Far East POWs – reflections

It is some time since I posted about the men I have been writing about who were Far East POWs (and their wives and families). The MS is currently being read by an historian so I planned to take a break. Nevertheless I have been thinking about the men rather a lot. In the past few weeks I have been labouring against the clock to clear the ground for a new fence where mature trees once stood (https://greenwritingroom.com/2014/03/14/). I have also been trying to make a level base for a greenhouse (a task I have never done before).


In the course of these endeavours I have been very tired, very hungry and slightly injured. Then I contracted a feverish cold, and the weather became strangely hot for April. With each of these sensations I couldn’t help remembering the accounts of the extreme versions the prisoners suffered on the railway. I tried to imagine how it would feel to be sicker or to have no rest, or food. As I stamped down the earth on my greenhouse base-to-be, I found myself repeating the phrase my father had remembered from his days when they were building the embankment on which to lay the tracks on the Thailand-Burma Railroad.

 At the end of each days work we marched up and down on the newly placed earth stamping it down firmly. I remember the Japanese engineers shouting “Orr men stepping very hardly”.


It sounds perverse to say that I also enjoyed myself, I actually like labour, something I suspect I have learnt from my father. Anyway the fence (done by professionals in contrast to my DIY)) is now up.


I can now get on with the rest. There is still rather a lot of earth to move, rather a lot of sand to lay as a base and all that lovely marble (purchased for another purpose several years ago) to go on top. In the meantime I have managed a few hours of editing on the POW MS. The men are not forgotten.

Garden havoc

Because we are about to put up our first greenhouse, we have been clearing a chaotic corner of the garden, cutting back rampant lilacs and tearing down even more rampant ivy. Our neighbour has been doing the same on the other side of the fence and, what with the gales and the age of the fence, there has been a grand collapse. DSCN4761


In the meantime, kind friends who had come to stay took me up on a lighthearted suggestion that we all move the rhododendrons in tubs on the other side of the house, which had grown so big that they were closing the passageway. This was not a trivial task.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But they weren’t put off and so project number two is now underway.DSCN4775


DSCN4780Today a bolt of sand was delivered and somehow, in the next few weeks, we will create suitable hard standing for a greenhouse and three giant tubs of rhododendrons, as well as repairing the fence and creating a new log store.

I like a spring challenge. As far as nature is concerned, this is spring. The plum tree is in blossom. DSCN4784