Alexander Averin

Sunday 28 June 2009


Dear Diary,

Yes, there are kind angels here in cyberland and though they may be relative strangers they still perform miracles.

If you have noticed my header picture before you may have also noticed that I was wishing it didn't have huge ugly pillars and a horrible metal gate in front of it?

Well guess what? A miracle has been performed and this is the good angel (and wonderful artist) that did it.

Here are some examples of her beautiful artworks. All views of Ireland.


If one looks closely enough, one can see angels in every piece of art.
~Adeline Cullen Ray

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can on
ly fly by embracing one another.

~Luciano de Crescenzo

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Friday 26 June 2009

Gurrumul - Wyathul

It's like buses, you don't get one piece of music from me, you get three in a row.

I heard this track on the radio today as I stood idly stirring over my stove (I know my place!). It stopped me in my tracks. This is a live version from YouTube and I find it very moving. Brought a tear to my eye it did.

The artist has been blind since birth.


Thursday 25 June 2009

The Low Anthem - To Ohio

I can't believe it is a week since my last posting.

It's Friday again and I have another song for you, one that my son asked me to listen to because he loves it. I listened and I loved it too.

To Ohio

I left Louisiana on the rail line, oo oo
I left Louisiana on the rail line, oo oo
I was trying to get to Ohio
Trying to get to Ohio

Lost my love before her time, oo oo
Lost my love before her time, oo oo
On the way to Ohio On the way to Ohio
Now every new love is just a shadow, oo
Every new love is just a shadow, oo

'Cause once you've known love you don't know how to find love, oo
Yeah once you've found love you don't know how to find new love
All the way to Ohio All the way to Ohio

Heard her voice come through the pines in Ohio
I heard her voice singing in the pines in Ohio
She sang bless your soul you crossed that line to Ohio
Bless your soul you crossed that line oo oo
All the way to Ohio
All the way to Ohio

Friday 19 June 2009

I can see clearly now

I caught this old tune on an advert recently and it brought back memories of sunny, happy days when I was a young woman. I loved the simple song then. I still love it.

One of the comments on YouTube was a hug to my soul. That is exactly what the song does to me.


I can see clearly now

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright, bright Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright, bright Sun-Shiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothing but blue skies

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright, bright Sun-Shiny day.

Johnny Nash

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Rainy day joys

At Castle Combe - Thomas Hunn

Dear Diary,

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

Pablo Picasso

A rainy day means a kind of a welcome break from playing catch-up in the garden. I have taken a couple of days off work to do so and I mainly need to do battle with a part of the garden I call the elder bed. Ground elder to be exact and anyone who has this in their flower beds will understand what a ******** this plant is. I have decided to dig out the whole bed and plant some tall, strong, very-spreading, beautiful cottagey plants/shrubs that will hide, if not fully suppress this pernicious weed. Suggestions welcome. The other alternative is to remove all the plants, apply Round-Up and leave the bed for two years. I have never used weed killer so that option, though eminently sensible, will not be one I will take up. I have never been sensible in my life, more’s the pity sometimes methinks.

I had planned to visit a garden today - Katharine Swift’s garden in Shropshire at Morville Hall. I read her book The Morville Hours and loved it so because it is such a beautiful piece of writing. It is in my force-upon-you list. A friend has been to her garden and insists that I go too, it’s a longish drive but she says it is worth it. I am hoping Sunday will be a nice day so we can go then and take some photos.

I take days off from work as the mood or the weather reports take me because we don’t often do holidays. We escaped to Wales and to be honest now live in the sort of place that we used to holiday in. Ireland is out this year, the exchange rate isn’t good and the ferries are so expensive as is petrol and accommodation. Then we have our dogs and the cat, one dog (Finn) is elderly, stone deaf, his legs are getting weak and he is getting quite anxious so we are loath to leave him for long. Sometimes I think holidays are more trouble than they are worth and I am happy just sitting by the river with a book.

Talking of books, it was writing group last night, I enjoyed it very much and some good ideas for future projects were suggested, then later we adjourned to one of the local pubs for more discussion. I hadn’t been to work yesterday but was thrilled to find some books that I had requested were waiting for me. I felt like a borrower as I brought my bag of new books away with me. I requested them via the New Additions section of the library website - a great way to see what the library has recently purchased. There is something wonderful about a new book isn’t there?

I have also borrowed a DVD called Sixty-Six that was recommended by a borrower as a great ‘family-type’ movie.

Would you like to peek into my bag of books?

Gillian Clarke’s latest poetry collection. A Recipe for Water. She is a huge favourite of mine. A Welsh poet who was Wales’ National poet last year. I have read a few of these poems this morning in bed and they are so beautiful, I am not disappointed.

Notes from the Garden, edited by Ruth Petrie - A Collection of the Best Garden Writing from the Guardian.

Garden Painters A book on contemporary artists selected by Ariel Luke.

Emotional Healing for the Inner Child by Anne Cummings, another Welsh author. I am interested in the concept of the inner child, how the child in us influences our psyche and our adult behaviour.

I have just noticed that all books are non-fiction - much as I love them I am so longing for a really good novel to get lost in. Suggestions welcome!

I must post a poem, do you like this one? It's by Gillian Clarke, not from her new collection but one she wrote for a special occasion. I can hear her wonderful Welsh lilt as I read these words that are most moving and most true.

New Year, 2009

for Barack Obama

Venus in the arc of the young moon
is a boat the arms of a bay,
the sky clear to infinity
but for the trailing gossamer
of a transatlantic plane.
The old year and the old era dead,
pushed burning out to sea
bearing the bones of heroes, tyrants,
ideologues, thieves and deceivers
in a smoke of burning money.
The dream is over. Glaciers will melt.
Seas will rise to swallow golden islands.
Somewhere a volcano may whelm a city,
earth shake its skin like an old horse,
a hurricane topple a town to rubble.
Yet tonight, under the cold beauty
of the moon and Venus, something like hope begins,
as if times can turn, the world change course,
as if truth can speak, good men come to power,
and words have meaning again.
Maybe black-hearted boys in love with death
won't blow themselves and us to smithereens.
Maybe guns will fall silent, the powerful
cease slaughtering the weak, the rich
will not gorge as the poor starve.
Hope spoke the word 'Yes', the word 'we', the word 'can',
and a thousand British teenagers at Poetry Live*
rose to their feet in a single yell of joy -
black, white, Christian, Muslim, Jew,
faithful and faithless. We are all in this together.
Ie, gallwn ni.**

** Yes we can, Welsh

Gillian Clarke

Any blessings today?

Seeing friends and sharing ideas.
New pictures.
New books.
New poems.
Soft, gentle, Irish rain.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Monday 15 June 2009


Roofless now, she is dressed just in a cloud
that is gentle; wispy, billowing like soft smoke.
She does not stand, she nestles,
cwched in the cwm beside the river’s course,
a simple cottage in a spiritual place.
Her sky is wider now; its blueness deeper
and generous in its magnitude
for such a lone and humble dwelling.
Rows of golden buttercups line her ancient path,
sheep-bitten but still emboldened with their jewel-bright glow.
Solid and warm, the greystone of the walls remain
and I am drawn to touch, tune in and just to listen
for a voice.
But all is quiet.
There is no frenzy here as her silence is the truthful kind,
like being in a chapel without its sermons
or a church without its hymns,
I stand alone and sense
just a plain and wholly perfect attitude of Peace.

Cait O’Connor

Sunday 14 June 2009

In which I make a confession

Dear Diary,

We live at the level of our language. Whatever we can articulate we can imagine or explore. All you have to do to educate a child is leave him alone and teach him to read. The rest is brainwashing.

Ellen Gilchrist

OK I am going to make a confession now. For several weeks now I have been buying The Mail on Sunday. There, that’s got that out and over with. I used to buy the Guardian on a Saturday but it was expensive and all I enjoyed was the Review section, mainly the book reviews and the poetry. And the peek into Writers’ Rooms, I loved that. But I had no need of Business news or Travel or Sport and didn’t want to read Politics in such detail. Life’s too short don’t you know? Then I discovered the Guardian online so didn’t really need to buy the paper. And all the other papers are online too which is great. However I did need to know what was on TV but it was time consuming checking the TV listings online. So I started buying the Mail, only on a Sunday I hasten to add! I suspect it is aimed at women and to be honest the magazine is more like a woman’s magazine. Just lately I have found myself enjoying some of the articles and this week is no exception. I ignore Liz Jones’ articles though, (how did that woman get such a high profile position on the paper)? The other woman Suzanne Moore is a good writer, she speaks very Good Sense.

I digress as usual. Now to the nitty gritty.

I have never ever been a fan of the columnist Peter Hitchens but he has stolen my (literal) thunder as his column today is about the two very things that, such was my anger, I was going to blog about this morning! He has expressed my feelings perfectly and has saved me writing about them myself.

Do go and read it and let me know your views. Two concerns are MMR and home schooling and parental choice. You may/ may not agree with me or Hitchens.

Vince Cable is a man I do admire, he seems to be one of the very few politicians with an excellent brain and he sees things as they are (and as they are going to be). I have tried in vain to put up a link to his excellent article in today’s Mail but please do go and read it online for yourself. He recently underwent emergency surgery for appendicitis and has written such a true account of what is wrong with our NHS. As an ex-nurse I can only echo every word he writes as they all ring true to me. Thank God we do have some dedicated staff still working on bravely for us under such stress and under the most horrendous management regimes. Or should I say mis-management.

Vince Cable is the best Prime Minister we have never had and why he is not leader of the Liberal Democrats God alone knows but it is One Big Mistake (their thinking being that he doesn’t look young and trendy enough for them and won’t attract younger voters methinks).

I apologise if this blog has been a bit of a rant on such a sunny Sunday but the subject of Peter Hitchen’s article has been festering within me all week. I thought I was alone in my anger. I also thought it ironical that the day that home schoolers came under the microscope for being possible potential child abusers, a nursery worker in Plymouth was up before the courts for sexual abuse charges regarding children in a public nursery.

The words thin end and wedge are playing a great part in my thoughts of late and in my concerns. What worries me is that so many of our society seem to be asleep and literally sleepwalking into the arms of Big Brother - the younger generation especially seem to be particularly passive and accepting of our governance as being quite ’normal’. The words ’brain’ and ’washing’ come to mind. One day they may wake up and realise that they have no freedom of choice left in their lives and it may be too late.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Friday 12 June 2009


Dear Diary,

It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire


Robert Louis Stevenson 1850-1894

Elizabeth in New York suggested we write about plates today which I thought was a nice idea but I also wondered what on earth I could write about.  I admit to being a plate lover and a very long time collector of second hand ones from charity shops, car boot sales, jumble sales (remember those?), antique shops, markets etc.  Whenever I spot a beautiful bargain I’ll grab it.  I dislike matching sets of china and prefer a real mix of crockery designs.  I also dislike matching tiles and the ones in my kitchen are a mixture of ‘odd’ ones I have collected along the way.

We are quite accident-prone in this house and breakages happen often, especially with anything made of glass but it always breaks my heart if a much-loved piece of china is smashed.

I do keep plain white sets for everyday use though; these are the really cheap and basic sets and I have to admit that food always looks best on a plain white background.

I like just looking at my pretty plates,  some are kept in drawers in my kitchen dresser.   Some are on my other old Welsh dresser in the parlour.

Most are very old.   I like to serve pieces of cake on a pretty tea plate, anything afternoon teaish really.  For now I have just dug out a few old photos of plates in my cottage but I have some really nice ones that I have yet to photograph - I was too busy today as this morning was spent catching up on my perpetual weeding and this afternoon I had to go out on numerous errands and to Hay for a dental check-up which meant a two hour round trip in the car.  I promise to post some new'old plate' pics as soon as I can.

Like a lot of folk I really love blue and white crockery and I do have some of those.  I love jugs too and have some hanging up in the snug.  I love to buy new mugs too and have seen a gorgeous one for sale.  I stumbled across it only yesterday on  Dovegreyreader's blog

I am very tempted!  Particularly as Little Women is a favourite childhood book of mine.

I have many collecting passions; some are rather strange, (apart from books of course).  I can’t resist basketware, doormats (yes I did say doormats, that is the strange one), tea towels, patchwork and rag rugs.  I also collect bookmarks.  There are others but I had better stop now as I am straying away from the subject of plates.  I can feel more subjects for blogs coming on Elizabeth!  Thank you for this one.

I quite like the concept of being set a subject, it makes a change from a meme.

Keep them coming!

Bye for now,

Monday 8 June 2009

The Last Post

No. not my last ever blog posting.  Just a piece of music that always touches my heart.  I heard it a lot over the weekend because of the D-Day reunions  in Normandy.

Friday 5 June 2009

New Discoveries and No Pain

Dear Diary,

Nothing is so beautiful as spring -- when weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring the ear, it strikes like lightning to hear him sing.

Gerald Manley Hopkins

It’s Friday!

Many blessings today. I had a good night’s sleep after going to bed at a reasonable time; for once I avoided Question Time as I was sleepy and felt I couldn’t take much more political discussion in these dark, dark days. My back is better thanks to my treatment on Wednesday and I spent the morning in the garden making a start on the Big Weed. I restricted myself to just a morning’s work but may have another little go this evening, it is quite enjoyable really and rewarding to see some plants once more! The sun shone but was not too strong so it was just perfect for me to get on with weed pulling. And all around me the birds were singing - I refilled their feeders as a reward. Best news of all is that I heard the cuckoo, it was very close by and cuckooing away madly.

I have many new finds to write about, the first is a new author who has written her first novel and it is on the shortlist for this year's Orange prize. It is The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey. I have only just started it but it is beautifully written, I will report back.

Isn't it a beautiful cover?

I am also reading Irma Kurtz’s new book About Time and enjoying it very much - all about growing old disgracefully.

Not such a great cover!

I am soon going to add a list to my blog sidebar of books that I would ‘force upon you’, ones that I think you really must read. I would like your suggestions as well so do let me know if you find any gems.

I saw another great programme last night on BBC4 that was part of their Poetry Season. It was presented by the great poet Owen Sheers and his subject was Lynnette Roberts, a Carmarthenshire poet (1909-1995 - born in Argentina of Welsh stock) who I am ashamed to say I had never heard of before. Dylan Thomas stole the limelight from her methinks. Here is a wee extract from the poem he featured.

From Llanybri

If you come my way that is...
Between now and then, I will offer you
A fist full of rock cress fresh from the bank
The valley tips of garlic red with dew
Cooler than shallots, a breath you can swank

In the village when you come! At noon-day
I will offer you a choice bowl of cowl
Served with a 'lover's' spoon and a chopped spray
Of leeks or savori fach, not used now

In the old way you'll understand! The din
Of children singing through the eyelet sheds
Ringing 'smith hoops, chasing the butt of hens;
Or I can offer you Cwmcelyn spread

With quartz stones, from the wild scratchings of men;
You will have to go carefully with clogs
Or thick shoes for it's treacherous the fen,
The East and West Marshes also have bogs.

Lynette Roberts

I have also discovered a new artist, you may well know of her but I didn't - her name is Sherree Valentine Daines and I saw one of her paintings on the front of a Country Life magazine that comes to the library. I love paintings of children and this artist has done many of those.
The two pics at the top are also by this gifted artist.

That’s all for today,
May all your weeds be wildflowers
Bye for now,

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Morning Musings

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

Abraham Lincoln, American 16th US President who helped to bring about the emancipation of slaves.

Dear Diary,

Apologies for being absent for far too many days; the clement weather has drawn me outside away from the desk and my strained back has been painful but touch wood it seems better these last few days. Rest and sleep are always the best thing. I have an appointment with my cranial osteopath this afternoon and she is a true miracle-worker. It is such a gentle way of treating and I cannot understand how it works but it does and that is all that matters. I am convinced that different complementary therapies suit different people.

I had a little wander round taking a few photos of the garden in the early morning.

The garden is becoming overrun with weeds as, because of my back, I have not been able to do any gardening. I am quite depressed about that. There are still many blossoms though which I am enjoying and many bees are too which pleases me and doubly so as we have a beekeeper as a neighbour. We do have a few housemartins nesting in the eaves, I was worried that they hadn't arrived; their numbers diminish each year though which is a shame. I haven't heard the cuckoo but it has been heard a few miles away. The dippers are nesting under the bridge. (ssshhh). The red kites and buzzards are around, the herons too and the wild ducks. Foxes, squirrels, all manner of creatures are in the vicinity and when I take the dogs in the field all they want to do is sniff and follow their trails.

M and I have just been whitewashing the outside of our garage, a job long overdue but satisfying to do once started. There is pleasure in knowing the paint will soon dry because here in Wales we are blessed with yet another very hot day.

I received my Irish books newsletter by email this morning and two of the reviews jumped out at me, one is about Great Blasket, my favourite island off the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry and the second is about Time, or rather the lack of it and tips on making it stretch. I could certainly do with some of those. Here are the reviews in case you are interested.

Blasket Spirit: Stories from the Islands by Anita Fennelly
(Paperback; 13 Euro / 18 USD / 10 UK; 210 pages)

Seeking solitude after personal crisis, Anita Fennelly spent a
summer alone on the Great Blasket Island. This is her account, written by candlelight, of the gradual thawing of her personal
isolation through the friendship of the characters of Blasket
Island life today: fishermen, ferrymen, backpackers, islanders
descendants, a dolphin, a weaver, a trio of seals and even a
former taoiseach. Anita weaves a tapestry of tales: ghost stories
told by the fireside, stories of love and hatred, stories
celebrating womanhood. Ultimately, Anita’s own story is one of
healing, survival and hope. Blasket Spirit reveals a timeless
place where the souls of the past and present are inextricably
linked with the emotional and physical struggles of island life.
Into this story of personal healing and recovery, the island
stories, its people and places and wildlife are interwoven to
form an original and multi-layered memoir.


Not Enough Hours: The Secrets of Making Every Second Count
by Owen Fitzpatrick
(Large Format Paperback; 14 Euro / 19 USD / 11 UK; 382 pages)

Have you taken on far more than you can handle? Is your life an
exhausting cycle of commuting, work, housework, children and bed?
Find it impossible to say no? Does the pace of modern life leave
you breathless? Are there just not enough hours in your day? Then
this is the book for you! We've all heard of the credit crunch
but many of us also face a time crunch every day, where we just
can't seem to fit everything into 24 hours. The world seems to be
moving at a faster speed than ever. And in Ireland, we have a
unique approach to time. Owen Fitzpatrick, presenter of RTA's
Not Enough Hours, shows how you can take control of your life so
that you make the most of every second. He describes where our
concept of time comes from, and how people s perception of time
differs. He profiles the seven time victims - the workaholic, the
perfectionist, the walk over, the hurrier, the worrier, the busy
bee and the time stranger and outlines the six time eaters. His
TimeWise programme explains in simple terms how to solve all of
your time problems in four easy steps analyse, prioritise,
organise, actualise. And he brings it all down to earth with tips
on finding time for yourself, time for love, time for children,
time for work, and even time for household chores. With a wealth
of practical examples from the RTÉ series and from other
people's lives, Not Enough Hours is a simple, easy-to-read,
no-nonsense guide for anybody who wants to have the time of their
lives. You'll save yourself a lot of time by reading it!

I am in despair about the state of our democracy. Our disgraced politicians are behaving like rats, devouring each other as the ship goes down and instead of getting on with their jobs of running the country they are now out to destroy their leader and take him down with them. There are villains, nay criminals in all parties and they are getting away with their crimes!

(Would we? No!)

God knows what the answer is, save complete root and branch reform.

Do we get the politicians we deserve I wonder? Some folk (me included) have said it all started going downhill with Margaret Thatcher’s dictatorship when selfish greed and the pursuit of riches became most people’s aim in life and rather than the personal qualities of a person’s character that was important, it was how much money one had that was equated with status (and b***** everyone else!). Society as a concept was dismissed and it was every man for himself (or woman for herself). It was because of this climate in the 1980’s that we dropped out and escaped from Surrey/ Sussex to the wilds of Wales as we wanted to live a simple life and be apart from that mindset.

I was listening to the radio the other day and caught part of an interview with an American male. He seemed to be talking such sense, seemed so gentle and intelligent - it took a few minutes for me to realise it was Barack Obama! Would that we had someone in the UK as eloquent and committed to purpose as the US President appears to be.


Memories of the magic of Great Blasket and being alone with M on the island many years ago.

Writing by candlelight - that appeals to me.

My new solar/wind up radio - I have two now, one for upstairs and one down. Better reception and free leccy!



Cranial Osteopathy, sleep and rest.

Ah well that’s all for now,

Enjoy the day and may each second stretch for you.

God bless,


PS I have posted a few pics and a short poem on my Cait’s photos blog.