Sunday, 27 September 2020

Blue Gingham Dress

 Dear Reader,

Do you know the poem 'Warning' by Jenny Joseph which said something on the lines of: when she was an old woman she was going to wear purple and a red hat which wouldn't suit her.  I had been looking in my wardrobe lately and found most of my clothes were either beige or navy blue or something dull. But in these dreary times I have been wanting to wear colourful clothes, like Jenny,  to cheer myself and everyone else up. Since I don't go shopping and had found nothing on line that I liked until I went to Lyme Regis and found lovely Soraya, on the beach. She was selling bright coloured jackets which I fell in love with immediately and bought five different colours.  They will go with my pinafore dresses and act as a cardigan.  Two of them were for my children who were very pleased with them.

In the photograph is Horatio the Lyme Regis mouse Francis bought for me.  Francis made him some trousers to go with his nautical jersey.  Horatio was very excited to read this week of the rat, Magawa, who was awarded a gold medal for 'life saving bravery' for his work detecting dangerous land mines. If possible Horatio would would like to do something similar, but I am not sure there is anything like that available here where we live.


From Gilbert White, 1771 in Hampshire

'Hedge-sparrow begins its winter note'.

From John Clare, 1824 in Northampton

'Took a walk in the fields, heard the harvest cricket and shrew-mouse uttering their little chickering songs among the crackling stubble'.


Blue Gingham Dress

She was wearing
a blue gingham dress
long-sleeved, with lace collar,
one summer evening in July.

A sweet smell from lilies
lavender bushes
roses and orange blossom
drifted on the air,

the sea sapphire
played its own repetitive tune
soft and enticing
and a southerly wind blew.

Suddenly he took her hand
drew her near
kissed her urgently
then came a call,

they separated
ran back to the house
her heart racing
knees weak, on fire.

The gingham dress
worn and faded now
hangs at the back of the cupboard,
but the kiss is till as fresh
as it was on that one
summer evening in July.


With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Spirit Suitcase

                                                                                        Spirit dancing


Dear Reader,

Oscar Wilde said "hearing about other people's happiness was a trifle dull"so keeping that in mind I won't bore you too much about my holiday in Lyme Regis last week. Sufficient to say we had marvelous sunny weather, a beautiful room over looking the sea, and good things to eat in small restaurants on the promenade.  I bought two beautiful Indian jackets from an Iranian girl called Soraya and made friends with her and her mother.  

I have never been that keen on holidays as I don't like crowds and feel happy and safe in my own house, but this holiday was different and marvelous.  We met an old friend who had lived in India for most of his life,  but now lives in Lyme and was a practising hypnotist. I asked him to hypnotise me to help with my anxiety and it was very successful. I hope this is not too much for you to take in but after months of shielding and staying in the house it was wonderful to get away for five days in the sun.


From Francis Kilvert's diary, 1870, in Radnorshire

'Another dense white fog which cleared off to cloudless blue and brilliant sunshine at 11.....Went to Bronith.   People at work in the orchard gathering up the windfall apples for early cider.   The smell of the apples very strong. Beyond the orchards the lone aspen was rustling loud and mournfully a lament for the departure of summer.  Called on the old soldier. He was with his wife in the garden digging and gathering red potatoes which turned up very large and sound.....The great round red potatoes lay thick, fresh and clean on the dark newly turned mould.....the sun grew low ......we heard distant shots at partridges'.


Spirit Suitcase

A sturdy key
locks the spirit
in its suitcase

It floats and dances,
dives low, climbs high,
is forever candle-lit. 

The suitcase, new, shines,
leather polished,
locks and fittings brass-bright,
But through use, it gets kicks,
scuffs, scratches, and slowly fades.
Its original shape
is just recognisable,
only just there

While the spirit dances on...... 



With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Was it chance

 Dear Reader,

There hasn't been too much to laugh at these last few weeks but in Friday's newspaper I read the following article and laughed and laughed at is total absurdity.  I am sorry if you saw yourself but it is for those didn't.

A Unisex hairdressing salon in Stroud, Glocestershire put an advertisement in the local paper stating that they were looking for a "happy" stylist to join the business. 'This is a busy, friendly small salon, so only happy, friendly stylist need apply.' it said. The owner, Mrs. Birch, said an official from the Department for Work and Pensions contacted her within an hour of the advertisement going into the paper to say she "couldn't use the word 'happy' as it discriminated against people who weren't happy.  Can you believe it? What will we hear next?  If you didn't laugh you would cry I suppose.


From Francis Kilvert, 1875,  in Wiltshire.

'The morning suddenly became glorious and we saw what had happened in the night.All night long millions of gossamer spiders had been spinning and the whole country was covered.....The gossamer webs gleamed and twinkled into crimson and gold and green, like the most exquisite shot-silk dress in the finest texture of gauzy silver wire.  I never saw anything like it or anything so exquisite as 'the Virgin's web' glowed with changing opal lights and glanced with all the colours of the rainbows.  At 4 o'clock Miss Meridith Brown and her beautiful sister Etty came over to afternoon tea wit us and a game of croqquet. 



Was it chance                        

that the girl
in the yellow jersey
bought herself a chocolate bar
at the station buffet
and then dropped it?

A man in blue jean jacket
picked it up.
They smiled, talked
missed their trains
and walked away into
a different life.

Was it chance
they saw in an old
newspaper an advertisement
for a cottage by the sea -
their dream home?

Chance can change our lives
does change our lives

we are what we are
where we have been
what we have done
when chance comes knocking.



With very best wishes, Patricia.

Photograph by Nikki Moran.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

A Grimsby Fisherman's Wife, Mrs Ethel Richardson

 Dear Reader,

I have been reading this week from The Spectator magazine an article about what makes us fat.  Those of us who are.  I have been tackling weight problems all my life and although some of the diets have worked and some have not, in the end after a few months, I am back where I started.  But finally at the age of eighty I have discovered what I must do to loose weight easily and not return to former size.  I bought a book about calories, every food you could possibly imagine is listed.  And all you have to do is find out how many calories you can eat each day for weight loss.  I can only eat 700 calories each day which is bad luck as I know women are supposed to eat 2000 calories a day to be healthy and thin.  Well I have now lost one and a half stone and counting.  Give it a try if you feel overweight.  It really works.


On September 1st, 1800, from Grasmere, S.T. Coleridge wrote 

'The beards of thistle and dandelions flying above the lonely mountains like life, and I saw them thro' the trees skimming the lake like swallows.'

On September 1st, 1823, William Cobbett in Kent wrote:

'From Tenterden I set off at five o'clock, and got to Appledore afer a most delightful ride, the highland upon my right, and the low land upon my left.  The fog was so thick and white along some of the low land,that I should have taken it for water, if little hills and trees had not risen up through it here and there.'



 A Grimsby Fisherman’s Wife

Mrs. Ethel Richardson

During the day she knitted
her life into rough wool sweaters.
Fear of north east gales,
- more forecast -
fear of no return,
and Friday night beatings,
were turned with a collar,
stitched with sober wools.
Knit one, purl one.
Men known to her, sea-taken;
the grief of loss for
a babe or two; and
winter storms and
treacherous rocks that
albatrossed a fisherman’s life,
were knitted into sleeves,
into polo necks.
Knit one, purl one.
At night from her narrow bed,
she knitted dreams of exotic places
warm from the southern sun.
She danced on beaches, cockle-free
and knitted love
into her dream sweaters,
with wools, brightly coloured;
corals, blues, pinks, and red.
By night she knitted pumpkins.
Knit one, pearl one.
With very best wishes, Patricia.
Photograph by Nikki Moran.






Sunday, 23 August 2020




Dear Reader,

 I really love this photograph.  It seems to me that the 'open road' and its possibilities are what we all, at some time in our lives, long for.  A way out of where we are.  I have often read about people who spend their lives dreaming of a cottage in the country with roses round the door.  But I suspect very few people get one and their life is a bit of a disappointment as a result.  

I think all the characters in my favourite books live down the road in this photograph, and can imagine Mr.Toad in his yellow caravan just round the bend.  Ratty and Mole will probably be walking alongside to keep Mr. Toad company and, of course, to keep him under control.



From Gilbert White, 1787, August 26th in Hampshire.

'Timothy the tortoise, who has spent the last two months amidst the umbrageous forests of asparagus-beds, begins now to be sensible of the chilly autumnal mornings; and therefore suns himself under the laurel-hedge, into which he retires at night.  He is become sluggish, and does not seem to take any food.'

From William Cobbett, 1826, August 28th in Wiltshire.

'(Five a.m.) A very fine morning.....My horse is ready; and the rooks have just gone off to the stubble fields.  These rooks rob the pigs; but they have a right to do it.  I wonder (upon my soul I do) that there is no lawyer, Scotchman, or Parson-Judge, to propose a law to punish the rooks for trespass.'





She always tried to be good
did her best in everything she did
but her best wasn't good enough

her mother was too busy
meeting drinking friends
her father didn't notice
he was too busy making films

and they didn't seem
to know about praise

but praise is so easy to give
and so difficult to get
why can't people see that
a word or two can change
a whole life view

can turn a bad black day
into a day to remember
when your heart fills
with love and thanks                                                    *

With best wishes, Patricia 


Photograph taken by Nikki Moran.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

I glimpsed a child



                                                                      Iraqi children

Dear Reader,


The hot weather this week was too much for me.  I shut all the curtains and blinds and sat in the sitting room in the virtual dark, with a fan on. I don't think the great heat suits the make up of some English people. For myself I never sit in the sun but if its rays do descend on me, I simply get red blotches and a headache.  So I was very glad when the thunderstorms came and with them the rain and it got cooler.  I can imagine what people waiting for the monsoons feel and why they are so delighted when the rains finally come.


I wrote today's poem when I read about the appalling time the Iraqi refugee children were having, with little food and often without parents, who had died or disappeared. I often thought about them and swear I saw one in my kitchen, she seemed so real to me.


From Dorothy Wordsworth's journal, August 22nd 1800 in Westmorland 

 'Very cold.  Baking in the morning, gathered pea seeds and took up - lighted a fire upstairs....Wind very high shaking the corn.' 


I glimpsed a child 

on the kitchen chair

feet dangling 

legs swinging


large brown eyes stared

from a dusty pale face

she didn't smile or speak


about seven years old I thought

Syrian perhaps or Iraqi

her clothes once pink and green

now mud stained and torn


her silver bracelets sparkling

in the sunlight


I made her Moroccan mint tea

offered her cake

kissed her cold cheek

dried her tears


I fetched more sugar

but on return I saw

the chair was empty

the child gone

dissolved in the morning air




With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Beach Mirror

Dear Reader

It seems to be a truism that everybody loves being on a beach. Something about the sea speaks to us and we are drawn to it. I used to spend the summer holidays on the beaches of North Norfolk and fell in love with that beautiful and special part of the world. To get to the beach I particularly liked there was a fairly long walk over the dykes to get there. So of course there were very few people about and I could enjoy a large sandy beach having climbed over the dunes which were in abundance. The poem I have put on the blog this week is very much something that happens to me, even today, when a young mother walks by me on a beach with her three children, reminding me of myself a long time ago. We were due to go to Lyme Regis in May but of course the holiday had to be cancelled due to you know what. Still we have booked again in September so with luck we will be able to go there and enjoy the lovely town and seaside.

From Dorothy Wordsworth, 1800 in Westmorland

'Rain in the night. I tied up scarlet beans, nailed the honeysuckles, etc etc.....I pulled a large basket of peas...
A very cold evening."

From Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877 in Devon

'Pretty farmyard - thatch casting sharp shadow on White-wash in the sun, and a village rising beyond, all in a comb; sharp shadows, bright clouds; sea striped with purple.

Beach Mirror

I see myself, a young woman,
recognize the long skirt,
the three blonde children,
one on her hip,
two holding her hands,
all laughing, hugging, arguing,
her hair dancing in the wind.

Swirling thoughts about time past
consume me.
I kick at pebbles,
pick up oyster shells,
gaze at the everlasting point between sea and sky.

I have aged, certainly,
but, feeling the warmth of the sun,
watching the sea and the tides,
it seems these things,
are ever the same as they were,
all those years ago.


Very best wishes, Patricia