Notes from The Orchard 2016

More Notes from The Orchard  28b


March 2016



Of course, things don't always happen the way you - or I - expect.  March 4th came and went but sadly I had been advised three days earlier that it had come to light that I wasn't in fact fit to be laid out on an operating table due to some unwelcome urinary infection. . . A course of strong antibiotics was prescribed and the date of the new hip fitting postponed for the time being.  Today I learnt that a new date had been set so now the date is 18th March but I shall now only believe it will happen as I am being wheeled into theatre.  No more counting of chickens. . .




Lent has been passing me by for this year when I have just tried to put up with being unable to do anything of what I was used to up to six months ago.  I follow Mass every morning on my computer - for which I am so grateful - since I am housebound.  If, and if, March 18th arrives with its current promise I should be home for Easter and that would be the one of the best Easter gifts I could hope for!  I fill my time praying for all my sick friends and family and the sadness of people in all the hard places in the world, remembering that God is kind and compassionate and cares for all of us.


To be continued


Sarah Bell




More Notes from The Orchard  28a


March 2016


We have that old saying which surprisingly often seems true:

March comes in like a lion. . . and goes out like a lamb. . .



After the recent spell of fine weather and blue skies we are about to return to our usual more unsettled, wet but mild weather as fresh low pressure systems blow in from the Atlantic.


This months notes are going to be divided in three instalments due to assorted happenings.  From a personal point of view I am at last going to be given a hip replacement and go into hospital on 4th March.  As it is difficult for me to sit at the computer I use for writing and even more difficult to sit on my invalid chair to type at a distance on a strange, wireless, keyboard, I am struggling to get this written at all.  Once I am re-hipped my fingers will grab every opportunity to come back and write parts 2 and 3 of Marchs Notes


In the meantime, keep up any Lenten prayers you have been doing, in the knowledge there are less than four weeks to go before the light and joy of Easter Day.  May God bless you and yours till you come back to this page again. . .and while we continue with our seasonal devotions let us remember all our friends and their problems, our brothers and sisters in the wider world who are suffering injustice, poverty and illness and pray for them, putting them in the hands of the kind, merciful and compassionate Saviour who laid down his life for us.


To be continued


Sarah Bell




More Notes from The Orchard  27


February 2016



So, were getting through the miserable months of winter with head bowed, teeth gritted but thankful since we havent  so far, anyway  had to brace ourselves to face bitter Arctic winds .  The temperatures have been clement  what fun to use such a deliciously old-fashioned word  and we can relax a little in the knowledge the heating bills wont be as bad as they might have been.


The amazing thing though is that Lent is only ten days away as Ash Wednesday takes its place on the calendar.  Spirits might droop at the prospect of that purple-robed period of the Church liturgy when she encourages us to think in terms of death, penance, going without pleasures  even innocent ones like flowers adorning our altars but for myself I find such thinking a pity.


Lent is the overture to the most joyous festivals of all in both our spiritual and our earthly lives  the latter especially in the Northern hemisphere:  Easter and Spring.


As we look round our houses we can see improvements we may well have made over the years and when we stop to think we can probably remember that some of those alterations made were to make the place more attractive, more comfortable or quite simply those times when such things needed to be made before special occasions  as when people came to stay, when a big family celebration was taking place or to mark some major change in our lives.  Maybe we saved to afford these changes or physically worked ourselves to put them into effect.  Certainly we thought about them and planned them.  In any event efforts had to be made.  In earthly terms, as the Spring sunshine lights up the messier bits which have managed to stay hidden during the lesser light of winter we can see what needs to be done.  In spiritual terms perhaps some of the clutter accumulated through the busyness of Christmas social activities or huddling indoors putting things off  till tomorrow, have left us feeling lethargic and a bit in the dark but perhaps now is the time for Spring cleaning inside and out.



Time to wake up to the light. . .  


During Lent this year dont think of darkness and penitence!  Use the time to get to know the dear God who loves us, cares for us and wants to take us by the hand to lead us to his wonderful kingdom, the one Jesus talks about in the gospels and which is foretold, now perhaps in a mirror darkly, as we view the stupendous beauty of the universe and our own planet in particular.  Try getting to know him by just talking to him as you do to your closest friend.  Close your eyes and imagine you are sitting next to him.  Say whatever comes into your head.  Trust him with all your secrets, your burdens, your joys and your sorrows.  They wont go any further and he will help you carry any load you are finding too heavy and enjoy Lent as you watch for the light and joy of Easter and the refreshing warmth and beauty of Spring.


As we follow this path to the light we cannot ignore the truth that this safe path runs through a morass of evil and darkness.  All around us we can see and learn of the suffering that evil brings to this world, evil that we inflict on our brothers and sisters too often unaware of what we are doing.


Light can destroy darkness but darkness can never put out the light.  While we let God with his Son infuse us with their light we can kill the darkness which does all of us so much damage and go on to live happily ever after  just like in the fairy stories which lit up our childhoods, no matter which country or race we were born into. . .




Sarah Bell



More Notes from The Orchard  26


January 2016



How many of us, on hearing the parable of the talents as children thought that the whole thing was dreadfully unfair?  There was this person who had been given ten talents, who went on to make lots more and got a hefty pat on the back for doing so well.  The same happened to the one whod been given five.  OK, he didnt do as well as the chap who started off with a lot more but hed done pretty well.  Then there was the man whod been given a single talent.  Probably he was so delighted to be given something for nothing he was terrified of losing it:  better put it in a safe place so it would still be there when the boss man came back and he had to account for it.  After all, the giver-out-of-money had a fearsome reputation for getting cross with unsuccessful people. . .


And didnt we all know it was to do with money?  The Jewish currency at the time of the parables consisted of talents, didnt it?  60 shekels made one mina, 60 minas made one talent, which meant a talent was worth a great deal of money.


Because we live in a capitalist/money oriented society it is difficult to tear our minds away from the fact that in our own language a talent is not money at all, but a gift which can be used to affect our own lives as well as other peoples.  As there are flowers which range from gargantuan to tiny  through a whole variety of sizes, colours, scents and uses so also are there talents: big ones, small ones  somewhat like bits of our own bodies, from the head and its contents to ones little toe.  Until one bit goes wrong we take the whole lot for granted but then comes the day when even a little spot on the end of the tongue dominates our feelings of discomfort.  To feel good we need everything to be working properly.


With the massive interest on health and healthy living set so high on todays agendas, people go off to the gym, read the small print on their food, visit the doctor and dentist regularly, jog, take vitamin pills and generally look after the body so well that as the lifespan stretches upwards to the hundredth birthday and a telegram from the Queen, their going will seem a sad thing, Oh, so young! people will murmur as the death notice appears. . .


Of course not all of that applies to everyone.  There are plenty of people whose bodies start falling to pieces rather earlier at some point where they are invaded by unwelcome diseases which fail to respond to treatment, in spite of all the effort put into strengthening the ramparts as life goes along.


It is then we would be well advised to remember that there is more to us than our physical frames.  Inside the wrapping there is our real self, complete with the spiritual talents, the bricks we use to build up our relationships with other people.


As well as the heart which pumps the blood around us there is the heart we learn to love with, to care with, to warm with compassion for those around us.  We have the hands which we can put to use to develop talents God gave us  to paint, to play music, to dance, cook, embrace, to bandage wounds to add to the joy we can bring to the world.  We have lips to kiss people better as all mothers know how to do.  We have eyes to see with, eyes to see the suffering of the world and intelligence to dream up ways we might help to carry the load of those around us.


Here we are, newly arrived in an unspoilt New Year at a time when we are rarely given the chance to see what is good around us, assaulted daily as we are by evil tidings via the all-pervading media when strictly rationed amounts of joyful news are reserved for special weepie programmes at Christmas.


What about concentrating more in this Year of Our Lord 2016 on positive aspects outside our own private worlds?  Let us look out to see what is needed and consider whether we could provide something useful from the talents with which we have been blessed  even if it is just a smile to warm someones day.  These talents are given to us to use for the benefit of all our brothers and sisters throughout the world.  This use of inner resources does wonders for our own ills and discomforts as it concentrates the mind a long way away from us to others and with any luck we just stop feeling the pain in our broken toes or stinging tongues  whatever.


Happy New Year everyone and may God's blessings be on all of us, whoever we are!



Sarah Bell


More Notes from the Orchard - 37


December 2016  (Part 2)

You may be up to your eyes in the frantic finish to get everything organised for gifts  note, I use the word gifts rather than presents.


With the ceaseless din of Buy this Buy that  Half-price  Special bargain price presents have dipped into trying to get something as cheaply as possible just to fill the gaps in the Present list for 2016 whereas the word Gifts remind us of the gifts of the Magi, something rather more elevated that mere presents.  The word gifts suggest more of a specially planned and thought-out offering.  After all, the Magi had travelled many miles with a great deal of thought going into the presentations they took with them  gold for a king, frankincense for a God and myrrh to honour the anointed of God  the Messiah, the Christ.  


How many times have I heard conversations going round shops this year on the lines of Great!  Thatll do for so and so  we can cross him/her off the list!  Such considerations really spoil the pleasure of giving.  It is so lovely to buy something the recipient would really like, perhaps because you have listened to things they say during the year and made a mental note of it, knowing that when they open a package it is going to be just what they would like. . . of course, you do need to keep up to date with these ideas in case the situation changes before the Christmas presentation.  Who really wants two bicycles, two Shetland ponies, two iPads etc. etc.  Of course, if the recipients are madly acquisitive two houses on the Riviera, two diamond rings, two washing machines and two French hens may well be acceptable, but Im sure you get the drift. . .


But of course, readers of this column are much too sensible to fall into those traps and as they wrap the gifts so carefully chosen, lose the ones bought so many months ago, the cellotape, the scissors. . . Having found the scissors, they then cut the paper the wrong size but they wont lose their temper, drowning out the crucial ending to the play theyve been listening to on Radio 4 with a stream of wicked words which begin with letters from the earlier range of the alphabet. . .


Lets leave all that, find time to ask our dear good Lord to help us all with his birthday preparations and celebrate Christmas with joy and thanksgiving.


Happy Christmas, dear Readers, no matter how many or how few, and let it be followed by a peaceful 2017 where things go a lot better than the pessimists expect.  The gifts I wish you all are Faith, Hope and Charity.


With love from





More Notes from the Orchard - 37


December 2016  (Part I)

Watery Reflection - December Ray Bucko SJ


Christmas itself may have become debased from the God-given gift to us of his baby son but there is something which all the worldly pollutants of money, selfishness and greed cannot ruin.  True, there are too many people whose reaction to the very word Christmas is a derogatory comment of some kind or other  perhaps culminating in the damning sentence Oh, I just hate Christmas!


I wonder what goes wrong as the beauty of childhood Christmases disappears and the ego is taken over by the emphasis on me and what I am going to get for Christmas?  How does that happen?  It is natural, I suppose, for parents to want to give their children everything they want  if they can afford it!  Viewed in world terms the majority of parents will fall into this category.  Here in the west parents may go deeply into debt to gratify their childrens desires. By doing this they are possibly unaware that they are busily creating a generation of selfish individuals.  If their thoughts are concentrated on their own desires how will children ever learn to expand their thoughts towards other people and their needs and desires?  Given the chance around Christmas time I often enjoy asking children about presents.  Just ask them what they are going to get for Christmas and for many years I have found the word get to them means receive and not shop for gifts for other people.


Perhaps parents and grandparents have forgotten that up-coming generations need to be encouraged and taught about such abstracts as generosity and consideration for others.  While the latest iPad and electronic toys do give immediate pleasure to the recipient, it tends to wear off quite quickly.  Wants satisfied leave a space for new ones to take their place.  Giving a gift  especially one that is quickly appreciated  can leave the donor feeling good as well as pleased when they discover they have the power to make someone happy!



Sarah Bell


(To be continued . . .)

Watery Reflection Ray Dec 2013

More Notes from the Orchard - 36


November 2016


November 30th - and wasn't it a beautiful November?  Just a few rainy days and lots of sunshine!

Wintry pic Katy Beautiful Nov 2014

More Notes from the Orchard - 35


October 2016

November can be beautiful!                       © Katy Passmore


I have just re-read the Notes for October (below)!  Oh dear, how dreary!  Will this months be any brighter, I wonder?  Let us see what happens. . .


Its the last day of October today  when we might ask to be delivered from Ghoulies and ghosties, from long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night. . . but the day has started  at least outside the window, with weak sun and a good suggestion of blue - although apparently its much bluer in Lymington, and having switched off Radio 4 I am feeling definitely brighter.


Why, I wonder, does this generation of sourpusses set so much store by the spreading of bad news?  More especially when so much of it is based on rumour, speculation and hypothetical bases?


Jesus Christ came with good news but as in his time, few people want to listen to any kind of joyful tidings! Ah, well  maybe we should pray to God for a Christmas present to ourselves:


Dear Lord,


This Christmas, on the day we celebrate your birthday, please help us by giving us the gifts of hope and optimism.  Help us to reflect on the kindness of everything good that we have received from you, from the beauties of the world you created for us to the yearning for love in our hearts, both to give and to receive, to and from all our fellow human beings, the animals and plants who serve us.




I have tried to keep this months thoughts on a brighter side than Octobers edition but there are some items which need to be in our hearts and minds this November.  It is of course the time of Remembrance, but while foremost in many references is the domination of the Poppy  more especially in this 100th Anniversary of World War I  I suppose most of us will have closer personal memories of our own people who have moved on before us.  May they all rest in peace and in turn remember and help us in any way they can.


The other dominant thoughts and prayers at this time have to be for the United States.  One of the most powerful countries on the planet, America faces on 8th November the perils of an election of the President, in turn one of the most powerful individuals in the world.  The choice which the electors have, Trump and Clayton, fills many with fear.  Media comments have set up such a web of obscurity that few people have any real knowledge about those for whom they are actually voting.  Indeed, what have any of us really learnt about the two candidates that might be the whole truth? Although we may have an idea, based on personal opinion which in turn is driven by other peoples prejudices, we really know absolutely nothing.


Since our own security as well as that of the whole world depend on the integrity of the powerful individual who will be elected, let us pray that God keeps us all in his hands rather than those of a mere President!


Sarah Bell

Ma's Garden

Autumn Beauty                                               © Sarah Bell


On the radio news today I heard an article describing the significant fall in numbers of nursing homes closed over the past few years, and it is, for people who live in this area, a matter of serious concern.


Because of the attractions of the south coast, many people choose it as an ideal place to retire:  it is warmer in the south, it is beautiful, it is where many of those of now advanced age spent many of the happiest days of their youth.  Ah, those wonderful summer holidays spent in the south of England before the world opened up and enabled people to jet off first to southern Europe and then to more exotic holiday destinations!


In an effort to recapture youthful memories many pensioners retire to the south coast.  Wonderful at first, but then old age begins to introduce the downside, where help becomes a necessity. . . Children start searching for somewhere to put the Aged Parents - the next generation live such full and busy lives - 'We can't do it ourselves!' - but the fingers of crisis are making any alternative much more difficult.  This is all due to a shortage of nurses.  Why?  Why do we have a shortage?  Why indeed?


Why do the Russians and others feel its OK to bomb women and children in Aleppo?


Why do the prosperous parts of the world consider it is OK to waltz off round the world seeking amazing holidays?  Why do children think its OK to spend time hunting for somewhere to dispose of parents who have become somewhat inconvenient, the care of whom will make their comfortable lives less pleasant?


Of course all children do not feel like this about their parents - I am blessed with children who do care for me, for which I thank God.  However, in a world like the one we live in, after the period of settled marriage was more or less the rule it must be harder to feel happily responsible for parents who didn't take seriously their job of bringing up the children, preferring to develop the Bank of Mummy and Daddy.


Alas, love has been terribly downgraded.  The young look for ways of making a good income but it seems to me that these days they dont look at how to serve anyone. When I was young  goodness knows how many years ago  nursing was a great profession and many of the young with whom I grew up read books like Sue Barton, Student Nurse  a whole series of books to fire the imagination. Nowadays, our young are fired instead with dreams of celebrity, fashion, media and the boys of making it in sport but they (as well as many girls!) also like the idea of making lots of money in banking or other forms of finance  but ideas of service rarely seem to get a place in their ambitions.


Love and care for others is just not on the agenda of possible career plans for most.


Talk to your grandchildren, talk to your children. . .


And love them from the word go, so they begin to understand the word.  There was a time when the word for one's offspring was 'the children'.  Then they suddenly turned into 'the kids'.  At that point did they get the impression that they were some sort of burden instead of a delight?  Is that where things began to go wrong?

Have too many of us, since experiencing the freedoms of the 1960s, failed to teach our young the importance of love of all those with whom we come into contact?

Well, we reap what we sow.  Pretty grim, isnt it?



Sarah Bell

More Notes from The Orchard - 34


September 2016

Clouds after night rain as Summer drifts into Autumn. . .


After all the rain earlier in the year, we were finally gifted with a pretty good summer where barbecues were a tangible prospect instead of remaining at the dream stage - so thank you, Lord!  There was a late demand for summer clothes which cheered some of the shops though too many of us are suffering from a lack of pretty clothes instead of the market's offerings of grey, black, khaki and white garments including  shapeless short-sleeved tops which reveal our flappy upper-arms to the world at large.  Sorry, lads, I do realise those comments are not entirely for you - who have never been known for F U-As.  Incidentally, if you really are worried about your appearance by the seaside maybe time to consider a burkina???


When you live in a beautiful-to-tourists area in the British Isles there is always something peaceful about September.  Much as we all like to see the tourists who swell our coffers, our children and grandchildren, nephews and nieces, after the morning rush hour which returns with a vengeance, everything calms down as they return home or to schools, colleges etc.  Life returns to normal, we say. . . Hmm.


Nowadays the question is 'What's normal?'  It is surprising how quickly we adapt to different periods of time.  While September signals a change to the new season it is also the start of other new things as we move towards the next and recurring cycles of the year.  How blessed are those of us who can accept the changes as they come!  Many find this very difficult and resent all the changes they have to face, especially as the passing years speed up:  they would so like things to stay as they are - or even as they were.  Logically, if their wishes were granted, none of us would have moved beyond the era of the cave-men.


Best thing to do, when we are overtaken by such thoughts, is to remember we all expect the sun to go to bed tonight and get up to put his hat on tomorrow - even if he also likes a morning shower on full power!   We too, with luck, can go to bed and sleep till we wake.  Then we have just the day ahead to do what is essential just for that day and then we can stop.  We can sleep for eight hours or so and get up, knowing we only have to face one whole day before we can escape into the blackness of sleep to rest before we have to face . . . only one day.  With God's help we can get through that and worry about tomorrow tomorrow!


It took me years to understand that line in the New Testament: 'Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.'  (Matthew 6:34)


Now I do!



Sarah Bell

Clouds after night rain 2

More Notes from The Orchard - 33


August 2016

© Katy Passmore


Lovely to be on the water when the days are hot!


Rarely have English politics seemed to be so passionate - or exciting, infuriating or even frightening!  It does remind me of how, when a character who is a dreamer lusting after power, things can go very wrong:  Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Kim Jong Il, Pol Pot. . . etc. etc.


The last time the Labour party was in such a pickle as today was probably at the time of what was called 'The Militant Tendency', a phrase I found as irritating as 'Merger' about political parties merging together, where the word 'Merger' was always used without an 'a' or a 'the' in front of the word.  The Conservatives have a different approach, their preferred system being the 'Knives in the Back' syndrome.


In the meantime, while the politicking goes on, we powerless voters will just have to sit and wait, unless we have the wit, energy, knowledge  and desire for power to play around with the social media.  Then we shall learn how to manipulate that particular media to gather votes by forcing readers to follow our point of view, after which we might be able to run round boasting how many followers we have!  That way we shall soon be able to add loads of our followers to vote for the current political idol.  I hear that among the 4,000,000 people who elected to call for a re-run of the Referendum were voters from the Vatican.  More of these voted than the entire population of the Vatican . . . Is there no one we can trust these days?  I'm not suggesting that those who posted their addresses as the Vatican really live there:  there is a possibility they thought that with that address they might be believed. . . As they say in Spain: Quien sabe?


The current vogue for cynicism, lying, giving rein to one's own opinion - very often based on lack of knowledge or understanding and purely on feelings and emotions - gives rise to many of the misguided conclusions published over the internet.  Trust hardly exists anywhere as people become aware that there is something wrong with the information they glean and yet are unsure what to do about it.


Debating used to exist on the radio - and sometimes on television - but now, on both of those media, opponents and counter-opponents shout each other down and supposed chair people seem to be unable to control the speakers.  In school children are allowed - encouraged even - to make their own minds up about things without having been taught how to evaluate their opinions.  Certainly, given the knowledge of how to think through carefully the pros and cons before weighing them up, they would be in a much better position to come to a conclusion.  It is only at that point they should be given the freedom to consider which they think might be the right decisions and not before.  I am not suggesting that teachers should impose their own conclusions!


Some children do have the advantage of learning how to discern the differences between right and wrong, good and evil, beneficial and dangerous but not all.  Sadly with the rise of the importance of 'ME', such things are rarely taught nowadays.  Condemnatory cries of 'That's a value judgement!' ring out, but if there is no firm basis on which to base a value judgement except one's own feelings, anything goes. . .


Is it too late to review the situation?  It may well be since this has been going on for at least three generations - since the 60s anyway.  If the teachers haven't learnt during that length of time, who is left to do anything about getting back to a search for truth?


Kyrie eleison!

X-boats at Cowes 2013

More Notes from The Orchard - 32


July 2016

We still love France and the rest of Europe!


Well, well, well . . . What a momentous month!


I am very glad I prayed the prayer I made:


Dear Lord:


I voted early because my grandson was about to be confirmed and I would be away from my voting consistency. There was no way I could change things . . .but I wasn't happy.  There were so many things on either side of the arguments for and against:  how difficult!


In the end I have decided that because you knew everything, the best thing to do was to ask your help so I ask for your help and put the whole of Europe in your hands.  Dear Lord, thy will be done.


With love from Sarah.


Now, having put everything in the hands of God, this means I need to go along with the result. . . in other words, like the Victorian cross stitch samplers, we must put not only our problems in the hands of God but also our trust in God.  He does wish us all his best in our lives and also that we may have life to the full. Trust him and he will look after us. (That is actually quite difficult to do . . . try it, and then you will see that we need to pray for help doing even that. . .)


There may be more to say later but for now I shall stop my fingers wandering over the keys and continue to trust to God for all of us at this rather difficult moment in our country's history.




1st July 2016 - 100th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme


The Vigil Service in Westminster Abbey in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth was televised this evening.  The address underlined the efforts of Europeans since the atrocities of World Wars I and II to unite us in peace and was particularly moving in the shadow of yet another so recent and apparent failure.


May we pray for peace, uniting our prayers with all others, our brothers and sisters who pray for the same gift.





You, grey ghosts --

yes, you, young soldier,

and you, the sad-eyed refugee

of years ago:


Are you long-dead

and buried in well-tended hallowed ground?

Or do your bones lie

lost beneath the growing corn

to stir as summer thunder

shakes the earth?


Or are you still alive, and old now?

And do you sit, like me,

Settled in some armchair

watching seconds of your past

immortalised on film?


And are you then,

as I am,

haunted by the imprint of your soul

on celluloid?



November 1974

Eiffel Tower Fireworks_on_Eiffel_Tower_01

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June 2016

June is here, June, flaming June. . .  So this month is often described, though whether it is because the sun is shining and the temperature rising or because the weather is so awful it pleases only ducks and flowers is never very clear.


This is one of the most exciting months of the year for sporting activities and although I enjoy watching them, I do feel sorry for those whose taste does not include this aspect of our leisure time.  Sport, and in particular football, has been elevated in importance to the place in former times allotted to religion.  Certainly sport offers more excitement than going to church on Sundays, sing-along hymn sessions and listening to sermons which too often fail to offer anything stimulating (with apologies to any of those whose work I hear every week!  I am writing in very general terms via hearsay. . .)


Have you ever talked to anyone who has recently, perhaps after many years, decided to change their religion?  I have had this experience quite often and strangely the reply in answer to my question Why? is almost always on the lines of Oh, I met this man, this woman, this person . . .


It was reported on the BBC in May that a recent survey had revealed that more than 50% of the population of England didnt believe in any religion at all!


St. Francis of Assisi is reputed to have said something on the lines of use words only if necessary, implying that if you live your life according to the Gospel, you didnt need any other words of preaching.  St Paul is keen to teach that the Christians should show an example by their lives and shine as lights in the world so that those who have not yet met Jesus would get his message. (Philippians 2:15).  So perhaps it is up to us, the lucky ones who have been given the gift of faith, to light a path.  If any light we might have been given is hidden under a bushel it wont be helpful to anyone!  It has to be put up on a stand so everyone can share it.  If you take in those words I suppose we have to realise it's down to us to display the glories of the Gospel.


I havent said anything about the elephant in the room . . . and Im not going to:  what you do is up to you, in or out, but like the Queen said, think carefully before you decide.  Its a pity the whole question has been muddied by politics but thats politics for you - such a long way removed from clear thinking and common sense.  Its a shame the art of debating is no longer practised in our schools because now we have to look at or listen to people shouting at each other and over each other, never even hearing - let alone listening to - the real arguments for and against.  Im reminded of a Cockney phrase I love: Gawd, elp us!  It sort of expresses everything!



Sarah Bell


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May 2016

B with Attitude

Bees having fun in an earlier May! © Katy Passmore


Just in time for the beginning of May I can now resume a normal life, for which I thank God and all the people who have prayed for me!  I feel somewhat out of practice because the timing for the articles I write each month  for Sarahs Pips and Milford Parish Magazine  has arrived very much towards the end of April  so its my turn now to pray for inspiration and I can definitely feel an undertone of panic creeping in. . .


After an April which has produced rather few beautiful days suggestive of Spring and rather more of a bunch of low temperatures and grey days, we can sigh with resignation and hope that May will bring in something more traditional.

Today though, just at the end of April, was my return to being able to drive.  I felt 17 again, just passed my driving test and very nervous at being allowed out on my own.  Give me being a confident 80 again!  I expect I shall soon regain my confidence and life will appear to be normal.  Many friends and family have prayed for me to get better - for which I am very, very grateful.


Here's hoping for some beautiful future weather to get us through all the politicking to 23rd June:






Green growing beauty lies

across the softly sloping fields,

sometimes slashed to stun the eye

with rape seed's sunbright yellow,

dormant here and there with

plain tilled fields:

and May,

like an adolescent girl,

warms with her promise

then spins in pouting petulance

to clouded moods and storms of tears.


But even in the wet

there is a warmth in the earth

beneath the growing things  

a smell of Summer's coming

and of childhood.

In the hedges' many-greened luxuriance,

bright-specked with brilliances

of dandelions, buttercups,

down among the stiff strong spears of grass,

quicksilvered wet,

the promise of great summer skies

lies soft in speedwell's blue,

and bright forget-me-nots.


Then when May smiles

beneath the soft warm English sun,

she marries Spring to Summer:

lush green hedges,

curved voluptuous along the country lanes,

train bridal veils

of wild-beaked parsley  

soft cream net pricked out

with virgin stars of stitchwort  

while the early birds of Summer

sing a wedding hymn.





Hopefully everything will be back to normal for June, including the real summer time we all imagine exists!


Sarah Bell

More Notes from The Orchard - 29


April 2016

My dear Readers - always hoping there are some - This month has been a bit different and I have to say how sorry I am that I have been unable to organise the usual monthly notes.  However, I am so grateful to be able to say that after 6 months of having my life on hold I am now well on the road to recovery although it is less that 2 weeks since I was finally 'wheeled into theatre'.  Every day I see an improvement and within a few more days I shall be able to sit properly on my computer chair and write but the whole new shiny and beautiful hip replacement experience was incredibly tiring:  I had no idea I was going to feel so exhausted.  I was so sorry not to be able to write down my best wishes to you all for Easter and I kept you in my prayers - that is something one can easily do while lying on a sick/recovery bed and it stopped me from feeling absolutely useless!


I look forward to being back in charge of my keyboard in order to produce 'More Notes...' to take us up to the beginning of May.


With love from



Sarah Bell