Saturday, 21 February 2009

Sunny Saturday

What a joy to go outside and feel warmth! Even though we've had a few sun blessed days recently, today feels different because of that extra touch of heat. I needed to look for a birthday present for one of my very good neighbours, and with no clear idea of what that was to be, I sauntered off towards the town centre, as Saturday means market day.

Now don't get too excited at these words. No great pens of livestock, or acres of grounds filled with tempting wares; simply a small stretch of road (a pedestrian precinct) between a thirteenth century church at one end, and a MacDonalds at the other, with a few stall holders arriving in the early morning to set up stands and striped canopies for the day.

Piled up boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables add their bright colours to the grey pavements. One all purpose 'anything for a pound' display has bin liners, dusters, batteries, children's colouring sets, acrylic blankets and a whole host of bits and bobs that through the seasons change to include relevant items - Christmas stationary, diaries, sunglasses, knitting wool - anything goes! You name it, and probably it will turn up one day!

Opposite this and just in front of the old church wall, the flower seller stands before buckets and containers of bright spring flowers; you see the nonchalant sidling up of men who 'don't do flowers' but think maybe a bunch for their significant other could be a good idea! Pensive ladies hover over the blooms, trying to decide which would make the best arrangement for that special event they're trying to cater for, flowers not on their shopping list of essentials, but so tempting there in the sun, they need to think how far their money will stretch - one bunch, or two?

There are stalls offering sweets, toys, artist's materials, clothes, shoes, makeup. The man selling CD's and tapes has a player blaring out, of all things, American country music to the passers by.
People meander along in the sun; one or two perch on nearby wooden seats, waiting to be picked up by car drivers who are allowed into a special turning area long enough to collect a passenger.

There may have been markets held near this spot as far back as the eleventh or twelfth century, for as well as the proximity of St Faiths, the natural spring at Homewell, just to the rear of it, would surely have been a focal point for people to congregate? Now the level of the small cemetery surrounding the church is several feet higher than the modern pavements. A deep, round topped retaining wall provides an ideal place to perch, and I took advantage if this while I juggled with wallet, stamp book and envelopes so's I could post them in the double width, pillar box red, old fashioned letter box in the angle of the cemetery wall.

No body was in a rush. Shoppers dawdled along, enjoying the sunshine and as soon as I'd found a present that I thought would fit the bill, I was content to dawdle along with them. As I finally turned homeward past the back of the church where the ivy covered tombstones are at shoulder height, even higher than the boundary wall, I thought how different it was from the day I spoke of yesterday, in October 1987. The storm had decimated the trees in the churchyard and I spent several minutes, that long ago morning, leaning on the railings of the footpath along the back of the cemetery to mourn their passing.

The Burying Ground

Trees in near parallel lines
lie horizontally across the old churchyard,
measuring their lengths on the ground
like bolts of material being tallied
on a counter with a built in yardstick.

Precise lengths, not left to chance;
fabric enough for the finished garments
and no more. Each tree a precise length.

Now their only fate is to be sawn
into patchwork pieces of logs;
threads of twigs and branches
snipped off like loose cotton ends
on unpicked seams.

The tombstones are enveloped by
fast dying branches, where before
it had been only dying leaves.
Sere crisp amber leaves that had
slowly rustled to the ground
when their summer's work was done
and they prepared to return
their substance to the waiting earth.


  1. Interesting blog and I shall return!

  2. You took me to the market, dawdling along in the sunshine. Enjoyed it, thanks for being such a good host ;-)
    Hugs xx

  3. Very nice story. But what did you purchase for a birthday gift for your neighbor?

  4. It really is fun going on these outing with you!!
    Loved it :)

  5. This was wonderful to walk the street with you and live a totally different culture:) Thank you!

  6. You are so lucky. It snowed all day here. It is supposed to snow again tomorrow. We will not be out walking soon. Not that I walk much anyway. When we visited England I loved the little set up shops.
    Another poem that perfectly fit the occasion.

  7. Now their only fate is to be sawn
    into patchwork pieces of logs;
    threads of twigs and branches
    snipped off like loose cotton ends
    on unpicked seams.

    Good one

  8. You must've some good neighbours.

    I don't forsee the day I could ever think about buying my neighbours anything. :)

  9. HiJinks Y

    ... small stretch of road (a pedestrian precinct) between a thirteenth century church at one end, and a MacDonalds at the other ...

    From the sublime to the ridiculous. Someday, I hope you get comfy with pictures.

  10. Hi Jinksy!
    I'm back from my holiday and catching up on all my blogging friends... I've missed you!
    This was such a wonderful post to read and it brought back memories of my own local market there in the UK: Portobello Road - how I miss it!
    But your post brought back all the memories, smells, noise and hustle-bustle (is that a word?!) of the busy market days!
    Big Hugs Dear Friend!
    Donnie X


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