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.


Helping our home town

Tilly the terrier pricks up her ears when she learns that Wiltshire Council is trying to help Salisbury.

IT is a positive sign that Wiltshire Council is now putting its money where its mouth is and doing away with all parking charges in Salisbury following the nerve agent atrocity.

In case you weren’t already aware, it is Wiltshire Council that operates and takes the income from city centre parking, not Salisbury City Council.

Not surprisingly I suppose, many people have been opting to stay away from the city centre, and the consequences for small businesses are catastrophic. They won’t have had the means to pay for an insurance policy to cover them against terrorist activity, whereas the big national companies probably have.

Even if shoppers were keen to support some of the traders in The Maltings, it simply hasn’t been possible because so much of it has been cordoned off, for obvious reasons.

So anything we can do to help the city centre is a good thing. Yes, there have been international media crews wondering around, bearing heavy cameras and hoping for the merest snippet of news.

They have interviewed random people and bought cups of coffee. Some of the foreign crews have stayed overnight in city centre hotels, but they can’t make up for the commercial buzz on market day, for example.

Life carries on. We must all support our traders where we can, including Tilly the terrier who is a frequent visitor to the city centre where she accompanies The Happy Moonraker to the bank, to many of the shops, coffee shops and parks.


Signs of spring

SPRING seems a long way ahead when you look out of the window and see snow and ice, and can hear the wind roaring.

Up in the woods a couple of days ago, under a blue sky, it was heartening to see new bluebell leaves poking through the undergrowth, and there are brave daffodils to be seen in gardens, along with snowdrops and violets.

As usual Tilly the terrier runs about without a coat, no matter how many people stop me to say she needs one. She moves fast and nature gave her a really thick coat of her own.

Tilly the terrier still doesn’t wear a coat, in spite of the weather.

Bluebell leaves grow through some of last year’s chestnut leaves.

A mass of snowdrops that have thrived in the conditions.

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.