January 2021 - Mucknell Abbey
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January 2021

2 January – A very happy New Year to everyone reading this. Let us hope that this year, taken as a whole, will be a little less grim than 2020.

Today life at the monastery returned to normal – or a closer approximation to normal – after an enjoyable Christmas Octave. Even though we’ve now been without heating or hot water for the last four or five days everyone is in good spirits. I’ve become an evangelist for icy cold showers, which as a quick Google search will tell you are very good for your physical and mental health. I reckon 50% of this is a sudden rush of smugness to the head.

Let’s see if my self-discipline survives the return of hot water…

This imitation rubber duck is (was) our first Christmas piñata. At the time the photograph was taken, shortly before its destruction, its belly was filled with Quality Streets.

It was Sr Sally who first came up with the idea, and despite some reservations subsequent research shows that it’s actually a perfect monastic activity: the stick used to beat the piñata is said to represent the triumph of love over the seven deadly sins, and the outpouring of sweets symbolises the forgiveness of sins and new life.

Br Adrian delivered the fatal blow, although next year contestants (who are blind-folded) will be banned from locating the piñata with their stick before they hit it!

4 January – This morning we were still without heating and hot water, and for reasons beyond my ken the toilets stopped flushing. But there was an outbreak of rejoicing at around 10am when the Calor gas truck pulled up with oil for our backup boiler. Many thanks to the friends who dropped off electric heaters and helped to keep us functioning.

Already there is a little voice whispering in my ear, ‘just one hot shower…’.