Saturday 28 February 2009

Ga Ga Google?

Curiosity being what it is, after the Followers Widget Fiasco, I did a little clicking; this soon showed me that the icon of two little boxes on the new style arrangement, simply lets you see another selection of your followers. OK, guess we could live with that. Then I tried the 'Google Friend Connect' button, and was treated to a voice explaining exactly what this was all about.

Apparently, people can sign on with their Google Account, Yahoo, AOL, Open ID etc, should they wish to leave a comment on your blog. Doesn't seem to be too disastrous - but then, the voice launches into a host of other possibilities that made me want to run for cover. I shall need to listen again and digest the information before going any further. How much attention do I want to attract to my little corner of Blogland? Aye, there's the rub, as one far greater than I once said.

I leave the jury still out on the Google Friend Connect...Friend or Fiend springs to mind.

Did I hear myself use the word 'springs'? That produced a leap in another direction, due to a somewhat different interpretation of the word, of course. Spring is struggling to get away from the grasp of old Winter, at least here in the English corner of Blogland, and a quick rummage brought to light a relevant poem, written in the days when I had a garden worthy of the name, as well as large windows that let me admire the changing seasons in all their glory. Without more ado, here it is, complete with original title suggested by the day on which I wrote it, all those years ago.

Winter Solstice

In the garden
morning frost patches,
still undisturbed,
add to the cold light
of fast disappearing day.
Dried seed heads brown remains
stand stiffly on thin twigs
already sprouting
yellow-green leaf clusters
eager for Spring, epitomising
beauty of birth and death
on a single stem.

Friday 27 February 2009

Fiendish Fun

The overnight changes Blogger/Google imposed on the 'Followers' section yesterday, rankled. How dare they mess with the little gallery of pics that were a constant reminder of friendly Blogland travellers? As a consequence, before I retired for the night (sounds better than saying before I had to get up the stairs to avoid my behind gluing itself to the chair for another couple of hours) I dispensed with the lot of them...

However, this morning, I came up with a better idea. Thursday's enforced layout left a mere six icons showing in the followers' box in the left hand column; I suddenly wondered, could I choose to move them to the larger 'gadget' box at the foot of the page? Yay! I could - now they make a colourful base for my daily diatribe to rest its dainty feet upon!

So chuffed was I by this technological wizardry, that all thoughts of a 'proper' post went out the window, in my eagerness to pass on my findings to anyone else who had been perturbed by the recent cold hearted extermination of followers' pics.

It seems a good time to let you read a different sort of questioning that came to light in my folder of past musings, especially as there are so many memes flying around on other blogs, begging the same question....


The search for self
is constant.
Who am I,
and why?
Would I recognise myself
if I was passing by?
Do we ever really see
as others see us?
Or will we need
the hindsight of eternity
to free us
of our misconceptions?

P.S. You will need to click on the 'Comment' option in order to view my 'rogues gallery' in all its glory at the bottom of the page.

Thursday 26 February 2009

Blame Wordsworth, Really

Although yesterday, it was the art gallery at the side of Poet-in-Residence's blog that wouldn't leave my mind. A beautiful, uncluttered picture with the caption 'I wandered lonely as a cloud'...I'd noticed it the day before, and it has been sitting in the forefront of my mind ever since. So to Blogger and Bard alike, sorry for pinching your words...

I wandered lonely as a cloud
until I met a Blogland crowd
of artists, writers, happy snappers
who capture life without its wrappers.

Their thoughts fly freely to the pages;
let loose love, or pent up rages
at every one of life's conditions.
They only ask for recognition

that their blogs have been digested
as reward for time invested.
No gold or silver do they seek -
just readers for another week.

Though many like to give awards,
upon this subject I cross swords;
prefer an email to say 'Praise be!'
to all whose many skills amaze me.

So, as I travel Blogland's roads,
I thank you all, I love you loads;
and if you wonder who they be -
that secret's just twixt them and me!

Wednesday 25 February 2009


Quick change of venue today, people. Thanks to the Sunday edition of 'Keiths Ramblings' which took till Tuesday to get to my computer, I decided to share today a long, long ago account of a short visit I paid there one afternoon, off in the mists of time.

To really appreciate it, you will need to wind your imagination clock forward a couple of months from now, to an English April day, then back to a year when Spring decided to make herself apparent in no uncertain manner to the waiting crowds in Eastbourne.

Keith's visit, on a day in February, meant he had to use his imagination to supply pictures like the one I'm about to draw, and his images were so similar to mine, I couldn't resist jumping on his bandwagon. This is the first version of the poem. I have since tried to lick it into shape until it becomes an accepted poetic form and rhyme scheme, but the absence of both constrictions gives the sharpest picture, so here it is, painted with loving brushstrokes on a sunlit canvas.

Summer Season Prelude

Two o'clock in Eastbourne;
scaffolds on the pier
clank and echo
as the painters work.

The Season's near.

On this sunny April day
you can tell it's on its way.

Bare feet,
bald heads, pinkish in the sun:
bare skin -
fur hat?:
deckchair canvasses that start to flap
as three old ladies drag chairs
all along the Prom.

Two of them have settled
but the third one wants to move,
and sits in solitary state
gazing at the waves.

Ice creams:
trannies blaring, loud:
anything is possible
with a seaside crowd.

Two pairs of glasses perch
upon a single nose.
So many people sitting
in such silent, basking rows.

On reading this through, I think I should maybe point out that back in those innocent days, a 'trannie' was nothing more nor less than a Transistor Radio, and had no connotations of a deviant life style. Don't get too sunburned or windblown on your trip to the seaside, will you?!

Tuesday 24 February 2009

For Patty... alii who want the grizzly details of tree felling. I'd been quoted £195 for the work, plus £5 for applying a noxious substance to ensure no further growth of shoots or roots. Considering the years of joy the tree had given me, I considered this a fair deal.

Just after nine the truck plus tree shredder arrived outside - and pretty promptly disappeared. Had they changed their minds? Did the tree warn them off their murderous intent? Mine was not to reason why... until after half an hour or so, men and vehicle returned. When they stopped here the first time, apparently they'd discovered a slow puncture in one of their tyres, and pootled off to get it fixed before it had to cope with the impending weight of the sawn tree.

I stood at the kitchen sink, washing up the debris that accumulates in my kitchen whenever I'm in it, like iron filings that can't resist a magnet. Considering I mostly only have to cater for me, I do manage to use an inordinate amount of equipment for the simplest task. But enough of my woes. (I hate washing up!) I sploshed the hot suds around and watched the Man At Work.

The young Steve has lovingly tended my tree over the past ten years or more, giving it hair cuts from time to time, and keeping it in shape, so I've seen him turn from a baby faced youth just starting out in his own business, to a confident young man who scales the trunk like a mountaineer, swathed in ropes and shiny metal thingies with odd names like carrabiener - I think.

He climbs up out of sight of my window. Below, his father lobs a length of red cord to him, attached to a small chainsaw, which Steve hoists up and fixes to his belt with one of the shiny metal doodahs. No possibility of beheading anyone if he accidentally drops the saw! Both men wear fluorescent, yellowy, lime green jerkins, bright orange safety helmets and froggy looking goggles. Steve has ear muffs, too, which make his head seem like an insect with bulging, sideways facing eyes.

One by one, the small, leafy branches drop to the ground. Father gathers them and feeds the gaping maw of a large, bright orangey red shredder on a trailer behind the truck. The motor grinds and whines, and the chainsaw buzzes its less than musical tune.

Pale gold sawdust snow falls gently down over my refuse bins, and I soon have a golden carpet instead of a lawn. Once the smaller branches have been lopped, Steve calls to Dad for a larger chainsaw. The tree trunk grew bifurcated, and the centre of the Y shape gives Steve a secure foothold, once he arrives at that level. He cuts the thick branches in sections of about twelve inches each, and I watch as he slices through one until it is almost detached. He stops the saw, lowers it to dangle mid-air, while he manoeuvres the almost sawn through chunk until he can free it, hold it, then drop it safely to thud to the ground beneath. The pieces look small, but watching Dad pick them up, it becomes quite clear they are heavy.

Eventually, after three changes of size, the biggest saw starts on the thick lower trunk. By now, Steve is on a small aluminium ladder resting up against the tree. I had asked if it would be possible for me to have two or three seat height chunks from this, and Steve said 'No Problem'. So that's what he did. I now have them in my back garden. The men had to roll them, like mammoth wheels - they are so heavy. I couldn't even shunt one an inch sideways when I tried later, so I may be on the lookout for a weightlifter, come summertime, who'd be able to reposition them!

So endeth the era of the Eucalyptus. Strangely enough, because I still have virtually the whole of the lower trunk, it feels as though the tree is still here, and its only now, as I write this last paragraph, that the odd tear has trickled down.

I wrote the next lines for a very different occasion, many years ago, but suddenly thought they might be oddly applicable here.


Joined by a bond
closer than any
physical unity;
about a single nucleus,

Monday 23 February 2009

From The Prompt Corner....

Thanks to Angie Ledbetter, who prompted me to write a poem inspired by the word 'Heartwood' as well as David Mcmahon who was kind enough to mention my post of that name this morning, I shall let you see the resulting lines, and keep waffle to a minimum today as I await the Tree Surgeon's visit to reduce my poor tree to chippings.

The Heart Of Heartwood

Heartwood, despite death,
continues as an itegral part
of the growing, living tree.

Dark with age, it provides
a strong core to support
new, young sapwood.

Families provide
a similar central nucleus
for children as they grow
to maturity around them.

We lightly use the term
'Family Tree' and talk of
'returning to our roots';
maybe a more apt simile
than we ever imagined.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Follow My Nose

No, this doesn't mean I'm going to launch into some smelly story to wrinkle the olfactory nerves of anybody within sniffing distance. It's simply the way I seem to be choosing what/where to 'blogabout' next. That is NOT a typographical error, but a word which should be considered in the light of a 'walkabout'. In the hazy moments of waking up, before the necessity of facing the day in a vertical position, I tend to ponder this subject. Everyone needs a special incentive to get up in the morning. For years, work was obviously 'it', though not a particularly exciting theme, but with retirement, the picture alters.

I've never been a 'jolly hockey sticks, let's go get 'em, up, up and way!' person, preferring the more contemplative life. (OK, truthfully, a procrastinating dreamer, with very practical overtones which have managed to give me a modicum of balance in what could otherwise turn into a private LaLaLand.)

After deciding this morning to follow the signpost to 'Mum's Brigade', as hinted at a day or so back, ( maybe entitled 'Adventures or Misadventures?') , once I'd read all the comments that had been whispered in my computer's ear overnight, that subject went by the board, out the window, off the scale.

I was totally intrigued that my simple, Saturday shopping trip had caught the imagination of those who'd stopped by. Doesn't everyone think about their own daily actions in a similar way? Then I realised, of all the blogs I've read, it's really only Weaver of Grass who gives similar, daily doses of what life is like in her neck of the woods - literally - lucky lady! This doesn't mean all the other blogs aren't interesting, simply that a sense of place doesn't always accompany the subject, other than in photographs. Beautiful though these usually are, they somehow don't seem as personal as scenes described by the mind of the Blogperson, as opposed to photographic equipment; and I wondered why? What makes me feel this way? It can only be that I love the brain's translations, rather than the digital camera's.

So, Anvilcloud, I think you may be disappointed, if you are waiting for napple notes to suddenly blossom with photographs. Perhaps when the wellspring of words run dry, I may be tempted to create a pictorial blog. Who knows where my nose ( oh, I enjoyed that!) will lead me, and thereby you, my reader?!

Pause for Thought

There is a wonderment in being. So many people are too intent
on solving everyday problems, never seeing beauty.
They are content with increasing material success
and see no riches in simple pleasures.
Wind ripples on water, wind waves in grass or treetops
are sights which in no way impress them
as would man made treasures.
Unheeding, always too busy to pause, they pass by wealth
of a kind far greater than any for which they strive.
Diamond collarettes that spiders weave in morning hedgerows,
they do not see. Later in the day, those same bushes
alive with drone of insects or hum of bees, leave no doubt
as to their value in diurnal patterning of Nature's complex plan
whose riches are intrinsic and eternal, though unrecognised
by unobservant Man.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Sunny Saturday

What a joy to go outside and feel warmth! Even though we've had a few sun blessed days recently, today feels different because of that extra touch of heat. I needed to look for a birthday present for one of my very good neighbours, and with no clear idea of what that was to be, I sauntered off towards the town centre, as Saturday means market day.

Now don't get too excited at these words. No great pens of livestock, or acres of grounds filled with tempting wares; simply a small stretch of road (a pedestrian precinct) between a thirteenth century church at one end, and a MacDonalds at the other, with a few stall holders arriving in the early morning to set up stands and striped canopies for the day.

Piled up boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables add their bright colours to the grey pavements. One all purpose 'anything for a pound' display has bin liners, dusters, batteries, children's colouring sets, acrylic blankets and a whole host of bits and bobs that through the seasons change to include relevant items - Christmas stationary, diaries, sunglasses, knitting wool - anything goes! You name it, and probably it will turn up one day!

Opposite this and just in front of the old church wall, the flower seller stands before buckets and containers of bright spring flowers; you see the nonchalant sidling up of men who 'don't do flowers' but think maybe a bunch for their significant other could be a good idea! Pensive ladies hover over the blooms, trying to decide which would make the best arrangement for that special event they're trying to cater for, flowers not on their shopping list of essentials, but so tempting there in the sun, they need to think how far their money will stretch - one bunch, or two?

There are stalls offering sweets, toys, artist's materials, clothes, shoes, makeup. The man selling CD's and tapes has a player blaring out, of all things, American country music to the passers by.
People meander along in the sun; one or two perch on nearby wooden seats, waiting to be picked up by car drivers who are allowed into a special turning area long enough to collect a passenger.

There may have been markets held near this spot as far back as the eleventh or twelfth century, for as well as the proximity of St Faiths, the natural spring at Homewell, just to the rear of it, would surely have been a focal point for people to congregate? Now the level of the small cemetery surrounding the church is several feet higher than the modern pavements. A deep, round topped retaining wall provides an ideal place to perch, and I took advantage if this while I juggled with wallet, stamp book and envelopes so's I could post them in the double width, pillar box red, old fashioned letter box in the angle of the cemetery wall.

No body was in a rush. Shoppers dawdled along, enjoying the sunshine and as soon as I'd found a present that I thought would fit the bill, I was content to dawdle along with them. As I finally turned homeward past the back of the church where the ivy covered tombstones are at shoulder height, even higher than the boundary wall, I thought how different it was from the day I spoke of yesterday, in October 1987. The storm had decimated the trees in the churchyard and I spent several minutes, that long ago morning, leaning on the railings of the footpath along the back of the cemetery to mourn their passing.

The Burying Ground

Trees in near parallel lines
lie horizontally across the old churchyard,
measuring their lengths on the ground
like bolts of material being tallied
on a counter with a built in yardstick.

Precise lengths, not left to chance;
fabric enough for the finished garments
and no more. Each tree a precise length.

Now their only fate is to be sawn
into patchwork pieces of logs;
threads of twigs and branches
snipped off like loose cotton ends
on unpicked seams.

The tombstones are enveloped by
fast dying branches, where before
it had been only dying leaves.
Sere crisp amber leaves that had
slowly rustled to the ground
when their summer's work was done
and they prepared to return
their substance to the waiting earth.

Friday 20 February 2009


A dictionary definition says this is ' the older, non living central wood of a tree or woody plant, usually darker and harder than the younger sapwood. It is also called duramen. '
You don't need to be much of a language specialist to see the way heartwood can be understood to convey age and strength, as well as being something close to the heart of Man.
Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised then, by all the comments generated by the coming demise of my Eucalyptus tree. I sympathise with everyone who has had to say farewell to their own trees at some point, for whatever reason.

The BBC 2 programme about cassowaries last evening only served to highlight how vital trees are to much of life on Earth. With a large part of their natural habitat destroyed by a cyclone, these huge birds may be facing extinction. The Australian rain forest fruits supply them with food, and the birds in turn help disperse the seeds far and wide in their droppings, thus ensuring the continuation of many tree species. A tit for tat arrangement. Scientists are currently trying to determine exactly how many cassowaries survived the cyclone and its subsequent mayhem caused by not enough rain forest left to sustain the birds where they are at present.

With trees as a subject hovering around my mind, I remembered some particularly vivid images I saw back in the '80's. In this part of the country the winds mostly let us off lightly, with only occasional demonstrations of their power. Thanks to the computer having a better memory for dates than I have, I pinpointed this to the night of 15-16 October 1987. This computer 'brain' also told me it was the worst storm in the South since 1703, killing 18 in England and 4 in France, which had also been hit. Apparently, the air pressure was equivalent to a category 3 hurricane, with wind speeds equal to a category 1 - but for some obscure reason beyond my comprehension, it could not be called a hurricane. What's in a name, I ask myself?!

Because of the wind direction compared to the position of the house I lived in then, I actually slept the night away peacefully, untroubled by the howling wind or its games of toss the roofs/chimney/trees...

Next morning, the widespread damage was evident. But the most vivid picture only hit me when I walked into town along the main road. Large, mature trees lined the pavement on one side, and had provided shelter from hot summer sun or driving winter rain for many long years. I was astonished to find one totally uprooted tree still in the process of being demolished. Luckily, it hadn't fallen across either road or pavement, but had ended up lying on the grass verge. But the size of the root ball was what amazed me; now it stood at ninety degrees to the horizontal, I could see it was at least five or six feet side to side. And wind had blown it over as though it was no more than a matchstick. How small and weak we all are, compared to the power of natural forces.


I watched a bulldozer using its claw
to worry matted tree roots,
like a bull terrier worrying a rat.

The tree shuddered horribly
the length of its being.

Then the sickening burr
of chainsaws rent the air,
as their blades cut
the once living wood,
sending sweet smelling sawdust
spraying in golden arcs
reminiscent of blood spurting
beneath a surgeon's knife.

Four arms
could not have encircled its girth
yet the tree had been uprooted
by invisible currents of turbulent air;
air full of oxygen synthesised
by a lifetime's leaves.

Thursday 19 February 2009

Sufficient Unto The Day

When the two men came to line the drain earlier this week, they had concerns about the exact layout of the main ones beneath ground, with the end result they actually did nothing but a lot of humming and haa-ing. Yesterday another chap appeared with a new fangled, underground camera. Now I wait with trepidation for a telephone call to give me the results. Can't you just see the pound signs looming? Time will tell, and it will be soon enough to wince after they give me a quote.

In the meantime, my beautiful eucalyptus tree which must have sparked everything off, must be offered up to the nature gods as a sacrifice. Next Monday a different team of specialists will come and demolish it, branch by branch, before my very eyes. It has served me very well since 1992 when I planted it - a £1.50, eighteen inch, spindly youngster from the Woman's Institute in Chichester.

It has already cost me a fair bit over the years, keeping it under control, and will now notch up another £200, but I don't begrudge a penny of it . I've adored it from day one, and only wish I had a garden big enough to let it continue growing in all its glory. It has shaded my house from the broiling summer sun, tossed its grey-green leaves at the frolicking winds of March and provided foliage for numerous bouquets of flowers. Life will be a sadder and a hotter place without it. Hail and Farewell, O Tree!

When I moved here in the far off 1990's, the minute patch of grass I laughingly called a front garden, was only surpassed by the slab paved monstrosity at the rear, which laboured under the grand name 'patio'. Granted, there were patio doors leading to it, but that was where the similarity ended. Luckily, vertical blinds allowed me to block it out of my sight most of the time. Most of the square slabs were an unprepossessing stone grey, but the former lady of the house was a pink freak, and along with several pink carpets, pink hallway and pink highlighted living room ceiling, she had even chosen dingy pink slabs by way of a change from the light stone ones. Yuk.

At the time of viewing, there had been one standard rose in a slab sized patch of earth in one corner, and three hanging baskets on various fence posts. All of which were gone by the day I actually moved in. On the plus side, they did leave the light bulbs and the place was scrupulously clean - including the slabs which glared their hideousness in the hot sun (it was one of those summers - we do get them occasionally). Not hard to see why I wrote the following ditty...

Alternative Garden

The garden was totally concrete,
its chequerboard flagstones a sight
to dampen the gardening spirit,
though bathed in a warm summer light.

No flora or fauna enlivened the view,
no shade from a tree or a shrub;
not a solitary leaf, or a stem, or a flower
to sustain an unfortunate grub,

should it dare to put in an appearance
by wriggling under the gate,
or scaling the slatted wood, vertical fence
in its unending search for a mate.

I bought a few tubs and containers,
plus some composts in colourful sacks,
all providing a small splash of colour
as they stood in their teetering stacks

awaiting the hesitant, first potting up
of the trays full of tender young shoots,
all eager(like me) in their spacious new home
to establish some permanent roots.

Unaided, my garden apparently thrived.
Now slugs slither, while passing cats fight,
as aphids, black fly, lace wings and snails
munch away to their small hearts' delight...

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Busy Busy Busy

You know what it's like- some things have to be attended to ' now' - like the continuing drain saga, which has blossomed into a cutting-down-a-big-tree-saga, as well.
Therefore, for no apparent reason, here's a little something to keep the lines of communication open, along with the drains.

Eastern Delight

Across the Gobi Desert
came the camel caravans
with pungent Eastern spices
from oriental lands.
The merchants in their flowing robes
traversed the shifting sands
and the Silk Road
gave its bounty
into their outstretched hands.

From Persia and from India,
from market or bazaar
they came to trade
their precious goods
and carry them afar.
The finest silk from China
was prized by queens and kings
for its vibrant, glowing colours
bright as butterflies' jewelled wings.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

As Promised

The Weald And Downland Open Air Museum. Don't you just love the pompous title? About thirty two years ago, we simply referred to it as 'Singleton'. My son's school was having a coach trip there, and as one of the usual 'Mum Brigade' - those unpaid helpers who used to frequent schools in the days before everyone was looked at with suspicion of having an ulterior motive for being there - I and several other stalwart Mum's had been co-opted to take small groups of the kiddywinks under our wings as they toured the site. In those days, the number of exhibits were fairly minimal. This meant a good of walking between one and the other, over typical countrified terrain i.e. grassy paths, prone to mud in wet weather.

Yes, you guessed. The appointed day dawned, damp and drear. The children had already been warned to take Wellington boots and waterproof coats, and when the coach drew up to the school gates, there was a great waving of plastic bags bulging with boots and packed lunches - it was going to be a long day!

All I knew about Singleton at that time, was the fact that it was close enough not to have to suffer too long the 'Are we nearly there, Miss?' from a coachload of excited kids, plus the fact that it had interesting old houses to look at once we actually arrived.

The rain kept up a steady downpour, relieved by the possibility of huddling under cover in places like the smithy, where you could watch the balcksmith demonstrating his skills, or in the working flour mill, where a 'Dusty Miller' did the same and even offered bags of stoneground flour for sale.

The children had a fine old time, as children will, and us Mums learned a thing or two about the museum as a whole. It was only the beginning of the grand place it's turned into over the intervening thirty years.

It is a 50 acre site now, which boasts almost as many historic buildings, dating from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century. These have all been rescued from destruction by careful dismantling, preserving, then rebuilding in their original form at Singleton. There is a timber framed farmhouse from Kent; a market hall from Hampshire ; a Victorian school; a medieval shop; joiners, carpenter, glaziers, plumbers workshops; a forge and working water mill - the list goes on and on.

If you go to, you will be able to take a virtual tour of the houses and see how they are trying to truly create the correct 'feel' both for the interiors and gardens of these amazing buildings; to bring to life the houses, farmlands and rural industries of the last 500 years.

My favourite was 'Bayleaf' - the Hall/House. Standing within its reconstructed walls, the whole feel of the place was somehow exactly as it must have been long ago, when it was almost a living, breathing entity, full of life. Living history, and no mistake. The ground floor was one large room and you could imagine the whole household assembled at harvest time, to celebrate the fruits of their labours after another year of hard work. The upstairs caused the children much hilarity, when they discovered the toilet facilities - a simple hole on the outside wall, with the street directly below. The mind boggles, and so did the children.

I read on the Internet yesterday, they now have heavy horses (Shires) to demonstrate traditional farming methods in action. A horse drawn furniture van and a traditional gypsy caravan have also been preserved for posterity - oh, I could witter on all morning, but their site will do it so much better - unless you can manage to visit the place yourself!

Monday 16 February 2009


I should have kept out my bricks and mortar yesterday, after all. What with Carolina's housebuilding-alterations, and thoughts of the Weald and Downland Museum (I will elaborate on that some when), what should I see on TV last night but Time Team. For non UK readers, a group of archaeologists excavate a promising sight over a three day period, and a team of experts hold forth on their findings. Yesterday they were in Radcot, Oxfordshire.

In what looked to be a completely innocuous field, by the end of the programme, they had made the most amazing discoveries. The range of artifacts found told their own story. The deeper the team dug, the further back in time we travelled.

Romans must have first inhabited the site, for a large boundary ditch was found, thanks to details picked up by the geophysicist's machinery, and there was pottery which confirmed the date. On top of this, the centuries added different stories layer by layer, all the way through to the time of the Roundheads and Cavaliers. Masses and masses of pottery sherds helped explain how this site had been occupied. There is a good article on the programme if you Google 'Time Team Archaeologists+Radcot'.

As with all builders in bygone days, materials are better found locally, and though I'm no expert, I guess flint was easy to find in the chalky lands of the South Downs. There are certainly flint buildings to be seen all over the south of England. In fact, there are numerous little alleyways whose flint walls guide one to the shopping centre in the Havant of today, and in nearby Chichester the old town walls are also made from this most traditional of materials. Which brings me round to my finale for today.

Castle Wall

Rough flint wall warmed by the sun,
mingling sharp edges
with satin smooth centres
of broken stones, which invite fingertips
to caress their dappled beauty.

Formed when the world was young
they remained hidden from prying eyes
until craftsmen fashioned them
into this battlement.

Split stones re-assembled
in man made patterns;
light and shade from the sun
echoing natural contrasts
in the central core of the flint;
muted, semi-translucent grey brown,
the colour of fish scales.

Sunday 15 February 2009


It had to happen sooner or later - the blight of the Piscean personality, or at least, mine. My astrological birth chart gives the game away; the planets are splayed around the circle in just the way my mind tends to splay its thoughts. There are such a multitude of options when I sit in front of the keyboard each day, that I occasionally have difficulty in making a decision of what to write about. It's not that I can't think of a subject, more that I have too many of them crowding and calling to be let loose.

First , I thought I'd continue with the animal theme, but after David's note yesterday about maybe doing a 'verse and worse' sparked off by the word pelican, I 'd hate to spoil his thunder, so let well alone.

Then a conversation with a friend about The Weald and Downland Museum made me think of houses and building methods thereof, but I've put my bricks and mortar away for the day, so that was a no no.

Then Dr John wanted a further poem on the joys of falling asleep at the wrong time - and so the day has slipped away, while indecision rules. There's Pisces Fish me struggling up and down stream both at once and standing still, or at best, going round in circles.

So when Granny On The Web added her two pennyworth to the melting pot, I was only too pleased to get the nudge finally, to write on the (sad or happy) subject of tears. To a watery Piscean, they are like life's blood, as often as not, if they run true to type ( the person, not the tears).

At least these days, with films on TV to watch in the comfort of your own home, it's not so bad. But Oh! Teenage dates at a cinema could be torture, if the film caused the tears to flow. Whether it had a happy or tragic ending, it WAS the ending, and you knew in a few moments the house lights would go up, and there you'd be (correction, I'd be) bleary eyed, red faced, and on a bad day, sobbing, just in time for poor unsuspecting boy friend to think he was out with a monster!

It was just as bad in school, or at work. A sharp reprimand, if I considered it unjust, and immediately, down would drop the tears. There was no way on Earth I could control the drippy reaction. And it was no better if I saw another person in tears, mine squirted out in sympathy, rolling quietly down my cheeks and making me feel totally wet and a weed.

I'm not sure that the happy tears are very much better, either. A piece of music, a beautiful painting or other work of art, has only got to imprint its picture on my retina and boom, there's me welling up. And laughter, well how bad can it get? Laughing like a hyena, snorting with mirth but with tears pouring down all in one, is not a nice experience, let alone a pretty sight.

To all those Blogland people who have managed to reduce me to tears, both happy and sad , I think I should say 'a plague on all your houses' , but on the contrary, I salute you for being such a great bunch of multi-talented humanity! May you long continue.

Saturday 14 February 2009

Madagascar - Cartoon or Cat Nap?

While allowing any remaining Valentine vagaries to pass by, this afternoon I decided to watch the last film I'd recorded over the Christmas holidays. It is the only one left on the disc, and I need to erase it, to have the disc at the ready to record some future delight. Don't tell any one, but this was to be the third time I've attempted to watch it. The first two occasions, were evenings when TV had little to offer. I like letting the Inner Child revel in a cartoon type film from time to time; Wallace and Grommet are top favourites, but Madagascar looked promising, too.

Why were both attempts unsuccessful you ask? Simply because, after the first fifteen minutes or so, the Inner Curtain, never mind Child, descended, and I was out like a light, waking up as the credits rolled. OK, so perhaps it had been too late in the day to expect any other result. Hence today's decision to make the third attempt in daylight.

I got engrossed with the notion of zoo animals escaping to freedom, and enjoyed more than one giggle at particularly apt pieces of dialogue or animation. Today, I even got past the shipwreck and landed on a Desert Island before 'Poof' - you guessed. Out like light. And the credits were rolling - again.

To add insult to injury, as I stopped the disc and the TV screen resorted to the current BBC 2 screen, what should be showing but a nature programme entitled 'Meerkat Manor'.

That gave me the final push to choose an animal theme for today's poem and to keep it on an Inner Child level. Let's hear it for kids of all ages - self included, naturally.

A Day At The Zoo

Sunday, for a birthday treat
we visited the Zoo,
with pelicans and penguins
and exciting things to do.

We fed some baby lambs,
milked a noisy nanny goat.
When a crocodile smiled,
we saw right down his throat!

We road a lumbering elephant,
held squiggly wriggly snakes,
watched a hippopotamus
who splashed into a lake.

He frightened all the sea lions.
They made their flippers clap,
until two keepers fed them fish
from a basket with a flap.

Brightly coloured parakeets
flew around and squawked,
while one clever cockatoo
sat on his perch and talked.

Then Daddy laughed
and said it sounded just like me;
and I said I thought
we should all go home for tea...

Friday 13 February 2009

Mushy Stuff

With the hearts and flowers standing by to swamp everywhere with Valentine schmooze, I thought I might as well add a bit to the saccharine dreams, and leave you all to ponder pros and cons of loving, while I gird my loins, not to mention my jeans, ready to sally forth to the dentist a bit later on. Maybe it will help show I am not a complete dyed in the wool cynic at heart. Oops - did I actually mention that red palpitating thing on the eve of St Valentines Day? I must be slipping...


Do I create you
from my own wishes
when suddenly you appear
at unexpected times?
Unbidden, my mind creates
a vacuum of suspense
and your form rushes
to fill the void
and breathe new life into
my existing being.

Nothing can parallel
the surge of joy
that such chance meeting brings.
Love's blossom blooms
in the arid desert of a day
till then without you
and my very soul takes wing.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Never Mind The Time, What's The Date Mr Wolf?

My Blogland calendar tells me today is 12th February, but that is only in my little corner. Some inhabitants will dispute this, depending on which order their morning sun rises, but I think everyone will agree, whenever the 14th arrives, it will be St Valentine's Day; Valentine, the patron saint of lovers. I've read blogs where a countdown has been in progress for days and days.

Dates and their significance I find intriguing. Only this Monday, I had a strange phone call from an electronic voice, reminding me of a dental appointment I have for 11 30am, Friday the thirteenth. I can almost feel some readers wince at this snippet of information. Maybe they don't like dentists, or maybe they suffer from triscadecaphobia (fear of number thirteen for those who are not familiar with this elegant word.)

In my usual haphazard fashion, this morning I read my emails, much as once upon a time I would have read actual letters, then became enthused to write a reply or two. Like you would.
Surfacing eventually into the real world, I find it is almost lunch time, and no breakfast has passed my lips, other than a glass of water.

A banana served to fend off stomach thinking about eating itself, and I decided to grill a couple of rashers and toast a slice of bread, as more a brunch than a breakfast. If I then have a bowl of homemade vegetable soup somewhere between one and two, I should be round to a reasonable evening mealtime without eating more than I should, or skipping a meal altogether. Fine. When I take the small pack of bacon from the fridge, the best before date says '14 February'. Here we are back to Valentine's Day. Luckily, there were only four rashers in the pack, so with two gone this morning, I have all day tomorrow to decide how to use the other two before they immediately turn into a pumpkin on the stroke of midnight, Friday. Might make bacon and lentil soup. Yum.

I never received a Valentine card in the days of my youth, though I think I may have come close, once. I was between 18-21 - my ballroom dancing days, as I like to think of them. One particular 14th February came and went, and at the following Saturday's dance in the Pier Ballroom, as I whirled around the floor with one of my regular dance partners, he quizzed me about how many cards I'd received. When the answer 'None!' was given, he was strangely disbelieving.

Mum and Auntie Joan were at the dance as well ( they liked an occasional girls night out) and when John appealed to them for confirmation, I thought my Mum looked a tad sheepish. She never owned up, but I got the distinct feeling she knew more than she was letting on. My boy friend at that time did not meet with her approval, and I couldn't help but think maybe John had sent a card that was intercepted by Mama, thinking it may have been from He Who Shall Be Nameless. I shall never really know. But it might have been fun to get just one, just once.

I've been scribbling some lines, but am not sure I've managed to convey the idea as I mean to. Early English Valentines were often works of art, handmade; a far cry from the commercialised two-a-penny printed cards of today. Not that they are priced in pennies, more like pounds.
But youth of today doesn't give an impression of fidelity, and this gave me the idea that half a dozen bought cards can so easily be sent to half a dozen different boys/girls with minimum effort on the part of the sender, let alone minimum affection. That was what I aimed to express with today's 'work in progress' effort. Helpful hints wanted...

Will You Be Mine?

Victorians made
handcrafted favours as gifts
for Valentine's Day;
intricate designs,
elaborate and unique.
Secret messages from an admirer
who remained a mystery
to their beloved.

Now cards are mass-made,
multiple duplicity
made easy for roving eyes.

'By one get one free'.
Does this apply to lovers
in our modern world?

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Interlude Continues

No surveyor turned up yesterday. About four o'clock, I decided to ring the company and see what the hold up was. They had, apparently, booked the call for Wednesday, not Tuesday, so I continue to wait. Whenever you're waiting for a visit like that, I think it becomes difficult to settle to anything much, as there is the feeling you'll probably be interrupted at some crucial point of whatever you've decided to do.

With each news bulletin recently, our TV screens have been bombarding us with terrible pictures of the Australian fires; parts of our own country suffering either snow blizzards, or floods. In the areas where torrential rain Monday night had added to melting snow, many streams and rivers overflowed...

With all these images swirling round in my mind, along with the words of Blogland people describing first hand their experiences of the traumas, I decided to put my waiting time to constructive use, and here is the result:-

Out Of Kilter

Huge wild fires rage,
devouring Australia
as floods swamp Britain.

World balance see-saws,
seemingly out of control,
while mankind watches,

tries to come to terms
with natural disasters
afflicting the globe.

Here, just to prove my point, I was interrupted by the promised surveyor, and have now dealt with necessary paperwork that should allow the drain experts to deal with my insurance company direct, therefore more quickly. They have arranged to carry out the work next Monday, with the reassurance that if further problems occur before then, all I need do is 'phone, day or night. Hopefully this will not be necessary...

Must take time here to thank Imac for the wonderful title he dreamt up for Monday's poem - 'Pipes of Poo' - and Hilary's quip that it was 'pooetry'... Don't you just love your fellow bloggers?

Tuesday 10 February 2009


Obviously, the surveyor's idea of 'first thing' is not mine. Approaching 10pm and all is quiet on the western front, as the saying goes. I shall therefore prance off into the realms of fantasy and leave you with a different subject upon which you may like to dream along.


Fairies, fragile winged, fast flying,
brilliantly outshine the lights
reflected by the sparkling dewdrops
left on blossoms overnight.

Pollen laden stamens glisten,
surrounded by the glowing gems
of velvet flower's scented mantles
swirling crenulated hems.

Gladly bees collect this treasure,
toiling morning until night,
but fairies, far too busy playing,
gambol to their heart's delight.

If you listen, still and silent,
you may hear their tinkling tones,
see the showers of golden sun-motes
as fairies frolic whilst bees drone.

Monday 9 February 2009

Monday Bloody Monday

Why is it the first day of the working week, even when you're a retired OAP like me, still holds that aura of doom? Today was a case in point. People not of a strong constitution should probably stop reading now.

The unavoidable subject will be poo. Weaver of Grass will totally understand, I'm sure. I have spent a 'happy' morning discovering a blockage in the drains of my house, and my two adjacent neighbours. First port of call was the council, who referred me to Southern Water Services, and the ubiquitous push button options. These resulted in a posh, electronic voice that asked me my name, and said I'd get a phone call back when an operative was available...

This, surprisingly, happened within minutes. I asked what my next action should be, as how was I supposed to know which direction the drains ran? So that I could ascertain the extent of the problem, I really needed this information. The girl named a nearby road, then said anywhere beyond that point, individual householders were responsible. Suddenly I had the disposal of poo of upwards of fifty houses to evaluate.

This left me just a little nonplussed. Thank goodness for the Internet, is all I can say. I now have three contacts with firms who should be able to sort the problem, and it is simply a case of waiting to see who can get here first. It's not got to emergency proportions, when I imagine poo would begin to ooze up from around manholes, but how many unsuspecting neighbours will suddenly be confronted with a man knocking on their front doors, asking to look down their inspection covers?

This is obviously destined to become a serial post... but please, don't tempt me to write a poem about it, for the sake of my sanity as well as common decency... But I have, anyway...

Poo Poem

The subject is mostly taboo,
but what is a poor girl to do
when the roots of a tree
block her drains up, you see,
and cause quite a backlog of poo?

Thank goodness, the problem is gone,
though my bank balance looks a bit wan,
but to stop it recurring again
a liner must go in the drain
and I alas, needs must 'Think on!'

Five hundred and sixty-odd quid
was quoted for work, if they did
employ a technique
to correct it this week
by handiwork totally hid.

A surveyor is due to appear
early tomorrow, I fear.
After that we will see
if it's all down to me
or household insurance, m'dear!

Sunday 8 February 2009

After The Event

Thanks to Hilary for chastising me! No Poem?! Am I slipping? No - I just thought the picture I painted was awful enough to make everyone shudder, without heaping verses upon their consciousness as well. So this morning I will rectify the situation, belatedly, and await Blogland's observations upon the following slightly pensive poem.

Hair Cut

Thinning hair assumes
a temporary order
as scissor blades cross.

Its pale strands drift down,
settle like falling snowflakes
on indoor carpet.

Little colour left
since age and life together
bestowed silver crown.

Saturday 7 February 2009


I can see you expecting sheepish tales, after a title like that. But no, nothing so ecologically engaging. Today the morning was bright enough to inspire me to give myself a long overdue hair cut. I need a bright morning, as now my bathroom has been revamped to a shower room, the layout has changed, and I can no longer set up my Heath Robinson contraption that enabled me to see the back of my head for 'shearing'. I've found, after many years of using scissors in this area, it's possible to do a very adequate job using electric hair cutters to achieve the desired result.
But now I need it to be a bright day, as I have to set up my mirrors in the kitchen, and ordinary dull daylight leaves a lot to be desired. On a sunny morning, the kitchen is lit to perfection, and I can snip away contentedly.

So today was the day. Do you know the little Einstein pop up you can choose to answer help questions on screen, I wonder? Well, his fly away white locks are exactly what mine looked like yesterday. Shambolic. I know I have it in my power to remedy the situation ( I've been cutting my own hair since the age of about 12 or13, after my first disastrous visit to a 'proper' hairdresser) but I need to be 'in the mood'. I've learned it's best to wait for this 'mood' to signal 'go ahead', or the end result can leave me narked at myself unnecessarily.

In the old bathroom, I used to build a 'tower' - one wooden kitchen stool (upright) one metal, fold up kitchen stool (upside down and unfolded on top) a half imperial (old paper size) wooden drawing board balanced on the four metal legs, then a swing mirror on top of that. A bathroom cabinet on the wall by the window had a mirrored door, so I was able to adjust the angle of this, and I'd made sure it had been fixed to the wall at a suitable height for me when standing before it. Thus with the cabinet before me and the tower to the rear, I could manoeuvre things to my satisfaction and 'Hey Presto', another pile of unwanted hair hit the deck.

The kitchen is different; swing mirror on worktop by the window, chair in front to bring my head level with it, then second adjustable mirror on top of a plastic box, on top of the same old wooden stool as above, and I'm in business. Snag is, I can no longer strip to bare essentials, as window looks out on pavement, and passers by might complain... So I have to use a cotton shirt as a coverall, and it does hamper the process - especially round the collar area.

Thus you see, perhaps, why I need to be in a certain frame of mind to subject myself to such a performance. The end result has me looking much the same as in my little photo, so I guess this haircut passes muster. As none of you can actually see me, disparaging remarks about my competency as a barber should be minimal... Au revoir, mes amis! A demain...

Friday 6 February 2009

Hornets Nest?

Have I inadvertently taken the lid off one? The comments have been pouring in and I have endeavoured to reply to them as my email inbox told me of their arrival - until I logged on this morning and found another bundle! It is pretty plain, people have enjoyed having their say on this subject, and I think it has shown what differing attitudes there are in Blogland.
Perhaps you'd all like to hold forth on your definitions of 'exploitation'? These are the ones from an online dictionary -

1. The act of employing to the greatest possible advantage: exploitation of copper deposits.
2. Utilization of another person or group for selfish purposes: exploitation of unwary consumers.
3. An advertising or a publicity program.

I found these to be rather interesting. Number one manages to hold overtones of exploiting to extinction. Fired by human greed, any naturally occurring mineral deposit is in danger of being grabbed on a first come, first served basis, which really overlaps with number two's 'selfishness'.

But the third definition needs a little more consideration. Is it intrinsically 'bad' to publicise or advertise something?

Does everyone who labelled the programme 'exploitation' really believe that either C4 or the parents/children were only motivated by greed? The wording in the second definition - 'unwary consumers'- Surely neither those who made the programme, took part in the programme or watched the programme could be described in this way?

As the parents were physically within yards of their offspring all the time, though granted out of sight, there was little chance of the children feeling 'abandoned' - and the children had been given the choice to participate at the outset. Would any party have become 'rich' as a result of taking part? I doubt it.

I wonder whether people would say the young Shirley Temple was being exploited when she made her debut in films many years ago?

Pleas take turns at mounting the soapbox today, without fighting amongst yourselves, my children! And as that's got me back to my original subject, here I go again...

New Baby

I've got a baby brother,
all brand new and in a cot,
but all he does is sleep all day,
then cry at night a lot.

I talk to him and show him toys
and hope he'll smile, you see,
but all he does is scream and shout
and wave his fists at me.

Mum says he's rather little yet,
though growing day by day,
and then, when he is older,
he will know just how to play.

Thursday 5 February 2009


Blogland has been full of child related stories over the past couple of days; parents or grandparents looking back to when their children were small, and even one proud Grandpa displaying his brand new grandson for Blogland to share. I read also a heartrending saga of how a child adopted from China took time to trust her new, 'foreign' family.

Every single story brought home the fact that a child is one of the most precious things of which we will ever have custody. Unlike many animals, who even at birth can begin to fend for themselves in some way ( i.e. being able to run from predators within minutes of being born) children are totally dependent on those around them. But for how long? When should a child be considered independent?

I recorded an extremely interesting TV programme during the week, and watched in amazement as an experiment was carried out to determine the degree of independence that could be expected from children aged between approximately eight and twelve. Two groups of about eight girls and eight boys were taken to neighbouring 'villages' somewhere in rural England. In actual fact, I would say these were originally farms, with several cottages and outbuildings at each location, enough to house the crew filming the action, as well as all the children's parents who watched their offsprings' behaviour, once they were left alone.

The venue had a large barn which stored everything the children would need to survive for two weeks totally unsupervised by adults, though there were obviously carers who could intervene if needed. It was left to each group to help themselves to stores from this 'warehouse', from bedding, to food, to playthings, and to sort out who lived with whom in the cottages provided.

Immediately the boy/girl camps dispayed different attitudes. Boys dived on the sports equipment and water guns, while the girls honed in on the mattresses and bedding that would make the cottages comfortable.

It was 'Lord of the Flies' before your very eyes. Bossy children making life miserable for their quieter companions; sensible ones trying to give considered opinions, geared to the greater good of the group - and none of this was directly related to age. Some of the eight year olds were far more mature than their 'elders'.

Girls found a recipe book and managed to cook for their group, but the boys mostly ignored the kitchen until hunger pangs got too great - then one poor wee laddie who couldn't work out how to boil the kettle (!) made up a pot of snack noodles with cold water, in desperation. By the second day they were nearly all in tears.

I can't wait to watch the next instalment. I hope the parents watching on their remote TV screens, were suitable crestfallen to see how their lack in encouraging a degree of independence in their youngsters had created monsters, in the most part.

I shall now step down from my soapbox, to concentrate on the early days of life. I wrote this poem when my firstborn arrived , but it is so true of babies in general, I have no qualms in offering it to all parents in Blogland.

New Born

Tiny form sleeping, petal bloom skin
and hair of soft threads that a silkworm might spin,
yet spiky and ragged and soon to rub bare
in a spot at the back; fine thistledown hair.

Unfocused eyes of a dark, misted blue
(giving no hint of eventual hue)
survey the world calmly; opened at last
by hunger pangs measuring hours that passed.

Self is the centre round which life revolves
before learning begins and the person evolves
from that trusting bundle, full of warm milk
with questioning eyes and hair like spun silk.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Whether The Weather Be Fine

...Or whether the weather be not - that is always the question in England. It's very seldom we have two days alike and I think that is part of the country's charm. It keeps you on your toes. If you are planning ahead, trying to sort the age old dilemma of 'What shall I wear?', to have any chance of a satisfactory conclusion, you need a wardrobe capable of disgorging clothes as varied as summer silks, through to winter woollies, with plenty of waterproofed items in between (of varied warmth factors) that are on permanent standby.
So much for our two inches of snow here the day before yesterday. We then got rain and grey, bleak vistas. Now this morning, the sun is shining happily and you'd never know a single snowflake had ever fallen.
Unfortunately, that is not the case with other parts of the land; further North, many places are still hampered by snow, with threat of more to come, and the South West also is liable to be deluged with it according to the forecasts. We may or may not be in for a second lot where I live - the middle line has a fifty fifty chance of being included in the East or West weather fronts! Therefore, while today's sunshine lights my world, I shall try to light Blogland with another ray of metaphorical brightness, and leave you with another little picture to laugh at.

Second Childhood

Things are never as bad as they seem
when the rain has been pouring down,
for wellington boots and puddles
can banish the biggest frown!
I often see Mums with children
giving puddles and such like wide berth,
but me, I head straight for the deepest -
they're the loveliest things on Earth!

Though I'm old enough (just) to know better
I splash through to my heart's delight,
engendering horror in passers by.
I suppose I do look a sight,
with my plastic mac a-flapping
and Wellingtons well to the fore
as I slowly savour those puddly ponds
like I did in days of yore
when age was not a handicap;
no one minded if I was uncouth
for in those dim and distant days
I had the excuse of youth!

Tuesday 3 February 2009


I've decided - I definitely speak Mr Cave-by-the-Seashore's GU! language. Mountains may be beautiful to look at, but I can leave that bit of Blogland for others to pursue. Give me the flat, golden beaches full of sea-edge sand, and the shushing of the waves to send me to sleep once the sun has flamed, flared and set on the horizon. Of course, this would be on a good day, but I'd be just as happy cowering in the cave a bit further along the coast, watching the rollers break over the rocks, with the wind whipping white tops on the waves chasing each other to shore, seagulls screaming with delight as they battle and dance with the gusts.

So, Gu! for me any day. This language will no doubt evolve, as any language would, but I'd endeavour always to retain its essential 'Gu-ness'. I'd hope never to label a word as 'old fashioned', simply because it didn't trip lightly off the tongue of other Gu-bods in their day to day communications. I'd retain the right to chisel it on the rocks, any time I felt like waxing lyrical, much as I retain the right to use so called 'archaic' words to pepper the posts on my shell encrusted, water splattered Blogland writing tablet.

So I've made my choice. I wonder what your choices would be as an ideal habitat?

New Direction

Has fate decreed the life we lead?
Does choice not play a part?
May we not rectify mistakes
by some new change of heart?
Must we ignore the way we feel,
leave unexpressed our need
and accept without complaining,
following where others lead?
For I believe we have the choice
to control the path we follow
and thus the smallest change today
may precede a greater morrow.

Monday 2 February 2009


I escaped the white stuff that's slowly drifting down this morning, by spending the past three hours or so in Blogland and ignoring the picture I could see through the barely open curtains ( I'm trying to be energy efficient.)

Sweetmango swept me off to sunnier climes with her description of places she's lived, and all thoughts of posting something myself went totally out the window (Yes, that bit showing between aforementioned curtains.)
Moannie made me think in a philosophical way about the ifs and buts of life, and Weaver of Grass added hope to the bleak weather prospect, by saying its Candlemas Day, which is supposed to denote the half way point between Winter and Spring. These blogs, plus the others I've visited have really highlighted the extraordinary ability of Blogland to join minds in a truly unique way.

Imagine what our cave man ancestors would have felt, being presented with the thoughts and visions (photos) from people all over the globe - always assuming they could have coped with the idea of the world being a globe shape, in the first place. As well as places being vastly different, their ability for communication would have probably been lacking. There'd be Mr Cave-in-the Mountains saying 'UG!' to Mr Cave-in-the-Seaside-Cliff , whose reply of 'GU!' was totally incomprehensible.

Now there are all these enormously well educated people who, from their homes in Finland (Helsinki), Norway, Holland or even as far away as India, can share thoughts in English - the language of a tiny island, that despite its diminutive size has managed to make an enormous difference in the ability of people to communicate across the countries of the globe. If the ancient Britons hadn't had the 'satiable curtiosity' of Rudyard Kipling's Elephant Child, how different the world might have been today.

The philosophical bent continues, as I ponder today's rhyme, quite appropriate for a blue Monday in the snow...

The Elephant

An elephant lived in a zoo,
as he had nothing better to do,
for the jungle was gone
that his dreams centred on -
so he stayed where he was, feeling blue.

Sunday 1 February 2009


Today I am grateful that tomorrow I don't have to think along the lines of 'Monday' - 'Work'. So I'm being grateful in advance. There wouldn't be any sense in being grateful I don't have to go to work today, as it's Sunday... Time to catch up on a week's worth of 'The Archers.' American readers won't have the foggiest idea what this radio programme is, but UK ones will probably class it with Marmite - love it or hate it. I believe it was originally billed as 'an everyday diary of country folk' and did actually have farming topics and/or advice wrapped within its framework. Now it's more along the lines of a radio soap with country overtones. But addictive. So I'm listening to it right now, as I contemplate what to write next.

Back to the gratitude thing. I decided to be grateful that I will no longer have to sit on an overcrowded, possibly late, train at around seven a.m. tomorrow morning, surrounded by a sea of humanity. Some mornings the twenty minute journey would go according to plan; occasionally, as is the way with railways, unforeseen circumstances would leave us stranded on what felt like life's siding for anything up to an hour and a half. If you were lucky, you'd be in a carriage with interesting people, who became more friendly as time went on, even to the point of joking about sharing our food in a 'loaves and fishes' way if the forced incarceration continued. On the other side of the coin, you could be with grumpy, impatient tut-tutting souls guaranteed to wind up the atmosphere to the point of breaking. This was more the case on the day I wrote the following.

Passengers Pastimes

It's funny what passengers find to do
to while away the time
as the Southern Railway's crowded train
chugs along the line.

There are some who read, some who sleep
and a few who somehow manage to keep
one eye open to view outside.
But, I tell you, there's one kind I can't abide;
it's those who nibble and bite their nails
'til I think they'll send me off the rails.

I well remember one young man,
in jeans, blue shirt and jacket,
who should have been issued a decibel ban -
his nail chomping caused such a racket!

Each of his thumbs, and fingers, then,
were subjected to very close study.
He eyed up his options. Which of the ten
could be bitten, and bitten and bitten again,
before they became raw and bloody?

I imagined these thoughts going round in his head
as I watched all his fingers become sore and red.
Thank goodness, my station was next in line
and I needn't endure one more moment of time
watching him chew his nails down to the quick -
can you wonder I ended up feeling quite sick?

So you can see, my gratitude about no journeying tomorrow is boundless...