8 March 2017
Spring is here and I am finally writing a new blog. My spring resolution is to do this at least once a month and now I have Rachel O’Kennedy as part of our team to bully me into sticking to this! I was up at the burial ground yesterday for a funeral and it was amazing to see how quickly spring has arrived up there. The snowdrops are gone but we still have aconites and now primroses. There are wild daffodils around the memorial circle and a few fritillaries on one grave which is of course the wildflower of Oxfordshire. Drifts of white violets greet you at the gate along with our busy robin and they are scattered under the hedge along the top path. It is worth bending down if you can get that far to enjoy their delicate perfume. The hedge is coming to life with birdsong and tiny buds. I love the buds of the whitethorn – so spherical compared to most other buds – like painted white dots against the black bark. Larks are circling in the neighbouring fields and amongst the grey cold days have been some delicious bright blue days with scudding clouds and a balmy warmth in the air. A few days ago I saw the magnificent yellow breast and head of two yellowhammers flash past on another part of the farm and a green woodpecker dipped past me with his loud laugh. Rooks keep flapping past with flamboyant twigs in their beaks and the woods are full of dog’s mercury. I have that sense of the earth practically moving under my feet. The surge with which spring arrives feels like a wave toppling and breaking into frothy blossom. Sometimes it can leave me feeling a bit breathless.
A friend recently served me pesto made from wild garlic leaves and walnuts. Delicious. We don’t have any on the burial ground but if you can find some near you I really recommend it and you can freeze it.
And as the season is changing so is our office. Sarah left us officially last Friday and Jan began this Monday. We will miss Sarah very much. Her efficient, sympathetic presence has been a huge comfort to our families and has kept me on the straight and narrow with all the paperwork. She is off with her husband Colin on a narrow boat for six months. We wish her many lovely adventures on the canals (and nearby pubs!) of England.
We welcome Jan who comes to us with very valuable experience having worked locally for the Co-operative Funeral Directors for some years. She loves being outside and when not in our office she will be walking other people’s dogs in the neighbouring countryside. She and I are off in a few weeks to the Association of Natural Burial Grounds meeting which comes at a perfect time for her. It is always very interesting to meet people doing our job around the country and learn from them and exchange ideas. Do come to our Open Day on Saturday June 10th to meet Jan or just because there will be tea and cake and Chris selling his delicious honey!
Please note that Jan will be working slightly different hours from Sarah. We hope these will actually prove more helpful in the long run. She will be in the office from 10-1 on Monday and Wednesday and on Friday from 10-4. Messages left between those times should be answered within 24 hours. Jan’s additional hours will be spent in a variety of ways including attending funerals, meeting families and getting around our local funeral directors and other agencies to introduce herself and Westmill if they have not yet visited.
I am off to Bristol on 30th March to take part in the very interesting Festival that is happening at the Arnos Vale Cemetery – www.arnosvale.org.uk/events/life-death-rest-30th-march-2nd-april/. I shall be performing my show Outside the Box – A Life Show about Death. I am gathering more and more stories from the incredible audiences I am meeting around the country and you can find them on my website www.fullcircleproductions.org.uk