Sunday, 18 August 2019

English Weather


                                                                                    August Weather

Dear Reader,
 I thought I would write a bit about the weather this week.  And how strange it has been in the last few weeks.  When we travelled down to Lyme Regis last month it was on the day that the temperature was 38 degrees. (It seems that July was the hottest month recorded in Europe since records began).  For myself I find the heat troublesome, and I never sit in the sun.

On August 22nd, 1800, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in her journal:

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

August 23rd, 1879, Richard Jefferies wrote:

Rain steady all morning: heavy till afternoon - caused local flood.  Evening dry but cloudy.  The wood pigeons are now in the wheat in flocks (they beat the ears with bill).

August 27th, 1782,  William Cowper wrote:

It is so cold this 27th of August that I shake in the green-house where I am writing.


Seagull news.  Seagulls are now annoying the citizens of Paris with the noise they make and the chaos they create.  In particular it is the Belleville fish market which is one of their favourite haunts. They also enjoy the safe nesting opportunities afforded by the city's rooftops. 

What is to be done?

                                                                                   *

English Weather

rain, mist and fog
make my hair curl
my skin goes clammy
affects my liver and temper
produce a chill, a cold, a cough

while the sun cheers me
lightens my heart and mood
fills the house
brightens the corners
warms my body
reminds me of holidays
when I was young

but English weather
and all its seasons
are my heritage
in my blood, my natural habitat

I don't want want perpetual sun
blue skies, or monsoon rains,
or ice or snow
all year round

English weather suits me best.

                                                                               *

With very best wishes, Patricia


Sunday, 11 August 2019

The First Dance










Dear Reader,



                                                                               Summer days 2019



The poem I have published today is about my first dance.  I remember it all so well.  My mother insisted that I went to it, a pony club do at the local memorial hall.  She always bought me the most frightful dresses which I hated, and curled my hair which I disliked even more.  And I wore the most horrible spectacles that remind me of the ones Barry Humphries wore as Dame Edna. So you can see it wasn't a very good beginning.

I have never, in these last 70 odd years, enjoyed going to parties.  I don't know why people do.  And now of course as I am going deaf I can't easily hear what people are saying to me, so that is a good excuse not to go.  Not that it matters since very little of interest is said at a party. Or at least not to me. Well each to his own I suppose.

Gull news:   Apparently if you stare into the eyes of a seagull he will not try, or not try too hard, to snatch your sandwich.   So that thought will cheer us all up when devouring our picnic at the beach.

                                                                            *

The First Dance

I dreaded the dance
nervous, shy and bespectacled
these occasions terrified me

I wore a pink satin dress
white satin shoes
and a pearl necklace

Dad said I looked great
but he would
he loved me

In the dance hall I stood by myself
for a while
then hurried to the loo

In the mirror I saw nervous
red parches round my neck
and down my arms
a tear ran down my cheek

The band was playing
I did it my way and
Simon, the boy next door
asked me to dance

We shuffle together
both wishing we were
dancing with someone other
I saw Antony, my dream man

dancing with a red-haired woman
close and intimate

Later Simon walked me home
we didn't speak
but at the door
bending, his lips touched my lips, briefly
then he turned, and was gone.

                                                                                    *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Realization

Dear Reader,

Those of us living in the UK must know about the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge and the trouble it is having caused by enormous downpours in a very short space of time.  Water pumps are working overtime to drain the Toddbrook Reservoir before its structural integrity fails and floods the town.

Thinking about this turn of events perhaps you didn't know that in l925 Dolgarrog, a small village in the Conway valley of North Wales, was devastated by 70 billion gallons of floodwater when two dams breached following weeks of heavy rain, killing 10 adults and six children.  The death toll would have been far higher were it not for the majority of the village having decamped to higher ground.

In 1864 the Dale Dyke dam on the edge of Sheffield burst causing a raging torrent of water which claimed the lives of at least 240 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes and businesses.  Even as far as Rotherham eyewitnesses reported trees, livestock and household furniture swept along in the floods.

The residents of Whaley Bridge must be waiting with bated breath today as the forecast for  tomorrow is more rain.

Best of luck, my friends.

                                                                          *

Realization

I am,
part of the whole.

I am
in the first light,
the bird's first song,
the sun's first dart
through the curtain crack,
in the music of summer trees.

I am
part of the alpha,
the birth,
the awakening,
the growing and spreading,
the throbbing of life.

I am part of the suffering,
hands blood-stained.
Part of the love
humanity shares and
of all good things.

I am
part of the omega,
the closing, the last light,
the call back from the dark
to the bright, eternal night.

                                                                       *



Very best wishes, Patricia     

Sunday, 21 July 2019

That was then










Dear Reader,

On July 15, 1786, Gilbert White wrote in his diary:

Made jellies, and jams of red currants.  Gathered broad beans...... The cat gets up on the roof of the house, and catches young bats as they come forth from behind the sheet of lead at the bottom of the chimney.

On July 15th, 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in her diary:

Arrived very hungry at Rievaulx......at an exquisitely neat farmhouse we got some boiled milk and bread; this strengthened us, and I went down to look at the ruins.  Thrushes were singing, cattle feeding among green-grown hillocks about the ruins.  These hillocks were scattered over with grovelets of wild roses and other shrubs, and covered with wild flowers.  I could have stayed in this solemn quiet spot till evening, without a thought of moving, but William was waiting for me, so in a quarter of an hour I went away.

                                                                        *

I will not be writing a blog next Sunday as I will be on holiday in Lyme Regis.

                                                                        *

That was Then

We made our way home
where the west wind blew
and the sun shone sometimes,
we walked where people
we met in the street
or in the country lanes
exchanged news,
people well known to us
growing from infants to children,
teenagers to married couples.

We walked by the Evenlode river
up into the fields where
butterflies gathered in the clover.
We saw horses grazing,
wheat fields full
of red rememberance poppies,
the first primroses and bluebells
in the spring, foxgloves,
cow parsley dressing the hedgerows,
summer roses,
the first autumn leaves
fluttering to the ground,
the winter snow.

He walked ahead,
I followed.
We held hands, embraced,

 but that was then.

                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Rose Coloured spectacles






Dear Reader,

There were two extraordinary stories in the newspaper this week, and both, I think, are absurd.

If you did read about them skip this bit but if you didn't here is the gist:

A Christian doctor who is suing the Department for Work and Pensions says he lost his job after a recruitment agent asked whether or not he would call a bearded man 'madam'.  "No I would not," he said.   He was then sacked for refusing to call people who were born male 'she' even if they now identify as female. He was suspended as a disability claim assessor said it would be irresponsible to address people based on preferred pronouns.
                                                                         
                                                                      *

The other story is about a senior Northern Ireland civil servant who was paid £10,000 compensation for having to walk past portraits of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in his line of duty  Mr. Hegarty's complaints are said to have led to the portraits being removed and replaced by pictures of the Queen meeting people.  One of those was Martin McGuinness, former Deputy first minister of Northern Ireland and an ex-IRA commander.   The case brought by the complainant was settled secretly and the sum of £10,000 was handed over,  presumably for hurt feelings and distress.

I just wonder where the UK is going.  It all seems so mad to me, and so sad.


                                                                      *

Rose Coloured Spectacles

For her he was such a hero,
caught the biggest fish,
rode the fastest horse,
made people laugh,
procured lots of money,
knew the elite
made them his friends,
no weaknesses were known
or seen.
Yes, he was somebody.

But who is without a flaw?
He was insensitive to others,
spoke out of turn, hurt feelings,
and didn't care or notice.

She sadly learnt her hero's crown
was not made of gold.
Found her spectacles had slipped,
that she needed a new pair
with clearer vision.


                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Moment




                                                                                         Nomad Bees


Dear Reader,

It seems that Britain's rarest bee is under threat because of habitat loss at the only location it is found.  It used to be scattered across southern England but is now only found in one place. The location is on the cliffs at Prawle Point in South Devon.    Nomads are known as 'cuckoo' bees as they lay their eggs in other bees' nests.  When the nomad's larvae hatches, it eats the pollen stores that the host bee gathered for its own young.  The nomad's choice of host is the long-horned bee, which is threatened itself, since it only feeds on a few wild flowers in the pea family such as everlasting pea and kidney vetch.

In the nomads last refuge in South Devon, the cliffs provide the perfect habitat for the long-horned bees to breed.  But even here, both species are disappearing.  Farm fields have squeezed closer to the cliffs, removing legume-rich grasslands the long-horned bees depend on.  If this continues, the nomad bee faces extinction in Britain.

With wild animals disappearing, and birds and butterflies fewer every year, what kind of world are we
leaving our grandchildren and great grand children?

                                                                          *

Moment

The church is cool from the summer sun,
organ music plays.

We walk down the aisle
enjoy the scent of lilies
filling the holy air
point out ruby stained-glass windows
depicting Christ on the cross,
examine oak and stone carvings
plaster heads of saints
the altar cloth rich in green and gold.

He runs up the pulpit steps
says a few words in Latin.
I laugh
then we kneel together in a back pew
say a prayer.

He takes my hand.

                                                                            *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 30 June 2019

A Proud Family Portrait

Dear Reader,







We went to visit Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire,  this week in lovely sunny weather, and what a treat after the rain of the last few days.  This was the summer home of William Morris,  signing a joint lease with Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the summer of 1871.  William loved the house as a work of true craftsmanship, totally unaltered and unspoilt and in harmony with the village and the surrounding countryside.  He considered it so natural in its setting as to be almost organic,  and it looked to him as if it had " grown up out of the soil".  Its beautiful gardens, with barns, dovecote, a meadow and stream, provided a constant source of inspiration.  In the house there is an outstanding collection of the possessions and works, including furniture, original textiles, pictures, carpets and ceramics.

We had lunch in the village pub, The Plough Inn, and it was excellent with good and quick service.

                                                                               

                                                                         *

A Proud Family Portrait

It wasn't a Reynolds or Gainsborough.
There were no silk or satin dresses,
no elaborate hairstyles, large jewels,
or velvet neck ribbons.
There was no piano,
and no one reading a book.

Sitting at a wooden table
the ladies wore dull cotton dresses,
the man a black suit.
There were no silk hats, no smiles.
Solemn-faced this family
was merchant class,
had succeeded with hard work.

They were a proud family
painted as they were,
to remind themselves
and others what they had achieved,
their dining table
a treasured possession,
their oak coffer,
their mahogany sideboard,
a Bible,
their precious gems.

                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia