Alexander Averin

Wednesday 30 May 2007

Lazy Day

Dear Diary,

When I awake it is to the song of the birds, the taste of the mildest honey in my tea and the sight of the colourful jay, one of my favourite birds, who is drinking at the riverside. He is around a lot now. I notice I am over-using the word ‘favourite’ and must either try and cut down or try and find an alternative. Where would we be without good old Roget? And every time I type the word favourite my dear old computer underlines it in red as she speaks American. Annoying or what?

The radio pulls me from my slumbers and soon brings me back to that real world. My blood pressure soon rises, can it be good for me I wonder? I pull the duvet over me and snuggle into it softness. Clean sheets last night. I always sleep better in clean sheets, free of all those negative energies cast off during those bad dream episodes.

I loved the ‘funny’ someone posted about the aliens and the sheep producing Bush, Condoleeza etc. Sorry was it Jacko? My memory..:>) I have forwarded it to my friends and relatives. One of them asked when Blair was born…… But no it was 1953... That’s not to say that aliens weren’t something to do with that conception though? :>))

Blessings today?

My friend Roget and his Thesaurus.

Diversity in all its shapes and forms. If we didn’t have it how dull life would be.

Biographies which let us dip into other peoples’ lives.

Birthdays - which will, for my granddaughter K, unlike me, be golden times; days she will always remember fondly.

The Hay on Wye Festival.

Colours and their words……scarlet, indigo, violet, cerise, grey.

Talking of words I added three more yesterday to my little blue book. Constance. (I have a borrower with that name and I love virtue names, I called my daughter Verity).

Changeling. (See Oldfield book recommendation above)

and Harbour (a word in the Walcott poem and which is also used in a poem of mine which I may post another day).

I could go on with words. Stop me now.

All is green about me, so healing and balancing. Prayerful in its peace.


10.26 and I portray the woman-in-a-dressing gown syndrome but I am not depressed honestly. I have just had a lie-in. I woke to hear the pips on Radio 4 and felt quite comfortable about it being eight o’ clock. Then horror of horrors, the dulcet tones of Libby Purves continued and continued, and no it wasn’t an a trailer for ‘Midweek’ it was the actual programme itself. It is nine o’clock! I must have gone back to sleep after the honey nectar. I told you my late nights would catch up with me…..

But I have slept well and I have slept deeply; the bad dreams have gone. Was there a full moon recently I wonder?, I should know, I usually keep up with the Moon’s phases and I know I always have vivid dreams during the week leading up to the time She is full.

I linger in bed a while longer as Mike Oldfield is on ‘Midweek’ (remember him?). I recently got a free copy of the classic ‘Tubular Bells’ with a newspaper and it brought back so many memories for me. I did of course once own it in vinyl but I haven’t kept any of those. ’Bells’ was a wonderful piece of music, of its time, and carried such magic in its melodies. Evenings alone and also evenings spent with special people, enjoying a drink or two. The Good Old Days eh? .

Mike Oldfield has a memoir out called ’Changeling’, this is one of my favourite words. Listening to Mike is interesting, he was an escapee to the wilds of Wales as well, absorbing Her healing qualities and curing his depression and drug addiction too by the sound of it. He mentioned how a shaft of sunlight could have such an effect and I know just what he means. He has an Irish mother too, I had not realised that, but it explains a lot. He says he grew up with legend, songs and music. But sadly his mother suffered from bipolar depression and her father was affected by his experiences in the First World War.

I firmly believe that we are drawn to places, to books and even to programmes. I would probably have missed this piece if I had got up earlier.

I apologise for the prominent counter at the top of this page. I am going to get an invisible one. I can’t understand how all these visitors from foreign climes are finding me in the ether! But sadly I have nil points from Ireland. My spiritual home after all!

Today is a free day, tomorrow is a long day at the library and then, joy of joys, I have nine days off, nine blank spaces to fill as I may. The weather forecast is for improved weather too so all my fingers are crossed. I will bring home two or three good books and spend the days reading, writing, in the garden, whatever. Might even take off, who knows. Trouble is I am like someone else who loves her home so much, I forget who, (I really am beyond help!). But I too get homesick just going to the postbox!

I have to catch up on my writing course and produce my assignment before the end of June. I am taking the OCA course in conjunction with writing my adoption ‘memoir’. I have a fantastic tutor, a published author, who has helped me so much in the craft of writing.

I am also going to do some more family tree work. I am chasing my paternal grandmother who was born in the north of England, Northumberland. I visited that county many years ago, before I knew my origins and loved it and remember being touched by the light in the region. Lindisfarne also left a strong impression on me.

Tomorrow my oldest granddaughter has a birthday, she will be eleven. To celebrate there is to be a visit to our little local cinema with a few best friends to see Pirates of the Caribbean and then an evening spent camping out in a field on their farm. Sounds like fun for an eleven year old. Today she is at the Hay Festival, she is a member of the Powys Writing Squad and they are having a writing workshop with famous authors. She is so lucky. And on Friday there is another. I am taking her to Hay again for a poetry workshop given by Derek Walcott no less, the winner of he Nobel Prize for Literature in the 1990’s. I wish I could be a fly on the wall. My daughter sent me one of his poems yesterday. Here it is.

Midsummer, Tobago

Broad sun-stoned beaches.

White heat.
A green river.

A bridge,
scorched yellow palms

from the summer-sleeping house
drowsing through August.

Days I have held,
days I have lost,

days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.

Derek Walcott

Let me know if you love it as much as I.

Well I must sign off now and get this show on the road. Katy my collie is nagging me to get up. M has offered to go into town for much-needed supplies so I need to write a few more words, but this time it is only a shopping list.

Bye for now,

Sunday 27 May 2007

Weekend So Far

The first painting is another by the Irish artist Paul Henry. Two fisherman going out in a curragh.

The second photos are of a home made magic lantern 'going up' at a party next door.

Talking of Ireland.
A Kerryman man and his wife were sitting in the living room and he said to her, "Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug." His wife got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all of his Guinness.

Dear Diary,

Saturday Morning.

Hard to wake as I have only had about five hours sleep as I was babysitting last night. Part of me hopes it will be a quiet morning in the library, it may well be as it is another Bank Holiday and people often think I will be closed on such weekends. But we only get the Easter Saturdays off.

But I had a lovely time with the girls though. S, E and I went through the farmyard and the sheds into the field to collect the eggs. Only one chicken, The Loner, was about, in the lambing shed so we set off to find the others. S, only nine but already a very competent farmer, was confident that she would find them and she did. She went straight to the cattle shed and the chicken were already on their way out coming to meet her. They dutifully followed her back to their house and lined up to go in. I was impressed! E and I collected the eggs; there were five and one was huge and bound to be a double yolker. S looks after the chickens single-handedly and the novelty hasn’t worn off, she is a very special girl. (I can say that as I am a granny and we grannies can boast to our heart’s content). She is also very artistic and before we went a-farming she had shown me her latest pics. I had been reading about watercolour pencils in the blogs that very day and S showed me her set which the other Nanny had bought her. I had never even heard of them before I read purple coo so it was another one of those coincidences. She also showed me her charcoals and ordinary colour pencils as well as the pastels that I bought her at Christmas.

K, the eldest granddaughter is very, very nearly 11 and she is a keen writer. She has joined the children’s group, the Powys Writing Squad and is off to the Hay Festival next week for a creative writing class, lucky girl.

We watched the DVD of Chitty Bang Bang and K, eleven next Thursday, a typical Gemini, a mine of information, informs me that this old screenplay is by Roald Dahl and it was written by Ian Fleming (news to me, but she is reading the DVD box). She then informs me of fiIms that Dick Van Dyke has been in relatively recently! I was never a lover of musicals and must admit none of us stayed the course. E was so tired she wanted to go to bed as did S a while later and shortly followed by K. I read a book to E, the youngest, who is five. It was Dogger by Shirley Hughes and I was taken back to the days of reading Alfie books to my own young children. I adore Hughes’ stories and illustrations. Then, story over, E is seemingly no longer tired and we have a very long and cosy conversation. E is just so wise-beyond-her-years and her vocabulary wide; she thinks deeply about everything she says and we cover a variety of subjects about events in her life; past, present and future.

So at 10.45 pm they were all tucked up and soon fast asleep.

I had a quick look at CCW, well you have to don’t you or withdrawal symptoms set in) and then settled down to watch Jonathan Ross, soon gave up on that one too. Later was Jools Holland, much more up my street, and I did enjoy. Then I found a book of Irish poetry which I had given to my daughter as a present a few years ago. I picked out a few gems to share with you another day.

When I drove home after 1am it was under a cold moon but She loomed large and low and lit my way home.

Saturday morning

I wake, just about.

The squirrels are en famille outside the window, totally at home now in the garden, especially by the bird table. The wood pigeons and the doves too are constant visitors as is that most attractive bird, the jay. Shy birds those jays, they rarely venture out of the woodland except at certain times of the year when they are seeking food to feed young I guess. Little jaylets. The heron is always around and the magpies. The red kites are circling overhead in our field as are the buzzards. The birds and creatures seem to take it in turns to seek sustenance or if they happen to be there together they co-exist happily. More often than not, however, they seem to have their own inbuilt clock.

I am beginning to think my home should be called the Bird Sanctuary not Ty ‘r Gof (house of the blacksmith).


Drizzly, cloudy, very cool.

A-reading-and-an-afternoon-nap-but-not-a-gardening kind of day. Very quiet around these parts considering it is a Bank Holiday.

M brings me tea very early after another late night. I had planned to go to bed earlier last night but we had an unexpected invite to go for a drink with two very dear friends. I prefer spur-of-the-moment social occasions and we enjoyed a happy evening in a local hostelry back in the Smallest Town where our friends live. Preparations are getting underway there for the Man V Horse which is in a fortnight’s time.

Our friends have exciting news as they have been to visit a medium for the first time and it was a productive visit. M and I (and other members of my family) have much experience of this sort of thing so we loved hearing B and C’s story.

After my tea I doze a lot and then start to listen to the Archers, drifting in and out of the programme and waking to Desert Island Discs with Paul McKenna. I fall asleep during Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven which is rather worrying. I finally wake having been assailed by dreams which were very strange and filled with frogs and fish and flowing rivers. And people losing their jobs (not me).

Hunger calls.

It is a relief to escape from my slumbers and I get up. A quick breakfast of two of S’s fresh eggs, soft-boiled, accompanied by Marmite soldiers and then I run a long warm and oily bath. I lay and listen to the Gardeners’ Question Time which is being broadcast straight from a wet n’ windy Hay Festival.


My much-loved wind-up radio.
The chap who invented it is a genius. I heard on the radio this morning that he failed his eleven-plus. Discussions on the radio confirmed my own belief that people who passed that, myself included, were coached for the exam. Back in the late fifties I was lucky enough to have a jewel of a teacher, a Miss Bray at an ordinary South London junior school and I am sure the massive preparations that she gave her pupils helped a lot of us succeed. Not only that but she was kindness personified. The school was Winterbourne in Thornton Heath and If anyone knows the family of this woman I would love to find them. Miss Bray is long gone now I would imagine (my maths is no good !). But I learned all about verbal reasoning that type of thing and she made it FUN.

More blessings.

Sunday mornings

Antiques Roadshow. Michael Aspel. Another South London person.

My Saturday Guardian. I love the Review section and the magazine. All very literary. I like the writers’ rooms section and today it is one of my very favourites, Edna O’Brien, no less.

Chocolate puddings. I will say no more. It is a craving thing.

Jack Savoretti who I hear is playing live in New York as a support to Corinne Bailey Rae. I would love to hear the reviews. Frances are you there?

Three more blessings for you as it is Sunday.

Mediums and all psychic people whose reach is beyond this Earth.

Baths, sometimes only a bath will do.

The Archers. But I am getting a little bored by story lines that seem to drag on. Same thing is happening on Eastenders (whoops have I confessed to another this-time-shameful addiction ?:>)

I was going to write about how to make magic flying lanterns but I am a little worried after reading Zoe’s post. (Zoe are you married to the fireman?)

Actually I know a very nice fireman (yes I know I am lucky girls!) whose advice I will seek before posting anything dangerous.

I will refrain from a long and rambling rant today and will only mention two words which are ‘police’ and ‘stop and question’ (that is not two is it? Told you I was no good at maths!). I believe it is the duty of all women of a certain age to rant, are we not the wise and so experienced ones after all? Some cultures recognise that fact but then some others would call us crones.

I had tried writing some haiku but the muse would not come. I love haiku. The best I can do is below and it is a few-syllables- short-of-a-haiku (bit like me really!).

A happy Sunday to you,

Dreams are prayers; I kid you not; long may we weave the dreams.

So I will sign off now but below is a little poem wot I wrote in the bath. It’s something about the influence of the water don’t you know? Elemental and all that.

Bye for now,


This was the family’s language
So lies within my soul
In stories and in dreams
My genes will speak its name
And in my sleep I speak it

At times ornate
Its garlands are spread
Bedecked and bejewelled
with long-stretched imagination
And sounds of banshees wailing
Keening to the wind
And spatterings of ghosts
With lies that are truths
And truths that deceive
(In the name of religion)
All but the all-knowing

Cait O’ Connor

Thursday 24 May 2007

Friday again

Dear Diary,

Thursday morning

I am waking up, listening to the radio and I hear the talk is of the benefits of sleep. I love my bed, I daren’t go near it during the day or I am tempted to get in it. But come the night-time, night owl that I am, I don't want to waste a moment and so I delay going to bed for as long as possible. Of course I suffer for it the next day and all the following days which, if I continue the pattern, the suffering builds up until I am exhausted.

According to the guy on the radio, whoever he is, none of us are getting enough sleep and we are all suffering from anxieties, tension and low cognitive function. So the Irish are right then when they say sleep is the answer to most problems. I must admit I feel (and at my age look!) a whole lot better if I go to bed early. Early for me being ten or eleven o’clock Very early is 9 o’clock.


Three wishes time.
Fairy godmother, I wish I didn’t have such busy dreams. I wish for good weather for a friend who is off to the Dordogne on Friday. Showers are forecast for every day; I hope they have got it wrong for her sake. I think too of all those folk who are suffering in hospital, or undergoing painful treatment. I have a couple of friends in that situation.


I am collecting my favourite films as they come to mind. So far I have:

Anything with Robert Mitchum in
The Railway Children
Lady and the Tramp (original version)
Beautiful Mind
Fahrenheit 9/11
Brief Encounter
The Snowman
Dead Poet’s Society
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Love Actually
Pretty Woman
The Remains of the Day
Notting Hill
Local Hero
You’ve got Mail
American Beauty
The English Patient
Bridget Jones Diary
The Green Mile
Field of Dreams
Whistle down the Wind
Calendar Girls
Rabbit Proof Fence
The Quiet Man
Ryan’s Daughter
Ladies in Lavender

I have changed my book choice for the book group to read in September as the library service can’t get any copies of Kaye Gibbon’s Charms for the Easy Life. If you have a copy they are selling at very high prices secondhand! I have chosen one of my other favourites instead which is Unless, the last book written by the Canadian author, the late Carol Shields. In 2002 it was short listed for the Orange prize and to my mind it should have won. Shields was one of my favourite writers and when she died it was such a loss to the literary scene. But there are still many other good Canadian and American authors.


My dinner guest list is almost ready. Is there a limit on numbers? Perhaps we could have several sittings on different days. It would be fun dividing the guests up into groups wouldn’t it?

Here’s mine, not complete yet.

Spike Milligan
Tony Benn
Nelson Mandela
(my three heroes)
The Dalai Lama
Mary Robinson, ex-president of Ireland
Eric Clapton
Robin Williams
Peter Ustinov
Princess Diana
Jo Brand
Alan Titchmarsh
Richard Branson
J K Rowling
Roald Dahl

I’m a bit low on females which is worrying. I will put my thinking cap on and try and think of a few more.

Of course you all know who will be cooking - JC!


A favourite poem of mine by Irish poet Padraic Colum 1881-

Old Woman of the Roads

O, to have a little house!

To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods against the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!
To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!
I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!
I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!
Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there's never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!
And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house - a house of my own
Out of the wind's and the rain's way.

Padraic Colum

Before I sign off,

Carol Shields wrote the book Unless when she knew she was terminally ill. There is a wonderful George Eliot quote at the beginning which is very ‘deep.’ yet somehow so comforting.

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.

I’ll leave you to think about that one.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 22 May 2007

Warning, may contain pictures, poems, quotes, rants, blessings, wishes , books and more…………………….

The pictures are by Trudi Finch (link at side). She has a studio in Pembrokeshire.

Dear Diary,

We can never obtain peace in the world if we neglect the inner world and don't make peace with ourselves. World peace must develop out of inner peace. Without inner peace it is impossible to achieve world peace, external peace. Weapons themselves do not act. They have not come out of the blue. Man has made them. But even given those weapons, those terrible weapons, they cannot act by themselves. As long as they are left alone in storage they cannot do any harm. A human being must use them. Someone must push the button. Satan, the evil powers, cannot push that button. Human beings must do it.
The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness, edited by Sidney Piburn
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

The skies are blue, the sun is creeping round the edge of the window. All is right with the world (I wish).

I have discovered from comments by fellow bloggers that Daniel Day Lewis and I are not alone in our revelations that looking out of windows is one of our favourite pastimes.

Outside is alive with life.

The woodpeckers are scaling the telegraph pole.

The little baby squirrel is under the bird table tucking into some nuts. I have named him ‘Diddy’ as he is so tiny. He visit’s the table alone and is scared of the birds (!) . I think his mum and dad are having a lie-in.

A pair of bullfinches are around a lot pecking in the gravel garden and by the riverside. I hope they’re not eating any flower seedlings. Something is attracting them. I must get the Bird Bible out and bone up on their eating habits. I love the old faithful Readers Digest Guide to British Birds, you can’t beat it.

My French lavender is doing really well in the gravel garden and my oriental poppy plant has at least fourteen blooms, one is already in flower, delicate, papery and a cheerful red, such a welcome sight to come home to.


As soon as Finn and Katy know I am awake they squeeze round to my side of the bed which is nearly up against the window and we have a little cuddle.

My first thoughts on waking are always to check my internal memory as to what day of the week it is. Working every other day does that to me and I would hate to get it wrong! M is retired you see and so I can’t tell the time by him, he has no routine. So each morning I have to banish my always-vivid dreams, collect my thoughts and plan my day.

But today I start daydreaming instead and as soon as I am a little bit with-it I reach for my pen and start scribbling.
All is helped of course by dear M who brings me a giant white china mug of honey-laced tea, (lashings of honey don’t you know!). Honey is a true energy-giver. I can vouch for that as I am definitely NOT a morning person. I could stay awake all night and sleep all day given half a chance.

Today is a work day. I am feeling tired but it’s my own damned fault as I was up till 1.15 last night! I was involved with another addiction of mine which is geneaology (I always find this word hard to spell) also known as chasing dead people. I have nicked this lovely phrase from a fellow blogger.

And then just before I went to bed last night I caught up with the day’s blogs. I am trying to read more of them. Everyone else seems to find the time to do so much commenting, even mothers with children who live much busier lives than me; they put me to shame. I’m glad I read them. Each one has its own point of interest for me. Aren’t we lucky that we can reach into each other’s lives? To be amongst like-minded people is such a joy. Thank you CL for bringing us together We owe them that much at least don’t you think?

They have a nerve printing stuff from a couple of the blogs though don’t they and twisting it all about? (see CCW comments - I have just realised that CCW also stands for the Countryside Council for Wales!). I see they are wrapping their mag in a plastic sleeve. I hate that; not being able to flick through before deciding whether to purchase. Not that I would buy CL again anyway. They are winners of Lifestyle Magazine of the Year. I wonder whose lifestyle? Certainly not real people who live in the real country.

But the good thing is that reading your blogs is a thousand times more interesting than reading their magazine which, apart from everything else, had become overgrown with glossy advertisements. That reminds me of another pet hate of mine which is fashion pages filled with clothes that cost hundreds of pounds per item, even the sunglasses! What sort of people can feel comfortable spending that amount of money on clothes? The price tags are obscene to me in a world where so many people are starving.

Talking of rants.
As I write this I am hearing on the Today programme that there is an ‘undeclared war’ going on with Iran. God save us from George Bush.

Did anyone see the Panorama programme about Wifi masts and their radiation effects? That’s another worry.

Now I am hearing of talking CCTV’s which have been installed somewhere as a pilot. There are voices which will tell people off now. They are planned for everywhere! We are the most watched country in the world.

The UK gets more Orwellian by the day.

Wishes this morning? Fairy Godmother where are you?
I have only two.
Peace in the world.
Freedom from Big Brother.


Just for your information our book group choice for June is The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan, an Irish American lady. It’s another one on the Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus theory and should make for a lively discussion. We always have really stimulating evenings in our group. I’m so glad I got one going.

Blesssings today?

Evening phone calls and emails from family.

The joy of giving.

The joy of receiving.

New friends, new family, new discoveries.

Bees without which we’d have no flowers or gardens.

I must sign off now even though I won’t be able to type it up till tonight and by the time you read it, it will be old news and who knows what will have occurred since I put pen to paper.

Time now to shower, do my yoga, dress, eat my porridge, then drive to work through traffic-free roads whose banks are lined with bluebells and cow parsley and with the views of the mountains all around.

Not a bad life really,

Thanks for listening,


Before I go here is a poem.


Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

Czeslaw Milosz

Monday 21 May 2007

Monday Morning Musings

Dear Diary,

The eye by means of which God sees me is the same eye by means of which I see God.
Meister Eckhart

I have posted some more pics by a favourite artist, Paula Nightingale. I’ve just discovered she lives on the Suffolk coast, so some of you may know her? A lot of her paintings portray people reading, that I love too.

I am writing this sitting on my bed with one eye out the window watching all the birds coming and going. The dipper is busy by the river and the wagtails are all over the show, yesterday they were collecting nesting material from the back garden, not sure why as it is a bit late I would have thought. Molehills are popping up in odd places. I don’t mind, unlike M who gets rid of them, I like moles and the soil they push up is fantastic for potting purposes. As Horatio Clare said on Woman’s Hour, when he was growing up in the Welsh hills, all the indigenous wildlife became part of them and their family, he felt they shared the land with them. I feel just the same.

I read a quote recently that Daniel Day Lewis spends a lot of time ‘looking out of windows’. I know just what he means; it is a form of meditation really and I could write a book about the life I see from mine. I could spend all day (and all night with suitable lighting) and there would always be something to look at and comment upon. It would be better than the telly at the moment!

I had another weeding session yesterday; went out late afternoon and did a couple of hours. The weather was lovely all day and it was a pleasure to be outside. Only trouble was I had to come in and cook a meal, why can’t I be an organised, plan-ahead sort of person, the type who would have had something tasty bubbling away in the oven, something that I had made earlier :>)) I never was and never will be one of those, I am a last minute kind of girl.

Still when we finally sat down to eat I did get to watch the Chelsea Flower Show on the telly and St Alan was presenting (my friends and family think I am mad because I like Alan Titchmarsh). I know a lot of people can’t stand him but I have learned a lot of gardening tips from him.

I’ve still got the dreaded ground elder bed to face, when I am feeling strong. I too have the blue knapweed, thank you for telling me its name (forgive me I have forgotten who it was now). I love it as well. I saw one of those orange tip butterflies and there were loads of bees, the wild ones and the bumbley type as well. That was encouraging. They seem to like my ‘wild’ garden. (I call it that and it covers a multitude of sins).

My garden has too much lady’s mantle (alchemilla mollis). She spreads herself about a bit doesn’t she? But she makes up for it when the sparkling raindrops nestle in her leaves, then she is just magical. The other plants that are taking over are the hardy geraniums. I have a few different types and when in flower the beds can resemble an impressionist painting, very beautiful and a bonus is that they flower for months. Even I must admit that they are taking more than their fair share of space. But I find it hard to be ruthless and ’thin out’ any plant that is living, do you know what I mean? I have lots of aquilegia(e) too, (columbine or granny’s bonnets I love all their names); they also hop about which is good. They have grown so tall this year and unfortunately the strong winds which we have had recently have knocked them sideways. I have varying-shades-of-pink ones and PURPLE ones too, need I say which are my favourites?

My mint has also run riot and has taken over another bed in the back garden. I have so much I could almost sell it commercially! Drastic action called for I feel.

The Welsh poppies too have almost colonised the bed under the windows at the front of the cottage. It took so long to get them to grow in my garden but now they are popping up all over.

I just adore all types of poppies.

I can’t find Jane’s comments list on favourite plants so I will post mine here.


Fuchsias, especially the Irish hedge variety
Lilies of the valley (muguets de bois I like to call them)

Veg/herbs included

Runner beans
Watercress (I wish)

Aren’t I good Jane? It was difficult but I kept it to ten in each category!

The sheep have been taken from the field and so I took the dogs for what I thought would be a welcome racearound. However all they wanted to do was eat the sheep’s doings! I can train Katy not to do it but Finn, the cunning lurcher that he is, will do it behind my back. So I think I will leave it for a while; wait for the fertiliser to seep into the ground before I return.

Blessings today?

It’s a day off and I am going to make the most of it as I have a four day week this week. I have to go to an all day group meeting on Wednesday which will keep me from my garden and from you.

C, a dear lady who is the relief librarian for me. I am planning a few days off soon, probably at half term.

Meditation. I keep meaning to have a proper daily session.

The river is a form in itself as I often watch it flowing past. It reminds me of the ‘Tibetan logs’ method of meditation where you are meant to imagine logs flowing past in a river. I tend to try and visualise the river (which as I look at it from the cottage flows left to right), taking away all my worries or any negativity.

Geneaology contacts made through the net who have helped a lot in my family tree detective work.

One more? It has to be five.

The many artists of all persuasions who give so much to our lives.

So today before I go out for another weeding session I will make sure that the dinner is ‘in hand’ or is something quick and easy. Talking of which the fridge is empty and the freezer getting that way. ………

It will have to be a short poem.


Not everyone would choose her
She is a colour
A poppy in life’s garden
You have to seek her out
Not common, not bright yellow, but unusual
Softly, quietly and delicately mauve. So beautiful
A Paddy’s Pride? She’d flatter her own skin-tone

But I think she is a jewel
I love her
In a floaty dress, low-necked, short-sleeved and silky
Hard to imitate, she is so different
And worn in summer only

Cait O’Connor

Sunday 20 May 2007

Sunday Morning

Dear Diary,

Good Sunday morning,

The pics. are by a favourite of mine, the Belfast painter, Paul Henry. When I win the lottery I will collect all his paintings!

There is also one of the Welsh coast (with a peregrine). I am not sure of the artist, I will get back to you on that.

It will be a short blog today. I do solemnly promise not to get carried away. I have other writing to attend to and many, many other things I should be doing instead of sitting in front of this computer. The sun is shining after all. I had a headache all day yesterday so the day was wasted…..

The martins are busy outside the study window. I may be imagining it but there seem to be a few more of them. The collared doves too are wandering around on the riverbank collecting food, are there wee dovelets in the nest, I wonder?

I laid in bed this morning and my thoughts turned to dreams and then to wishes. I stopped myself at the first three that came into my head.

I wished the grass would shrink or just grow to a sensible length and stop growing.

I wished that Madeleine could be found alive.

I wished that hours would last at least twice as long.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could each have our very own fairy godmother who would grant us three wishes every morning when we awoke?

Why can’t life be more like the fairy tale that always has a happy ending?

Before I go, instead of a poem, I just wanted to share a little piece I read in the Guardian last week.

From the Guardian 12.5.07

On Wales

Why I love it by Niall Griffiths, author

Because it’s like nowhere else on earth. Because the mountains aren’t remote humps on the horizon; they’re what people live on and among. Because those airborne crucifixes that soar and mewl in the mist are predatory birds. Because water is the country’s blood; the rivers and sea lap at your ankles and elbows wherever you are. Because of the food; the laver bread and cockles and cheeses and lamb and samphire and herbs and fish which have been prepared in the same way for centuries. Because the language’s refusal to die offends those who should be offended. Because of the calmness to be found on peaks and pinnacles. Because of the age of the rocks, pocked and stippled by the movements of the very first multi-cellular creatures. Because you can drive from Amlwwch to Newport in a day and see mountain and marsh and plain and moor and valley and city and mine and dam and lake and river and sea-cliff and bog on that one short journey. Because the country once drove Blair to blaspheme. Because it can be home.

I wish I had written that but that’s what good writing should be shouldn’t it, an inspiration?

Bye for now,

Friday 18 May 2007

Friday's musings

Dear Diary,

The roses are for Lesley.

I actually wrote this yesterday but as it was my ‘long day’ at the library, I haven’t got round to bashing it out till now, so some bits, like the next snippet, may be ‘old news’.

I enjoyed the Thought for the Day on the Today programme on Radio 4 by Dr Giles Fraser but now I have forgotten what it was about so I cannot tell you the subject of his talk. I must check if they keep transcripts. I don’t know what/who he is but remember being touched by his words.

It was actually a quiet day in the library yesterday, the first day for months when I was able to catch up on jobs and dull but necessary paperwork which I hadn’t had time for before. I had a good tidying and dusting session as well. When I started working there my sister in law asked me if I would have to dust the library (strange question I thought) but indeed I do. The cleaner only has time to empty the bins and do a quick hoover.

Changing Rooms.

As you can see I have gone blue, (no not from cyanosis but on the page). I was bored with the plainness of the white and felt like a change. Typically female M would say, we are always moving round furniture and changing rooms. I have to say he is right there, it is something we women love doing, do you not agree? Even my first granddaughter was telling us the other day that she wants to move her bedroom around.

Do you like the blue or did you prefer the white? As if you care :>)?

Thank you for reminding me that today is the Big Weed day At 4 o’ clock I will be out in the garden for the pulling session (perhaps I shouldn’t use that word?) and we shall all be thinking of Blossom and of course Lesley.


Good news which my son received yesterday. I won’t go into details but it was to do with his work.

Duvets. Do any of you remember the days of sheets and eiderdowns or quilts? And those awful candlewick bedspreads? Whoops, I’m showing my age again.

Reading glasses, methinks they should be number one blessing as I couldn’t function without them. It’ll be a hearing aid next :>)

My three beautiful granddaughters who are the light of my life. They are growing up too quickly. Bless them.

Emails. I am probably repeating myself but how dull life was before this wonderful way of communicating.

Post Offices. It may be a contradiction to the last blessing but we still need these, especially here in these rural backwaters. Why is it that everything we value is under threat? Here I go again. Perhaps I/we should start a rant list?

N, my writing tutor who is so wise, points out the glaringly obvious and guides me in the right direction.

Which leads me on…..

We are lucky if we have people like this in our life and of course those close relatives or very dear friends who act as ‘guides’ in a personal capacity, often without realising they are doing so. People whose opinions we respect when we can’t see the wood for the trees. We have our spiritual guides too, our unseen helpers, of that I am more than certain.

Garlic. Can’t imagine life without it, yet when I was growing up it was unheard of, well in S.E. London suburbia anyway!
I feel a list coming on but it might have to go on the CCW page. We have a big ‘comments’ total to beat there. Famous people, I didn’t join in there, I was feeling a little disgruntled about something, nothing to do with the site, so I didn’t get drawn in. I used to live among the ‘rich and famous’ land (Surrey/Sussex borders) before we escaped to Wales. People I loved like Eric Clapton, (I have always been a great fan of his), Phil Collins etc etc. Phil lived opposite a very dear friend of mine who I lost to breast cancer (God bless you June) and he was always in her kitchen having cups of tea. Their sons played together. It was when he was at the height of his fame. She was completely unaffected; she wasn’t even into pop music and couldn’t understand why people raved about him. His then-wife offered to help me one day when I was struggling with my shopping trolley o in the supermarket, she didn’t know me. A sweet lady. Phil did a lot for our primary school, he is a real sweetie too. Both Phil and dear Eric were more than generous when I was fundraising for our playgroup. As was Mike Rutherford who drove up to London especially to get a gold disc to donate to our celebrity auction. Several of the celebrities in the area donated stuff, I won’t list them all. Penelope Keith donated a measly nothing-special headscarf which I thought very amusing. Mike Reid (Read?) the DJ didn’t reply. When I was in my first job I made tea for Terry Scott, remember him? As a child I walked my dog with Peter Sarstedt, remember him? Where do you go to my Lovely? His brother was Eden Kane, remember him? They lived just down the road.

Talking of Eric Clapton, it reminds me of a true story. An old girlfriend of mine, G, (a Barry Manilow fan, which might explain a lot of what follows!) had a husband D, who was a very keen fisherman, as of course was Eric. They met up when D, a plumber, was working at Eric’s house, got chatting and decided to go fishing together, to somewhere on the South coast, I forget where. Roger Daltrey’s fishing place I think. Anyway they spent a day, just the two of them, fishing and on the way back stopped at a pub for a swift one. They then finally got to talking of things other than fishing and D, who, although not at all old, was a real old fashioned thing, asked Eric

‘What do you do for a job actually?

And Eric said ‘I PLAY GUITAR’ (how’s that for

And D says ‘Oh, are you in a group then?’

I think D dined out on that story for quite a while.

Food Matters

We may live without poetry, music and art;

We may live without conscience,

and live without heart;

We may live without friends;

we may live without books;

But civilized man cannot live without cooks.

Owen Meredith, 'Lucile’


It’s like the subway

In the middle of rush hour

Where some year old mayonnaise

Nudges yesterday’s tuna

For a place in this coveted no-man’s-land

Where leftovers reign supreme

And for this food

It’s the end of the line.

Ellen Fuchs

(Note the the poet’s surname, I’d change it wouldn’t you? :>))

Back to garlic and lists now.

Shall we share our favourite foods/meals/can’t live without ingredients. Might be useful for those days when my mind goes blank and I can’t think of a single meal to cook.

(Does anyone know why dogs whine when an harmonica is playing? I have one playing on the blog and Finn is howling in accompaniament).

Oh thank God it is Paul Weller now, one of my faves. He was in Jam, as was a son of someone I know.

My first granddaughter K is a list maker too like me. I can see a lot of myself in her, except for the fact that she is blossoming in a happy childhood with her own two wonderful parents. K’s Moon is in Scorpio too as is mine, so emotionally we would be similar. I am a great believer in astrology. For my sins I am married to a Scorpio :>))

I do actually have lists of recipes (well I would wouldn’t I?)
and lots of cookbooks on the shelf but I’m sure you know the feeling. When M asks ‘What’s for dinner and I haven’t a b***** clue, I pretend I am on Ready Steady Cook and throw a meal together. Or I say we have got bread and pullet!

My first three must-have ingredients would be garlic, onions and chilli sauce. A special sauce from Barbados which my brother and sister-in-law bring back from visits to their son and his family who live there. No other sauce is as good and S and I are addicted. Chilli IS addictive but it is good for you being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal/viral. S has a friend studying in the Caribbean, Grenada, and she also brought back a nice sauce, almost as good as the Barbadian.

My fave recipe may well be the onion, bacon and potato hotpot a la Pauper’s Cookbook by Jocasta Innes which I mentioned in a previous blog (perhaps I have the taste for potatoes as I am Irish).

I am drawn to vegetarianism (I hate that word, you don’t have meatarians do you? Don’t get me started…) I didn’t eat meat for two years and if I lived alone probably wouldn’t eat it. However I do enjoy a good roast dinner and sometimes it seems to be what I need to eat, do you understand? I smelt my daughter’s lovely roast pork dinner cooking the other day, she was preparing a special meal as it was A’s birthday and it reminded me that we haven’t had a roast for ages. I do enjoy them. Especially in the winter.

(Talk of the Devil, Phil is singing to me now, I Wish it would Rain. No actually Phil I wish it would stop. We have a weeding session later…)

Perhaps I will post this in the main page.

A Call for Recipe Suggestions.

No-one has commented on the boring Purplecoo skool dinners by the way. Who is going to be brave and stand up to Headmistress? Has it to be me? See my blog for suggestions, ideas we could pass on? Let us know your favourite must-have ingredients and also your favourite meals. As for breakfasts, I volunteer to make the porridge in future, I don’t want to brag but I am a connoisseur and you would never guess that I use soya milk. Some of us are lactose-intolerant! I promise to add golden syrup and how about masses and masses chocolate chips? And a huge lacing of Irish whisky?

I’ll sign off now.

Enough said.

But there is just time for a poem. I have decided every blog of mine needs one. It feels undressed without it. Quotations are all very well but they are not filling enough.

I love it but it is wistful for me, not actual, probably about grandmothers I wish I had known or met.


The scent of my Albertine roses
Reminds me of
Ancient linen cupboards owned by great
Dark shiny wood, the aroma of ancient polish
Old fashioned eiderdowns
Lavender talcum powder
Ironed, lace-edged, monogrammed handkerchiefs
Ottomans full of long-forgotten children’s clothes
Mementoes between the layers
Folded tablecloths and marching napkins
Afternoons drinking tea with aunts
Ham sandwiches with the crusts off
Flowery teacups, saucers, silver teaspoons
Sunday afternoons
Windows with lace net curtains
Windowsills bright with red geraniums
A wireless on a special shelf high on the wall
The way my grandmother said “No thank you I’ve
Had quite sufficient
Her papery skin, her Irish eyes.

Julia Fairlie

Bye for now,

Wednesday 16 May 2007

A Long Blog

Oh God, it’s another long one. Bear with me. I start off with a few notes and go off on a ramble……. it’s my day off you see and procrastination must be part of it as there are jobs I hate to do later. Ouch!

No poems today but, for a change, a spattering of my favourite quotations.

Dear Diary,

Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly

They say animals are our guides to the spiritual world and spiritually they are more advanced than we humans. I am inclined to agree.

But I disagree with those other so-called animal experts who say dogs do not understand words. I was thinking of all the words that I know Finn, our lurcher, undoubtedly recognises.

So far I have listed the following:

S (son’s name)
V (daughter’s name)
K (other dog’s name)
Lay Down
Where’s Daddy?
Go and Find Daddy
Wee Wee
Get Down
Shake a Paw
Naughty Boy
Who’s That?
See Them Off!

There are others but these are those I can think of so far. It is NOT tone of voice; it is the words that are recognised. Do you agree?

I think Finn knows I am writing about him because he has come and laid down beside me…….

Dogs are telepathic. They read my mind and I only have to think of taking them for a walk for example and they start getting excited. I am sure I can read their minds but I know it works both ways, they know when I am sad or feeling unwell. They know when one of our ’pack’ is on their way home. They know who is at the door without seeing them and never bark if it is a ‘favoured’ person. There are some special people they have accepted unquestionably who they have never barked at. At the same time there are a few they will never take to; the coalman for example, but it could be the lorry they don’t like. But they should surely be used to it by now as it comes once a fortnight.

I am back on the family tree research again as we have free access in the library to - I will add a link to this page. All libraries in the UK have free access till March 2008. But if any of you want me to look anything up let me know. I am doing some searching in my lunch hours.

M has been spurred on by our daughter and myself and has started a blog! I won’t give you a link unless any of you are into airguns? He does write about other things but so far it is mainly ‘blokeish’ stuff and mainly airgun-related. Yawn yawn…………….

Blessings (a long list it seems).

My dear son-in-law who has a birthday today. Pen Blwydd Hapus A! He has been through a hard time recently; hopefully we can draw a line under it all now. He is a very special person, I knew within five minutes of meeting him that my daughter’s life would be ‘safe’ with him. She was quite young when they first met but I had no worries about their relationship. Do you know what I mean? There are some people who you connect with instantly and know they are mature and are ‘good’ people.

Recipe Books. They make great reading even if I am not in the mood for cooking. I haven’t been in the mood lately. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy cooking, it’s the Having To Do It Every Day that gets me. I get phases of enthusiasm. Do others feel like me I wonder? I know my daughter does and she is a great cook. And she has five mouths to feed every day…

The instruction we find in books is like fire.
We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others and it becomes the prophecy of all.

Voltaire c694-778

I have a few favourite cookbooks. The old and trusty St Delia was my first and she is still reliable. I have her Complete Cookery Course and have owned it since it first came out many years ago. Everything works, is exact and tastes damned good. I always like St Nigel (Slater). His book Appetite is one of my much loved. His Kitchen Diaries too is inspiring. The old favourite tattered paperback which is the ‘Pauper’s Cookbook’ by Jocasta Innes, every one of her recipes, a lot of them French, are just wonderful. I also like Jean-Christophe Novelli , but that’s another story, not all food related :>).

Seriously though, these cooks have such enthusiasm it is infectious. Remember en theos, Greek for ‘with God.

I am a spur-of-the-moment kind of person, I don’t like things planned in advance. The biggest problem here is the distance from the shops. We are over-run with eggs at the moment as my daughter has a surfeit. Her new chicken are laying more than one egg each a day (Has anyone else heard of this happening?). And M is looking after a neighbour’s chicken so we are getting all their eggs too. I fancied making Eggs Florentine but have no spinach, not even frozen. It’s miles to the shops that is the problem. I envy those of you with your Tesco home deliveries (ssshhh, hush my mouth, I didn’t really say that did I?). But we are having a Tesco coming to the area soon, a blessing in disguise??

I would rather we had regular decent markets in our little towns like the French do. And daily deliveries of fresh bread. They have life sorted.

I love recipes that are healthy, quick, cheap, can sometimes be made in advance or made in one pan. So things like stir-fries, curries, stews, anything QUICK. I hate slaving over a hot stove and then seeing it all devoured in an instant!

It will soon be salads-in-the-garden kind of no-cooking I hope.

Though overall I still subscribe to the healthy benefits of chocolate and wine don’t you?

Ebay. I am an Ebay virgin but am thinking of having a go at selling something. I hate the site, it is aesthetically such a b***** mess. I long to de-clutter it and make it ‘beautiful’. Still friends have inspired me to give it a try. I will let you know how I get on. I know a lot of you out there are very experienced sellers.


The news is so bad at the moment that I especially appreciate the following blessing.


Children, Chocolate and Wine posts. So many are really, really funny and so well written that they brighten my day. So much talent there, you purplecooers know who they are.

I love impressionists, Rory Bremner and Alastair McGowan for example. TV Programmes such as Catherine Tate, The Simpsons, My Family, Have I Got News For You, many more….. And a few on Radio 4 too.

Friends and relatives too with their special brand of humour.

Honey. My first cup of tea laced with the stuff. Always gets me going.

Summer dresses. Hoping it will be summer again soon…

My lovely borrowers at the very busy library. I come home exhausted but happy, who could ask for more than that from a job? The children at the adjoining school are one of the lights in my life; their enthusiasm for books is such a joy. For them a seed has been planted which should grow into a lifelong passion.

Rain, liquid sunshine. We do need it.

Hairdressers, magicians!

Musical instruments. My favourites are the guitar, the uilean pipes, the wooden flute, the harp and the bodrhan. I love drums, it must be so cathartic to play them.

Some instruments touch the soul, the Uilean pipes for example, they touch me deep inside (my sister-in-law says the same and she has the Irish blood too).

I have asked God for one thing, to be able to have a really wonderful singing voice in my next life. It must be exhilarating to be a great singer.

Listening to some music makes me cry, the Welsh and the Irish national anthems for example. And even the one in my headphones at this very moment by Snow Patrol (on the blog). It shows you how music can change your energies.

I may be in danger of repeating myself when I am writing my blessings. At my age I am always in danger of repeating myself.

But does it matter?
Does anything matter?
Nothing really matters.
Only love.

(The last saying is one of my own mantras, having endured perhaps more than my fair share of ’difficult times’ it has been my lesson in this life).

Well I had better stop now. If you’ve read this far many congratulations and thank yous.

I now have boring paperwork to attend do, which involves money and adding up (for me it is a curse), wish me luck.

And I must fit in a walk with the dogs today.

If I am walking with two men each of them will serve as my teacher.

I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.
(C551-478 BC)

We must be the change we want to see in the world

Bye for now,

I am still lighting a candle for Madeleine, I know some of you are too.

Monday 14 May 2007

Dear Diary,

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to
bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.
Bob Dylan

At last it is Sunday which is my favourite day of the week.

A cold rain sort of day. I have only nipped outside a few times, to take rubbish out, empty the compost bin, that sort of thing.

But I have had an enjoyable morning. I’m a great believer in going with the flow so, after a nice lie-in and an aromatherapy soak in the bath with The Archers, I just did what I felt like and a few cleaning chores led me on, strangely enough, to start clearing out the study, whose energies have felt very blocked lately. I have been ruthless with papers, magazines, files etc that I will never use. I did it to music so it was less of a pain and the feeling afterwards was of great release. It was good feng shui; less is more is my mantra lately.

I will make an uneasy admission though, I couldn’t throw out my huge collection of CL‘s, I have every copy since it started out. I just think that when I am old and decrepit I will have some lovely photos to look at.

While I was cleaning, before I had my chucking out spree, my mind was wandering, as it always does and I was thinking of things that I would like to share with you. I was looking at my laburnum tree which has come into flower now. She is old now but she stands proudly outside my back door and at the end of every spring, just as there is Summer coming on, her ‘golden rain’ is a beautiful show. It more than makes up for the days on days of sweeping up all her old seeds. I was thinking too of the laburnums in Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny; I have never visited it but I would like to. Also the late gardener, Rosemary Verey, who had a wonderful display of laburnums in a walkway. I will post some pics.

Before I go on a few people have been asking how to put music on their blog.

There is a link to the Project Playlist website on the righthand side of this page.

Go to the site, register and make your own play list, it’s dead easy.

Then go to the ‘Put on My Space’ page except there will be a link to another blog page which is the one you want.

Then you copy and paste the html code into the ‘New Page Element’ (html) page on your own blog page.

If you want your player at the top stick it in the top Page Element or the lower one if you want it at the end.

Hope that makes sense. If you want help do contact me.

I do hope some of you do it; if only for selfish reasons, I would love to hear your faves.

You can have 74 tracks in each playlist but can only put one playlist on your blog. But you can change one list for another which is what I have done recently.

It is great fun choosing your favourites and very addictive, I warn you. But the bonus is you can have your much loved tunes playing any time you are on the computer or even playing in the background when you are busy doing something else. Reiki for example, see below.


It is Monday now. I had a phone call from my daughter yesterday while I was writing my blog. She was asking me to giver her a Reiki treatment so I downed tools and set about preparing the room (the study). It was almost as if I had unknowingly been expecting her (story of my life). Also, it was just as well I had swept all the rubbish from the study, given it a good clean and made it clear of all negative energies. I had even been burning that scented candle I mentioned the other day, it seems to be everlasting (I wish). Its oils are basil, geranium and patchouli which makes for a sensational scent.

So I got my old faithful fold-up massage table out from under the bed, dusted it down and got it ready with a nice soft pillow for V‘s head to rest on. I played music this time, from my blog, I don’t usually but it was gentle and appropriate.

In a past life I was a massage therapist, just after I qualified as a nurse. I learnt the art of Swedish Massage at the same time I was training to be a nurse and the wonderful teacher also taught us, unofficially, many of the arts of hands on healing on the side. I trained in Oswestry at the Gablecroft College of Natural Healing. I don’t know if it is still going, I must check. I can recommend the place highly.

The poem today is for all Pat Kavanagh fans and is an absolute favourite of mine, both the poem and the musical version.

Raglan Road

Do listen to the audio version which can be found below on My Music Player. You can hear Patrick himself singing the words.

On Raglan Road on an Autumn day
I saw her first and knew,
that her dark hair would weave a snare
that I might one day rue.
I saw the danger yet I walked
along the enchanted way.
And I said, "Let grief be a fallen leaf
at the dawning of the day."

On Grafton Street in November,
we tripped lightly along the ledge
of a deep ravine where can be seen
the worth of passions pledge.
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts
and I not making hay.
Oh, I loved too much by such, by such
is happiness blown away.

I gave her gifts of the mind,
I gave her the secret sign that's known
to the artists who have known the true

gods of sound and stone.
And word and tint I did not stint
for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her dark hair,
like clouds over fields of May.

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet
I see her walking now,
away from me so hurriedly.
My reason must allow,
that I had ruled, not as I should.
A creature made of clay.
When the angel woos the clay,
he'll lose his wings at the dawn of day.

Patrick Kavanagh

Blessings today?

Molly, my dear all white cat who is snuggled up with me on ‘her armchair’ beside the Rayburn.

Now I am going to be a bit nostalgic here……………
My hairdresser and between you and me, (don’t tell anybody!), the hair dye she paints on my hair. I used to have lovely dark hair which was very nearly black, with a reddish tint. I had the typically Irish colouring of dark hair and blue eyes, which was unusual in England, if not at all in dear old Ireland. Ah those were the days. There has been a lot of worrying since then. Such is life, thank God for hair colourants I say………

I was never a fan of going to hair salons, all that small talk, discussing where I was going or had been on holiday (or not). And having to sit and look at my face in the mirror, I hated that. Funny I don’t mind it now and the reflection is much worse!

I visit my friend who lives just up the road, she is a professional hairdresser but only works part time and she ‘does’ a few local people at home. Her house has lovely vibes, it was the home of a famous Welsh poet. She has good relaxing vibes too so all in all it was a very pleasant, relaxing way to spend a Monday morning. She gives us cakes and tea or coffee and there are the Sunday papers to read. M and I go together though he is done much more quickly and while he waits for me, he often goes to sleep on her sofa, such is the soothing environment!.

The hairdresser, I’ll call her S; she and I talk about country matters, she was a farmer’s daughter and is a born and bred local. As well as working as a hairdresser and being a mother of two teenagers, she grows her own fruit and vegetables and a lovely flower garden. She also keeps horses.


Yesterday I spotted a host of pink scented roses on the bush which climbs up my old front porch. They seemed to have suddenly appeared, surely they are early?

The book group which is meeting tonight.

I have swotted up on the book. I read it so long ago that I had forgotten the exact reasons why I loved it so. (Running for the Hills).

One more?
There have to be five, I am getting superstitious about this blessing thing.

My two children.

My daughter who I hope was helped with her healing yesterday. She has exams starting tomorrow. Good luck V.

My son who is back home from working away, it’s good to have him back even if I will have more trouble getting on the computer! But the bonus is hearing him singing and playing his music (as I am at the moment).

Oh can I add just one more?
I’ve seen a white butterfly in the garden………………………..

Bye for now,

PS Please light a candle for Madeleine

Friday 11 May 2007

Dear Diary,

I am re-reading Running for the Hills (book I mentioned in an earlier blog) as it is to be discussed at the book group meeting on Monday. I’m making notes and picking out my favourite extracts. An enjoyable task.

Thought I would break off for a quick blog and catch up with some reading of same.

I am feeling rather poetic today. Reading poems always inspires me.

I have a plaque on the fireplace in my cottage. I bought it, not surprisingly, in Ireland.

It says ‘Poetry is Prayer’.

And just for a fellow Irish poetic soul I am posting a Patrick Kavanagh poem. This is for Irish Eyes, for me and for anyone else with a love of Pat Kavanagh, or Irish poetry in general. I hope you like it. There will be more in days to come. You have been warned.


They laughed at one I loved -
The triangular hill that hung
Under the Big Forth. They said
That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges
Of the little farm and did not know the world.
But I knew that love's doorway to life
Is the same doorway everywhere.

Ashamed of what I loved
I flung her from me and called her a ditch
Although she was smiling at me with violets.

But now I am back in her briary arms;
The dew of an Indian Summer morning lies
On bleached potato-stalks -
What age am I?

I do not know what age I am,
I am no mortal age;
I know nothing of women,
Nothing of cities,
I cannot die
Unless I walk outside these whitethorn hedges.

Patrick Kavanagh

It is so poignant, almost makes me cry.

Our writing group met this week and as always it was a very pleasant evening. Six of us turned up. Isn’t it a joy being amongst like-minded souls? (A bit like being in Purplecooland). We were joined by a new member and what a bonus, she was a female. Our group is mostly male, yes I know some of you would say what’s wrong with that? I agree, being an Arian I have always enjoyed men’s company J but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, would you not agree? Well our new member, H, as well as being female is only fifteen years old, a very pleasant, self-assured young woman and a very talented poet. She had recently won the chair at her school’s Eisteddffodd (hope I’ve spelt that correctly, too lazy to check). So we have a range of ages in our membership now. Sadly we are mostly oldies though, the oldest being a lovely lady aged 77 who is a published author.

We meet in the library and afterwards we adjourn to the very nice pub nearbly for some real ale or some Guinness for me if I need building up, which I do at present. Speaking of which, I have been out and stocked up with Guinness this morning, for my health don’t you know?

I will put a link to our fairly-new-but-developing writers’ group website on the right. We published a little book last year with some money from a local arts fund. We are planning to put our current pieces of work online; every month we have a new topic to write on, we take it in turns to choose a subject. May’s subject is ‘The River’. Much scope there I’d say. Living in Wales it seems you are never far from a river, a stream or a waterfall and I have my very own darling of a river in my cottage garden.

I tried to get the writers interested in blogging, one of them showed an interest. H, the new member, didn’t know what a blog was which I thought was strange as she is a mere youngster. I always find it strange when, occasionally in the library I am teaching people much younger than me how to use the computers and I am more ‘literate’ than they are in computer language.


I find music is a therapy for me, it lifts my spirits, changes the energies. It works on M too who needs his energies changing more than mostJ . I have two playlists now so I will be changing the current music shortly. I have put together 150 tracks! I tried putting both on the blog page but the two would play at once. What a cacophony! If you don’t like the songs, just press Pause or change what’s playing. It is on random select at present but I may change this.

As I write this the house martins are to and fro under the eaves outside the study window. They are few in number this year which is a shame but at least there are some. I hope they breed well. The herons are about a lot both flying and stalking in the river. I will post a photo for you soon.

It’s another soft day today. Too wet to garden, I have been to Brecon, up over the Epynt mountain range, always a soul-lifter that journey, I don’t think I passed one car, either on the way there, or coming back. I had to go to the bank and the supermarket but set off early so as not to waste the day.

I am slowly collecting my favourite websites to post on this page, also my favourite blogs from elsewhere, not Purplecooland, (too hard to choose and we are all friends aren’t we?).

Blessings today?

Computers. No need to say why. We all know the benefits don’t we?

Angel cards. Their powers of divination, like the Tarot, seem to be spot-on.
I enjoy ‘oracling‘, (opening a book at random and reading a sentence), that always works for me, as does dowsing.

Rain. Being Irish makes me particularly love this element. But my plants were desperate for it.

Special friends, the pub, real ales, Guinness, chips.

News that Tony Blair’s dictatorship is fading. I was ecstatic when he was first elected; how wrong can you be? He saddened my life as I will never forgive him for Iraq and Afghanistan and his unhealthy liaison with Bush. Also the state of the NHS, education….. Don’t get me started. That was today’s rant. I am allowed one at my age.
But hang on aren’t I meant to be in blessings-mode?

Let’s carry on with positives.

Collections. I collect two things. Bookmarks and

Favourite Words.

Synchronicity is an example: a lovely word, an embodiment of all things coincidental. These occurrences which seem to be happening in everyone’s lives at the moment. Do you not agree?

I have a little blue notebook where I keep my favourite words, words like lullaby and Avalon and cherish, and many, many more. They are useful when I am writing poems.

I will post some more of my favourite words in the future. I would really love to know any of yours.

I have just realised I am a compulsive list maker. Would that be some kind of obsessive disorder do you think? J


More on Words.

"I dabbled in words and I found they were my life. " - Patrick Kavanagh

"He does not write at all whose poems no-one reads." - Martial

" The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth." - Jean Cocteau

"Poetry is the ultimate democracy." - Brendan Kennelly

"I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat." - A. E. Housman

Finally just one more poem before I go and cook.


by Billy Collins, one of my favourite American poets.
It could be the name of a prehistoric beast
that roamed the Paleozoic earth, rising up
on its hind legs to show off its large vocabulary,
or some lover in a myth who is metamorphosed into a book.

It means treasury, but it is just a place
where words congregate with their relatives,
a big park where hundreds of family reunions
are always being held,
house, home, abode, dwelling, lodgings, and digs,
all sharing the same picnic basket and thermos;
hairy, hirsute, woolly, furry, fleecy, and shaggy
all running a sack race or throwing horseshoes,
inert, static, motionless, fixed and immobile
standing and kneeling in rows for a group photograph.

Here father is next to sire and brother close
to sibling, separated only by fine shades of meaning.
And every group has its odd cousin, the one
who traveled the farthest to be here:
astereognosis, polydipsia, or some eleven
syllable, unpronounceable substitute for the word tool.
Even their own relatives have to squint at their name tags.

I can see my own copy up on a high shelf.
I rarely open it, because I know there is no
such thing as a synonym and because I get nervous
around people who always assemble with their own kind,
forming clubs and nailing signs to closed front doors
while others huddle alone in the dark streets.

I would rather see words out on their own, away
from their families and the warehouse of Roget,
wandering the world where they sometimes fall
in love with a completely different word.
Surely, you have seen pairs of them standing forever
next to each other on the same line inside a poem,
a small chapel where weddings like these,
between perfect strangers, can take place.

by Billy Collins

Bye for now,

Tuesday 8 May 2007

Back to Work Day

Dear Diary,

In my headphones today I have my very own blog-music, Feel by Robbie Williams. I love his lyrics and his music, he’s quite dishy too, and I am not too old to appreciate good looks! Does one ever get too old for that I wonder?:)

By the way if you don’t want to hear my background music you can press the pause button on the purple player at the bottom of the page. It may well be you don’t share my taste or dislike a particular track. I think you can change it. A lot of the old songs hold memories for me, and may do for you too if you are about my age. God am I sounding like I am ancient? I am not really! Well I don’t feel itJ

People seem to think I am really clever in putting the music on the blog but my oldest granddaughter aged ten (!) and my daughter showed me how. I will put a link to the website for you; it is really easy to navigate and quite addictive if you are as into music as I am. And when you have made a play list of your own I will tell you how to post it. Adding it to the site is more difficult, but if I can do it anyone can.

I also have to grasp this tagging business and we’ll soon have a network, which could take our blogs far beyond Purplecooland though we can all return safe to the Common Room each night and be ‘amongst friends’.

On Tuesdays I always have that Monday morning feeling. (I told you I was Irish). Yesterday was a Bank Holiday Monday of course and it did feel different even though I get every Monday off. It was uncannily quiet around here; I think that the media had scared everyone into staying at home with their forecasts of heavy traffic everywhere. There was the usual occasional rush of motorbikers who always treat our Welsh roads like a racetrack. Not the oldie bikers on their ‘older’ bikes, they are much slower and their engines sound much nicer too. ‘Rant of the day’ over. I just hate motorbikes. We had quite a lot of old sports cars around too; there must have been some kind of rally taking place. Other than that it was so silent a lot of the time, not that our road is ever very busy.

Yesterday I had a treat as I saw two goldcrests outside the kitchen window, pecking in the gravel garden. Gravel garden sounds posher than it actually is, which is the beginnings of a gravel garden. I am growing lavenders, heathers, verbena bonariensis, various types of poppies including both yellow and orange Welsh ones. Also buddleias, primroses, cowslips, creeping jenny, oh all sorts, I won’t list them all. I am afraid that the whole garden has been abandoned lately, over these last days when I have been ‘otherwise engaged’.

Soft rain is falling and I am reminded of Sara Teasdale’s poem. I’ll post it again for those of you who may have missed it. Soft rain reminds me of my spiritual home and suits my pale Irish skin, does wonders for the complexion.

There will come soft rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Sarah Teasdale

It is a sad poem but don’t despair, bear with me as a happy one will come later.

Blessings today?
(From yesterday).

Scented candles. My daughter bought me a lovely one back from London, meant to mask cooking smells, like fish for example. It was too good to keep in the kitchen and I have been carrying it from room to room. Its headiness so calming even when my patience was being tested (Don’t ask!).

Silence. We don’t get enough do we? It too has healing power.

Solitude, this should go with the above blessing sometimes I think. Sometimes the only company I want is my own. I cherish its powers.

Angel cards, Thank you Faith, you were spot on.

Homemade bread made by M.

On Sunday M and I went to St Fagan’s, the Museum of Welsh Life which is near Cardiff. We went with my daughter’s ‘outlaws’ as a treat after the ordeal we have all been through. We took a picnic and had a great time. There are lots of old cottages, farmhouses etc which have been ‘moved’ and rebuilt on the new site. That itself is an amazing feat. If you are ever in Wales I can recommend it as being worth a visit and admission is FREE. There is an indoor museum as well. Gardens and lots of lovely areas to picnic outside.

I am so enjoying reading everyone’s blogs and I see new people are still arriving in Purplecooland. Visually the blogs are a delight and filled with wonderful photos (remember how dull the entries were over in you know where?). They are for me each day ‘Something To Look Forward To’. Another list perhaps?

Seriously though, I am so grateful to Westerwitch and Co. for making all this possible. They do deserve a medal. What we have achieved is a far superior read than that advert-full monthly mag. which will never grace my shelves again. Our community’s blogs reflect real country living and are a comfort, an education and an inspiration.

But I don’t have enough hours in the day to read and comment as much as I would like. M is making noises about getting his own laptop as I am on the computer so much. At least the snooker has been on TV these last few days, that is a distraction for him! It’s lucky in a way that our son is working away at the moment as it gives me more time to blog. I can see us having our own separate connections before long. I wonder how the rest of you manage?

Talking of Cider with Rosie which of course we weren’t. It is one of my favourite books and I have been looking at it again for my writing course. I just love this poem by U A Fanthorpe and hope you will too.

Dear Mr Lee

Dear Mr Lee (Mr Smart says
it's rude to call you Laurie, but that's
how I think of you, having lived with you
really all year), Dear Mr Lee
(Laurie) I just want you to know
I used to hate English, and Mr Smart
is roughly my least favourite person,
and as for Shakespeare (we're doing him too)
I think he's a national disaster, with all those jokes
that Mr Smart has to explain why they're jokes,
and even then no one thinks they're funny,
And T. Hughes and P. Larkin and that lot
in our anthology, not exactly a laugh a minute,
pretty gloomy really, so that's why
I wanted to say Dear Laurie (sorry) your book's
the one that made up for the others, if you
could see my copy you'd know it's lived
with me, stained with Coke and Kitkat
and when I had a cold, and I often
take you to bed with me to cheer me up
so Dear Laurie, I want to say sorry,
I didn't want to write a character-sketch
of your mother under headings, it seemed
wrong somehow when you'd made her so lovely,
and I didn't much like those questions
about social welfare in the rural community
and the seasons as perceived by an adolescent,
I didn't think you'd want your book
read that way, but bits of it I know by heart,
and I wish I had your uncles and your half-sisters
and lived in Slad, though Mr Smart says your view
of the class struggle is naïve, and the examiners
won't be impressed by me knowing so much by heart,
they'll be looking for terse and cogent answers
to their questions, but I'm not much good at terse and cogent,
I'd just like to be like you, not mind about being poor,
see everything bright and strange, the way you do,
and I've got the next one out of the Public Library,
about Spain, and I asked Mum about learning
to play the fiddle, but Mr Smart says Spain isn't
like that any more, it's all Timeshare villas
and Torremolinos, and how old were you
when you became a poet? (Mr Smart says for anyone
with my punctuation to consider poetry as a career
is enough to make the angels weep).

PS Dear Laurie, please don't feel guilty for
me failing the exam, it wasn't your fault,
it was mine, and Shakespeare's
and maybe Mr Smart's, I still love Cider
it hasn't made any difference.

U A Fanthorpe

Well I could go on and on about poetry but…….

I can’t escape the fact that I have to go to work today.

Bathroom here I come…….

Work is the curse of the blogging classes…..

Bye for now,
God Bless,

PS It is so upsetting hearing about Madeleine, the missing three year old in Portugal. My nephew and his wife have booked to go there in June and are meant to be staying in a similar resort area. They have two little children, I wonder if they will still go. To my mind there is no worse crime than the abduction or abuse of a child. I am praying that Madeleine will be found. Please pray with me.