When Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday clash | Nationwide | Ladies’ swimming places | Staples in compost | Marmalade

A woman receives ashes at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on Ash Wednesday in New York in 2013






A woman receives ashes at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Ash Wednesday in New York in 2013.
Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters

Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday only occasionally clash, as Rhik Samadder rightly points out (G2, 12 February). But it’s a great opportunity to smuggle heart-shaped crosses of ash on to the foreheads of the faithful; a reminder that true love is costly, painful and usually entails sacrifice.
Fr Alec Mitchell
Manchester

When Joe Garner, Nationwide’s CEO, appeared on the Today programme recently he was proud to emphasise Nationwide’s mutual status. So, doubly depressing to learn that, as well as refusing to provide housing co-ops (also mutuals) with mortgages, Nationwide has fuelled private sector rent rises by financing buy-to-let landlords (Report, 12 February).
Roger Halford
Knowle, West Midlands

An insider at the Ladies’ Pond in Hampstead Heath says “it has always been the only all-women swimming place in Britain” (Report, 10 February). But I well remember swimming at the Ladies Bathing Place on the Cam in 1965. Do others remember similar venues and delights?
Hilary Povey
London

Anna Lloyd (Letters, 12 February) need not worry about staples in her compost heap. Her shredder might not like them but any decent compost heap will soon gobble them up and may also add some useful iron to the final product.
Ron Brewer
Old Buckenham, Norfolk

I liked your masterclass marmalade article (Feast, 10 February), but feel you missed a couple of tricks. A tablespoon of olive oil will stop a froth forming; and why not use jam sugar which has pectin added? It makes the boiling time shorter, producing a better colour.
Judith Slater
Stamford, Lincolnshire

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