Alexander Averin

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Dear John

Dear Diary,

Healing, Papa would tell me is not a science but the intuitive art of wooing nature.

W H Auden

I watched an excellent programme on BBC2 last night about the life of the Metaphysical poet John Donne. It was part of the wonderful Poetry Season programmes that are on BBC radio and television at the moment; this one was presented by Simon Schama and the wonderful Irish actress Fiona Shaw recited extracts from Donne’s poems and how well she did this too. Donne’s wife Anne came from Loseley Manor near Guildford which I know well as I used to live close by. And after they were married they lived by the river Wey at Pyrford, near Woking.

They showed this painting of Donne last night and I kept looking at it because it reminded me of someone.

He was attractive, would you agree? - Dark Mediterranean good looks, swarthy, romantic. And just look at those artistic hands…

Jack Savoretti. Can you see the likeness? If you have not heard of him he is a wonderful singer/songwriter who should be more well-known.

I’ve always been a fan of John Donne, especially back in the mists of time when I too was young and romantic; in fact I have a verse of his somewhere that I copied out when I was in my twenties, I kept it for years andI am sure I still have it but I am so annoyed because I can't find it now and neither can I find the lines anywhere on the net. Ah well, I shall keep looking. Here is a taster anyway.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions


GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

Air And Angels

TWICE or thrice had I loved thee,
Before I knew thy face or name ;
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame
Angels affect us oft, and worshipp'd be.
Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing did I see.
But since my soul, whose child love is,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too ;
And therefore what thou wert, and who,
I bid Love ask, and now
That it assume thy body, I allow,
And fix itself in thy lip, eye, and brow.

Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,
And so more steadily to have gone,
With wares which would sink admiration,
I saw I had love's pinnace overfraught ;
Thy every hair for love to work upon
Is much too much ; some fitter must be sought ;
For, nor in nothing, nor in things
Extreme, and scattering bright, can love inhere ;
Then as an angel face and wings
Of air, not pure as it, yet pure doth wear,
So thy love may be my love's sphere ;
Just such disparity
As is 'twixt air's and angels' purity,
'Twixt women's love, and men's, will ever be.

The Sun Rising

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late schoolboys, and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beams, so reverend and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and tomorrow late, tell me
Whether both the'Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear: "All here in one bed lay."

She'is all states, and all princes I,
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compar'd to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, sun, art half as happy'as we,
In that the world's contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere.

And just to prove that I am still a romantic - here is a taste of Jack. I must still be romantic because this video made me cry.

Without - Jack Savoretti



Sleep, naps, clean sheets and summer days.

May days with the lightest of showers and warm sweet sunshine.

And kindly acts and romance.


In the garden and on the page.

Or in a song.

Poets, voices in a melody; their words our inspiration.

Bye for now,

Monday 25 May 2009

Garden Musings

Dear Diary,

I am going to start and finish with a poem, I discovered both yesterday.

Try To Praise The Mutilated World
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Adam Zagajewski

Just a few musings on the garden today. I can only muse as my back is still delicate. So I watch and muse and enjoy for there is much to make one feel good at this time of year. I shall ignore the weeds and pretend they are just plants in the wrong place…for now.

Each new day brings the gift of a new molehill in my garden and now they are popping up close to the bird/squirrel/pheasant feeding station. They have moved from the field across the river into the garden. The plus side is they leave heaps of gorgeous soil for my pots but I fear the velvety little creatures will be caught by my cat (or by my man!) but I secretly wish that they won’t be but rather they just stay a (short) while and then move on. They aren’t supposed to like Radio 1 (who does?) so I could play that by their homes or pile heaps of dog mess by their hills, they don’t like that either do they? (who does?).

Yesterday was sunny, very warm indeed, could it have been our summer for (so far) it is cooler and duller today.

So what has pleased me in my hours of pain?

Buttercups and daisies.

I love grass filled with daisies and whenever I see them I remember daisy chains that I used to make for my favourite daughter when she was a toddler.

Our field is filling with buttercups and when they are tall I shall bring some in and put out in vases.

I love also the buttercup-lined path up to the cottage and there is a similar bed by the path at the library too, both are such a cheerful, sunny, buttery yellow. It is a pity these plants are so over-exuberant and have to be restrained.

Bluebells. Need I say more? Armfuls of bluebells is a phrase that always comes to mind. I picked some yesterday for the cottage and also a few stems of my magic crab apple’s blossom.

Not only moles, there are Welsh poppies poppying up all over. I am particularly pleased because it took years to get them to grow and I didn’t succeed until a dear friend passed on some of the poppy seeds from her garden in Herefordshire.

There are verbascums popping up in odd places. Some may remember me posting a pic of one last year as a mystery plant that was luckily identified for me. I was told I may be lucky if it seeded itself and it has, what joy. Last year’s plant grew over eight feet in height and I had been told it would be about three feet. Everything in our garden grows to giant size proportions in height; it is very strange. Reminds me of the Findhorn Garden in Scotland. Could there be divas at work in our garden I wonder?

Foxgloves too are popping up, wild ones which I adore.

Columbines in varying colours are everywhere and they too are very tall.

Lavender and roses, ah roses still to come. And honeysuckle flowers and all the joys of June.

My much-loved red peonies are nearly out, they never fail me and remain really healthy. When I first moved here they were by the riverbank and I moved them to a bed near the cottage, something all the books said was not advisable but mine seemed to have thrived.

Our laburnum tree is in blossom now, everything is late up here in the hills. Our seasons are shorter which is a shame but I always pray that the plants will stay in flower longer and they do if we are blessed with an Indian summer.

I love the way the garden changes each year - trees get taller, climbers are higher, shrubs bigger and ground cover plants spread more widely. The course of the river alters too. quite drastically this time, after the flood last year.

And my neighbours have just given me some sweet pea plants so I shall be off to plant them in a big pot along with some of my home made compost and some lovely soil courtesy of Mr Mole.

And later I shall try and take a few photographs of my garden, that should not strain my back too much. And then I shall curl up with Anne Enright's Yesterday's Weather (apt title methinks), a volume of short stories and for someone like me who doesn't normally enjoy short stories this is writing to die for.

But before I go here is the second poem I discovered yesterday.

To My Friends

Dear friends, and here I say friends
In the broad sense of the word:
Wife, sister, associates, relatives,
Schoolmates of both sexes,
People seen only once
Or frequented all my life;
Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
A line has been stretched,
A well-defined bond.

I speak for you, companions of a crowded
Road, not without its difficulties,
And for you too, who have lost
Soul, courage, the desire to live;
Or no one, or someone, or perhaps only one person, or
Who are reading me: remember the time
Before the wax hardened,
When everyone was like a seal.
Each of us bears the imprint
Of a friend met along the way;
In each the trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or in folly
Everyone stamped by everyone.

Now that the time crowds in
And the undertakings are finished,
To all of you the humble wish
That autumn will be long and mild.

Primo Levi

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Paolo Nutini - Candy

It's been a long time since I have heard a new song that I have fallen instantly in love with. My favourite daughter told me about Candy at the weekend.

Here are the lyrics.

Enjoy his soulful voice.


I was perched outside in the pouring rain
Trying to make myself a sail
Then I'll float to you my darlin'
With the evening on my tail
Although not the most honest means of travel
It gets me there nonetheless
I'm a heartless man at worst, babe
And a helpless one at best

Darling I'll bathe your skin
I'll even wash your clothes
Just give me some candy, before I go
Oh, darling I'll kiss your eyes
And lay you down on your rug
Just give me some candy
After my heart

Oh I'm often false explaining
But to her it plays out all the same
and although I'm left defeated
It get's held against my name
I know you got plenty to offer baby
But I guess I've taken quite enough
Well I'm some stain there on your bed sheet
You're my diamond in the rough

Darling I'll bathe your skin
I'll even wash your clothes
Just give me some candy
before I go
Oh, darling I'll kiss your eyes
And lay you down on your rug
Just give me some candy
After my heart

I know that there´re writings on the wall
But Darling I'll bathe your skin
I'll even wash your clothes
Just give me some candy
After my heart

Oh I'll be there waiting for you

Paolo Nutini

His album Sunny Side Up is out on June 1st, I can't wait.

Monday 18 May 2009

Money, the root of all evil?

Dear Diary,


Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.

Louisa May Alcott

Politicks are now nothing more than a means of rising in the world. With this sole view do men engage in politicks and their whole conduct proceeds upon it.

Dr Johnson in Boswell’s Life of Johnson, 1775.

I am late in posting this and so it is really Old News, the like of which you have probably had your fill. For that I apologise but I have a good excuse as I had a wee accident in the home, something I have a penchant for doing, if truth were told. But even though we Arians are accident-prone this one was not my fault. I was sitting on the edge of my new and previously much-loved and raved about Ikea Poang chair when I reached out to brush one of my dogs.

Suddenly I found myself on the floor and the chair which had tipped over was on top of me. So if you have one of these chairs then beware. They are probably safe on carpet but mine is on quarry tiles and must have slipped. Since then I have had pain in my back which I am hoping is just bruising. Thank God for Ibuprofen, hot water bottles, Tiger Balm and arnica. They can be my Blessings for today. At least it has rained almost solidly these last few days so I couldn’t have gardened anyway.

Anyway here is the late post.

(Last Friday)

I received an extremely high ‘leccy bill this morning; not the best time to start worrying about how I would manage to pay it……..with what is going on in our country. So I warn you, today’s blog will be free of Blessings but instead will be full of Moans and Groans.

BBC’s Question Time was from Grimsby last night and was exceptional in that there was none of the usual argument between the politicians on the panel. There was one MP from each of the main parties and they all looked as if they were suffering from lack of sleep, indeed they seemed to be visibly shaken and I detected a wobble in their voices but I must say that the lack of backbiting between them was very welcome.

Margaret Beckett was heckled…. and some …..(whoop whoop! - I just wished it had been Hazel Blears). Teresa May was struggling. Min Campbell, who, naïve soul that I can be sometimes. I would never have suspected of any wrongdoings was also clearly in a bit of a corner. They were all heckled as the programme progressed.

Conversely you could almost see the halo around the head of the Assistant Editor of the Telegraph as he was bathing in the glory of the appreciation of the audience and probably the whole of the electorate too. There was even a good looking bloke on there too in the form of one of the top bods from McDonalds and he also spoke such good common sense. Would that there were more like these two, with a sense of urgency and strong, decisive solutions to this expenses horror story.

So just how angry am I with our politicians?

I am incensed. Especially with those who have broken or twisted their rules and treated taxpayers with contempt. I am even more than angry, I am livid with those who are nothing more than criminals, crooks, fraudsters - we know who they are and they are still coming. They should be prosecuted as anyone else would be and I see that the Daily Mail are starting a fund to bring about private prosecutions.

(I never thought I would ever agree with the Daily Mail!).

There is a complete lack of morality in this whole affair, a lack of ethics in the manner we have been governed. Pure corruption is the name of the game.

A few more questions…

Why should MP’s set their own salaries anyway? No other employee does.

Should politicians be above the law? Should anyone be above the law?

Should fraudster be prosecuted? Of course they should.

And shouldn’t those MP’s who payback what they ‘stole,’ pay the interest as well?

Half our banks are in national ownership which is all down to risky investment and obscene amounts paid out in bonuses to the bankers.

And the heads of these organisations, RBS’s Fred Goodwin for example, swan off with HUGE pensions

A root and branch reform of our so-called democracy is long overdue.

And now I hear that more money is needed for the Olympic Village and only 2.7 million pounds is in the contingency fund, half of which has already been spent and only 36% of the building work done. And all the while cuts have been made countrywide in small sporting sports projects that would have benefited the whole of our population.

Security costs for the bands of Royal hangers-on is another drain. Just one example - £280,000 each a year for Beatrice and Eugenie and £110,000 for a recent trip when one of them went swanning round the world.

On a lighter note I am losing myself in a funny book recommended by a borrower. It is The Only Boy for Me by Gill McNeil who also wrote Divas Don’t Knit which I haven’t read. I don’t normally read chicklit type books (am I too old?) but this one is making me laugh out loud in places so is good laughter therapy for me, better than political hysteria any day.

And if there is an antidote for all our anger I would suggest you read How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson. This is a must-be-read-by-everyone kind of book.

There are lots of good poetry programmes on BBC4 and Radio 4 at the moment so if you are a lover of poetry like me then look out for them.

I shall leave it at that,

Bye for now,

I am off to bath two smelly dogs, one is especially foxy.


Tuesday 12 May 2009

Old fashioned bread pudding

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. By a small sample we may judge of the whole piece.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Delia Smith’s Old Fashioned Bread Pudding.

8 oz bread brown or white (225g) - cut off crusts
Half pint milk (275 ml)
2 oz butter, melted (50g)
3 oz soft brown sugar (75g) - or white if needs be
2 level teaspoons mixed spice
1 egg beaten
6 oz mixed fruit (175g)
Grated rind of half an orange
Freshly grated nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to Gas 4, 350F (180C)

A 2 - 2 and a half pint (1.25-1.5 litre) baking dish, buttered.

Break bread into pieces, place in bowl.
Pour milk over, stir, leave for 30 minutes till well soaked.

Add melted butter, sugar, mixed spice and egg.
Beat with a fork till no lumps remain then stir in fruit and rind.
Put in dish and sprinkle with nutmeg.
Bake for about one and a quarter hours.

Nice hot with custard.
Also nice cold.

Sunday 10 May 2009


Dear Diary,

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other. 

Chinese Proverb

The tulip photo was taken by M.  The tulips are from my garden and they are in a vase with a few sprigs of my ribes sanguinem - flowering redcurrant.

And now a poem:

The Back of the Refrigerator

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

I am posting a recipe today that is so easy to make and  really delicious.  Great for days like today when I had nothing planned and nothing much in the fridge. 

And it’s cheap too!.

Onion, bacon and potato hotpot

(I won’t give any measures, I just adapt it to however many people I am feeding).

Peel and slice up some potatoes, red ones or any variety that have a good flavour.
Slice up some onions.
Cut up some back bacon with scissors into bite-sized pieces.
Chuck it all in a casserole/gratin dish and mix up together.
Pour in a carton of cream.  I used Elmlea which is only slightly healthier.
Add enough milk to make enough ‘sauce’ to just coat/nearly cover the ingredients.
Add loads of grated cheese and stir in some mustard powder.
Give it all a good shake.
Cover with lid or foil.
Bake for one hour covered at Gas no. 6
Bake for one hour uncovered at about 4.
Don’t let it dry out, check occasionally, add more milk/cream if it does.
It is done when the potatoes are cooked. It may take longer depending on the thickness of the potatoes.

You can make this by adding home made cheese sauce but to save time today I just slung in  cream and milk and grated cheese.

You can also save cooking time by gently frying the onions and/or parboiling the potatoes and very gently frying the bacon first but I think it always tastes even better if all is cooked from ‘raw’.  It is the sort of dish that you can leave and go work in the garden then come in (exhausted) and just cook some green veg. to go with it.  Cabbage is lovely  in the winter or broccoli and cauliflower which is what we had today.

We also had Bread Pudding today, another family favourite.  I once worked with a woman who called it Irish Wedding Cake! All I can say is it might be cheaper but in my opinion it tastes much, much nicer than wedding cake.  It is something I was given as a child but the recipe I use now is dear old St Delia’s and if anyone would like it let me know.  It is great for using up leftover bread.

I'll finish with another wee poem.

The Cabbage and the Rose

I wonder if the cabbage knows

He is less lovely than the Rose;

Or does he squat in smug content,

A source of noble nourishment;

Or if he pities for her sins

The Rose who has no vitamins;

Or if the one thing his green heart knows --

That self-same fire that warms the Rose?


Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Friday 8 May 2009

A Lazy Day

Boreas 1903
John Williams Waterhouse

I just love this painting

Dear Diary,

Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.

Jules Renard

I have had a really lazy day today. It started well with a teeny lazy lie-in and then at breakfast-time I had a surprise visit from my favourite daughter, always a delight to see her. After she left I had a little potter in the garden, refilled the bird, squirrel and pheasant feeders, washed Tonto (my car, don’t ask) just because I felt like it, this chore doesn’t happen often but it had reached the stage of dirtiness where I was beginning to feel ashamed. Then M and I took a trip to Hay which is always pleasurable for a bibliophile. Our dentist is in Hay and M had an appointment; it’s a long drive but I never mind as the scenery along the Wye is so beautiful.

Earlier this week a friend C was telling me about an Arvon writing course she had attended recently and she spoke of a young poet called Clare Pollard who was ‘teaching’ there . C had been quite impressed by her writing. I searched the library catalogue to see if we had any of her books in the county but there was nothing. Today I was in a bookshop in Hay and what should I be led to but a slim volume of Clare Pollard’s poems. Synchronicity, that ‘window into the divine’ at work once more.

(I bought the book for said friend).

Here is a poem by said poet.

For My Future Daughter

Try not to think too deeply,
try not to think too well.
Heaven is in small details,
labyrinths lead to hell.
Take comfort from the squirrel,
take comfort from the moon —
like a hot-buttered crumpet,
a kind face in your room.
And if you are now older
take comfort in his smell,
the fact he's cooked you dinner,
the fact he treats you well.
Try not to think too deeply.
You never can be good.
You'll never find a home that
is not marked with some blood.
And sorry that I brought you
to a world where that's true.
The Protestants hate Catholics.
The Arabs hate the Jews,
and half the world hates you, dear.
But I loved your warm head
before I'd even planned you.
I pictured you in bed
and kissed that absent soft-spot,
and though I am not there,
shut your eyes, squeeze my hand tight,
and though I won't be there
in some way I'll be there, dear.
That is how we persist.
My sweet thing, do forgive me
for selfishness. I kiss
you wherever you are now
and hope you're glad of life —
despite the violent weather,
despite the sudden knife —
and that you love that one gift,
that rare thrill of I am
as death pans out around you.
Hope that you do not damn
this mother who loved life so,
she hoped she'd live within
you, after: ball your fist, dear,
and feel your nails dig in.

Clare Pollard

I found a book on roses in Hay too which I hope will make a perfect gift for another dear friend. Here is a picture I found within it.

It is The Shrine by John William Waterhouse 1895. It is in the Christopher Wood Gallery, London.

I also bought a lovely book (for myself) on a favourite place of mine - Dublin. (Well you can’t go to Hay and not buy a book or two can you?) The Hay Festival is coming up soon and my daughter and I are deciding who we would like to go and see, always a hard choice that one.

The rest of today I have lazed about on the sofa, just reading and watching TV. Such decadence… but I have to work on Saturdays so I don’t feel guilty for being idle on a Friday. My body was telling me to rest and just for once I was not arguing.

That’s all for now,

An early night, a bit more reading,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Momentous Occasions

Dear Diary,

I am struggling to write a poem, never a good idea, a poem usually flies in and calls me to write, beginning with a line or two, coming as a flash from who-knows-where. They call it the well of imagination don‘t they?

Our writing group homework this month is to write about a ‘momentous occasion’ and the subject has been mulling around in my head because I know what I want to write but the words won’t come; it’s as if the occasions I have chosen as subject matter are so momentous they have been filed away in the hard drive of my being as a video recording. I heard the other day that those moments we all recollect - times like when Kennedy was assassinated, John Lennon shot, Princess Diana died etc - we all remember exactly where we were when we heard the news and when we recall it to mind we see the scene again; who else was there, what we said etc as there is a special part of our brains that stores all these little details. I am always taken back to the spot, the event is replayed before my eyes and I can give the commentary word for word.

I want to write about holding my new babies, both of them; it would be disloyal to say the first was more ‘important’ as both events have equal measure of emotion. The same feeling comes when you hold a new grandchild. These occasions are my most momentous in the sense that they are joyful but the word joyful is somehow inadequate as an adjective - there is no word to describe the extreme happiness on these birth-days. Perhaps that is why I find it hard to write a poem about it as there are no words fit for purpose. For it is but a moment... but the joy, the bliss, the feeling of fulfilment lasts a lifetime and beyond and cannot be distilled into an instant.

There are so many momentous occasions in life  -   births, deaths, achievements of varying kinds, meetings of soul mates, falling in love. Seeing a ghost. I may dig out the blog I wrote some time ago about my experience of the paranormal.  Finding my family and my roots was also momentous, something particular to me and those like me who have grown up without a sense of identity for a great part of their lives.

Of course not all momentous occasions are good ones.

There are bad moments of course, some so bad that I shall not ever consign them to paper as I do not want to give them energy. As the cliché goes ‘into each life some rain must fall’ - well I have had more than some - I have had torrents!

I decided to take another tack on the subject and write about moments as an abstract concept and while driving to work one morning this week I became inspired and had practically a whole poem come to me. I vowed to write the lines down when I reached the library but after opening up and the arrival of a borrower, all was lost. It still nags at me now because I was pleased with some of the lines that had flown into my head.

Some folks write on trains; is there something about passive movement through space, combined with solitude that sometimes stimulates creativity?

Changing the subject now.

We have two cock pheasants living on our little holding of land, they are both quite tame - one we call Hopalong as he is lame on one leg and the other is Buck (Buck Jones?), I looked out of the window the other day and saw Buck up on the bird feeding station, feeding from a seed-feeder!  I took a photo through the window but it has not come out very clearly as the  window was dirty (No, surely not?). Also the seed-feeder was near-empty so all in all it does not make for a good picture. (Note to self - clean window, fill feeder, watch and wait).

Sammy Squirrel is a regular now outside the kitchen window and he nibbles the nuts on both feeding stations in the back and the front gardens. The housemartins haven’t arrived yet and I live in fear that they will not return as each year their numbers diminish. We are having the cottage re-painted this year so I hope that won’t upset them.

Everything in the garden is bursting into life, including the weeds. I have never seen so many dandelions as I have this year - someone said that this heralds a hot summer. I am torn between leaving them as their bright yellow flowers are cheering, especially on the roadside verges but they would take over a garden given half a chance so I hack them off with the hoe. I am like a fellow blogger who goes by the name of Perpetual Weeder, it is a job that never ends - is it just us? I refuse to use chemicals so everything has to be dug up by hand and my body suffers the next day if I overdo it (and I am always prone to overdoing it). Buttercups are coming up too; I love their sunny yellowness but have to be ruthless with these plants though I do leave a few clumps around as they as so pretty. If only they could contain themselves and not creep around trying to take over the whole show.

Time for Blessings I think.

Blossoms which are everywhere.
Inspiration - when it comes.
Treasured Moments stored in my memory.
Bluebell woods, pure heaven, I saw my first one this year in the Brecon Beacons yesterday.
New Life in all its forms.

I’ll sign off now,

Have a good day and may it be filled with the very best kind of moments,


Sunday 3 May 2009

A Short Break

Dear Diary.

I am enjoying

A not-coffee break. I have given up coffee, chocolate and alcohol to try and reduce my migraine- triggers. I sometimes wonder if life is worth living.

I am drinking

A giant midnight blue mugful of ginseng, gingko and lemon-grass tea. It is meant to give me get up and go.

(I have only just sat down but never mind.).

I am eating

Nothing as I had a proper Sunday morning breakfast - a fry-up of eggs, bacon and tomatoes at 11.30 am!

I am wearing

Gardening jeans and a purple top. Purple is a special colour don’t you know?

I am looking out the window at

Sheep and lambs, the river and new mown grass (cannot call our grass a lawn by any stretch of the imagination).

Who is by my side?

Only Molly the cat who is sound asleep in her basket. The dogs are outside sunning themselves.

I have been

Weeding which is my perpetual pastime at this time of year. I never use chemicals so it is hard work. Satisfying when it is done though.

(Why are my eyes so often drawn to only the weeds and not to the blossom in the garden?).

After this I am going to

Go out in the garden with my wee camera and take some pictures of


I would rather be

Writing or just lounging.

I am thinking about

The Duchess, the DVD I watched last night. I recommend it highly if you haven’t seen it. I thought it was a beautiful production and couldn’t help thinking of the life of Princess Diana throughout the film which tells the story of the life of a Duchess of Devonshire. I shall say no more, I don’t want to spoil it for you.

My sister C who lives in Sussex has been on my mind also our mother and other relatives who have passed into Spirit.

I am also thinking of fresh air and how I love it so. The pure Welsh mountain air is like wine.

Dinner tonight?

Good question..

I am looking forward to

Sitting in the weed-free garden with a Good Book but I don’t think that will ever happen do you?

Hoping to

Win the lottery so a friend and I can open a Dog and Donkey sanctuary. No luck this week.

Music playing?

None as I am ‘not stopping’. I can hear the sounds of snooker in the room below as M is watching it on TV. I actually watched some myself last night and learned how it works, hope I don't get hooked!

Well I must go as the urge to get up and go has come upon me, the herbal tea must have worked its magic. I am off on a blossom hunt; watch this space for pics!

Bye for now,


Friday 1 May 2009

A Poet's Passing

Dear Diary,

It is a coincidence that I am posting about another female poet today and one who, some years ago, was once in the running for the position of Poet Laureate but was unsuccessful.

U A Fanthorpe passed away this week at the age of 79 and I am therefore posting this again in her memory. This has always been one of my favourite poems and its theme is one close to my heart, namely the needless and soul-destroying academic 'dissection' of pieces of literature.

It features another one of my favourite wordsmiths, Laurie 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

The First of May

Dear Diary,

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen”

Leonardo Da Vinci

It’s May Day!

A little poem for you.

May Day

I will start with a wee poem,

Why not?

A new day,

A new month.

A new Poet Laurate.

A woman!

Carol Ann Duffy,


I am posting below two of my favourite poems by Carol Ann Duffy. I understand that Carol Ann's mother is Irish and her grandparents come from Carlow and Hackestown.

I always imagine that In Your Mind is written about Ireland but I am probably wrong…perhaps someone will enlighten me?

In Your Mind

The other country, is it anticipated or half-remembered?
Its language is muffled by the rain which falls all afternoon
one autumn in England, and in your mind
you put aside your work and head for the airport
with a credit card and a warm coat you will leave
on the plane. The past fades like newsprint in the sun.

You know people there. Their faces are photographs
on the wrong side of your eyes. A beautiful boy
in the bar on the harbour serves you a drink – what? –
asks you if men could possibly land on the moon.
A moon like an orange drawn by a child. No.
Never. You watch it peel itself into the sea.

Sleep. The rasp of carpentry wakes you. On the wall,
a painting lost for thirty years renders the room yours.
Of course. You go to your job, right at the old hotel, left,
then left again. You love this job. Apt sounds
mark the passing of the hours. Seagulls. Bells. A flute
practising scales. You swap a coin for a fish on the way home.

Then suddenly you are lost but not lost, dawdling
on the blue bridge, watching six swans vanish
under your feet. The certainty of place turns on the lights
all over town, turns up the scent on the air. For a moment
you are there, in the other country, knowing its name.
And then a desk. A newspaper. A window. English rain.

Carol Ann Duffy


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims1 sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. 2 Grade I piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

Carol Ann Duffy

Bye for now,
Enjoy the month,
Go mbeannai Dia Duit,