FirstTri for Camfed

SWIM 750m

We did it! Three of us braved the cold water of Jesus Green Lido where the temperature was literally off the scale. The others took their plunge at Parkside.

CYCLE 20km

We all met on Jesus Green for the bike ride up the river to Clayhithe and back. One of us broke down. Wonderful Paul, who was bringing up the rear, fixed the puncture in a flash, and the race went on. 

RUN 5km

Andy stormed in first…closely followed by Mary

Then Jenni

Then Jaana

My turn…

Then Laure, then Sophie who made it through despite the puncture!

Tilly hands out personalised medals

We convened at Stir for brunch and chat, feeling very pleased with ourselves. We then collapsed for a few hours before rocking up to The Carpenters for a lively evening with music from OneStop, beer and pizza’s, and more fund raising. The pub was packed out. It was great to see so many many friends.

We are grateful to all our helpers and contributors:

For training and help on race day:Tilly, Tom, Juliet, Paul, Ian, Doug, and Chrissie and the team from Camfed.

Our band, OneStop aka Andrew and Pete for playing their hearts out. 

To all those who donated prizes for our raffle: Stir, Radmore Farm Shop, Baccanalia, The Cambridge Literary Festival, The Carpenters Arms, University Cycles

All those who made donations to help girls in Africa get to school! 

WHAT NEXT?

To date, we have made £5,615, and with gift aid, £6,433.26, from 82 donors. This is enough to send almost 36 girls to school for one year. How about we help these girls get to school for TWO years? Please join us at the Carpenters Arms on December 7 at 7pm to plan our next steps and enter the prize raffle! All proceeds to Campaign for Female Education. If you cannot make it but would like to make a donation, please do so here.

First Tri for @Camfed

An insignificant birthday

Turning 54 in March this year led me to consider a gift to self. Having had a couple of rounds of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of daily radiotherapy not so long before, I was pretty pleased to be still standing. There was a moment when I thought I might perish before my severely demented mother, but fortunately that bit of life’s order was not disrupted.

Getting on with living

A year on, I was still suffering aches and pains and could not decide if this was just aging or a consequence of my treatment or both. My consultant told me in no uncertain terms to stop worrying and get on with living. With this push, I decided that for my 55th year I would support a charity that gave life to others. I decided on Camfed, The Campaign for Female Education, a Cambridge based charity, now in its 25th year, that enables girls in Africa to go to school. Going to school means escaping childhood wedlock, teenage pregnancy and offers a world of possibility including potentially, much happiness. Since 1993, Camfed’s innovative education programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi have directly supported more than 2.6 million students to attend primary and secondary school, and more than 5 million children have benefited from an improved learning environment. £180 enables one girl to go to school for one year. My gift was made. But what about supporting a few more?

Doing Something

You cannot just ask all your friends for money, my daughter told me, you have to DO something. So I decided to do a ‘sprint’ triathlon – 750m swim, 20km cycle followed by 5km run. I engaged a few friends and we set a target of £4000 to raise, support for 22 girls. Our event will take place on 22 September starting around 11:30 at Jesus Green Lido. In the  evening, we will gather at the Carpenters Arms on Victoria Road for live music by One Stop (aka Pete Mitchell and Andrew Sugden) beer and pizzas. All are welcome to join and contribute to the gift of life!

If you would like to make a donation to our fund raising campaign please follow this LINK and click on the blue donate button in the middle of the page.

 

 

It’s that time of year….

June/July is that time of year when a handful of old time Cambridge city dwellers find ourselves playing host to Michael Cahn who moved, a few years ago, to live in California.

I first met Micheal some 21 years ago when he was collecting his 2 year old daughter from our local nursery. He was holding her tightly in one arm to keep her from wriggling and he stretched out the other,  being most insistent that he take my son home for the rest of the afternoon so the two children could play. And there began a long and rich friendship between our families.

It was around this time that Michael began book collecting and founded Plurabelle Books, a second hand internet bookshop. The ‘shop’ has moved several times around the city but is now located in a warehouse by the railway off Coldhams Lane, in the company of CamCabs, Hilary’s, the vegetable whole saler, The Centre for Computing History, The Belfast Bed Super Store and St. Barnabas Press.

The Plurabelle website indicates that the shop ‘has books you don’t need in a place you can’t find’! The statement is not quite true, but it s not quite false either. Having recently cleared a large west London house that was stacked to the rafters with stuff, a household where everything, from beads, to bones and of course books were collected and carefully stored and certainly never thrown out, there was something quite reassuring in visiting this ramshackle warehouse of past loved, past studied and cherished books. A short bike ride from the centre of town, you won’t be disappointed in the reception you will receive, especially if the book seller is in town.

Short break? Welcome to Butley!

With the days getting noticeably longer and spring around the corner, the Aldeburgh Festival programme just published, it is time to fix up a weekend away!

Please consider a few days at our place in Butley. It is lovely for couples and groups up to six. It is cosy and spacious in equal measure. The surrounding countryside is great for cycling and walking and is excellent for birds.

For bookings, please contact us.

The village pub, The Butley Oyster, re-opened last year, and serves its own beers.  It now hosts the village shop. In the barns there is a spanking new 21 seater cinema. Rock up with a DVD, buy a beer and pop corn, relax and enjoy!

DSCF4425The old cottage and the new extension

DSCF4422The garden

ButleyCottage dinning room

ButleyPrincipal bedroom in the extension

ButleyOrford Castle in the January frost

ButleyButley River in winter with foot steps over the mud

ButleyButley river summer 2017

DSCF2616Flock of Avocets on the Butley river

DSCF2625Reed bed at Butley Mills

Cottage garden

DSCF6460Shell Line at Shingle Street

 

For Bastien by Peter Lloyd Jones

8th November 2013, South Downs.

When you are middle aged (say 40) your mentors are usually about 60. And they tell you, ‘the worst thing about growing old is you begin to lose your friends.’ ‘Yeh, yeh, yeh’, you say and get on with your life. And then you wake up as it seems the next day, and you yourself are 60. You see your first friends begin to die and you realise that what you’d been told all those years before was true. And then in another flash you yourself are eighty… and only one or two are left. Bastien was one of those.

A friend since the Sixties Bastien was for me one of the very last surviving compagnons de la route’ Not quite ‘one of the men who were boys when I was a boy’ but jolly near it. And this is my slender qualification for speaking these words. Because of course for Zerin and the children, Bastien was not ‘one of the last’ but something far more profound: ‘the only’ – the only lover, husband, father. So I speak for them with humility.

I shall remember first his unflinching courage in adversity. Not just in the way he bore personal tragedy but also in the way he faced an illness that had dragged him down for years. How lovingly he cared for Zerin when he himself was weakening by the day!

He faced his adversity with unflagging curiosity too, especially curiosity about his medical condition. ‘I’d love to have been there in the operating theatre looking down. Fantastic!’ This about his (to me terrifying) spinal surgery.

We will all remember his generosity. He was lucky to have more than most but he was unstinting to those with less. However there are gifts more precious than anything that can be weighed in money. Even when he must have known his own time was short, he spent many days in painstaking work on the proofs of another man’s books, a task he did better than any paid professional.

But on top of it all, I remember his sparkling, probing intelligence. Loose thinking didn’t last long in his company! But he was also a rigorous empiricist, an experimenter ‘putting nature to the question’; satisfied only with what he could demonstrate as fact.

***

As it happens I had another friend in many ways similar to Bastien.

Both were Jewish yet both were strictly secular. Each was a scientist. In fact they worked in adjacent fields of biology and knew of each other’s work. Both were unswerving materialists yet each was passionate about the arts, especially music. Both were tremendous talkers.

Now that other scientist happened to be married to a poet. And poetry like no other art captures the depth and complexity of our emotions – especially our bewilderment at loss.

When that other scientist died his widow found the courage to create poetry that stared her situation in the face. Though addressed to the shade of a different husband and father, her verses speak to all who mourn. So I’d like to read one of her poems here as we, in our turn, face life without friend or loved one.

‘Immortality’ by Elaine Feinstein †

If I believed in an old-fashioned Paradise,

then you my love would still be talking in it.

There would be blue sky and a few clouds

seen through stone arches, as in

Raphael’s School of Athens, with Diogenes

sprawled on the steps, and Plato in the likeness of da Vinci.

You could pursue them with your eager questions –

as once you challenged speakers at LSE

It’s not that I hope to find you there

myself, more that I cannot bear

it should be true, as once you said

We think. And understand a bit.

And then we’re dead.

But bear it we must. As Bastien did.

***

Bastien thought hard and understood much, above all in the scientific work that made his name, though of course he too knew how small it was when faced with what we’ve yet to understand.

In fact his favourite teaching was his First Year course on ‘The origins of life’, that deeply obscure primal chemistry that billions of years later was to bring us to his graveside. And now for him a different chemistry will carry on that endless process of becoming and in doing so provide the vital substrate for new life.

When he requested this style of funeral I’m sure he derived some wry satisfaction from the notion although I’m also sure he’d want to correct my words. I can almost hear his voice.

“What do mean ‘different’ chemistry? What’s so different about it? We’re only oxidation and reduction after all”!

Religions have had several thousand years to perfect the rhetoric with which they hope to salve our grief – those promises of immortality they know they’ll never have to keep. As one unbeliever speaking to another it would be quite improper for me to imitate those biblical cadences, haunting though they are. Instead on behalf of us all I shall express our sentiments in the plainest English possible:

“Goodbye dear friend. Goodbye!”

***

But let me end with a happy memory, one that will be familiar to you all. I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you ring the bell at number 31 Bastien opens the door and greets you, not with the conventional ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ but with an enthusiastic, embracing “Yes!” And then he turns and calls over his shoulder to Zerin,

“It’s Jenny and Peter”, (or whoever it might be).

I like to think of this greeting as expressive of his attitude to life, right to its uncomfortable, even distressing end – a joyful affirmative, a great big “Yes!”

And so, even though his animating presence is no longer here to help us, we can honour his memory by keeping our network of love and friendship – love and friendship that began with him – in good repair. This will be our affirmation, our way of saying, ‘Yes!’

† ‘Immortality’ is included here by permission of the author and the publisher.

See www. Carcarnet.co.uk

Peter LLoyd Jones 04/11/13