The happy sculptors


Happy sculptors: (l to r) Sean Henry, Roger Stephens, Jay Battle, Rebecca Newnham, Jonathan Loxley and Ben Storch, photographed in Salisbury Cathedral.

EVERY time this shot pops up on my computer slideshow it makes me smile.

They were all looking so happy, Roger later told me, because they had managed to install their respective sculptures for Salisbury Cathedral’s Liminality exhibition without mishap.

It proved to be a popular exhibition and all the pieces displayed were of the high standard that visitors have come to expect at the Cathedral.


The cyclist’s ordeal

I’VE said it before and I’ll say it again: you just have to be slightly mad to cycle round here.

As parking becomes ever more challenging, it would seem to be a good idea to dust down the bike and take to two wheels instead of four.

Unfortunately your average motorist doesn’t agree.

In fact your average motorist seems to develop instant selective blindness if there is a cyclist ahead of them.

The cyclist can see that there is a series of drains leading into the gutter along the road so the obvious thing to do is give them a wide berth.

The raging motorist, however, neither sees nor cares about these obstacles but takes delight in skimming the cyclist’s outside elbow.

As for speed restrictions, there is a similar disregard for them too.

If only a little respect and consideration could prevail. After all, the slipstream from a speeding vehicle can easily cause a cyclist to wobble dangerously, or fall.

Over the years, there have been attempts to increase the number of cycle paths but that in itself is costly and complicated when the basic infrastructure is so narrow.

If you do decide to cycle and manage to reach your destination in one piece, all you then have to contend with are shaky legs, dusty or muddy feet and a red face.

Spring comes and goes . . .

Tilly the terrier’s expressions says it all: “The snow isn’t bothering me, but where’s my breakfast, please?”

SNOWDROPS, primroses and birdsong. What do they mean when you wake up once more to a landscape completely covered in snow?

Just when we thought winter really was over, it happened again, with the usual disruption to travel and communication.

It will be a week or two yet before we discover what damage has been done to all those tender buds in the garden, but Tilly the terrier has no such concerns.


Minette to lead NFU


Minette Batters, new president of the NFU, pictured at River Bourne Community Farm with Salisbury MP John Glen.

THE Happy Moonraker is delighted to see that the National Farmers Union has elected its first female president in the organisation’s 100-year history.

Not only that, but Minette Batters is also a Moonraker who farms her livestock and arable land here in South Wiltshire.

Like most farmers, she is dedicated and hardworking, and has declared her determination to ensure that the best possible deal is agreed for her industry once this country leaves the EU.

Also like most farmers she has had to diversify to survive. One of her other enterprises has been to restore a 17th century barn on the farm as a wedding venue. I know, because I was once a guest there, and very lovely it is too.

Little flooding despite the rain

One way of spending yet another soaking wet Sunday: a keen angler takes part in a fishing match on the River Avon in Salisbury.

MOONRAKERS are not in the habit these days of having to cope with much snow. Overnight frosts from time to time, occasional black ice in predictable places, and that’s about it as far as winter goes.

So far we have had few cold challenges, just rain and high wind.

It surprises me how little flooding there has been in the south of the county. Experts say it is because there is now so much abstraction from the rivers higher upstream to fill reservoirs, and because last winter was a relatively dry one.

Not many years ago, flood plains and water-meadows would have been completely under water by now after such constant rainfall.

Day after day of solid rain would always cause visible flooding in fields, surface water on roads, as well as replenishing hidden aquifers.

When we have a dry day, it is an absolute delight to be able to walk in the woods, spotting signs of spring, to watch snowdrops and hellebores taking over the garden, and accompany Tilly the terrier as she goes squirrelling.

A rare clear January day at the Old Mill, Harnham, showing the ancient roof against a bright blue sky.

Tilly out in the woods a few weeks ago.

Twelfth Night is a movable feast

Our Christmas decorations were put away on Twelfth Night, 6th January. Christmas cards were taken down, messages re-read and then all put into a couple of bags to be taken to Sainsbury’s recycling box.

Removing everything from the Christmas tree took longer. After so many Christmases, every item has meaning, from the little glass bell bought in Germany decades ago, to the crocheted red hearts from a Swedish friend long ago.

Friends in Australia sent the Christmassy little kangaroo and koala that are hung on the tree each year. There are also shiny, ultra-thin glass ornaments that date from my childhood, as well as a simple paper decoration made by an old neighbour.

Everything has its own story, and it lives for 11 months in special boxes which are then carefully placed in a large bag before being stowed in a cupboard until the next December.

The whole process is rather sad: Christmas is over and done for another year.

It was a surprise, therefore, to see the Christmas trees, nativity scene and papier mâché angels still in their places on 13th January in Salisbury Cathedral when a friend and I visited.

Afterwards I did a little research and discovered that, if you follow the church calendar, you can display your decorations until the Feast of Epiphany which is a week later than Twelfth Night.

Perhaps I should do that in future and stay surrounded by our pretty things for a little longer.

There are no sentimental stories attached to the Brussels sprouts on this tree.

Salisbury Cathedral’s nativity scene the evening before epiphany.

When Mary Berry came to town

Mary Berry pictured with her assistant, Lucy Young, in Salisbury.

WHEN this photo appeared on my computer slideshow I realised that I had taken it exactly 12 years ago.

Mary Berry and her long-serving assistant, Lucy Young, came to give a demonstration in the studio at Waitrose in Salisbury on 30 November 2005, and as far as I know that was the last time they visited this part of the county.

Since then, the legendary Mary has seen her career take off once more. Thanks to the BBC’s Great British Bake Off, her professional wisdom has been shown to a new generation of cooks and would-be cooks. A well-established television cook and writer of dozens of cook books over several decades, she had reached an age when she could have been forgiven if she’d declined the invitation to co-host the show.

So thank you, Mary, we salute you for proving that age need not be a barrier to success.