Sunday, 12 August 2018

Perfect Pace

Dear Reader,
                                                                   Old Harry Rocks in Dorset

I am having an operation on 22nd August and so won't be writing this blog again until the end of September.  I hope you all have a peaceful and happy end to the summer and feel refreshed and ready for the autumn to come, and that you will rejoin me then.

And thank you for all your support this year.
                                                                           
  
                                                                               *
   

Perfect Pace




Orphaned, blind
the small elephant,
cosy under kilm rug,
slowly follows the man's tapping stick
on their daily walk
through the bush.

They rest for a while.
The man shields
the small elephant
from the heat of the sun
with a big blue umbrella.
Unhurried, they walk on.

Oh, what envy for this man,
slowly walking, quietly tapping,
sleeping in a stable with the small,
blind elephant.
Each bound to the other,
with love.

                                                                           *
With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Spirit Suitcase

                                                                             A winter sea in Cornwall




Dear Reader,

This is from Francis Kilvert's diary, August 1873.

Went to see Mrs. Pearce at Landsend, Mrs. James Knight's sister.  She told me her sad story. Born in better circumstances, the daughter of a substantial but litigious farmer, her mother died while she was yet a child.  Then her husband died young leaving her with two children and a farm at Shaw to struggle with.  Her cows caught the distemper and she was forced to drench them with her own hands. Next the rent of her farm was suddenly and greatly raised by her own brother-in-law and she was in consequence thrown out of business and reduced to comparative poverty.  'Twas a sad history and when she had asked me about my own family and learnt that my Father and Mother were both living, she said with a sigh, 'How different some people's circumstances are'.  'I used,' she said, 'to look across the road to the churchyard where my husband was sleeping and think how he was lying at rest while I had all the cares of the farm and the family to struggle with.  And I thought my heart would break.'

                                                                          *
 A little Seagull news:   Apparently seagulls flock into cities when they know that a storm at sea is brewing.  So if you see them in your town perhaps an umbrella would be useful for the outing.

                                                                          *

I put this photograph on today's blog because the weather has been so hot, and it continues to be so,
that I thought the spray looked refreshing and cool.

                                                                          *

Spirit Suitcase

A sturdy key
locks the spirit
in its suitcase.
It floats an dances,
dives low, climbs high,
is forever candle-lit.

The suitcase, new, shines,
leather polished,
locks and fittings brass-bright,
unbruised.
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 very best wishes, Patricia

Photograph by Kaye Leggett

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Word-dancing




                                                                                       Shire Horses


Dear Reader,

You will remember  that I wrote about Shire horses last year but have just read a new piece about their welfare which I find most disconcerting.  These horses were once the powerhouse of Britain, driving ploughs, barges, trams. carriages and ale carts.   But Shire horses which came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 could be extinct within ten years.   Only 240 Shires, 199 Clydesdales and 25 Suffolks were born last year since these horses started dying out because of mechanisation after the Second World War.   However, the Shires - which were used for centuries in battle as living armoured tanks before more modern weapons made them obsolete - continue to play an important role in the Army, policing, equine therapy and even commercial logging.   The Shires are good riding animals as well and could become useful in an era where riders are becoming heavier.    The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is collecting genetic material to store so that it could be possible to bring back an extinct breed.

Wouldn't it be terrible shame if these beautiful horses were no more?  

                                                                             *

Word-dancing

The woman discovers the double act
of word-dancing at dinner,
recognizes with excitement
mutual friends, from books, from poetry,
from worlds explored, but only
known thus far in solitude.

Together they dance through imagined lands,
sharing knowledge,
throwing words back and forth
in light ethereal movements,
cerebral binding and bonding,
now the foxtrot, now the waltz.

For her these pleasures
are found at lunch parties, at dinner,
in libraries, on courses.
But where can the young word-dance?
Her grandson lunches on the run,
dines with Eastenders,
goes clubbing on solitary trips
too noisy, frightening, for word-dancing,
for cerebral binding and bonding,
now the foxtrot, now the waltz.

                                                                         *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Saturday, 21 July 2018

You will be there

Your favourite countryside pictures



Dear Reader,



I love making bread, kneading the dough and then it producing a lovely warm, delicious smell in the kitchen.  I have just read that the oldest bread in the world has been discovered in a Middle Eastern desert.  Its 14,400-year-old charred crumbs when found contained wild wheat, barley and oats.These findings show humans made bread from wild seeds long before we started growing crops some 4,000 years later.  This discovery was made at an archaeological site in the Black Desert of north-eastern Jordan.   The scientists who found them uncovered two well-preserved buildings each containing a circular stone fireplace within which the crumbs were found.   In the 24 crumbs analysed they found signs of grinding, sieving and kneading.  Previously the oldest evidence of bread making had come from a 9,000-year-old Neolithic site at Catalhoyuk in Turkey but the new discovery is the earliest evidence of baking. Obviously the Natufian people who lived then knew some of the good things in life.


*
You will be there

When I wake
wonder where I am
why my chest hurts

You will be there

When tears fall
as physic tells of treatment
radiotherapy, chemotherapy

You will be there

When I want loving
arms around me
kissing my lips, my body

And you will be 
ever there


*

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Crossing the Bar - Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Dear Reader,
                                                                                          Pictures of Rural England

One of the few poems I have learnt by heart of late is Alfred, Lord Tennyson's :  Crossing the Bar.  This poem is very poignant for me - it seems to touch somewhere inside my heart and by its end I am always in tears.  So I thought I would share it with you this week. 

More than any other Victorian writer, Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) has seemed the embodiment of his age, both to contemporaries and to modern readers.  In his own day he was said to be, with Queen Victoria and Gladstone, one of the most famous living persons, a reputation no other living poet writing in English ever had.  As official poetic spokesman for the reign of Victoria he felt called upon to celebrate a quickly changing industrial and mercantile world with which he felt little in common, for his deepest sympathies were called forth by an unaltered rural England; the conflict between what he thought; of as his duty to society and his allegiance to the eternal beauty of nature seems peculiarly Victorian.  Even his most severe critics have always recognised his lyrical gift for sound and cadence, a gift probably unequalled in the history of English poetry, but one so absolute that it has sometimes been mistaken for mere fantasy.

                                                                             *

The bar, by the way, is physically a bar of sand in shallow water.   That is all I can find out about it.
Tennyson wrote this poem three years before his death.


Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call to me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

                                                                          *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Ramparts

Dear Reader,







                                                                
                                                                               Thomas Hardy's Cottage


Francis and I visited Dorset this week, staying in a cottage near Lyme Regis.  Whilst there we visited Thomas Hardy's house in Higher Bockhampton.   It is a small cob and thatch building where he was born in 1840 and where he lived until he was 34.  During this time he wrote two novels:  Under the Greenwood Tree (1872) and Far From the Madding Crowd(1874).   He left home to marry Emma Gifford, the daughter of a solicitor.  The cottage was built in 1800 by his great-grandfather, and  has a typical cottage garden, the interior of the house has furniture of the period although not from the Hardy family.

Even although there were numerous other tourists in the house when we were there, I found it completely charming and peaceful.  It was all so simple and I think not much different from when Hardy lived there.  There were three small bedrooms, white washed, with quilts as bedspreads, china chamber pots, and a Bible by the beds.  All one wants in a bedroom I would say.  In the kitchen there was a small table and a big stove for cooking on, oh and a shelf or two. The floor was made of flagstones, now a faded pink and, I found it easy to imagine Thomas walking over them, pipe in mouth. I looked out of the very small window where he did his writing and saw flowers and woodland.  There I thought was his inspiration for his first novel: Under the Greenwood Tree.  And I really felt him there beside me.  If you are in Dorset and haven't been I do recommend it as a lovely outing.




                                                                          *

Ramparts

To keep people out,
medieval man built castle walls,
dug moats, constructed drawbridges.
"No admission" was understood
from oaken doors, black studded.

Modern man spoils streets,
violates the countryside
with "keep out" signs.
Things do not change.

Ramparts encircle people.
"No admission" written on their faces,
and looks are exchanged with
a private label.

These rejections, solid or implied
do not threaten me,
"Keep out" outdared by my skylark spirit.
It flies free.

                                                                        *

With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Katie's Angels


Dear Reader,





Just a little about myself this week to put you in the picture.  I have been diagnosed with lung cancer and. at the same time,  have found a wonderful new partner called Francis, a Professor of Social Psychology.  He is also a widower who nursed his wife through dementia, and is prepared to look after me through my obviously difficult times ahead.  I put the picture of the piper on the blog as Francis plays the bagpipe and did so for me, by a lake,  in the Forest of Dean this last lovely sunny week.  So good and bad news but I am determined to fight whatever comes up and to get through the eye of the storm.  

The blog will continue as usual next week. 

         *
                                                                             

The RSPB has given gulls a better press than they have been having lately.  Apparently they are intelligent and adaptable and we should learn to understand them.  'Clever gulls have learned that humans can be messy, leaving discarded food on the streets or in overflowing litter bins, and also that sometimes we will feed them' said a spokesperson for the RSPB.  Gulls are skilled scavengers, however they have a soft side and mate for life.  The male helps incubate the eggs, then later takes it in turn with the female to look after and feed the chicks. Obviously the modern male, then!


      *

Katie's Angels


At dawn, driving eastwards,
mist still covering the fields,
trees ribboned in cobwebs,
sky blue and white.

She saw a rabbit, a pigeon,
and two hen pheasants, 
but no cherubs, no bright light.

Much later, lost, tired,
rounding a corner she saw
gathered in the road
twenty white doves.

They flew up,
a breath of sunshine
tipping their wings.
Ecstatic, she recognised the sign,
recognised her angels.

                                                                             *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Not One of Us


                                                                                       Greensleeves



Dear Reader,

I thought you might enjoy this piece from Francis Kilvert's diary on Friday, 12th June,1874.

' Bathing yesterday and to-day.  Yesterday sea was very calm, but the wind has changed to the East and this morning a rough and troublesome sea came tumbling into the bay and plunging in foam upon the shore. The bay was full of white horses.  At Shanklin one has to adopt the detestable custom of bathing in drawers.  If ladies don't like to see men naked why don't they keep away from the sight? To-day I had a pair of drawers given to me which I could not keep on.  The rough waves stripped them off and tore them down round my ankles.  While thus fettered I was seized and flung down by a heavy sea which retreating suddenly left me lying naked on the sharp shingle from which I rose streaming with blood.   After this I took the wretched and dangerous rag off and, of course, there were some ladies looking on as I came up out of the water.'

                                                                                 *

There is a persistent belief that Greensleeves was composed by Henry VIII for his lover and future consort Anne Boleyn.  Boleyn allegedly rejected King Henry's attempts to seduce her and this rejection may be referred to in the song when the writer's love "cast me off discourteously". However the piece is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after Henry's death making it more likely to be Elizabethan in origin.

So what does the song mean?  One possible interpretation of the lyrics is that Lady Green Sleeves was a promiscuous young woman, perhaps a prostitute.  At the time the word 'green' has sexual connotations, most notably in the phrase ' a green gown' being a reference to the grass stains on a woman's dress from engaging in sexual intercourse outdoors.
                                                                                    *
It has to be said that things have changed dramatically in England in the last few hundred years.   For the better, I wonder?
                                                                                    *



Not one of us

A small figure at school in
a hot, strange land.  The
children left her alone,
she didn't speak their language
or know their games or rules.
She was not one of them.

Winter now and an English
boarding school, where the rules
were known, but not to her.
She was clumsy, wore spectacles,
couldn't tie her tie, dropped the netball.
Couldn't master dance steps gracefully
to the music of "Greensleeves',
was not an asset, wouldn't do.
She was not one of them.

She simply asked,
why do the safely-grounded
hear the beat of a terrified heart
and seek to silence it?  Is the beat
too loud, something not understood,
something to frighten?
Are things better when the group
destroys the alien in its midst?

She never knew,
she was not one of them.

                                                                            *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Betrayal

                           The Battle of Sedgemoor           Residents laundry hanging outside of a shop
                                                                                                              in Colyton

 Dear Reader,

I so enjoyed the story this week about Claire Mountjoy from the Devon village of Colyton, the single mother who hung her washing out to dry over her front door.  But local traders instructed her not to hang her washing out to dry because it would lower the tone of the neighbourhood.  In response to this instruction hundreds of residents have taken to displaying bras, nighties, pants and other item of laundry outside their  homes as a show of solidarity with Ms. Mountjoy.  The person who sent the letter claimed that the sight of her underwear was likely to offend passing tourists. The tourists must be easily offended and I think Ms. Mountjoy deserves a medal for showing initiative and brightening her front door up with her laundry.

Colyton first appeared as an ancient village around 700 AD and features in the Domesday Book as 'Culitone'.  It was called the most 'rebellious town in Devon' due to the number of its inhabitants who joined the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685.  The Monmouth Rebellion was also known as 'The Revolt of the West' and was an attempt to overthrown James II, The Duke of York.  Monmouth forces were unable to compete with the regular army and the rebellion ended with the defeat of Monmouth's army at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6th July, 1685.   Monmouth was executed for treason on 15th July, 1685.

                                                                            *

Betrayal

You were always there
for me, as I for you.
You read to me
you laughed with me
you told me stories
of magic and imagination.

We travelled north and south
to Scotland and the Western Isles
enjoyed Dorset, Devon, Cornwall.
Went to see the Lakes
peeped into Beatrix Potter's house
felt cold in Dove Cottage where
you put my hand in your pocket.

we were one heart beat

But you have gone.
Now I have to try to live
another life
with you not there,
with someone else perhaps
someone to fill the empty gap
you left me with

Please forgive me darling.

                                                                           *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Small Moments of Warmth

Dear Reader,
                                                                                  Lake Wanaka

This beautiful lake lies at the heart of the Otago Lakes in the lower South Island of New Zealand.  The township is situated in a glacier carved basin on the shores of the lake and is the gateway to the Aspiring National Park.  At its greatest extent the lake is 42 kilometres long.  Its widest point, at the southern end, is 10 kilometres.  The lakes western shore is lined with high peaks rising to over 2000 metres above sea level.

For Maori the Wanaka area was a natural crossroads. Until the nineteenth century Wanaka was visited by Ngai Tahu, the principal Maori tribe of the Southern Region of New Zealand.  They hunted eels and birds over summer returning to the east coast in reed boats.  Ngai Tahu use of the land was ended by attacks by North Island tribes.  In 1836, the Ngati Tama chief led a 100-person war party, armed with muskets, down the west coast and over the Haast Pass: they fell on the Ngai tahu encampment between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, capturing ten people and killing and eating two children.  Maori seasonal visits, no surprise, ceased after this.

                                                                               *

Small Moments of Warmth

I remember a little warmth
Joey trotting the family through Norfolk lanes,
the small yellow trap swaying in the sunshine.

I remember picnics on Yarmouth beach
with enough blue sky "to make a sailor's trouser".
We ate sucumber sandwiches.  Penguin biscuits.

I remember dark evenings,
the small warm flame from a Tilly lamp
lighting the kitchen, and sometimes for supper
we had chicken, chocolate mousse.

I remember a warm holiday in France
squeezed into the back of the car,
singing old thirties love songs.

But will these small moments of warmth,
at the end, be enough to heat and spilt
the heavy stones that circle the human heart,
allow salt tears to trickle through the cracks?

                                                                                *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Spring Fair

Dear Reader,

                                                                              Fairgrounds

Travelling fairs are 'the unwritten portion of the story of the people, bound to the life of a nation by the ties of religion, trade and pleasure'.  The tradition is living and dynamic and reflects the influence of popular culture in which it operates and, in many cases, it predates the history of the town or settlement in which it appears.

The majority of fairs held in the United Kingdom trace their ancestry back to charters and privileges granted in the Medieval period.  In the thirteenth century, the creation of fairs by royal charter was widespread, with the Crown making every attempt to create new fairs and to bring existing ones under their jurisdiction.  By the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the majority of English fairs had been granted charters and were re-organised to fall in line with their European counterparts.

Currently, over two hundred fairs take place every weekend in the United Kingdom with the Goose Fair in Nottingham and Hull Fair growing in size and popularity every year.

The poem I am publishing today is the story of one of my daughters who, when we went to a fair years ago, just disappeared.  She returned in the morning seemingly no worse for wear.  I never did find out where she went.

                                                                          *

Spring Fair

The young girl
and her mother, holding hands,
hurry down the hill
where the bright lights beckon,
see the big dippers hurtling,
painted horses swirling, yellow
swing boats diving, swooping,
smell the grease and diesel
hear the loud beat of music,
the children's screms.

Young men of the fair,
long-haired, dark, a little wild,
eye the girls with bright,
knowing looks.
The air is full of restlessness, of quickening,
the urgency to act
before the end of the night,
when morning light will move them on.

Dusk falls, the young firl drops her mother's hand,
stirred by the primal desire of early spring.
Running silently she disappears into the night, eager
to share what ancient fires of life can bring.

                                                                             *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Holding Hands

                             The Road Less Travelled                                             



Dear Reader,

From Gilbert White's diary, 1786, Hampshire

'Much gossamer.  The air is full of floating cotton from the willows'.


From Richard Jefferies, 1881, Surrey

'Do not like cloudless skies so much as the clouds tramping on one behind the other.  The cloudless sky does not look so large.  The sparkles on the water- like butterflies flapping their wings'.


I spent last week in beautiful Cornwall.  Shopped in Falmouth, walked on glorious beaches, visited a fantastic a garden, Trebah, which led right down to the sea, and ate some delicious fish at home and in restaurants.  Our cottage was in Flushing opposite Falmouth which we reached by way of a small ferry.  In fact I was a bit worried about falling down the slippery steps to get into it and was helped by daughter Tiffany and the Ferry Man.  We were so lucky with the weather, blue skies and warm sunshine.

Gossamer is a fine, filmy substance consisting of cobwebs spun by small spiders, seen especially in autumn.   Or it could be a light, thin, and insubstantial or delicate material or substance.
   
                                                                         *

Holding Hands


The rock pools were difficult
to climb through
but she held my hand, tightly,
encouraged me to walk on.
"Come on Mum" she would say
and we would wend our way
 back home, hand in hand.

Fast forward a few years
and I have a hospital visit.
She holds my hand tightly
encourages me to walk on.
"Come on Mum" she says
and we find the Radiology Dept.

Later holding hands tightly,
we find the car park
wend our way home.
                                                                            *
 
Very best wishes, Patricia

Photographs by Kaye Leggett





Sunday, 20 May 2018

Love unlocked




Dear Reader,

The theme this week has got to be love.  What an amazing wedding Prince Harry and Meghan had, beautiful is every way.  Bishop Michael Curry the head of the Episcopalian Church in America, who has been active in issues of social justice, speaking out on immigration policy and marriage equality, was magnificent and his message of Love was emotional and heart warming.  The Beatles song: "All you need is Love" was always my favourite and one I considered to be the real truth.  With loving friends and family, and if you are lucky a partner, most things can be resolved and even if this is not the case just being loved and loving is great support for getting through.   At least that is what I think.  Do write to me if you don't agree : patricia.huthellis@googlemail.com.


A line or two of:
 Sonnet 116   William Shakespeare

Love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks
But bears it out even to the edge of doom
If this be error and upon me prove'd
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

                                                                               *

Love Unlocked

What can I say about love
that has not been said?
I have little to add except
my sweetheart proffered
a unique key
to the door of possibilites
through loving me.

                                                                              *

Very best wishes and love perhaps, Patricia

Friday, 11 May 2018

Rooks



Dear Reader,




                                                                            Cornish Country Gardens





I am going to Cornwall this week so no time for research into something interesting, or at least, what I think is interesting! and I hope you do too.  So I will just up-date you on the seagull story.

Apparently junk food may not only be bad for humans - it could also make seagulls more aggressive,
according to a researcher looking at their behaviour.  This researcher, one Rebecca Lakin, is studying the impact of urban environment on young gulls across the city, and whether feasting on stolen fish and chips makes them increasingly angry. This study compares the chips and ice cream diet of urban gulls with the traditional menu of fish and clams of their island cousins.  In her research she explores how food digested by gulls will affect them later in life.


                                                                             *

Rooks

I was fourteen
when I first heard
the call of the rooks
caw-cawing
their eerie cries.

From a Cornish cottage garden
I walked down through
dark woods to the beach,
a remote place,
just dunes, sand, the sea
and me, a confused, angry teenager,
with the rooks caw-cawing in my ears
disturbing my thoughts.

Even now, in later years,
whenever I hear whispers from the wind,
or sea lapping over large grey stones
ever forward, ever backward,
glimpse a faraway horizon
and see twilight descending
darkening the sky,
the rooks in large black groups
flying high towards
their eveniong bed,
cawing, cawing, cawing,
my heart misses a beat
and an unexplained sadness
overcomes me.
                                                                           *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Universal Truth

Dear Reader,
                                                                             Foundling Hospital

             Foundlings

                                                                               Foundling Hospital today

I heard on Radio 4 this morning the story of a man who was a 'foundling' having been left on a street during World War 11.  Not knowing much about foundlings I researched and found the following information.   Foundling is an historic term applied to children, usually babies, that have been abandoned by parents and discovered and cared for by others.   Abandoned children were not unusual in the eighteenth century when the Foundling Hospital was established.  In Europe where Catholic-run institutions had been caring for orphans and foundlings from as early as the thirteenth century, the UK relied on the Poor Law to cater for needy families at a parish level.

By the Early 1700s the situation for struggling parents was particularly acute in London.   Mothers unable to care for their children as a result of poverty had few options, leading some to abandon their babies on doorsteps or outside churches or even on rubbish heaps.  This was the situation that confronted Thomas Coran on his return form America in 1704.  It took him seventeen years of dogged campaigning before he finally received a Royal Charter enabling him to establish a Foundling Hospital ' for the care and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children'.

Today, access to contraception, State support for families on low income and changed attitudes to illegitimacy mean that child abandonment is very unusual in the UK.  But in China it had been estimated that 10,000 children are abandoned every year.

                                                                            *

Universal Truth


Everyone knows
that Philip Larkin wrote:

"They fuck you up
your mum and dad,
they may not mean to
but they do".

And what Philip Larkin knew,
I know to be true.

                                                                              *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Havana Cigars



                                                                                         Sunsets




Dear Reader,

I often read articles in the newspapers about "How to be happy" with various pieces of advice on how to attain this condition.  For myself I think happiness is a bit elusive and am not absolutely able to understand why I am happy when I am, or even why I am not happy when I should be.  I am copying here an entry from Francis Kilvert's diary written on Monday, May 24th, 1875, and wish that I had had an experience such as he had.

"This afternoon I walked over to Lanhill.  As I came down from the hill into the valley across the golden meadows and along the flower scented hedges a great wave of emotion and happiness stirred and rose up within me.  I know not why I was so happy, nor what I was expecting, but I was in a delirium of joy, it was one of the supreme few moments of existence, a deep delicious draught from the strong sweet cup of life.  It came unsought unbidden, at the meadow stile, it was one of the flowers of happiness scattered for us and found unexpectedly by the wayside of life.  It came silently, suddenly, and it went as it came but it left a long lingering sunset, and I shall ever remember the place and the time in which such great happiness fell upon me".

                                                                              *

Havana Cigars

A man walked past me
smoking a cigar,
puffing out the smoke
with its unique aroma
of luxury and opulence.

What memories it brings.

Candle lit dinners eaten,
Cuban cigars passed round
in silver boxes,
nestling in sandalwood.
Talk was of politics, shooting, fishing,
and dubious stories
generating laughter amongst the men.

Cigars at race courses,
smoke and race horse sweat mingling.
Cigars after lunch and coffee,
the erotic smell of tobacco leaves
awakening desires.

Cigars enjoyed by old men
remembering younger days,
cigars in large country houses
with sunlit gardens embracing
the scent of gardenias and roses.
Evening dancing with
partners smelling of claret
and Cuban cigars.

A time of grandeur
of abundance,

another time.

                                                                      *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Shed


                                                                                   Wooden wheels



Dear Reader,

The Wheelwrights craft is amongst the oldest known to man, with the origins of the wheel dating back to prehistoric times.  It was probably Stone Age man who first realized that a rolling stone or a round log of wood moved more easily than an object which needed pulling or pushing.  The first wheels were simply solid discs, carved out of one lump of wood, with solid wheels made from three shaped planks dating from 5000 BC.  By the Roman period many wheels were very much as the Victorians were making them and wheelwrights have been making wheels in the same way since the early seventeenth century.  The only significant change today is the development of the 'dished wheel' which is shaped like a saucer and has the hollow side facing inwards.

                                                                                *



The Shed

The spider let himself down
from a crack in the rafters.
Time to spin another web,
catch flies, feed his children.
This old shed he loved
had housed his ancestors,
its essence was in his blood.
He knew well the aged wooden bench
laden with hand-worn tools,
the swallows yearly nesting place,
the bees hum and buzz.
He knew of the warmth from the earth floor,
from the hurricane lamp, lit on dark evenings,
of the dusty windows facing north,
and he knew he could swing on the ask spokes
sliced to the wheel hung on the hook.
He knew too that the moonlight
cast quiet shadow on the pile of logs,
home to small scuttling creatures.
He knew that nearby in a bed of shavings,
an old dog slept.
This restful shed scented with lavender and tar,
was a timeless place.

Clearing, cleaning, scraping, peeling,
the old shed becomes new.
Much buzzing and humming
as computers move in, reference books,
filing cabinets, printers, blaring telephones,
glaring lights, and stress.

No quiet shadows now
in the bright new shed
no cracks, no silence, and the spider.....dead.

                                                                          *

Very best wishes, Patricia                                                                           

Sunday, 15 April 2018

The House


                                                                                Traditional Rocking Horse

                                                                                      Rocking Horse


Dear Reader,


The history of the rocking horse can be traced back to the Middle Ages when a popular children's toy was the hobby horse - a fake horse's head attached to a long stick. The rocking horse in its current form is widely believed to have first appeared n the early 17th century.  It was around this time that bow rockers were invented, introducing rocking to the world of horses.  There were, however, improvements to be made to the first rocking horses.  Being made of solid wood they were heavy and their centre of gravity was high so they could easily topple over.  It was in the Victorian age that the 'safety stand' was introduced and the idea of making the horse hollow was conceived.  This made the horses lighter and more stable and gave birth to the idea of a secret compartment being fitted to the horses under belly.  The family heirloom horse could store photographs, mint coins, locks of baby hair and other such trinkets for future generations to find.   During this era the style of choice was the dappled grey rocking horse which was a favourite of Queen Victoria.

                                                                            *

Amazing Seagull story this week:   A seaside resort in Belgium is drugging seagulls with contraceptive pills to stop them being a nuisance.    Birth control will be hidden in feed left out for the seagulls, as part of a strategy that includes the use of fake eggs to fool maternal birds, and drones to detect their nests.   Apparently this move could be copied in Britain.  What next I wonder?

                                                                             *


The House

Was it the sound of Chopin
filling the street air,
escaping from a large keyhole
in the weathered front door,
or the first glimpse of pale
stone flooring and a rocking horse
in the hall corner, or was it the
Easter lilies rising tall out of
white namel jugs, and books
everywhere, everywhere?

Was it the ancient dog
in front of a small log fire,
protected by a staunch Victorian fireguard,
or the scrubbed table and gentian-blue
hyacinths peeking out of a copper bowl,
Rockingham pottery plates
each one different,
or the sculpture of an unknown woman
young, rounded smooth,
placed lovingly on a window shelf
catching a flicker of the January sun?

Or was it the smell of beef stew,
a nursery smell dredged from childhood,
or the sight of home-grown pears
floating in sugared juice?
O was it the feeling ;of safety
warmth and love
everywhere, everywhere
that overwhelmed me?

                                                                                *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Saturday, 7 April 2018

A Variation on the Tortoise and the Hare




                                                                              Jumping hare

                                                                                Tortoise

Dear Reader

I wrote today's poem when I was in a Poetry Workshop for three days.  It was all very intense and the last poem we were supposed to write had to do with myths, legends or fables.  I thought a small sense of humour would not go amiss and wrote today's poem: A Variation on the Tortoise and the Hare.

This is what I found out about tortoises.   The tortoise starts digging the ground to form its hybernaculum at the first sign of autumn.  It digs with its fore feet in a very slow motion and prefers swampy grounds where it could bury itself in mud.   It starts losing its appetite for food as the temperature drops until it stops eating altogether.  During hibernation it stops breathing as well.   The tortoise wakes up from hibernation in the spring but doesn't start eating immediately.  Gradually it gains its appetite and energy as the temperature warms up.  During hot summer days tortoises eat voraciously and spend many hours sleeping.   They start sleeping in late afternoon until late next morning.  Although tortoises love warm weather they avoid hot sun, hiding under green leaves or between vegetation.  Pet tortoises feed on grasses, leafy greens, flowers and some fruit.  Certain species consume worms, or insects and carrion in their normal habitat.

I have always thought hibernating in the winter months was a wonderful idea for myself.  Staying in a warm cosy bedroom under the blankets and sleeping until the spring came seems such a good idea,
especially this year with its gloomy, wet and damp weather going on and on and on........


                                                                           *

A Variation on the Tortoise and the Hare

The tortoise, shell-encased,
shy and timid, was fond of quiet places.
He ate lettuce sandwiches,
drank bottled water
and did deep breathing exercises.
He was slow alright,
but kept on "keeping one", getting there,
although a little fearful
of what life can bring.

Then, he discovered anxiety pills
and grew bolder,
he opinionated more,
rejected lettuce,
ate avocado and prawn cocktails,
drank vodka,
and tried his hand at salsa dancing.
Confidence changed him.
He became the hare.

Ah ha the hare.

This hare spoke his mind.
He jumped and danced
texted and mobiled friends,
arranged outings,
and had a ball.
But the Gods were watching him,
the sent a "don't forget card"
to remind him of his tortoise life,
his quiet life,
the life that was right and good
for a tortoise.

He threw the anxiety pills away
and slowly his shell grew back,
he started reading again,
he talked less,
thought more,
enjoyed lettuce sandwiches
and drank bottled water.
He became the tortoise
that he was meant to be.

                                                                              *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Realization

Dear Reader,




Easter is the most important date in the Christian calender, and we have just gone through Holy Week.  I have various emotions, but mostly sadness, during Good Friday when Christ was crucified,  and Easter Sunday when He rose again.  I always find the Saturday when he was buried in a cave, the most difficult to get through.  Where was He then, and who moved the stone so He could walk out the next morning?  I have an explanation from my daughter Tiffany who helped me yesterday with Bible references, showing that He was just asleep.  Well whatever the explanation I am always very glad when Easter Sunday dawns and He is resurrected. Alleluia.

                                                                         *

This is a piece from Gilbert White's journal (1771) in Hampshire.

"The face of the earth naked to a surprising degree.  Wheat hardly to be seen, and no signs of any grass: turnips all gone, and sheep in a starving way.  All provisions rising in price.  Farmers cannot sow for want of rain'.


Not quite like here then, when it seems to me that it has rained for about a month without stopping.

                                                                        *

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 the trees.

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

I am part of all suffering
hands blood-stained.
Part of 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.


                                                                    *

Happy Easter and Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 25 March 2018

England Dear to Me

 Dear Reader,

                                                                             Scones and strawberry jam
                                                                                        Foxgloves
                                                                                        Foxgloves

 I have tried very hard over the years to grow foxgloves but sadly it has not been a very successful venture,  I have had very little luck with growing them. But the sight of foxgloves growing in a wood make my heart leap up, spring has sprung and there are signs of new beginnings everywhere.  The foxglove, also called Digitalis purpurea is a common garden plant that contains, digitoxin, digoxin and other cardiac glycosides.  These are chemicals that affect the heart.  Foxgloves are poisonous and can be fatal even in small doses.  Digoxin is derived from the leaves of a digistalis plant. It makes the heart beat faster and with a more regular rhythm.  It is also used to treat atrial fibrillation and heart rhythm disorder of the atria (the upper chambers of the heart that allow blood flow into the heart).

Foxglove flowers are clusters of tubular shaped blooms in colours of white,lavender, yellow, pink, red and purple.  They are biennial which means that plants establish and grow leaves in the first year then flower and produce seeds in the second.


                                                                            *

England Dear to Me

It is the robins, blackbirds, blue tits,
hopping and grubbing in the garden
that lurch my heart
make England dear to me.
It is the velvet of green moss,
oak trees, old with history,
the first cowslips,
hedgerows filled with dog rose, foxgloves
and shy sweetpeas in china bowls.
It is finding tea rooms in small market towns,
enticing with homemade scones and strawberry jam,
or suddenly glimpsing church spires
inching their way to heaven,
It is finding a Norman church,
full with a thousand years of prayer,
and a quiet churchyard mothering its dead.
It is small country lanes, high hedged,
views of mauve hills stretching skywards,
sheep and lambs dotting the green,
and bleached Norfolk beaches,
silence only broken with a seagull's cry.
It is the people,
their sense of humour,
their way of saying "sorry" when you bump into them,
their fairness, and once or twice a year
their "letting go",
singing "Jerusalem" with tears and passion,

It is these things
that lurch my heart
make England dear to me.

                                                                                 *

With very best wishes, Patricia