Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

Today I broke with tradition,
(my tradition anyway),
and gave in to
hubby's desperate urge
to hit the shops
for some late
Christmas Eve action.

I must admit my mind
was full of queues for the car parks, and checkouts,
and all the things I hate about shopping.

Still the sun was glistening
on the snow,
so I hung my fit of the
"Bah! Humbugs!"

on the back of the door
on the way out,
and decided to make the most of it.

We did queue our way into Leamington,
but rather than make for the car parks
we slid down the back streets between the Georgian houses,
and parked amid the mounds of snow
across the partially frozen river from the main town.

This enabled us to make our way between the
snow filigreed trees,
and over the foot bridge past the bandstand,
enjoying to the full the winter wonderland
that is so foreign to us.

Right off we were stopped in our tracks
by the sound of the trumpet and handbell
announcing Leamington Spa's town crier in full voice.
He was wishing us the compliments of the season,
along with announcing what bargains could be found in the town.

This festive note carried us straight to the shop where
we found the special present our daughter
had failed to find anywhere else.

Mission accomplished,
the rest of the time we were free to wander to our own
favourite spots for the bits and pieces
that put the finishing touches to our Christmas preparations.
Needless to say we stopped long enough for a tooth-full
of sustenance as well.

As we re-traced our wintry steps back to the car,
we heard the church bells peeling out a
back drop of reality to the day.
Singing out across the icy water,
they called folks to the children's
Christmas Eve service.

Driving back home through the snow-laden lanes,
the setting sun m
elted the fretted black shapes
of the treetops to flickering rose and gold.

The white Christmas we have waited so long for, is truly at it's best today.

I have to admit to hubby that today
may well have broken my embargo on Christmas Eve
shopping for good.

Back home we rustle up a meal,
and do the few things left to do before setting out
for the moment that Christmas truly begins.

The whole
day is preparation for this.

At midnight we will be with our church family,
celebrating the holy moment
when God laid aside his glory
to come into our broken world.

Hidden in his vulnerable new born frailty
the full power of Godly love
touches each moment of our need,
offering us,
where we will receive it,
his healing peace.

May your Christmas
be filled with the
Worship of the Angels,
the Joy of the Shepherds
and the Peace of the of the Christ Child.
Photo BBC "The Nativity"

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Re-creating Christmas

Last night we were singing again.

A smaller group of us, (hubby included),
were singing carols at a home for the elderly.

As we stood in the over-heated lounge facing the residents,
as always in these places there was the mix
of those alert enough to take song booklets
and sing with us,
and those who merely sat.

Some of the folks whose home we were invading
eyed us curiously, uncertain why we were there;
while others remained seemingly oblivious that we were there at all,
or after a cursory glance seemed to dismiss us altogether.

Then as we sang the change began to happen.

Gradually here and there wrinkled lips curved in smiles.
Then those same lips shaped themselves around
the old familiar words,
and even if no sound ensued,
the magic of memory was at work.

Only they know how far back those old words and melodies carried them.

You will think me fanciful if I say
that in those moments it was possible to glimpse again
the hidden child,
who once learned these words at a time when however hard their lives,
some token of finer things visited them fleetingly.
The sweet knowledge of the Christ child,
and the mystery of His birth,
and the few unfamiliar goodies that were rarer then than now.

I do know that the child in us never dies,
and that even though the details of time and place may elude us,
music can touch and open some deep well
of remembered feeling within us.

Before we filed out, leaving them once again in their lounge,
where every seat faced the television,
eyes opened,
and we were humbled by the smiles,
and whispered assurances us that,
"That was lovely!"

Touching each frail hand in goodbye as we went,
our singing this time left us with a quieter, more thoughtful,
and mixed joy.

Be Blessed

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Simple Pleasures

Imagine a gathering of folks between the ages
(quite literally)
of 1 to 91 years of age,
and all stations in between.

Teens, singles, marrieds.

Add a pianist, a guitarist,
and a set of drums being used now and then to good effect.

Incidental noises off, background "music",
and general accompaniment,
to be supplied by sundry toddlers
and their older siblings,
who are furnished with
percussion and wind instruments,
from a big lucky dip box.

Think of something you can bash or blow
that will make a satisfactory noise and can fit little fingers,
and you've got the idea.

Make sure everybody has the complete lyrics
to some 32 Christmas songs and carols.

Old traditional ones, schmaltzy ones,loved ones, neglected ones...
a cross section to gladden the heart of the most ardent Scrooge.
If you think that's impossible
I have to report that the greatest fun
was had when we sang the ones which drew forth the deepest groans.

Yes, that's all we'd gathered for.

A good old-fashioned sing-a-long.
And how we sang!

The order of the night was to shout out
the number of the song you wanted next, and off we went.

We attempted rounds, and harmonies,
and hey!
given that hubby and me were the only 2 Welsh peeps there
the sound was pretty good!

I know this blog is usually free from racism but well,
we all know that the Welsh are amongst
the best natural choir -ists
in the world.
(I think I've invented a word there).

I say we gathered simply to sing,
but there was also the little matter of some
mulled wine, or fruit punch,
turkey and stuffing batches,
and mince pies,
served half an hour into the evening.

The littlies had a table in the centre of us older ones,
and I wish I had a photo
of them tucking into their sausage batches and juice.
All in the light of the huge Christmas tree in the corner.

We ended the evening by gathering round the tree and singing ,
"I Wish You a Merry Christmas."

The cooks, waiters and waitresses,
along with the musicians gave their services free,
and by each paying something to came along and join the fun
£300 was raised to be split
between 2 charities connected to our church.
The Gilead Health Develpoment, in Luwero, Uganda,
and the Theophilus Foundation,
operating in the Kiwunya slum area of Uganda.

It was an evening of laughter
as we caught up with each others news over the eats,
and vied with each other in the singing of the rounds.

It was an evening of having our endorphins released
through the sheer joy of singing.

An added bonus was the
Christmassy tingle and glow brought to the parts
which had so far remained resolutely

Old fashioned, simple, un-worldly,
but oh, so good.

Deep, but Simple Blessings to You All.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Protests and hope

This has been a week of extremes.
Extreme weather for this part of the world,
which has brought both wonderful and unfamiliar beauty

 to our humdrum lives;
- and not a little difficulty and anxiety for many.

Then difficulty and anxiety of another sort

 brought ugliness to our streets.

I watched the television coverage of the clashes

 between students and police with tears in my eyes.

I know the genuine anguish behind the protests,
and the frustration that the peaceful protests 

should be hi-jacked by activists
intent on causing damage, and injury.

(For those who do not know, student fees in England
are due to increase exponentially,
despite pre-election promises that there would be no increase,
and although the loan system for student repayment of loans
has been changed, it is again

 lower income groups who will be barred from higher education.
I should add that working your way through Uni
in this country is not the option it is in the States.
 We have never been a country where part time work is easy to come by,
and certainly not at the moment.)

I know the desperation of the police,
to be seen safeguarding public order;
however I abhor the increasing evidence
that we are moving towards a society where
every attempt at legitimate protest is met with shows of excessive force.
 There are routine removal of basic human rights,
when access to lavatories, and medical aid

 are routinely barred to protesters.

Now an police investigation will take place,
and, (especially as royalty became embroiled), security overhauled.

Worst of all perhaps,
for whatever reasons seem good to them,
our representatives in Parliament have, yet again,
been seen to be un-trustworthy.
As one woman on a programme dealing with current affairs put it,
" How can we ever believe politicians again?"

So the dark days of winter gather around us.
Not a very cheerful post for a weekend you may say.

Well, in the midst of the gloom I found
this light sabre
in my garden.

The sunlight of the cold
morning struck this blade of cordyline
and made it shine out
in a way the camera
could not possibly capture.

At the head of the post
you see my fragile white bells continue
to shine gracefully under their
blanket of ice crystals.

The world goes on.
There is a strength and resilience,
and a hunger after honesty
and fair dealing that is,
I believe, shining deeply at our core.

Do not discount our ability to rise from our difficulties again,
re-newed from the gloom.
We have done it before.

My motto is always,
"Resurrection now!"

Have a weekend.of renewal and hope

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Aliens have Landed! or Birthday Here at Last !

After so much time in the last week or so blowing out other peoples candles,
our great grandson Zachary's own birthday cake has landed at last.

For a little boy who likes to introduce space monsters or aliens into almost every game he plays,
what better design for your cake than this one
his mum has made.

When we come to the inevitable point in any game where he turns to me,
eyes wide with horror, and cries,
" The Aliens! The Aliens!"
I have always responded with something like,
"Go away Aliens! You can't hurt us!",
because it seemed a better option than any more violent one,
such as, say,
shooting them down.

Come to think of it,
these Aliens don't just appear in games,
but have been spotted on a pretty regular basis in everyday places like
Mc Donalds, Tesco,...

Only last week for instance,
we were cruising through the jungle in a canoe
which was somewhat incongruously upholstered very much like our settee,
and, it being a weekday like any other,
we took the lions and tigers in the undergrowth very much in our stride.

We did just casually point them out to the "babies",
(i.e rag doll, panda, and teddy),
who we had snuggled in a blanket between us for safety.

We didn't even flinch when Zach had to beat off an apparently
"hoooge" crocodile I hadn't spotted.

Then suddenly up went the cry,
"The Aliens! The Aliens!"
and immediately realising our peril I did my imperious,
arm outstretched,
never known to fail,
command of
"Go away Aliens! You can't hurt us!"
in my best "Nana ain't fooling!" voice.

I don't know what affect it had on the Aliens, but Zachary gently patted my hand,
and leaning in close, said kindly,
"It's alright Nana. It's only men in costumes".

At that moment I understood that a fellow of
almost three years old
isn't going to be taken in by silly make believe.

It was a bit of a relief therefore when that flipping crocodile
had to be beaten off again a second later.

I would have felt such a fool to have been floating through that jungle all on my own.

Be Blessed

Sunday, 5 December 2010


To church on a sunlit morning
with colour re-born in our corner of the world;
and the snow, if not the ice,
receding a little more.

During the service we said goodbye to a little family
who are returning to re-settle in their home
in the Seychelles after 10 years here in the U.K.

There were tears even before the "Goodbyes" had begun.

A family of three children and their mother, are also flying off for
Christmas in the Cameroons.

They have been parted from the husband and father of the family
for over 4 years, and will have three short weeks together
before returning to their home here with us.

Permission for the family to be together
is a long time coming.

I know the politics and logistics of
asylum seekers and refugees is fraught with controversy,
but to hear particular, individual family stories,
and see the pain and affects of separation,
make it difficult for me to sweep these things
under the carpet of my concerns over resources,
or my tendency to hard heartedness
when I fear my own interests may be threatened.

The tidy, sterile box of ignorance I could once keep shut
has been irreversibly opened, as the anguish of once remote countries
boils over into our own.

These words come from Rabindranath Tagore's beautiful
(Song Offerings)

"Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not.
Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own.
Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of a stranger.

I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter;
I forget that there abides the old in the new,
and that also there thou abidest.

Through birth and death, in this world or in others,
wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same,
the one companion of my endless life
who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar.

When one knows thee, then alien there is none,
then no door is shut.
Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the touch of the
one in the play of the many".

Life isn't as cute or as streamlined
as the graphic at the start of this post
but springing from the same earth as we do,
wouldn't it be wonderful if
"alien there is none"
could become reality.

I confess I've a long way to go before it can be true in my own heart.

Wherever you are today,
Be Blessed

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Another Birthday

Here is our great grandson Zachary
helping to blow out yet another set of birthday candles
before his own comes around next week.

This time it is his Grandad who has sneaked in with his 50th.

It all helped to brighten this dreak Saturday
when fog and rain painted back the greys and bone bare colours
of our normal winter days.

The white world we've become familiar with in the last week
is running at the edges,
seeping lingering damp into the air,
and clinging to us like a persistent whisper we have tried to forget.

The more strident tones of the news tells us many are
still stranded in wintry strongholds.

I look at the broken patches of remaining snow
and remember my mother's old saying and wondered if these
sullied remnants were really "waiting around for more".

Forecasters are hedging their bets at present I think.

Meanwhile, snug in our family celebrations
I give thanks for our many blessings.

Wherever you are
Be Blessed

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A New Angle on Things

Hubby likes to have lots of projects to keep him busy.
Ever happy to oblige I have been known to suggest a few things
to keep his programe ticking over.

With the extemely cold weather he's moved the area of operations
from our cold garage, where he is re-building our patio table,
into the house.

This doesn't mean he's brought the bare bones of the table,
timber, clamps, saw, sawdust, etc. indoors.
I,m not completely nuts (yet)!

No, it's not his carpentry skills he's imported inside,
but his decorating ones.

Yesterday it was the kitchen and bathroom ceilings
that became that wonderful
brilliant white
beloved of emulsion manufacturers.

Today he was preparing to put two coats of emulsion
on the bathroom walls, so everything was moved out.

The ink on paper picture I did years ago
that you see above,
usually lives on the bathroom wall, thus.

The three birds,
and little bucket of roses
my mother bought me when we were
on holiday together years ago live
on a shelf opposite,
like this.

Plonking them on the bed
while clearing out the bathroom,
they suddenly became a whole new composition for me.

It's given me a raft of ideas for future painting, after I finish the
Autumn Abstractions
I'm working on at present.

Isn't it remarkable how
looking at things a new way can inspire us.

We know that Kandinsky was transported by coming across one of his works unexpectedly upside down.

Suddenly he saw how a painting could be read in an entirely new way.

Similarly a modern painter whose name I can't remember
tells how seeing his living room from outside,
when only able to see the tops of furniture,
and the wonderful shapes, colours, and spaces,
opened up new horizons for his work.

Many of us, like me,
regularly turn work upside down to check colour,
compositional, and tonal values.

It makes perfect sense to me that if our pictorial senses
can be revitalised by simply
exploring a different viewpoint
from the one we usually employ,
then we can only benefit from trying
to see as others see
once in a while.

Lord, You know I can get awfully fixed in my own rut,
only seeing things from my point of view.
Always wanting things to go the way I think is right and good;
wanting them my way in fact.

Take away my fear of letting go of this narrow,
(not to say fixed),
way of seeing.

I give you permission to unsettle me
by turning things on their head once in a while
if I can't be budged out of my comfort zone
any other way.

Surely to understand more, is to forgive more.
Even to love more.
Ah! Is that what I've been afraid of all this time!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

An Advent Gift

Sixty one years ago today,
 (I know this makes me ancient!) 
me and my dad hurried through the snow to a local newsagent where
 an important phone call
was to be made.

Back in those dark and distant days there weren't even public phone  boxes where we lived.
  Can you imagine!

It had been snowing then, as it has been now,
 and it wasn't often I went anywhere with Dad,
so that in itself was exciting enough.

More exciting still was the news we got
 from the phone call that was made for us.
The shop owner,Miss Perkins, took the piece of paper
 with the number to be dialled,
 and made the call to the maternity home in the depths of the country,
 and made the enquiry for us. 

Dad didn't even get to hold the receiver,
 so we both got to hear the news together when
Miss Perkins leaned over the counter and said to me,

"You've got a baby brother!"

My Advent gift!

 Life was never the same again so  
Happy Birthday Broas you roam around the Motor Cycle Show
 just down the road from me in Brum.
(He'll won't see this, but never miss an oportunity to bless somebody with good wishes).

If you would like an Advent gift and are of a Christian persuasion,
or merely curious, there is a lovely one to be found on

when you become a subscriber
you can receive a free download
of the equivalent to an Advent calendar
for your countdown to Christmas.

Keep warm and safe, and
Be Blessed

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Mature Beyond His Years?

The day which started with a glorious walk
in the frosty park yesterday,
(see "Glory in the Morning")
went on to a lovely evening with most of the family.

Our youngest granddaughter Rachel, is at Uni in Sheffield
so was with us just prior to the meal, courtesy of Skype.
(And to think I used to be a Luddite
descrying the encroaching influence of the computer!)

Our gathering was to celebrate
our eldest granddaughter Rebecca's 22nd birthday,
and, from the moment we arrived, her son Zachary kept exhorting us to
"Come on folks, celebrate!"

As we sat at table he leaned forward and said,
"Well, first I'd like to welcome all my guests"

Here he is with his mum preparing to help blow the candles out.

I think he's practicing for the 7th December when he will be 3 years old!

Be Blessed

Friday, 26 November 2010

Glory in the Morning.

While so much of the country is struggling with the early falls of snow,
and treacherous black ice,
we here at the heart of England woke to heavy frost.

Some of us with the luxury of waking l
ater than many,
woke to dazzling blue skies and that brilliant winter sun
that clarifies every detail so it seems freshly minted for you.

The park was especially beautiful.
( I know I think that every day,
but even gloomy days hold some unexpected loveliness).

Of course I hadn't taken my camera,
and hubby had left the house before me to go bow
so I had not been given the usual warning,
- "You'll be sorry if you don't take it."
(O.k. I do usually call it nagging, but you can see I need it).

I'm not sure my lens could have captured the full beauty of it all anyway.

Each leaf newly caught in the sun
had been rhine-stoned over with the finest diama
and crisply finished to perfection.

And there were so many.

Each shape melded with the next
to make a solid garment for the earth;
at least while the frost seams hold to make them chain mail strong.

The bench in the lee of a tree could have been
a wide throne for the the Ice Queen.
Who else could sit upon such an ephemeral veil
of shimmering crystals without obliterating it?
Who else would have blood cold enough to try?

Enough for mere mortals to see it and
move on,
benefiting from the sight of the ordinary made new.

So I walked on,
grateful, and glorying in the beauty of each new detail
assembled under the high blue sky,
with the low sun scrawling long shadows from the trees.
A hidden message, ever moving and changing, written on the earth.

No wonder the impressionists loaded their brushes
with the most vivid colours to capture this
secret, age-old, text.

Then with an inner jolt
I remembered those for whom this glory that I was reveling in
would simply mean more hardship.
Those sleeping in the doorways of the city,
or in some hidey-hole where they might feel a shred more safety or warmth.

I felt the familiar twinges of shame and guilt
that I can do nothing other than open my heart wide in prayer,
and at times my
purse in a gesture of care.

Then I remembered that guilt is not productive,
but the offering of oneself is...
In each moment.
As fully as I can.

So joy, and pain, and the bringing together of the two
march on in the park with me, as in so many, many places.

The frost was already melting as the sun
searched out the corners.

The damp leaves
looking a little sad beside their white coated brothers.
Some still wearing on top of their autumn brown,
a fine ribbing along their veins;
a tracery of the glory that was fast fading.

Be Blessed

P.S. The day after I posted this I got the Christmas appeal from the Salvation Army, who of course always offer help and shelter to the homeless. If you would like to make a gesture of care of your own contact can be made here

Monday, 22 November 2010

Creative Processes

Started a new painting.

It was such a luxury
to climb the stairs to my studio under the roof tiles,
and get down to playing.

The luxury came from the fact that
for the first time I can remember
I let hubby trundle off on foot
to do some shopping on his own.

I usually get behind the wheel and act as chauffeur
for all our errands

other than the ones really near home.
- And here I was not even feeling guilty!

I didn't know what I was going to do.
(Nothing new there then).

Always torn between the figurative and abstraction
I let my choice of materials be my start.

Watercolour and inks to begin;
on top of a an initial sketch made with a pen held loosely
with the tips of the fingers
to allow the greatest fluidity of movement.

That was a joy
for the pure love of seeing the form emerge

through the marriage of colour and line.

Next the joy
comes by letting loose with some gestural marks in acrylic.

Then came the texture,
(laying in paint with the palette knife
-impasto - luscious!)

and the beginning of breaking down the figurative form.

How far will I let this go?
And what is the mysterious process
that will come into action to
inform me
when enough is enough?

The deliberate choice to use both abstract and figurative forms
came at the junction of letting the composition grow freely, like Topsy.

Now the decisions will become more crucial.
I already know that there are some tonal issues I need to sort out.

As everybody knows beginning a piece is easy.
It's the final resolution that's the skillful bit.

So the question when next I climb to my eyrie
will be the same exciting one I always carry with me
when I approach a work in progress.

"What now? What now?"

Be Blessed

Winter's Arch

The bells on the winter
clematis hang from
the arch that stands
over the path leading
from our house
through the

Despite the gales,
the heavy rain,
and the first of
winter's frosts,
the delicate fairy bells
remain suspended
on their fine curlicued stems.
Each morning I look out
to see them,
survivors all,
still strung beneath
the lessening leaves
of the rose
which also twines
around the archway.

The duller the day, the more their fragile beauty seems to shine.

Trembling in the cold,
they could almost be
chiming some

Thanks to these pure
little bells our every
trip to the garage,
to the clothes line,
and even to take
our rubbish
to the bins,
is transformed to a trip underneath a bridal arch.

It's the un-looked for little things which transform our lives
isn't it?

Be Blessed

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Hobbit's Garden

I gathered these bits of greenery from my beloved park.

One of the trees had a bough broken off in the storms.

The spikes are what is left when the cones on an evergreen tree disintegrate.

(I can,t say what kind of evergreen tree this is. Though I love trees I am largely ignorant about their particular species, but I think I'm safe in saying this is off a pine)!

Anyway as they were broken off already I couldn't resist bringing a few bits home and I think it was a friend who first called it a hobbit's garden.

If you look closely you will see that some of the cone remnants are still quite brown and fresh.

Others have obviously been hanging
on to the living tree for some time.

May be a winter or two?

They have become quite greened over and pale by comparison to the younger ones.

Still they have hung on.

Tenacious til the final coup de gras.

Still quite attractive too don't you think?

I leave you with that thought!

Green or Brown, Be Blessed !

Monday, 8 November 2010

Never Go Back?

photo courtesy of

I don,t know if any of you read Elizabeth Goudge's novels,
but they are books which,
whatever their setting,
carry with them the fragrance
of some distant sweetness and grace.

A little old-fashioned by today's standards perhaps,
they give voice to our inner longing
for another world,
taking us in,
and for a while helping us
to be inhabitants of that better place.

In all of Goudge's books place is very important,
and almost always the houses in which the action
of the novels occur become
central characters,
every bit as important as
the l
iving protagonists.

I have fallen in love with a good many of the houses
at the heart of Goudge's books,
but for many years I nursed the dream of a house
that seemed as magical as any of her creations,
but which I only half believed I truly remembered
as a real p
though if it
was, I knew where to look for it.
- or so I thought.

Indeed I
did go and look where memory
told me it should be,
- but-
my dream house was not there.

my house after all have originated
in the pages of a book, and become
interwoven with real memories,
making it as insubstantial as a dream?

I remembered, quite rightly,
the details surrounding the dream house,
but like so much of childho
when viewed through the increasing distance
of the kaleidoscope of time,
things had become hazy.

My memories of the holidays on a
n uncle's farm,
and our visits to the village where
I supposed the house to be,
were real enough.

Surely there
had been a house called
"The Gentle Jane " as well?

In memory I could read the name of the house,
and feel the mellowed presence
which seemed to beckon me
to try and peep in the windows,
and dawdle round the doorw
where fishing rods and baskets
were usually in evidence.

Was it invention to have seen it shut up and
deserted too,
and to have felt
disappointment and indignation
that anybody could treat this lovely house
in such a way?

I knew I would never have left it had it been

The chance to retrace my childhood steps never came,
and then during my father's final illness,
as I was driving down on one of my visits,
on a sudden impulse
I knew I just had to bre
ak my journey.
I needed just a few minutes buffer in my headlong dash
between the two worlds of adult home,
and childhood home.

Without thinking I turn
ed the car
off the main route to Wales,
and followed the once familiar road from Ross,
then over the bridge with the rushing river,
church, and castle,
in the green valley
of Skenfrith.

From there I made the steep climb through
the folded beauty of the hills to
ancient Grosmont.

My first surprise
as I came upon the beginnings of the village
was to see that here the castle and church
were on the opposite side of the
from where I expected them to be.

How could I have got that so wrong, I wondered?
It was unlikely that
both buildings got up
and tiptoed across the road just to confuse me.

I parked the car near t
he Angel
and crossed the road to where "my" house
should have been.
I prowled up and down the hill but nowhere
could I find even a house name similar to
"The Gentle Jane",
let alone the magical presence
of the house its

Defeated, and aware of the precious time
I had already taken out of my schedule
I drove out of the village towards
Cross Ash, Abergave
and my old home.

Obviously I had muddled memories of even
the most basic layout of Grosmont.

How could I hope to winkle out details
of some idealized vision that wafted into my mind
from time to time?
Hardly one of life's prioritie
s at the best of times.
- So,
I let "The Gentle Jane" go.

That is, until last week, when, for some reason
the gentle presence drifted into my mind again.
I reached down for my trusty laptop
to have just one more go
at my search.

And this is what I found!
"Named after the daughter of one of its previous
owners in the 1920's, Gentle Jane is a grade II listed building in the ancient Monmouthshire village of Grosmont on the border with England. It has a history of use as a milliner's, grocer's, butcher's and a baker's premises before being used as a fishing lodge and a private dwelling. In 2004 it was a film set for 'The Baker' staring Damian Lewis and featuring Michael Gambon before opening at a Tearoom and B&B".

If I'd had my thinking head on the day
I'd done my detour to Grosmont

the clue would have been in the fact that in memory
I'd reversed the castle and the church.

When I got out of the car
and crossed the road to look for
"Gentle Jane",

(no "the"),
the house had actually been behind me,
- and I never thought to look!

Now I am looking forward to stepping inside
my enchanted house at last,
although the voice of caution tells me
"the magic will be gone,
never go back".

What do you think?

Whenever it happens that I visit
Gentle Jane
I'll let you know how I get on.

Who knows perhaps you will get there before me!

As my dad used to say,

"If I get there before you do I'll leave a chalk mark.
If you get there before me - rub it out"!

Be Blessed Where Ever You Go

Click on this link to see more of what the Gentle Jane looks like now:-

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Dreams or Memories?

Have you some recurring memory that swirls, like an insubstantial mist in your mind from time to time?

The problem is that though the feeling which accompanies the mind-pictures are real, I am never sure whether some of these evocative memories
are really memories at all;

or merely dreams
that have touched me in some way that causes them to linger.

This little water colour
done on gessoed paper,

is an attempt to capture something of one of my recurring
"dream memories".

My feeling is that I was quite small, perhaps a toddler,
and evening was drawing in.
I was cuddled on my father's shoulder against the cold,
and the sense I get is that there was an urgency about him
as we walked up the path
towards the house.

There was the hint of snow in the air,
along with the a strong wind tossing in the bare trees:
the house sitting in the lee of a steep hill.

As we approach the house the door opens,
light streams out
and I feel some of the anxiety of the moment drain away.
And there the fragment ends.

In some way that I can't explain there seems to be a connection
to my grandmother's death
attached to these impressions.

I have no way to check the veracity of this dream memory,
though I do know the house,
and that
it at least is real.

When I came to paint my impressions,
as usual ,the subject dictated it's treatment,
and everything was pared down to essentials.

There was so little to hold on to ...
yet it keeps returning.

Perhaps it is important to me
because my father was away at war while I was young
and my memories of him then are so few.

I don't want to give you the idea I sit around
steeped in nostalgia all day
but there is another dream memory which I had already
decided must be totally devoid of any basis in truth,
but has turned out to be real after all.

And really very nice.

Tell you about it in my next post.

Be Blessed .

Saturday, 6 November 2010

November Colours

After such a wordy post yesterday it seems good just to have a feast of colour, so here is a taste of the colour left in the garden this sunny November morning.

Last night was Bonfire night so naturally with fires and fireworks there had to be pelting rain and strong winds!

Nevertheless there seemed to be lots of folk having fun - and the garden survived it all well into the bargain.

There really shouldn't be this variety still in the garden, but the strange weather patterns are causing all sorts of surprises. As it is I can't upload any more photos as my blog publisher is going mad today.

The over-sized print isn't my idea either,but due to the same problem with the automatic publishing. Some of this type spacing is pretty strange too, but hey! like the unseasonal garden, just another

May your weekend be full of colour, joy,
and the sweet refreshing dew of rest.

Be Blessed