to plague you. Why isn't the Gulf Stream moderating this cold air?!?

    Congratulations on 52 years. What a feat. And Anne, you are youngest, most energetic, most productive person I know regardless of age!

  10. Nice to be able to catch up with your blog again....beaut photo btw. The snow must make it all the more wonderful to snuggle up inside...

  11. Welcome back and happy anniversary!

    It sounds promising to have all of these plans. My grandparents swear that activity and plans keep them going.

    It was lovely to read about your musical and theatrical history. Music is such a huge part of our lives.

    We will be blessed with spring soon. Until then, take care xJ

  12. i'm so new to blogging that i can only be innocent of sin - lucky me! i'm sure you are too.

    lovely to read your blog - i am one of those older australians who was brought up to feel the UK as my cultural and creative home, therefore i'm always homesick for a country i've only visited twice

    while you shiver, we shrivel in the driest and hottest conditions on record

    climate change? what climate change?

  13. How good to see you back, but you have not sinned - life merely got in the way! How I empathise with having to cope in a house as cold inside as outdoors, cwtching up round the woodburner as it's the only warm room in the house, "problems" (think leaking chimneys in our case) and no money! Hah! The delights of winter 2010! But spring is but a blink away now . . .

  14. Hi Ann, I love your blog! I have now deleted my chinese comment. Fingers crossed that no damage is done. Congratulations on your Anniversary. My Mum and Dad have been married 60 years this year. When my Dad was 80 in 2008 he organised a disco and a buffet, and they want the same thing for the Anniversary celebration. Pass the ibuprofen gel - I'm gonna need it :O)

  15. Dear Ann,

    Congratulations to the both of you for the 52 years of marriage. It is an achievement to be proud of.

    I am pleased to see that you are back.

    Warmest regards,

  16. Happy Anniversary Ann and Raymond. So nice to find your blog here. I have enjoyed reading and seeing the pictures you post.
    The Chestnut tree was a suprise to see. I have never seen one. Luv the Thrush bird story, smiles. The two berries have me wondering. Sloes look abit like Blueberries we have alot of here. Again ever seen or heard of the damsons berries. I'm going back to read and learn more.

  17. I have just discovered your beautifully written blog and now I have to read it all !

    I`m pleased your weather has calmed down, spring for you is neally here - autumn for us down in the Antipodes - my favourite season.
    Pop into my blog if you get a chance just google `Bees in the Antipodes` or

  18. So sorry to hear of your misfortunes with locks and water flooding and olive oil cooling. Yes, the body is fainter than it used to be, isn't it? I have noticed and admire so much the quotation you've come up with - about the soul and mind still moving on - I think that was it. Take heart and continue on. Your evening with hubby nodding off to parliament reminds me of many of our own evenings - the Mister and I. I wish we could have had 52 years, but we started tooooooo late.

  19. Dearest,

    I am able to use this term of endearment by reason of connection...( I hope this does not offend.)

    Connect with one is only to rare but welcomed upon arrival:

    Connected by a recognition of circumstance, living on a limited fixed income.

    Understanding the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak is a further connection

    Connected by the love of word and natures beauty. Your wanderings.

    Connected by your gracious attitude of circumstances.

    Connected by the gift of blogging and honesty. Revealing life to life.

    These are compelling connections and kindred is born.

    I will follow and remember you and husband.

    Happy 52nd Anniversary!

  20. Hello again. Thanks for the visit.

    Do not worry about emailing right away. Take care of you and the things you must do. I understand your schedule and need for rest.

    I'll be following...

  21. What a beautiful blog you have. Congratulations on your 52nd wedding anniversary. I'm sorry to hear that your weather I have sinned deeply by taking extended breaks from blogging. Blogging should be fun and rule-free in my view.