April 18th, 2006


Easter Eden

Last year I introduced addedentry to the Glastonbury Festival, which isn't in Glastonbury; at the weekend (which we spent mostly in Bristol with his family) he introduced me to Glastonbury Abbey, which is. Feel free to imagine that I included half a dozen photos here, mostly of cloud-scudded spring skies showing through stony ruins. Your imagination will probably be better than my photos.

With Bristol as our base, we also made it to Hay-on-Wye, and completely failed to resist buying any books. (Tidying up later: "Those aren't all ours... oh, wait, yes, they are. Did we really buy that many?")

The rest of the weekend was variously spent pottering around, eating too much cake, knitting (Owen's mum taught him to cast on and knit, and helped me to untangle the mysteries of slip one, knit one, pass the slipped stitch over), frightening Owen's young niece and nephew (not deliberately, but just imagine what a six-foot black-clad blond must look like to a toddler!) and watching TV. We enjoyed the DVD of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (the battle scenes were a bit Braveheart-of-the-Rings, but on the whole it was all quite jolly, particularly a dreamy Tilda Swinton and a nice beaver) and I was even talked into watching the first episode of the new Doctor Who.

On the way back from Bristol we passed through Marlborough, to drop in on my aunt Denny. She was always a favourite aunt of mine but I hadn't seen her for about 6 years, had never even met her husband (they only got married about five years ago), knew her address but couldn't find the phone number to ring ahead and warn them, so just turned up on her doorstep. "Hello! We were just passing through." After the initial who-on-earth-are-you moment, just like in the movies, she was really happy to see me (and to meet Owen); similarly, I was delighted to catch up with her and meet her husband at last, and the two of them very hospitably plied us with coffee and conversation (and a cat).

It's always good to see how different people manage to be happy in different ways. All that fancy book-learning and I'm still such a homebody at heart, a family person, a cake and crafts person; I don't even think the two are contradictory, not really, and I'm grateful for both. Owen's dad gave us a bag of rhubarb from the garden, and I might have time to make a crumble tonight before I go and sing with my Portfolio friends. Family's what you make it, really; it doesn't have to be the people who share your DNA, the people with the same noses and neuroses, but I'm lucky that mine and his are all so lovely. It's not paradise, it's not perfect, but it's rhubarb and cats and knitting and laughing and thinking and kissing and reading and sharing views across the hills, and in a way that's enough, isn't it.

I'll dig with it

Outside the Archaeological Unit, when the weather's fine, there are people in shirt-sleeves sitting at a picnic table, laughing and talking and doing things that I can't see. It's hand-work, close-work, and they always seem to be enjoying it, whatever it is. There's a girl with a headscarf and a bright laughing grin, sometimes, and a man with long hair and a beard.

I like to think, with my minimal knowledge of archaeology, that they're sifting patiently through piles of dirt, looking for bits of bones or brooches; that they're sorting and measuring things, teaspoonful by teaspoonful. The path past the unit is bordered with celandines and primroses, grass and hedges and even fruit trees, but you can always see the earth beneath, the rocks, the branches, the bits of dead things. Between the living things bursting through and the dead things piling up the track is unsteady, potholed. There's never a parched root among these people, they're crisp as fresh apples.

I could ask them what they're doing. It wouldn't take much digging. There are things that have lain under the earth for all the lives we've ever lived; by the time they are brought blinking into the light, we won't have the language to understand them. I usually smile, as I cycle past.