It is not long since I last wrote but much changes from day to day and I am trying to work to the adage of 'a little and often'.
The raised beds left by the previous allotment holder have provided me with a basic target of things to do and given me a sense of achievement. There are 12 of them and I have sought to do one or two a day - dug over fairly deeply and then raked and prepared for planting.
I realise it has been some months since I visited the old home county of Suffolk and reading over old letters from distant cousin Robert, I thought it was time I wrote myself.
The move to Chesterfield, though many months past, has gone well and we are settled in. We are close to the centre, but out enough to avoid the night-time hubbub. The wood burner was we,come of an evening and the back yard awaits the barbecues of the summer. But best of all is the addition to my life of an allotment.
21st March. World Poetry Day.
No-one told me myself personally
But everyone broadcasts themselves
Poets in writing, laureates in waiting.
Rhyming never, facebook published
Twitter exploded - text too long you see
Too many poems, syllables and offerings
And now I, like them, have joined in.
Now then, I realise I'm very fussy in my history taste and having grown up the son of a furniture restorer and both parents interested in antiques, the notion of a reproduction is a difficult one for me. I find myself snobbish about reproduced prints, preferring a small original painting to any large copy, believing that new furniture will devalue quickly and antique is invariable better. It makes some things quite difficult, but I have a very tolerant husband.
But given this, you can imagine my mild dilemma at the Black and White buildings of Chesterfield. Here you have a host of Tudor style black and white buildings constructed broadly in the period 1919-1938. But I think they are great, special and charming. Please allow me to self-justify my appreciation.
Today I was back in the City of Stoke-on-Trent doing some of the legacy work from my five weeks work there co-ordinating the recent by-election campaign for the Liberal Democrats.
In the hour after doing some work and meeting an old friend I popped to the Potteries Museum - it was something that I have done many times before. But every time I go I realise that I should go more often. There in the museum, almost casual, very Stoke-on-Trent, is the product of this City over the last four hundred years. I say four hundred because it is now clear that the emergence of the Industrial Revolution was preceded by years of tradition, experiment and development in the ways and wares of porcelain and pottery.
Sad news arrives of the passing of my Mum's cousin Tony O'Connell in Southampton. For those of us close to my Mum and Dad (Sally and Adrian) and/or cousin Irene and Tony - the garden party in Spalding, Lincolnshire, last year will now be the documented memory of their last reunion.
Let me step back a little. My Mum was organising a party for the late summer 2017 and was inviting our close family. Mum has a few cousins on the Ralph side of her family but not many. Indeed the legendary photograph of great grandmother Annie Ralph's 80th Birthday Party taken in the 1950's has all the Ralph cousins: Les, Tony and Sally (Mum), Sylvia, Daphne and Irene.
Lots of people are larger than life it seems but what does that really mean? That they were small, that our world vision is narrow or that it's just a hackneyed phrase rolled out for appropriate consumption...
I now realise that my mate Andy Lindup is larger than death. In life he was generous, inclusive, welcoming, fresh and a delight. At your party he would be present, fabulous, vivacious and real. On the dance floor he was fast, deliberate, skilled and memorable. At the dinner party he was bright, alert, engaged and grateful. And when it went wrong in your life he was there, at the end of the phone, text message and yes if need be he would be next to you smiling, listening, non-judgemental and wise.
But the cruelty of death leapt upon him too soon and with Andy gone at the mere age of 36 we gathered today to say good bye. But his life was so special, so full of verve, so electric and so necessary that it will last and live on. So larger than life? Yes absolutely - Andrew Lindup was and is larger than life.
His life here may have moved on to another cosmic or astral plane but his impact, love, fun, charm and place in our hearts will continue to beat and swell. And when other lights go out, his star will shine forth in our memories and in our deeds.
As was said several time today - most bravely by Rod and Tony - we were all given a gift of friendship with our Andy and we have a responsibility to love him and others back for that.
And so I'm home, a little lower than yesterday, but I reckon I'm feeling low because I am daunted by the challenge - to pick up that small fragment of the Lindup mantle that he shared with me and to pass it on to others. It won't be easy and I'm not him, but I will try and I will strive to recall his laughter, generosity and his ridiculousness.
If I do that a portion of the scale of him in my life then others will notice and smile. My only regret is that those who will be new to me will not have know him, but then I will tell the stories, retell them again and share him from my heart. Yeah on that basis I will cry for now and rise to the challenge tomorrow. I'm daunted but I'll try.
Good night for now good folks, goodnight Andy, love you now, love you always and thank you.
This morning as I rushed to the railway station my favourite local charity shop had a new window display. The Batman suit stood out as did the label: "suitable for large child or small adult"... almost instinctively I went to take a picture and send it to Andy Lindup.
It's not the first time in recent weeks that I have seen moments that Lindyhop (it was an instant nickname) has been my instinctive first port of call, but cruel tragic events before Christmas make such a phone call, text, poke or tweet impossible. This time Andy's Facebook holiday will last just took too long.
(this article first appeared on Lib Dem Voice on 22nd January, 2017)
I can't deny I was excited. I went to chapel this afternoon. Nothing hugely unusual in that - but this was the first visit for me into the chapel in my new town. Peeking through the gates and railings it had all the hallmarks of charm and history that I like, so I was a tad excited.
Now this is a new town for my husband and I. Neither of us know Chesterfield, never lived there before, but are learning fast and enthusiastically. When we looked at towns to move to (criteria: not a city and not a village) husband had very kindly done a list of towns with Unitarian Chapels. On one of our early visits to scout Chesterfield the Chapel had been part of the recce and despite being locked I had managed to get into the back car park and see the old grand gravestones of the proud late 18th century and clearly flourishing Victorian congregation. It was a good start.
I’ve spent the last few weeks back in flat rural Lincolnshire. One of the main benefits is being able to see the stars up in the night sky. Whilst there I spoke to a mate of mine. “There must be loads of stars up there" he said, "given how many greats have died in 2016”. Little did I think that just two weeks later that very same mate would be up amongst the stars, another in the crop of 2016.
Andy Lindup was a one off and truly fun and high quality. When I told him I was thinking of asking Russell to marry me if we won the Same Sex Marriage vote in the Houses of parliament his response was typical of him: “Dude you have to”.
So I'm sitting here photographing and cataloging some of my coins - mainly third century Roman Imperial coins, but heavily dominated by the breakaway Gallic Empire of Postumus, Victorinus, Tetricus I and Tetricus II (260-274AD).
I have collected them for over 25 years, but even now I am learning from them as I handle them, turn them and weight them in my hand. Every Emperor is different, but each coin and indeed each strike, mint, style and type tells you something - whether what we learn is fixed and firm varies, but there is much than can be garnered and relied upon. Let me start with the Emperor Postumus.