2020

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A year, it seems like a lot longer, but here goes,аchronologically from January toаDecember, more or less.

I’m doing reflexology, having blood tests and Kate's gone to her friend in Rickmansworth, in readiness for beginning her Cruse certification. My daughter Emma, 2 hours driveаaway, asks ifаI could drop off and collect Thomas and Benjamin from school. I do, which means aаstay-over. All seems normal.

Our Monday morning writing group, and Friday morning poetry group are both inspiring, and social. I have my hair permed. We go to Dunedin House for my birthday, on the way to Spurn point. Impressed with our room, if not with the food. The nature reserve proved to be inaccessible in the wind and rain. We will come back in summer, yes, we did say that!

I had a medication review and booked a pneumonia vaccine, it’s true. I did. Kate went with her friend Sheri to Hebden Bridge, it rained, and rained, but they went out and about and bought presents. We went out for meals two weekends running, first with Roz and Ian, then with David and Trish.

My older brother, Jack, makes a rare visit to Louth, we talk a lot. Kate and I go to Shefield with Pete and Jane to see Elvis Costello, but wonder if we should have. We have a tasty meal inаWagamama’s, but wonder if we should have. I am helping Rob from our poetry group with his book. He writes some blinking good stuff.

John and Sheri gave me a book call Haiku Minds by Patricia Donegan for my birthday. I have decided to write a response to each Haiku, when completed the book will be called Haiku Responses. It has proven to be a really neat, and thoughtful, present.

The lounge has its seven-hundred and sixtieth rearrangement, which meaans some newаself-assembly bookshelves from IKEA. Yes,аself-assembled by yours truly. We have our first Waitrose delivery thanks to the difficulty with accessing local shops. The Buddhist Wisdom Summit is available online.

Our writing, poetry and meditation groups also move to online. Some work well, some not so well, will weаever meet again in the Old Stables (Not in 2020). We can’t book a Sainsbury’s delivery so we have to collect from Grimsby. I go to Dersingham (virtually) to do my planned retreat. There is a video, and a book.

I buy a book called Passage Mediation by Eknath Easwaran. I am impressed and try the practice. Then I think to myself: I could do this better with my own passage. And so, thanks to the words of David Whyte, I putаtogether my own Passage Meditation, whichаI learn to recite from memory; a first for me.

I can’t let go of the idea of virtual retreats. My writing becomes obsessed (wasn’t it always). Kate and I are on radio and TV as part of the Humanists High Court challenge, to have Humanist Weddings made legal. Lots of early morning starts. Lots of briefings and joviality. Unfortunately not lots of success. The establishment it seems is not yet ready for turning.

My sister in law June passes away. I cancel the Ascot Hotel where my son Andrew and I were supposed to be staying had we gone to the races. Our Carbis bay vacation with my son Joseph and his girlfriend Maria is moved to next year (2021). Another home-based retreat isаconsidered but doesn’t truly happen, too busy trying to work out how to cope. I buy a bottle of Berlin Blue ink and three of theirаsmall Berlin notebooks.

A rear spring on car’s back suspension breaks, so not a bottle rattling in the boot after all. It has to be done, but because weаdon’t go anywhere now the tyresаdon’t need to be changed. But then we can go places. We go to Gibraltar point with Pete and Jane, I have my hair permed, then meet up with Andrew at Potteric Carr nature reserve, where unfortunately he gets bitten by a different kind of bug.

Our September vacation is saved by this short lapse back into normality. By some maddening act of fate we approach theаLake District on the busiest bankаholiday weekend ever, miles and miles of queing traffic. But we also find, in Booth's supermarket at Ulverston, some of the best cheese ever. Grange-over-sands was good; yet all too soon we head off to Northumbria, Hexham to be precise.

We stayed at Dilston Mill, right on the river, right by theаphysic garden, and not too too far to the Indian restaurant in Corbridge. We took a train to Newcastle, to an almost empty city, with an entirely empty art gallery. But this isn’t normality, it's nowhere near normality, yet brave faces are being shown by the shopkeepers, who must be losing money big time.

From Dilston Mill we move to Allendale, Small Plot Big Ideas to be precise. A great find. Kate’s electric tricycle fitsаneatly into the Berlingho and soon she is happily riding around the quiet country lanes. I stay back at the converted barn with its wonderful views of fields and hills and dry stone walls.

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This is the North Pennines. A place new to the both of us. It is spacious. It is up and down. There are some amazing views, and some tricky little roads. We make it twice to Allenheads, to see the old lead washing works. We make it twice to Allendale, to savour the full english breakfast.

I have signed up to a new meditation practice delivered by Acem Meditation of Norway. My online instructor Eva, from Oslo, introduces me to their technique and ways of practicing. There are three of us signed up for this UK based introductory cohort. (I now follow this practice every day for 45 minutes, usually first thing in the morning)

The dental biopsy, and the hospital endoscopy come and go without too much trouble. For both I have a Covid test before the procedures. The hospitals have free parking for their sparsely populated car parks. Both hospitals have wonderful staff, who reassure me, and are gentle in carrying out their work. A big, big Thank You to the NHS; Boy oh boy has it been good to the Sanderson family.

My annual retreat to Buckfast had to be cancelled due to the operations. Instead I joined the Be Calm Be Happy online weekend course, facilitated by Plum Village UK. A couple of weeks later I did their meditative writing day, also online. Both events were effective. I meditated and I wrote. It was just like it said on the tin.

I have become a binge watcher of Netflix’sаscandal-noir, first with Bordertown then with Occupied, whichаI understand is Nowegian TV’s biggest ever budget for producing a movie. Both kept me gripped, but to be honest I preferred the lower budget Bordertown with itsаwonderfullyаidiosyncratic detective, who strokes whatever he strokes to find his answers.

We have suggested that the writing groups have a zoom based winter solstice celebration. We may well report on that later. Or maybe it will be part of next years roundup. The Berlin Blue poems are packed and sent out as Christmas presents to the lucky few who gave me theirаaddresses.

ай️Christopher Sanderson 2019