Spring, crocuses and Crews Hill

My mood today is the antithesis of my mood two months ago and therefore this post will be the antithesis of the ones of December 21st.

I’m in elated spirits! We only have hazy sunshine at the moment but today is the warmest day we’ve had so far this year.

And as I was cycling from Enfield to Crews Hill I was delighted to see a riot of purple, yellow and white flowers – crocuses!

Now you’ll understand why I’m in such a great mood. Especially after all the miserable weather we had during the past few days.

There’s something else I haven’t done for months – I’m having tea al fresco at BoJo’s cafe at the garden centre at Crews Hill.

The words on my lips right now are “Spring is here,” and “Praise the Lord!”

Esther Howland

It is now February 15th and all the tasteless red and pink Valentines junk has been swept away. All these hearts and nauseatingly sentimental messages and all the garbage that comes with Valentine’s day started way back in 1847 in Worcester, Massachusetts with a certain Esther Howland. She came up with the idea of selling cards for this day and was very successful at it. It was because of this that she became known as “the Mother of Valentine’s Day.”

So whether you’re a single man or woman for whom Valentine’s day is totally irrelevant, a lover who’s hard up but still expected to shell out for gigantic Valentine’s day gift or someone who has consumed too much Valentine’s day candy and is vowing never again to have anything to do with February 14th, you all know who to curse!


There hasn’t been much to report this past week. But spring is coming in slowly but surely – in fact there’s sunshine outside right now. And my life carries on as free from care as it usually does.

And bit by bit I’ve been building up Centralia. There’s now J&J’s foodstore in Centre Street and Brady’s bar and the Church of St John and St James and the library…

Alternative Centralia, PA 17927

I’ve been reading about Centralia, a tiny mining town in Pennsylvania. Its population in 1980 was roughly 1,100. But today its population is a single figure. The town has been evacuated because of a mine fire that has been burning since 1962.

There are numerous pages and pictures about it on the net, and you can see a bird’s eye view of the town on Google Maps. The best history of the fire is by Xydexx Squeakypony. Just click here. And all attempts to put out the fire have failed. And the story about those attempts makes depressing reading. Failure after failure and foul-up after foul-up. The fire that started in May 1962 could have been extinguished in a matter of weeks if the right methods had been used and enough money had been spent. So much for American know-how!

Well, my fascination with the town is nothing to do with the fire. In my alternative reality, the fire was extinguished in the late 1990s by a divine combination of earth tremors and torrential rain. Basically, what happened was the rain water mixed with mud and coal ash flowed down into the mine shafts and the sinkholes on top of the burning coal and smothered the fire.

Once it had been determined in 2002 that the fire was well and truly out, Centralia quickly repopulated. And in addition to the streets that were already there there are several new streets east of Apple Street being developed, not to mention Chesham Park at the eastern end of Park Street, bounded on the east side by the new street Chess Avenue…

You see where I’m going with this? I’m creating my own small town with Centralia as its base.

Who needs Sim City when you’ve got your own imagination?

Gong Xi Fa Cai

For the Chinese all over the world and a good many other people besides, today marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. It’s the Year of the Rabbit, although in some countries, particularly Korea and Vietnam, they call it the Year of the Cat.

I don’t have the necessary programming on my mobile phone to post the Chinese characters, unfortunately, so I’ll just have to make do with pinyin.

Gong Xi Fa Cai