The Last of Somerset

Wild Garlic along a Broadway path

Dear Readers, I feel a little shame-faced about this post as I notice that I’ve already said goodbye to Somerset several times, but here we are again. Regular readers will remember that we used to visit Broadway, where John’s aunt H lived. Sadly, she died last year, and this weekend we will be fighting our way through train strikes to get to the village for the Memorial service on Sunday. The house is sold, and this really is the end of an era.

There are many things that I remember. I loved seeing the rabbits in the garden, and in the nearby fields – there used to be rabbits in Wanstead Park, just up the road from where I used to live, but not any more. They’ve gone the way of the cuckoos and the water voles that I grew up with. At least they’re still around in Somerset.

I loved this country lane right outside John’s aunt’s house, with its abundant wildflowers that changed through the seasons.

Bluebells, stitchwort and dandelions

I remember how much I loved hearing the rooks cawing in the trees as they refurbished their nests and fed their nestlings.

I remember how I loved watching the wasps feeding on nectar in the ivy flowers outside the house.

But most of all, I remember the garden, where primroses, cyclamen, snowdrops and bluebells had run riot over the years.

Cyclamen from Aunt H’s garden

And I loved this West Country speciality, Eastern Gladiolus, a most elegant plant  that seems to pop up everywhere.

Eastern Gladiolus (Gladiolus communis ssp byzantina)

So, on Sunday we will gather in the church of St Aldhelm and St. Eadburga, which has been witnessing christenings, marriages and memorial services since the 13th Century. The church is perched on a hill outside the village, and in the summer you can hear the skylarks trilling above the nearby fields. Sometimes swallows nest in the church porch, and polite notices will ask you to keep the door closed in case they fly into the church itself and can’t get out.  Aunt H was a devout woman who led a life of service, and who gave many of her final years to the church, so it’s fitting that we gather in the building that she loved so much to say a final goodbye. I hope that, if she looks down, she will be satisfied that the goings on are being done properly, even without her being physically present to make sure that we’re behaving ourselves.

St Adhelm and St Eadburga’s Church, Broadway, Somerset (Photo by Ruth Sharville)

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