On a lovely early June day I returned to Caldecote to check on the churchyard. And as I rounded a corner of the building I was slightly taken aback - the grass had grown! What's more, it was swaying in a gentle breeze like a miniature field of barley! Pretending I could not care, I checked for weeds but the long grass effectively suppressed their growth. Instead, the green grass was woven here and there with shades of blue, white and pink - some lovely meadow flowers I deliberately left undisturbed from previous visits.
The longer I looked, however, the more the graveyard grew on me. And finally I had to admit to myself that I loved this "new look". Now it has acquired an appearance of a peaceful parish churchyard (albeit carefully cultivated behind the scenes) rather than an overgrown mess of weeds and shrubs it used to be.
Oh yes, I deliberately left one plant (flower? weed?) behind to illustrate what the churchyard might have looked like had these been allowed to grow. And the plant has got bigger since last time and is now almost the same height as me. Lovely it may turn out to be, but totally unsuitable for our little graveyard. What do you think?
No sooner had the weather improved than the team G-B turned out in the graveyard in force to assess the condition of the new grass, sown late last autumn. It appears to have taken very nicely and is now ready to mow. Unfortunately, weeds also returned in force - small wonder as we are virtually in the middle of the fields. Since weeds appear to be throttling the new grass, they simply have to go!
For the last couple of days we have been weeding furiously and the appearance of the new lawn has changed dramatically. For instance, in just 2.5 hours today 4 bucketfuls of weeds have been removed from the worst affected areas. We will continue - weather permitting!
As you can see from the pictures, a stool is a must since work is rather monotonous. A decent knife is another must-have: I have been using a chef's knife on the most stubborn weeds with - as you can see - good results.
But it does not have to be work, work, work all the time. One is welcome to stop and take in the surroundings: a church, resplendent in the sun, birds twittering in the trees, pheasants shouting their rusty greetings and every now and then a sound of the 21st century disturbing the idyll. With a picnic and a good book there is nothing better than sit down and enjoy the rural peace.
If you, dear reader, have time on your hands and are spoiling for a workout - or a gentle exercise (and live in the area!), come and join us in Weeding Wars. You are welcome to spend a whole day here or just a few hours. Look below what a huge difference 2 little hours have made. So who knows, we might see you in Caldecote next time!
Team G-B (Grazyna and Brian)
On a particularly cold, windy and altogether perfectly dismal St Valentine’s Day Mike the Treasurer, Brian Events Organiser and myself welcomed three visitors from our mother organisation: Matthew Saunders, an outgoing (retiring) Director of Friends of Friendless Churches, Rachel Morley, Director Designate, due to take over next month, and Rebecca Whewell, Assistant Secretary. What the weather did not deliver, we more than made up for with our dedication and enthusiasm. It was Matthew’s second only visit to Caldecote, the first one being exactly ten years ago, when it coincided with setting up Caldecote Church Friends by Peter Robbins. (Peter unfortunately could not accompany us due to illness). I’d like to think that he favourably noted the “before” and “after” of the ten years in between!
Matthew delighted in re-discovering all the church’s interesting and significant features and duly documented them on camera. A warm, modest and most charming man, with encyclopaedic knowledge of all things church, it was a pleasure and a delight to talk and listen to him.
Rachel on the other hand, a lovely and personable young lady, full of zeal and enthusiasm, tried to take note of as much as she could of the church’s architecture and history but also found time to listen to some of our concerns. She promised to address the most pressing ones as new Director next month, much to our delight.
We hope that Rebecca also enjoyed her visit in Caldecote – her first I think! She very quietly and very tactfully stayed back, allowing Matthew and Rachel to spend as much time with us as possible.
It will be a sad day to see Matthew Saunders depart from FoFC, however, he is leaving the company in very capable hands of Rachel Morley who (it was obvious from the visit) is set to continue his sterling work with equal dedication and commitment and in time will, no doubt, make her own mark on its continued success in saving historical landmarks under threat.
How nice of Mr Alistair Burt MP to show keen interest in the life of his constituency in the most subtle way! You can almost imagine him relaxing at home with a copy of the Biggleswade Comet, when his attention suddenly focused on a news item on Mat’s preparations for The Christmas Carol (in the Henlow and Meppershall churches respectively). It is amazing Mr Burt found it at all, since the innocuous-looking article was relegated to back pages, just before Business and Sport. Not only that: he then grabbed a pen and wrote a personal letter of thanks to Mat, congratulating him on both the one-man performance and the fundraising initiative.
The letter really speaks volumes of Mr Burt who, despite his very busy parliamentary career, appears to be very much aware of what is happening closer to home, in his constituency, and quick to acknowledge, comment and praise.