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A year which began in a boatyard, or almost; after nearly clearing out my bank account at the dentist we took a short break in Norfolk. To be precise 5 days inаThe Boathouse Cottage at Wayford Bridge, which was most deserving of the 5 stars which we gave it.

Nearby was the Norfolk coast at Happisburgh, complete with desertedаbeaches, seals and seal pups, lots of coastal erosion sea defences, and a neat little cafe with burgers not far away.

In the misty skies we were fortunate to see the huge flocks of geese, mingling with the low-flying operations aircraftаcarrier, presumably from a nearby RAF airfield.

Also we visited the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts (SVCA) which is choc a bloc with great art, and interesting artefact; the site also houses the University of East Anglia (UEA).

I got it in my mindаI would enjoy doing a PhD at UEA,аI imagined I could carry out my studies mostly in the SVCA refectory. Unfortunately I was age-barred for a grant (from any kind of study, in any kind of university).

From that rejection sprung my idea of an Home-Made PhD. The project, based around video-poetry, got off to a flying start but has unfortunately faltered due to it demanding too much of my time.

Perhaps 2020 will see its resurrection, although other places may be having more of a sway by the years end, or maybe we do need to return to Norfolk, this time with video-camera at hand.

In February I travelled South-West with my oldest son Andrew to stay in a charming small cottage just outside Oakhampton, we had gone down to celebrate my youngest son Jop’s birthday.

Andrew, ably assisted by Jop and his girlfriend Marija, cooked a very tasteful Chickenаcaeser salad, that after a considereable walk, without the aid of any internet navigation!

The end of the month saw Kate and I on the winter sun scoured beaches of Theddlethorpe, Kate being especially taken by a shrine which is being developed there, using articlesаwashed-up onto the sands.

Still in February and a day out at Tetney Lock where the canal reaches the coast orаestuary, and more importantly where the local pub sells first rate fish and chips.

The beginning of March saw Home-Made PhD in full swing with eight videos already in the can (see how quickly I pick up the jargon) and more on the go, my favourite thus far is Project 11 BeingаAware.

That choice is made mainlyаbecause I enjoyed Rupert Spira’s book Being Aware of Being Aware so much, even if I did not entirely comprehend it, but also because the аproject video is entirely of me reading my poem into the camera.

March also saw the beginning of two non-video projects which were quiteаprobably responsible for the downturn of my concentration on video production: We decided to build a pond in the garden, and Iаstarted a new writing project called Shelters For Dreaming.

The impetus for the latter was an image from Chris Drury’s book SilentаSpaces;аI cant actually remember why we decided to build a pond, but on reflection it was a very good decision.

April was quite an artistic month, first we went toаAvivson Galleryаto see an exhibition of Chris Drury’s work (we also visited HighgateаCemetery to pay our respects to Mr Marx among others).

Then we went with Peter and Jane to the Yorkshire Sculpture park to see Damion Hirst’s amazing new work, and also to the inspirational chapel exhibition of light and mirrors - Kimsooja: To Breathe.

By the end of April the pond has a waterfall with running water, the decking and fence panels have been thoroughly jet-washed, and our first afternoon soiree with wine and nibbles begins.

May sees us at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, that is after sampling our firstаexquisite Ice Cream, and checking into our very neat two bedroom apartment, a stones throw, or an easy walk, from the tower.

We didnt go into the tower by instead we chose the baptistry which as a side effect of the two roofs, the pyramidal inner one and the domed external one, the interior is acoustically perfect, making of that space a resonating chamber.

Not only does Wikipedia state this, but we heard the very same when a worker asked for silence, and then proceeded to practice his vocal scales, which did indeed resonate, providing a purely majical and memorable experience.

We were in Italy for the wedding of Sheri’s daughter, Caroline, so soon we were driving through the narrow roads and over the steep, steep and fear inducing hillsides of Tuscany, to the Montecatini Val di Cecina. A sublime location.

Next stop was Florence, by train I might add, for a few days of high culture and high fun, including a day out in Sienna and a visit to Anthony Gormley in the Uffizi, we also saw an exhibition of my old favourite Georgio Morandi, one of the painters of silence.

At the tip end of May my son and I met up with Henry Normal in Halifax and visited the giant lego model of Dean Clough Mills in the Dean Clough art gallery, a good time was had by all.аThen back home to see the Wounded Healers deliver their new album at Louth Jazz club. It was a good night with a full house.

Early June saw me on retreat at Buckfast Abbey, including a day out at Dartington hall with its magnificent gardens and more thanаpeaceful meditation space. I also explored a little more of Dartmoor after having had lunch with my son Jop and his girlfrien Marija.

At the end of June Kate and I went to Cambridge, right at the height of graduation ceremony time, fortunately we also visited Kettle's Yard, The Orchard Cafe at Granchester Meadows, and Henry Moore’s collection at Much Hadham. Oh and I bought the perfect leather belt from Ian Stevens on the bridge inаCambridge.

July saw us at Tatton Park Flower show, it was Kates first visit, and to be honest I think she found it too too busy and too too commercial; for me I remembered it from a long while ago when there seemed to be more, and larger, show gardens.

Also in this height of summer Emma brought the grandchildren Thomas and Benjamin, who loved the seaside almost as much as throwing pebbles into the garden pond,аdon’t you just love them!

Early August saw us atаHelmsley Walled Garden, of Gardener’s World fame, with its glory of colour and hyper active planting, even the pond had more reflection than seems possible in ordinary gardens, I didn't really settle there but we bought a fork and spade for Kate.

Only when back home, and on a walk by the canal to the two chapels at Alvingham did I find the sort of natural peace I had hoped for from Helmsley, here the sensibly and sensitively placed seats and benches provided the perfect respite.

For our annual holiday we splashed out with two weeks in a resort hotel on the island of Rhodes. It was the business, especially once we had upgraded to a swim up pool.

Kate swam in the sea every day, including one day snorkerling, and one day sub-aqua diving. I found a small church for meditating, and a coffee bar right on the beach for writing. We were living life how life should be lived.

Unfortunately, one evening, returning from our liquers imbibing end to the day, I tripped on the steps by the pool and my sciatica kicked in big time. Not too much sleep for the last three or four days I’m afraid to say.

October was the time for a send off soiree for Hilary and Doug, who were about to leave our locale for a life on the road in aаcamper van! We shared a 'Kate special' meal and rousing final by theаUkulele Ladies of Louth (+ guest artiste John).

Then it was off to the Woodbrooke Quaker Centre in Birmingham for a week of personal guided retreat. This mostly meant silence, with a couple of times in the day for singular and group reflection. I found this to be both an enlighteneing and strengthening experience, for which I am most grateful.

We were fortunate to share wonderful autumn weather, which brought out a kaleidoscope of colours from the wide variety of trees, preumably planted donkeys of years ago by the Cadbury’s and the Rowntrees. God bless you.

November saw the completion and publication of my book Shelters For Dreaming, quite possibly one of my most enjoyable books to write, butаdon't we always say that of our last work, although I have started volume 2!

Christmas was approached with a Christmas Eve lunch at Clumber Park with Kate, Emma, Andrew and the grandchildren Thomas and Benjamin. A rather good preparation for the holidays I should say.

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful year.

ай️Christopher Sanderson 2019