Alexander Averin

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,


Chris Stovell said...

I love Gillian Clarke's poetry

mountainear said...

How strange that you should mention Morville. I have to go there tomorrow on an uninteresting errand - and had quite forgotten that Katherine Swift's garden is there. No time to visit I'm afraid. Oh woe! But having been reminded I feel tantalised. Thank you for recommending 'The Morville Hours.)

Pondside said...

Yummy bag of books! Lucky you, Cait. Such a treasure would make me wish for a couple of rainy days in a row.

Claire said...

What a treat you have for us today. My parents lived in Castle Combe for a few years and my mother was headteacher there too. Picking up reserved books from the library is always filled with anticipation for what is hidden on the pages. I picked mine up on Wednesday. The Morville Hours sounds well worth seeking out. I started a Book Group in my village over 5 years ago and it just so much fun. The poetry of Gillian Clarke is new to me so thanks for that too.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

A perfect list of the best sort of blessings. And new books to explore! Thank you, as always!!

Bee said...

Lovely, lovely poem. So many wonderful images -- I especially liked the idea of the bones from the reign of terror and thievery being pushed out to sea!

Your books all look wonderful; I have written several of them down in my little book for that purpose. I tend to have the opposite problem -- almost nothing but fiction on my shelves. I am reading through all of Amanda Craig's novels at the present, and just finished The Tortoise and the Hare, by Elizabeth Jenkins.

I like the idea of not bothering with planes and plans and exchange rates anymore . . . but just taking little "holidays" when the weather is fine or the spirit needs a day spent gardening or reading!

That white cottage looks the very image of everything which is cosy.

blackbird said...

Cait, I love the poem and the cover painting on the book of hers that you borrowed from the library.

But, ground elder. I have what was a plant or two- who knows where it came from and it's become a patch. I'm pulling it out and will try to follow my own advice. When there's been a pernicious weed in an area- do you best to remove every bit of it. Then, plant annuals there for a year or two so that you can continue to get every bit that comes up. Then, when there is no sign of it- plant with more permanent plants and enjoy. (When I did spell check- pernicious came up tenacious. That fits too.)