Monday, 26 August 2019

War Rich, Peace Poor

Dear Reader,

Francis and I spent two delightful days with his daughter Rachel and her husband Richard in Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire.  On Saturday, we ventured forth to see Brockhampton, a medieval manor house with fantastic views over the surrounding countryside.  The house is relatively small and has been left by the National Trust much as it was, I imagine, in the war years.  Going into the study I was so reminded of my own family treasures, a wind up gramophone, and a large leather desk with an old fashioned black telephone on it.  If you are anywhere near there it is a very enjoyable outing.

Gilbert White, 1787, in Hampshire, August 27th, wrote in his journal:

'Timothy the tortoise, who has spent the last two months amidst the umbrageous forests of the 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.'

William Cowper, 1782, in Buckinghamshire, August 27th,  wrote:

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

Ubrageous means affording shade.  

Seagull news:  There has been so much news in the newspapers about the behaviour of seagulls this summer I am sure you have read it or seen it all yourselves.  But I did read an article by a posh journalist in the Daily Telegraph who seemed to imply that seagulls were noble birds and we should all love them.  As I said last week, each to his own.


War Rich, Peace Poor

When war broke out
the rich woman volunteered,
drove ambulances,
nursed wounded soldiers.
She was busy all day
but she was happy,
fulfilled, her eyes sparkled,
she smiled at everyone.

Then in 1945 peace
was declared.
Her jobs disappeared,
no gossip now over tea breaks,
no excitement, no bombs
or air raids to avoid.

She should have been happy
that peace was declared
but she felt sad and empty.


With very best wishes, Patricia

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


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.



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