Alexander Averin

Friday 31 October 2008


The witch's familiar

Tonight I will just post these pics and a couple of poems, one by M and another by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge.

Old postcards

The Witch

The night was dark and cold and wet and the clouds were racing across the moon , pushed, chased, by a fierce west wind and moving shadows ran across the land revealing a cottage here or an oak tree there and frightening cattle into motionless clusters in their muddy fields and the witch flew high, clinging tight to her besom , intent on her mission , no choice but to do what witches do. No fireside chair tonight. No warm bed or comfort. Cold, old, ageless face, black eyes seeking a guiding mark momentarily lit by the teasing orb, only witness to her pain, of the tears torn away by her flight, of the soundless cry of her despair.


The Witch

I HAVE walked a great while over the snow,
And I am not tall nor strong.
My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,
And the way was hard and long.
I have wandered over the fruitful earth,
But I never came here before.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.
I dare not stand in the blast.
My hands are stone, and my voice a groan,
And the worst of death is past.
I am but a little maiden still,
My little white feet are sore.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

Her voice was the voice that women have,
Who plead for their heart's desire.
She came--she came--and the quivering flame
Sunk and died in the fire.
It never was lit again on my hearth
Since I hurried across the floor,
To lift her over the threshold, and let her in at the door.

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

I shall write about my sighting of a ghost tomorrow, Samhain, the 1st November, the beginning of Winter.

But it is already nearly midnight so I must bid you goodnight and be away on my besom........

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Twinkling toenails

Dear Diary,

Just a quick blog as I am off to library-land very soon.

The true poet is all the time a visionary and whether with friends or not, as much alone as a man on his death bed.
~William Butler Yeats

Who can tell the dancer from the dance?
~William Butler Yeats

Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared, and forever all your own.”
Dylan Thomas

And now a poem.

I am quite excited because I have just discovered a much-praised poet I had not come across before (shame on me I say). She has been shortlisted for this year's Dylan Thomas Prize.
She is very young...... and her talent?

I leave you to decide.

The Softness of the Morning

If the breeze through the trees were a tongue
it couldn't say a word. My bottom lip grew so long,
it wrapped around the rivers
and the wandering silent pilgrims set up picnics
in the curve of my mouth, each with a story to tell
of a journey that was never done.
In the softness of the morning, I entered the forest,
following my lip for the source of this taste,
I rode on a donkey that had once been a beautiful princess,
kept the heart of a nightingale inside my nostril
and gained a new gold tooth with every sniffle,
I ate apples from the poisoned shrub,
drank water from the holy spring, I washed my feet in quick sand,
and still my bottom lip stretched over mountains,
soundless and sore. I danced with sexless shadows,
phantoms with faces like soft holes
singing down my throat like the sighing
of a thousand ugly damsels trapped in turrets.
I shaved my eyebrows with a sharpened stick,
painted on a look of sudden surprise,
carved the deepest part of the ocean, crammed an oak into an acorn,
stitched my eyes with feathers, robbed a church,
picked a flower that could live without sun,
made love to a dwarf who nudged into my body
like a boat attempting to moor on my chest.
I filled my stomach with baby wolves,
sailed on a dew drop through acres of oil, bathed in perfume
until even my shit tempted mermaids,
found religion beneath a fallen log, stopped for a beer,
kicked August from the calendar,
stole a moment of joy from the breath of a swan,
injected moonshine into my ears, listened to butterflies swearing,
sat on a rock made of time, stuffed a glow-worm in my windpipe,
electrified the air. And still had nothing to say.
Just before lunch, I crawled back to the house,
planning to tell you with my hands instead,
make the sign of leaving, make the sign of regret,
make the sign of reasons not to stay,
but the gravel path had a saddening crunch,
the face by the window, a running tear.
You opened the door, my lip sprang out,
slapped me and said something wrong.

Caroline Bird

Well, did this one make your toenails twinkle?

Bye for now,
I wish you a happy (and maybe snowy)Tuesday,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Thursday 23 October 2008


A Strictly Tongue in Cheek look at Nostalgia

(This a fictional account of what happened when Cait last visited her GP.)

Picture the scene. My GP is looking not at me but at his computer screen and mentally setting a stopwatch maybe.

(How many seconds am I allowed for a consultation nowadays?).

DoctorKnowitall: Well Mrs Thinkyouknowbetter, what seems to be the trouble?

Cait: I might be wrong but lately I have been feeling what I think may be symptoms of nostalgia for the past, DoctorKnowitall, it seems all I want to dwell on are the happy times gone by; what has disappeared and never will be again, like the ‘lost’ childhood of my own children, how it passed far too quickly.

Even my old schooldays I am looking back on and yearning for.

I’m also getting what must be nostalgic pains over the Old Ireland that is gone, gone , gone.

And I’m playing my Beatles records over and over.

Sniff sniff.

It is so painful.

Tears start to fall.

Dr Knowitall fished out a tissue from the nearly empty box on his desk, passed it to me, smiled unfeelingly and then told me that I was not alone; he assured me it is a very common condition and he thrust a Patient Information Leaflet into my shaky hands:

Read this, keep a diary and come and see me if the trouble persists.

Oh and look out for these symptoms: Lack of regret, a joyful melancholy. Heartburning, attacks of Present Day ‘disheartenment’

(there’s a new word ?).

But don’t worry because if the heart becomes blocked a Peacemaker can be fitted.

(ref. The term Peacemaker - Pinched from my own very dear hero, Tony Benn. it is a family term apparently).

If Excessive Longing and Over-Sentimentality become too intense to bear then go straight to your local A & E because matters of regret may come to light at any time.

Cait: Eh? What A & E?

Dr Knowitall: What do you mean, it’s been closed? Phone ShropDoc.
But don’t forget to contact NHS Direct first! We don't want to waste doctors' time do we?



Nostalgia, found far too often among the jaundiced and the melancholic, is a little known psychological condition but one that can affect all the organs physically, mainly the heart where it can cause a weakness that varies in its effects among individuals. There is no scientific evidence as yet to say whether there is in fact a genetic predisposition but it is thought that it will affect one in three of us at some time in our lifetime.

It is presented most frequently by the elderly but the most common time of onset is middle age, long after the reproduction and parenting stage of life is over. It is interesting to note that in areas where peoples have been misplaced geographically then its incidence is much increased, among the diaspora of the world for example. It is rarely found in the young, hence the expression young at heart. It seems to be present in both sexes in equal measure.

The brain can sometimes be badly affected as well because it is too often overworked and stressed due to the intensity of the thoughts engendered on mind games and because it is often forgotten that pastime-travel is just as tiring as real-time travel. For this reason GP’s will often suggest patients throw away their rose tinted spectacles and their blinkers.

Also, as people age, the memory quite often shows signs of partial or complete failure.

(No? really?)

These symptoms worsen with age and the prognosis is therefore not good. There is no cure.


Signs of yearning are always seen. Note these down in your daily diary. Raised levels are always a classic pointer to the condition.


Reminiscence therapy sessions of nostalgia-bombardment have been tried as an exercise in inducing boredom or resistance to the task - these traits being common in the elderly. It can work wonders! Remember, like almost everything else that we have to confront in life, this condition can also be seen in a positive light if one has the right attitude.

It’s good to talk. Group therapy has proved to be the best help of all. Most folk can find a likeminded soul in almost any social setting. Or in an online group. Genealogy sites are especially helpful.


Avoid old photographs like the plague, also old films and TV series,old friends and reunions of any kind. Old songs can prove fatal, especially if you are a child of the sixties.

(when life began as far as I am concerned).

Whooops I have digressed.

Back to it.

A life well spent with happy memories, especially those stemming from childhood are probably the most common triggers of this condition.

(I’ll be OK then!).

Time spent in a much-loved place is probably the second most common trigger. Indeed it has to be said that thoughts of Times Gone By are to be avoided at all costs as they are at the root of most outbreaks. Personal relationships play a great part - lost loves and the like. As does the total lack of the benefit that is hindsight and the sometime- blocking of regrets. Cognitive therapy classes may help here.


Very little research has been carried out on the subject. So there is an opening here for the waste…. sorry investment, of masses of our, sorry…. government, money to tell us what we already know, sorry…publish new research findings.

Perhaps a charity could also be set up in its name? RSPN? If it made enough money it could always be invested overseas in a fail-safe high interest account? Somewhere very cold and inaccessible maybe? It would have to be kept secret though.

Whoops, I think I am digressing again.


As this leaflet was being printed, news has reached the NHS that the stress of modern life is bringing about a nostalgia epidemic and it is on a near-global scale. It seems everyone is ‘harking back’. (sounds painful).

Nostalgia is being hailed as the new ‘silent killer’.


Remember, try not to use nostalgia as an antidote to your disgust with present life as you know it.

Lament and disillusion may be antidotes but could prove fatal, they may even be a suicide risk.


Nostalgics Anonymous may be one to try. Look for a branch near you.
Or you could also start your own.

A plug here for my own book!

I live with a nostalgic and how I cope with it
100 Tips to prevent the condition affecting you as well


Go down the pub, sink a few beers and just wallow.

Sing along to Bob Dylan singing the auld song

May You Stay Forever Young

Header picture, Connemara Farm is an oil painting by Elizabeth Ryan

Monday 20 October 2008


Dear Diary,

I’ll start with the cliché, get it over with, I say.

New England in the Fall.I would love to go there, I am sure I have past life memories of the place.

And now the Poem for Today.
A much-loved Welsh poet this one.

Poem in October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second In the still sleeping town and set forth.
My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.
A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill's shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.
Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.
It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels
And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.
And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.

Dylan Thomas

In the new book I bought, that I have been raving about (see previous post) Damien Enright quotes from quite a few poets along the way (well he is Kerry-born) and one line he mentions is from Dylan Thomas: ‘Though the town below lay leaved with October blood’. Can’t you just see the red of the leaves and also of berries?


I still have not come up with any ideas on the subject of rain for my writing group homework. Only one day left.

This post should be called I just can’t be inspired to write about rain so will write about autumn instead. Quite by chance my Purplecoo homework is to write about the smells of autumn so perhaps I can kill two birds if I can sneak in a few rainy references along the way? Perhaps that will be my mission for the day? Of course I won’t restrict myself to smells; I may get carried away, I usually do (perhaps I should be I hear you say?).

I spend a lot of time sweeping leaves from the back yard; apart from all the other trees there is an ancient laburnum just outside the back door that seems to shed itself continuously and the leaves blow indoors as well so I am always brushing out from therel. But I love sweeping, making piles, putting them on the compost heap or making separate heaps and leaving them to rot down and make that magical substance called leaf mould, much-mentioned by ‘proper’ gardeners. When the leaves are wet they make a really manageable mush that is easier to sweep up and organise. But when they are dry it is also enjoyable and is one of those more satisfying chores. Some chores I enjoy, some I resist frantically or even dread. Autumn brings some of the more pleasant tasks.

Much as I adore winter trees, life without leaves would be very miserable because I so love autumn’s colours: the burnished golds, the reds, the yellows. The sun shining on them is a little taste of our heaven-to come, I am sure.

The season is specially suited to the lover of the keen-scented amongst us. My hearing may be deteriorating but my sense of smell is still acute (sign of a true witch don’t you know!). It is a season for the sensualist you could say. Autumn leaves have their special smell don’t they, bringing echoes of childhood memories and the scuffling of the leaves underfoot, I used to love that so. Bonfire and wood smoke is also redolent of autumn. Folk round here (including us) have started lighting log fires and it is such a joy to catch a whiff of the wood smoke, there is nothing else like it.

I pray every year for an Indian summer and so far this autumn has come up almost to scratch - not too much rain yet (there I’ve mentioned rain!) winds have been gentle with us so far and we have had a fair amount of sunshine.

Everything is ripe and ready for preservation. It’s an instinctive thing isn’t it? This gathering in, preserving, conserving. The gathering of the hedgerow harvest, the berries and the fruits of the trees. It really is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (what a glorious line). Here in the Welsh hills and mountains, our mists are a wondrous sight to behold as they hang either in the valley or atop a mountain. I have waxed lyrical about them so many times. One more won’t hurt.

The air, not yet chilly is cooler and fresher. A sense of newness in the air that is not just for the children, an excited anticipation of a New Term with its blank pages, new pens and clean, virginal notebooks.

And back in the garden I plant bulbs, something more to look forward to (see earlier post).

Always a fan of spicy, musky scents that have an autumnal note to them I wear patchouli again; it’s a love it or hate it perfume but one people always comment on.

Whoops I’ve digressed again.

Perhaps it is all about comfort and security, this all is safely gathered in feeling. (We could do with those feelings in this current economic climate). We have stocked up with logs too in case there is going to be a hard winter. The trees and hedgerows are heavily laden with berries which is meant to be a sign of a bad winter; we shall see. Watch this space.

One thing is for sure, Autumn has arrived and She brings with her a lull that is the between-time of Summer and Winter.

Between-whiles that we can while away at our leisure in deep thinking and contemplation, with planning for life’s new term and creating our very own interpretations.

Do you remember that childhood hymn?

Come ye thankful people come.

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home

Bye for now,

Sunday 19 October 2008


Header picture, Connemara Farm is an oil painting by Elizabeth Ryan

Dear Diary,

Rain. Condensed moisture of atmosphere falling visibly in separate drops
Concise Oxford Dictionary 1963

Quite by chance I have homework for my writing group and the subject this month is rain. We meet next week so I really must get on with it. I have been musing and wondering what to write, either some prose or a poem maybe? I have an old poem that I wrote ages ago called Rain but I can’t find it anywhere. Such is life.

But speaking of rain…. the book I ordered last week has a lot of rain in it! It arrived quite quickly which has pleased me greatly.

It is A Place Near Heaven, A Year in West Cork by Damien Enright. It is a month by month account, I have read January to start and then skipped forward to October ( I am in autumn mode).

I am savouring every word as each one is woven beautifully, such is the quality of Enright’s prose. Rarely do I buy a book ‘unseen’ but I am not disappointed with this purchase.

In this part of the world at the edge of the Atlantic, there are only short spells when it is not raining but it would suit me fine as I love rain. I may have mentioned this eccentricity before? I feel at home in warm, wet, westerly winds, perhaps it is because my roots are there? It suits my complexion. (Can one have an inborn affinity for a climate, is it a genetic thing?)

I am not too far removed from a rainy climate though, as here in Wales we get more than a fair share of the wet stuff. Perhaps I do belong on the west coast of Ireland though, as I do sometimes feel like a misfit in a stranger’s land.

However this summer my romance with rain has been tested to its limits and has proved that you can have too much of a good passion (first cliché). But the weather was not normal, I would even go so far as to call it freakish. And it wasn’t so much the rain, it was the lack of sunshine that affected me.

I live by a water course. With my Moon in Scorpio and water being its element, it means that I need to live near water, so I have got something right. I also live with a Scorpio (for my sins!). Does that make sense? I hope so. The moon rules the emotions and water affects my moods.

I nurture a dream of owning a narrow boat; even living aboard one appeals to me sometimes. This dream resurfaces from time to time, along with memories of a wonderful holiday I spent on one many moons ago when we cruised from Brewood in Staffordshire to Llangollen in North Wales and back again. It was the most relaxing holiday I have ever had.

I am digressing again, such is my habit. I am on the water theme but not quite on my subject of rain.

Shall I start with its advantages? In no particular order.

We need it to live (beat that one if you can!).

We need to drink water. We are made up of 80% water.

Plants need it to grow.

If it stopped raining all rivers would dry up.

Serious drought is already a reality in some countries and it is said that future wars will be fought over water rather than oil.

It washes our clothes. I need it for my washing machine and also my shower and my bath!


It very often ruins our plans be they social or sporting.

It is only rarely accompanied by sunshine (but when it is we are sometimes blessed with a rainbow).

It can cause flooding which is sometimes extreme and can cause devastation. (This is a big one).

I can’t think of any more. I rest my case.

PS. Ducks love it.

I’ll end with haiku and then I must try and write something sensible for a change.

Drizzle, dip and spit
Shower, stream or pour
Rain in torrents, cats and dogs.

Drizzle, mizzle rain
On raincoat or umbrella
Till rainbows end

Bye for now,

Friday 17 October 2008

Lady Clare

Artist:  John William Waterhouse

Thank you Willow for solving my problem and telling me who painted the above and also about its interesting link to the poem by Tennyson which I have printed below.

Lady Clare

It was the time when lilies blow,
And clouds are highest up in air.
Lord Ronald brought a lily-white doe
To give his cousin, Lady Clare.
I trow they did not part in scorn:
Lovers long betrothed were they;
They two will wed the morrow morn;
God's blessing on the day!
"He does not love me for my birth
Nor for my lands so broad and fair;
He loves me for my own true worth,
And that is well," said Lady Clare.
In there came old Alice the nurse,
Said, "Who was this that went from thee?"
"It was my cousin," said Lady Clare;
"To-morrow he weds with me."
"Oh, God be thanked!" said Alice the nurse,
"That all comes round so just and fair:
Lord Ronald is heir of all your lands,
And you are not the Lady Clare."
"Are ye out of your mind, my nurse, my nurse,"
Said Lady Clare, "that ye speak so wild?"
"As God's above," said Alice the nurse,
"I speak the truth: you are my child.
The old earl's daughter died at my breast;
I speak the truth, as I live by bread!
I buried her like my own sweet child,
And put my child in her stead."
"Falsely, falsely have ye done,
O mother," she said, "if this be true,
To keep the best man under the sun
So many years from his due."
"Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
"But keep the secret for your life,
And all you have will be Lord Ronald's,
When you are man and wife."
"If I'm a beggar born," she said
"I will speak out, for I dare not lie,
Pull off, pull off the brooch of gold,
And fling the diamond necklace by."
"Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
"But keep the secret all you can."
She said, "Not so; but I will know
If there be any faith in man."
"Nay now, what faith?" said Alice the nurse,
"The man will cleave unto his right."
"And he shall have it," the lady replied,
"Though I should die to-night."
"Yet give one kiss to your mother, dear!
Alas, my child! I sinned for thee."
"O mother, mother, mother," she said,
"So strange it seems to me!
"Yet here's a kiss for my mother dear,
My mother dear, if this be so,
And lay your hand upon my head,
And bless me, mother, ere I go."
She clad herself in a russen gown,
She was no longer Lady Clare:
She went by dale, and she went by down,
With a single rose in her hair.
The lily-white doe Lord Ronald had brought
Leapt up from where she lay.
Dropped her head in the maiden's hand.
And followed her all the way.
Down stepped Lord Ronald from his tower:
"O Lady Clare, you shame your worth!
Why come you dressed like a village maid,
That are the flower of the earth?"
"If I come dressed like a village maid,
I am but as my fortunes are:
I am a begger born," she said,
"And not the Lady Clare."
"Play me no tricks," said Lord Ronald,
"For I am yours in word and in deed;
Play me no tricks," said Lord Ronald,
"Your riddle is hard to read."
Oh, and proudly stood she up!
Her heart within her did not fail:
She looked into Lord Ronald's eyes,
And told him all her nurse's tale.
He laughed a laugh of merry scorn:
He turned and kissed her where she stood;
"If you are not the heiress born,
And I," said he, "the next in blood--
"If you are not the heiress born,
And I," said he, "the lawful heir,
We two will wed to-morrow morn,
And you shall still be Lady Clare."

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday 15 October 2008


With money you can buy a house but not a home.
With money you can buy a clock but not time.
With money you can buy a bed but not sleep.
With money you can buy a book but not knowledge.
With money you can see a doctor but not good health.
With money you can buy a position but not respect.
With money you can buy blood but not life.
With money you can buy sex but not love.

Chinese Proverb

Monday 13 October 2008


Dear Diary,

Carols of gladness ring from every tree.
Frances Anne Kemble

I had a blast from the past this morning as I was listening to the Pause for Thought slot on Radio 4’s Today programme. There was mention of the Book of Prayers and Hymns for Junior Schools that was in use from the old days up to the end of the 1960’s and there were a few quotations from some of the hymns like Morning has Broken which was my absolute favourite. The reader was explaining that a lot of the school hymns in those days were about the (spiritual) values of our environment. It was ironic that. growing up in London, I had never seen a country lane, a speedwell flower or a buttercup then, but the words must have struck something deep within my soul I guess.

Then he mentioned Glad that I live am I; this one was the big blast as I had forgotten all about it. But straightaway I was back there as a child again in the school assembly hall in my gymslip in my ( excellent) South London junior school. I loved music and I am sure that some of these childhood hymn singing sessions also helped to encourage my love of words and poetry.

If you are a certain age you may remember this one?

A Little Song Of Life

Glad that I live am I;
That the sky is blue;
Glad for the country lanes,
And the fall of dew.
After the sun the rain,
After the rain the sun;

This is the way of life,
Till the work be done.

All that we need to do,

Be we low or high,

Is to see that we grow
Nearer the sky.
Lizette Woodworth Reese

Here is another he mentioned, anyone remember this?

Daisies are our silver

Daisies are our silver,
Buttercups our gold:

This is all the treasure

We can have or hold.
Raindrops are our diamonds

And the morning dew;

While for shining sapphires
We've the speedwell blue.
These shall be our emeralds–
Leaves so new and green;
Roses make the reddest Rubies ever seen.
God, who gave these treasures
To your children small,
Teach us how to love them
And grow like them all.
Make us bright as silver:

Make us good as gold;
Warm as summer roses
Let our hearts unfold.
Gay as leaves in April,
Clear as drops of dew–

God, who made the speedwell,
Keep us true to you.

Tune: Glenfinlas by K. G. Finlay.

Changing the subject now. I have just finished an excellent book: No Time for Goodbye by Lynwood Barclay. It is our book group choice for October and we are meeting tonight to discuss it. It’s in the Bestseller lists and I am not surprised. (It was a Richard and Judy choice too, not that I always like all of their choices). I will say no more because I think if you say too much about a book it (a) puts an unconscious pressure on you to enjoy it or else….. and that sometimes is resisted and therefore doesn’t work and (b) it sometimes spoils the story line if you have any idea what might come up. All I will say is it was a book I just had to finish. So just go, read.

A few blessings?

The dipper is around most mornings, fishing from the river bank.

The Indian Summer has arrived and it is heaven.

I sat by the riverbank, right by our ‘newly positioned’ bridge yesterday afternoon, relaxing with the abovementioned book. Finn our lurcher and Kitty the collie laid next to me, Finn on the bridge and Kitty at my feet. When they weren’t sunning themselves they kept going for a paddle in the river - even they thought it was summer.

The sheep have gone from the field and I took the dogs in there for a run this morning.

The crab apple tree over the far side is loaded with crab apples. (my very own Magic Apple Tree, now there’s another gem of a book I recommend).

Here is a photo M took just now.

The tree is very, very old. I think it has magical powers; it speaks to me.

It keeps company with a little hawthorn. The crab apple is covered in apples.

The thorn is loaded with haws.

More blessings?

Bulbs and flowers. Something to look forward to.

I have planted tulips of many colours outside my kitchen window and crocus under our laburnum tree. I have daffodils to plant next, around the trees, I try and plant a few more of the ‘Welsh flower’ each year. I will buy some more natural bluebells soon, as they are very special to me. It is good to have flowers to look forward to.

Something else to look forward to? ….I have ordered a book from Amazon, second hand but good as new. One that will take me to another place, somewhere my paternal roots are, somewhere I love, a place near heaven in fact.

A Place near Heaven by Damien Enright. A story of a year in West Cork.

Last but not least …………..Sunshine…………. Shhhhhhh……….. it is still here………………..

Bye for now,

Hang on............just before you go

PS Does anyone know the artist or the name of this picture? I am desperate to find out.

Saturday 11 October 2008

County Kerry, just pics and a poem.

Header picture, Connemara Farm is an oil painting by Elizabeth Ryan

"A Kerry footballer with an inferiority complex is one who thinks he's just as good as everybody else."
John B. Keane

"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher."
Flannery O'Connor

"You know it's summer in Ireland when the rain gets warmer."
Hal Roach

I discovered the artist Alan Cotton while leafing through a Country Life magazine in the library and was delighted to see a print of a picture of County Kerry - The High Road from the Bay, oil on canvas. That one is not on here but I have found some of his Irish paintings on his website and just had to share them, they are so beatiful.

To continue the Kerry theme, here is a poem by the late Sigerson Clifford, who was born in County Cork of Kerry parents.

The Tinkerman's Daughter

The wee birds were lining the bleak autumn branches
  • Waiting to fly to a far sunny shore
    When the tinkers made camp at a bend on the river
    Coming back from the horse-fair in Ballinasloe
    The harvest being over the farmer came walking
    Along the Feale River that bordered his land
    'Twas there he first saw her 'twixt firelight and water
    The tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    Next morning he woke from a night without resting
    He went to her father, he made his claim known
    In a pub in Listowel they worked out a bargain
    For the tinker a pony, for the daughter a home
    Where the trees shed their shadows along the Feale River
    The tinker and the farmer inspected the land
    And a white gelding pony was the price they agreed on
    For the tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    With the wedding soon over the tinkers departed
    They're eager to travel on south down the road
    The crunch of their iron-shod wheels on the gravel
    Was as bitter to her as the way she'd been sold
    She tried hard to please him, she did all his bidding
    She slept in his bed and she worked on the land
    But the walls of that cabin pressed tighter and tighter
    On the tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    White as the hands of the priest or the hangman
    The snow spread its blanket the next Christmas round
    The tinkerman's daughter slipped out of his bedside
    Turned her back on the land and her face to the town
    It's said someone saw her at dusk that same evening
    As she made her way out o'er Likelycompane
    And that was the last time the settled folk saw her
    The tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    Where the North Kerry hills cup the Feale o'er Listowel
    At a farm on its banks lives a bitter old man
    He swears by the shotgun he keeps at his bedside
    He'll kill any tinker that camps on his land
    Whenever he hears iron-shod wheels on gravel
    Or a horse in the shafts of a bright caravan
    Then his day's work's tormented, his night sleep's demented
    By the tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

  • Sigerson Clifford

Bye for now,

Monday 6 October 2008

Passion and rest

Header picture, Connemara Farm is an oil painting by Elizabeth Ryan

Dear Diary,

“Rest in reason; move in passion

Kahlil Gibran

I’m writing this in the snug, sitting on my cosy armchair by the ancient Rayburn; you will often find me in here now with my two dogs and my cat for company. The washing is hanging from the beams, it’s reached the airing stage now. I look straight out on to the river and the field of sheep and beyond that, an oak wood, still green, not yet bare of leaf.

Five things I am into:

This is a piece of homework for Purplecoo. (I’m sure I’ve done this subject before?). The deadline is today so I am getting it in quick to avoid detention…… again.
I wish I was able to put 'worthy' things down like painting, sewing, decorating, gardening, exercising daily, cooking great recipes every night and writing wonderful works of literature. Doing Good Deeds would be a nice one as well. Hey Ho.

My list is like me at present, a bit feeble, but here goes:

Reading is always scrumptious, but even more so in the seasons of autumn or winter. I’m more likely to be found ‘living’ in a novel at this time, call it escapism if you like but I'm seeking out the unputdownable if possible.

A Good Book is a Good Friend. I had a leather bookmark with that on once, well I still do have it in my collection. Did I tell you I collect bookmarks?

I lose myself in a book if I can. I ‘cooch up‘ (as they say here in Wales)on the sofa and snuggle down, or in bed, or by the Rayburn, or in front of the woodburner - anywhere cosy. The woodburner is lit at around dusk every evening now and is definitely Something To Look Forward To.

Working in a library means that I am exposed to loads of books (absolute bliss for a bibliophile like me) and I also have many books recommended to me by borrowers. Good reads. I also recommend my much-loved titles to the borrowers of course, that is part of my job as a librarian. (Karen, please note the use of that word.... librarian).
Promoting reading and the love of books is a passion of mine.

I have just finished one such book, it was recommended to me by several borrowers. It is Eve Green by Susan Fletcher and I think it is an excellent novel. It did win the Whitbread First Novel award a while ago, you may have read it? There is Welsh local interest, quite by chance, and the quality of the writing is excellent, quite poetic in places.

Sleeping and napping become more enjoyable too as the nights start to draw in and the temperatures drop. (Full blown hibernation is not allowed unfortunately because it would definitely get my vote).
Now don’t tell anyone about this next one will you but I’ve even started …

Watching more TV. Perhaps it is because I am still feeling weak after the flu but I am currently into programmes like the One Show, Eggheads, Strictly Come Dancing, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Antiques Roadshow and a few (loads?) more, others I can’t remember.
(Question Time I never miss).

I haven’t deserted dear Radio 4 though, that channel is still my Good and lifetime Companion, especially in the kitchen and the bedroom.

Long Walks.
I intend to get into brisk walking again when I am fully better. I went on one last week but it was too soon after my bug and I felt bad again the next day. Possibly because on the same day I also cleaned the cottage from top to bottom and did a couple of hours in the garden and did some shopping and recycling etc etc. Will I ever learn?

My other passion at present is genealogy. I always turn back to this in the darker months and I am eagerly on the trail of dead people in Ireland, France and the East End of London.

Last but not least (I always have to stick in a cliché, I only do it to annoy you understand).

Writing…… of course! That takes up a lot of time. Blogging, reading others’ blogs, commenting, visiting Purplecoo, commenting.

I have my novel-in-the-making and as today is a day off I guess I had better dig it out. Reading good books with ’good writing’ always inspires me to write, are you the same?

And speaking of good writers, here’s one.

The Visionary

Silent is the house: all are laid asleep:
One alone looks out o’er the snow-wreaths deep,
Watching every cloud, dreading every breeze
That whirls the wildering drift, and bends the groaning trees.

Cheerful is the hearth, soft the matted floor;
Not one shivering gust creeps through pane or door;
The little lamp burns straight, its rays shoot strong and far:
I trim it well, to be the wanderer’s guiding-star.

Frown, my haughty sire! chide, my angry dame!
Set your slaves to spy; threaten me with shame:
But neither sire nor dame nor prying serf shall know,
What angel nightly tracks that waste of frozen snow.

What I love shall come like visitant of air,
Safe in secret power from lurking human snare;
What loves me, no word of mine shall e’er betray,
Though for faith unstained my life must forfeit pay.

Burn, then, little lamp; glimmer straight and clear—
Hush! a rustling wing stirs, methinks, the air:
He for whom I wait, thus ever comes to me;
Strange Power! I trust thy might; trust thou my constancy.

Emily Brontë

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Wednesday 1 October 2008

A special request

I Will sung by Alison Krauss (written by Paul McCartney).


White horses prancing
Torrents pouring, Sun blazing,
Rainbow, lift my heart


I promised there would be a rainbow.
Here She comes!
Is she always there but we can’t see her?
Like a deity, so close, but somewhere out of reach?
Do we always have to trust or just believe?
Bright was this Autumn morning and my own September song:
Sun blazing on my river and across its rushing waves,
white horses swiftly dancing to its happy, yellow tune.
Then, spots of grey, the saddest grey, as rain began to fall.
Somewhere above, beyond, across a cloud,
She arches into view.
I knew She’d come, I told you so!
She is Rain’s apposite, accomplice of the Sun.
In the deepest, darkest days when She is hidden from our view,
sometimes we have to trust or just believe.

Poem for a Mother

Like A Beacon

In London
every now and then
I get this craving
for my mother's food
I leave art galleries
in search of plantains
saltfish / sweet potatoes

I need this link

I need this touch
of home
swinging my bag
like a beacon
against the cold

© Grace Nichols 1984.

I found this poem in a greeeting card in a library book I was shelving, obviously used as a bookmark by a borrower. Someone had written the poem out by hand in what looked like a card from a son to a mother, but without the name of the poet. The message said

I saw this poem and thought of you.

I thought the poem rang a bell, I may have even blogged it before? A quick Google brought it up. God Bless Google.

Anyway I will try and return it to its rightful owner. Mothers apperciate these sort of things, yes?