Alexander Averin

Sunday 29 December 2013

Next Door

Good Morning

I have been  next door a little bit  of late but will be posting here again very soon. Do call by if you are passing.

Happy Sunday

Thursday 19 December 2013


As you may know I love to take photographs, I especially love to take portraits but for multitudinous reasons I don't post them on the Internet, it' s a shame really but the way of the world. Yesterday however I was in luck as I met several beautiful (and some not quite so beautiful) models who did not voice any objections to either posing for me or show the slightest reluctance for me to share their images with the world.  You will never guess where I found these beauties.  I will reveal all in a future post............... but some of you may possibly guess where they reside.
I am tempted to give a few of them names, they seem to cry out for names and stories.......................


Recognise anyone?

Saturday 14 December 2013

Means of Escape


A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
Oscar Wilde
Would you like to know what books I have requested from the library service from their New Additions list? I bet you would, if you are a  bibliophile like myself.
There are ten of them, they won't all come at once I hope. But I do hope a fair selection are with me ready for  Christmas.

These are they:


The first book is one by Margaret Drabble, an esteemed writer I have read in the past. This title had already been mentioned to me by Frances of City Views and Country Dreams in New York, well she was reading it and I look forward to hearing what she thought of it. I love the black and white photo on the cover.
Jessica Speight, a young anthropology student in 1960s London, is at the beginning of a promising academic career when an affair with her married professor turns her into a single mother. Anna is a pure gold baby with a delightful sunny nature. ...


Warning:  there are far too many 'loves' coming up.

What can I say? I loved this man.  I loved him for his wit, his poetry, his humour, his sensitivity, his Irishness.

I also love letters and reading collections of letters. I love reading letters between two people, written over a period of time. I love writing letters and I love receiving (nice) letters.

I enjoy writing letters of complaint and also of praise as I am sure Spike did. And how wonderful that his letters, like all writings, will live on long after Spike has moved on.

God rest him;after all  he told us he was ill.

Spike Milligan: Man of Letters is a collection of the funniest, rudest and most revealing letters from one of the greatest comics of the twentieth century to some of its most famous personalities.

Spike Milligan's letters reveal the private man behind public the mask. Unlike his scripts, poetry, fiction or even his unique war memoirs, these letters show Milligan's talent raw and unvarnished - irreverent, often brazen, sometimes cutting, frequently outrageous - a reflection of his complex personality.

Spike Milligan: Man of Letters presents a rich selection of the funniest and most revealing of his missives - most of which have never been seen before. It includes correspondence with the most famous politicians, actors, celebrities and rock stars of his day, and takes the reader behind the scenes in his wrangles with producers, publishers, editors and his impervious manager-agent.

It also includes letters to a host of unlikely individuals on some surprising subjects: rounded teabags ('what did you do with the corners?'), backless hospital gowns ('beyond my comprehension'), heartfelt apologies ('pardon me for being alive') and the pressing issue of the imbalance of male and female ducks in London's parks.

Here, then, is the real Spike: obsessive, rude, generous and relentlessly witty.

Spike Milligan (1918-2002) was one of the greatest and most influential comedians of the twentieth century. Over the course of his astonishing career, he wrote over eighty books of fiction, poetry, plays, cartoons, children's stories and his unique war memoirs.

Norma Farnes was Spike Milligan's agent, manager, mother confessor and friend for thirty-six years. Her books include Spike: An Intimate Memoir, Memories of Milligan and Milligan's Meaning of Life.


I am drawn to vegan and vegetarian recipes so I pounced on this new acquisition.

Experience the true taste of morocco with these delicious aromatic vegetarian and vegan casseroles. Fragrantly spiced and comforting, tagines are easy to prepare and sure to satisfy at every occasion. And prepared without meat (and often without dairy, too) they are not only economical, but also one of the best ways to enjoy seasonal produce. In this collection of authentic Moroccan recipes, you will find some of the bestloved tagines, from Lighter Tagines, such as Roasted Cherry Tomato Tagine with Feta and Preserved Lemon or Roasted Pear, Fig and Walnut Tagine with Fennel, to Hearty Tagines including Roasted Sweet Potato Tagine with Ginger, Cinnamon and Honey or Spicy Carrot Tagine with Chickpeas, Turmeric and Coriander. Along with the tagines, you will find recipes for it's traditional accompaniment, couscous, prepared in a variety of exciting ways, as well as recipes for appetizers and other dishes to serve alongside. Create your own aromatic feast, worthy of any Moroccan kitchen.


OK I will own up, I have not read The Secret History. I surely must have tried and failed.  I am going to give this one a go though;it has rave reviews,

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph - a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.


This one features home interiors. Well we all like peeking into other people's interiors don't we? If the book impresses me I shall report back.  I have to admit that the name Orla drew me as it is an Irish name I like.

Internationally renowned designer Orla Kiely describes her career as 'a journey in pattern and colour'. Her distinctive palette, and graphic and stylized motifs in clean repeat constructions, have won her devoted fans across the world, and have helped to turn, what began as a small British business designing bags, into a global fashion, accessories and homeware brand.

Following the success of her first book Pattern, Home opens the door on Orla's own house, looks at a series of British, Irish and Scandinavian case studies - all beautifully photographed by Richard Powers - reveals the mid-century modern items that have inspired her work and tracks the creation of her homeware range including furniture, textiles, wallpaper and ceramics.

Over many years I have read every one of Phil Rickman's books and can highly recommend them. I admit that because he lives locally many of the areas he describes are known to me (even if they are disguised or changed somewhat) which makes a good tale even better. This time the town is Hay-on- Wye, one of my favourites and is not disguised at all.  Merrily Watkins is a much-loved character of mine, she will appeal to you if you like mysteries with a touch of the supernatural.

A man's body is found below a waterfall. It looks like suicide or an accidental drowning - until DI Frannie Bliss enters the dead man's home. What he finds there has him consulting Merrily Watkins, the Diocese of Hereford's official advisor on the paranormal.

It's nearly forty years since the town of Hay-on-Wye was declared an independent state by its self-styled king. A development seen at the time as a joke. But the pastiche had a serious side. And behind it, unknown to most of the townsfolk, lay a darker design, a hidden history of murder and ritual magic, the relics of which are only now becoming visible.

It's a situation that will take Merrily Watkins - on her own for the first time in years and facing public humiliation over a separate case - to the edge of madness.


I am always excited when I see the library service have bought a new book of poems. This time I have high hopes. Again, I shall report back, watch this space.

The Visitations is the new book of poems by Kathryn Simmonds, the follow-up to her Forward Prize-winning debut, Sunday at the Skin Launderette. As with her previous collection, an appealing voice prevails, though this simplicity is something of a veil, through which the author, with subtle shifts of language and perspective, manages to imply darker themes and worlds unseen. The tone is often simultaneously satirical and elegiac and the collection abounds with sudden moments of strange illumination: a lime tree strikes up a conversation; a life coach finds an old passport; an infant teeters on the brink of speech. Here are poems where the physical and metaphysical meet, where questions of new motherhood are set against those of faith, and the larger conundrum of how to live.

Would you like a taster of her poetry? Here is an 'old' poem of Kathryn's which I found by chance on a blog called Eyewear.  I like the poem a lot. Quite by chance there is a comment on it from the late, much missed poet Dave King. Synchronicity again. ....

The World Won’t Miss you for a While
Lie down with me you hillwalkers and rest,
untie your boots and separate your toes,
ignore the compass wavering north/north west.

Quit trailing through the overcrowded streets
with tinkling bells, you child of Hare Krishna.
Hush. Unfurl your saffron robes. How sweet

the grass. And you, photographer of wars,
lie down and cap your lens. Ambassador,
take off your dancing shoes. There are no laws

by which you must abide oh blushing boy
with Stanley knife, no county magistrates
are waiting here to dress you down: employ

yourself with cutting up these wild flowers
as you like. Sous chef with baby guinea fowl
to stuff, surveillance officer with hours

to fill, and anorexic weighing up a meal,
lie down. Girl riding to an interview,
turn back before they force you to reveal

your hidey holes. Apprentice pharmacist,
leave carousels of second generation
happy pills. The long term sad. And journalist

with dreams, forget the man from Lancashire
who lost his tongue, the youth who found it,
kept it quivering in a matchbox for a year.
Kathryn Simmonds
BBC Radio 4's Poetry Please is the longest-running broadcast of verse anywhere in the world. First aired in 1979, the programme, a request show which broadcasts to two million listeners a week, has become a unique record of the country's best-loved poems over the decades since its inception.

The BBC has looked back through its rich archive of recordings to produce a poll of the most asked for and most broadcast pieces ever: it is those poems that this anthology brings together here. A showcase, in effect, for the nation's favourite verse, Poetry Please is a treasure trove for our most requested and most listened to poems of all time. It is a compelling invitation for readers of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate the verse that we care so much about: from new readers to old, from schools to reading groups, this a book for giving, a book for cherishing.

I peeked inside this book on mindfulness on Amazon and liked what I saw.

This ground-breaking book explores the theoretical, clinical and training application of integrating mindfulness with all of the arts therapies, and includes cutting-edge contributions from neuroscience. Written by pioneers and leaders in the arts therapies and psychology fields, the book includes 6 sections that examine mindfulness and the arts therapies from different perspectives: 1) the history and roots of mindfulness in relation to spirituality, psychotherapy and the arts therapies; 2) the role of the expressive arts in cultivating mindful awareness; 3) innovative approaches that add mindfulness to the arts therapies; 4) arts therapies approaches that are inherently mindfulness-based; 5) mindfulness in the training and education of arts therapists; and 6) the neuroscience underlying mindfulness and the arts therapies. Contributors describe their pioneering work with diverse applications: people with cancer, trauma, chronic pain, substance abuse, severe mental illness, clients in private practice, adolescents at camp, training dance and art therapists, and more. This rich resource will inspire and rejuvenate all clinicians and educators.


At last!  -  you are probably thinking, if you have got this far.

There's an epidemic sweeping the nation
Symptoms include:

*Acute embarrassment at the mere notion of 'making a fuss'
*Extreme awkwardness when faced with any social greeting beyond a brisk handshake
*An unhealthy preoccupation with meteorology

Doctors have also reported several cases of unnecessary apologising, an obsessive interest in correct queuing etiquette and dramatic sighing in the presence of loud teenagers on public transport. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS.

VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS are highly contagious. There is no known cure.

Rob Temple's hilarious new book, inspired by the incredible @soverybritish Twitter phenomenon, reveals all the ways in which we are a nation of socially awkward but well-meaning oddballs, struggling to make it through every day without apologising to an inanimate object. Take comfort in misfortunes of others. You are not alone.

Well that's it. Congratulations if you have read this far.

If you can bear it I have also blogged next door with some local photos.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

PS  What are you reading?

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Ordinary Love - U2

From the Mandela Film , Long Walk to Freedom

Ordinary Love
No Ordinary Song

The sea wants to kiss the golden shore
The sunlight warms your skin
All the beauty that's been lost before
Wants to find us again
I can't fight you anymore
It's you I'm fighting for
The sea throws rocks together
But time leaves us polished stones
We can't fall any further
If we can't feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can't deal with ordinary love
Birds fly high in the summer sky
And rest on the breeze
The same wind will take care of you and
I will build our house in the trees
Your heart is on my sleeve
Did you put there with a magic marker
For years I would believe
That the world couldn't wash it away
'Cause we can't fall any further
If we can't feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher

If we can't deal with ordinary love
Are we tough enough
For ordinary love
We can't fall any further
If we can't feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can't deal with ordinary love
We can't fall any further
If we can't feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can't deal with ordinary love


Saturday 23 November 2013

So Many Books

(The artist for my header pic is a Russian artist named Demakov Yevgeniy)

So many books, so little time.
Frank Zappa

Woman Reading
Artist - Tavik Frantisek Simon

What makes a perfect winter’s Saturday apart from constant sunshine, blue skies and a temptingly beautiful frosty landscape outside my window?  (Answer a few lines down).  To be honest, as they say in these parts, the sun started to go down soon after three o’clock but it was certainly much appreciated while it lasted. I did the supermarket sweep as quickly as I could this morning and then returned to examine what the book angel had left for me.

Library books! Hot off the press too, some of them.   Like buses they have all come at once ,but aren’t libraries wonderful? 

These are the books I ordered, now waiting to be read, in no particular order.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Migashida.  I heard parts of this on Radio 4 and found it so enlightening and interesting. I think everyone should read it. A rare and important insight into the mind of an autistic child.


Sisters of the East End by Helen Batten.  If you enjoyed the Jennifer Worth books that inspired the Call the Midwife series on BBC then this should be a must read. Heart-warming tales of nursing and midwifery from the Sisters who worked with Jennifer Worth.
Staying on the’old’ London theme.  As well as being my birthplace, I have East End family connections so snapped this one up.

My Lost London by Len Goodman, the Lovely Strictly Come Dancing judge. The book is crammed with fabulous old black and white photos of London as well as Len’s reminiscences.

In Len's own words:
I was almost born within the sound of Bow Bells, nearly born in Wales, but ended up being born in Kent. But never mind all that, I'm a Londoner, through and through. I spent my early childhood in Bethnal Green and even when we moved to live across the other side of the Thames I spent as much time as I could in the East End. I worked on the docks in London, played football all over London and once I took up dancing I was forever travelling around London. Like every person my age I'm nostalgic for what's no longer around. Don't get me wrong I don't think it was all much better in the ol' days, but it does get on my wick when some of the best things about life before the internet are in danger of being forgotten. What do I miss? Well I think lots of kids miss doing all the things we could do when I was growing up. I miss the characters, the markets, how we made our own fun and once I was old enough, the old boozers or a trip up the wild West End for a real night out. I love walking around London, seeing what's changed. I remember where buildings or even whole streets used to be, the old markets, like Covent Garden and Spitalfields, where I used to go dancing above Burton's The Tailors or down the Palais. My book will give me the chance to take you back to the London I remember as a kid, as a teenager and as a young man about town. Remembering all that was great about London will help bring back some of the good times that we had back in the last century.


Maeve’s Times by the much-missed and dearly loved Maeve Binchy. These are selected writings for the Irish Times which span five decades.
Book description:
'As someone who fell off a chair not long ago trying to hear they what they were saying at the next table in a restaurant, I suppose I am obsessively interested in what some might consider the trivia of other people's lives'

Maeve Binchy is well-known for her bestselling novels, the most recent of which was A WEEK IN WINTER. But for many years Maeve was a journalist, writing for The Irish Times.

From 'The Student Train' to 'Plane Bores', 'Bathroom Joggers' to 'When Beckett met Binchy', these articles have all the warmth, wit and humanity of her fiction. Arranged in decades, from the 1960s to the 2000s, and including Maeve's first and last ever piece of writing for The Irish Times, the columns also give a fascinating insight into the author herself.

With an introduction written by her husband, the writer Gordon Snell, this collection of timeless writing reminds us of why the leading Irish writer was so universally loved.

Journey into Mindfulness by Dr Patrizia Collard.  There are lots of books published  on the theme of meditation, mindfulness and relaxation etc but this is new one of the simplest and the best I have ever seen.  I recommend it highly. Below is the book description.
Mindfulness is a new way of experiencing life; it's about reconnecting with our original way of being and moving into the now. Through the practice of mindfulness you can find a path to better living, reduced stress, higher levels of energy and enthusiasm and increased self-confidence. Journey into Mindfulness explains the principles of mindfulness, a meditation cognitive therapy, in a simple yet inspiring way and comes with practical exercises that suit both the beginner and the experienced practitioner.

Living in the moment can be harder than we think in a tech-filled world of to-do lists. This gentle guide shows you easy, enjoyable and effective ways to slow down and develop awareness of your thoughts, actions and the environment. Exercises include step-by-step breathing and sound meditations, eating, walking meditations and movement sequences inspired by chi gong, tai chi and yoga to bring the mind and body into the present moment.

In this fully-illustrated book by leading mindfulness educator and author Dr. Patrizia Collard, discover the meditations and body moves to combat stress and anxiety, deal with fear and procrastination, eat better, manage change, love more, and ultimately feel the joy of being 'in the now'. You can learn: mindful eating, how to get out of a low mood, what to do with anger, how to embrace ageing, brilliant stress-reduction techniques, and how to get beyond fear. Use this book to reconnect with the simple moments in life; by truly living moment-by-moment rather than merely existing, your life will change for the better.

Diary of a Heretic by Mark Townsend
If you are interested in religions, be they paganism, druidry or Christianity this man's personal story may interest you.

In June 2007 Rev. Mark Townsend resigned from his ministry as a priest after his decision to share his story of brokenness and failure with the hierarchy. This book is the irreverent and whimsical, yet honest and gut-wrenching, story of his struggle to hold on to a faith within a world that seemed to be against him. It is a story that brings hope to all those who feel the established Western religious path has lost sight of compassion, grace and the one who could easily have been called Friend of Failures. As the author gradually digs himself out of the consequential gutter the reader will discover that all such failures can be redeemed and may even produce glittering nuggets of gold. More importantly, the reader will begin to see that his or her own failure can also lead to real moments of magic - so long as it is not repressed but accepted. A major underlying theme of the whole diary is the notion that real magic does exist, and that the magical traditions such as Druidry can be a major blessing for those who crave for something more.

Finally one of local interest which covers an interest of mine  - the  sacred springs, holy wells and spas of Wales. Written by Phil Cope who is a fine writer and photographer, I may well end up buying this one.  Borderlands by Phil Cope
I can't find a photo of this book online so will take one myself asap.

I am still desperately needing a good novel to get lost in – I am nearing the end of The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey which I can recommend. It’s a good winter read and the sort of novel to savour in short bursts, not one to race through.  I am waiting for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn to arrive from the library but must look out some more novels to order. Can anyone recommend any good ones?

Well I mustn’t linger, the evening is closing in and the armchair by the cosy Rayburn is calling............... but which book shall I read first?  And what is on your bedside table?

Happy Reading,

Bye for now,



Thursday 21 November 2013


After breakfast this morning I swept leaves from the back yard which is something I have passed many hours doing this autumn. I don't mind doing it because it keeps me fit and certainly beats going to the gym. When the job is done I love to put the leaves on the compost heap knowing that they will soon rot down and turn into the most sumptuous compost. 

When I had finished my sweeping I sat down on what I call my park bench which sits between two tall pine trees by the river and I was 'taken by the skies', as I so often am, so I popped indoors for my camera to take photos of the view. The pics can be found here, next door, please do call by if you have time and take a peek.

How have you spent this sweet November morning I wonder?

Wednesday 13 November 2013

For Katy

Katy in the snow


Katy in the sun


Finn and Katy

Finn, the lurcher

Mary Oliver is probably my favourite poet and I would normally have bought her new book Dog Songs by now as it has been out for some time.  Unfortunately it appeared soon after we lost our second dog, (my own dog really, Katy the border collie) and I could not face reading 'doggy' poems. 
Katy was a good age and her health had been deteriorating for some time but the end, when it came, had to be  dealt with quickly and I am still not over it.  I have never been without a dog since I was ten years old but I do not feel able to have another one yet, whether I will one day I do not know.  
Loss is so hard to bear and seems to get harder not easier with the loss of each dog or cat.  My current cat Molly is seventeen next year and so she too will be the next animal to move on.  Such is life, death is part of it and I know I must dwell on the good times and all the love we have shared. 
I wrote a poem to dear Finn, who sadly died last year which can be read here but have been too upset so far to write one yet for Katy.
In the meantime I shall dedicate this poem by Mary Oliver to her.

For Katy.

The Sweetness of Dogs

What do you say Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. Full moon.
So we go
And the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself; one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit,
I thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up into
my face, as though I were
his perfect moon.
Mary Oliver

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit.


Sunday 10 November 2013


Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life
Marcus Aurelius
I am very easily pleased, the above quote could have been writen for me.

I only collect a few things:

Images and photos of washing lines for one.
I thought I was peculiar in that but a lot of people seem to appreciate them too.
I have given up taking photos of other people's washing for fear of being arrested.
(I also love hanging out washing.  I wonder what that says about me?).

I take photos of gateways lately, not very original I know, but I have started so will have to finish.

Bookmarks.  I have a shoebox overflowing with these, they are hard to display though.

Words which I may catch 'on the wind', that resonate with me, are melodic or sweet sounding, words like deft,capsized, soothsayer, these just happen to be the latest three words in my little black book.

I also collect Wise Words and Quotations, I have reams of those, piles of journals littered with them, all collected over the years, 

Would you like (another) one of these for today?  Hot off the press?

You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens
Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia Duit.

PS  Do tell me of anything you squirrel away.
PPS There is a pony picture here and two more quotes.
Have you noticed you get two blog posts for the price of one lately?

Friday 8 November 2013

Friday Fairies

When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laughter broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies - Peter Pan
J M Barrie
Peter Pan
And the Fairies Ran Away With Our Clothes
Charles Sims


Song of Fairies Robbing an Orchard

We, the Fairies, blithe and antic,
Of dimensions not gigantic,
Though the moonshine mostly keep us,
Oft in orchards frisk and peep us.

Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer,
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen, be your apples.

When to bed the world are bobbing,
Then's the time for orchard-robbing;
Yet the fruit were scarce worth peeling,
Were it not for stealing, stealing.

Leigh Hunt

There are some cat photos here