VE and P de C

VE & P de C RideYesterday, as you are probably all aware, was the anniversary of VE Day, and celebrations were taking place all over the UK with the planned celebration Street Parties being reduced to people sitting in their front gardens having their own private ‘street party’ while waving to those across the way or passing by on their exercise allowance; all due to coronavirus lockdown.

At this time of year we would usually have been in Spain visiting our daughter and taking part in a classic cycling event with her – the Pedals de Clip (P de C of the title) which would have taken place this weekend, with the classic ride on Sunday.  It is an event I have reported here in previous years but this year the event was obviously cancelled, as was our trip to Spain.

Yesterday morning our daughter phoned to say that the P de C organisers had been in touch and were asking all those who would have attended the event to do their own private ‘Pedals de Clip’ ride and send in photos of themselves out on their classic bikes, wearing the kit they would have worn for the official ride. Becky asked me to send a photo to her which she would then send in with her own and asked specifically that we try to produce one that looked particularly British rather than Spanish so that hers and ours combined would be P de C across the miles or some such.

This was where the two events came together in a sort of symbiosis. There is no point in us having a ‘street party’ in our front garden, where we live we wouldn’t see anyone! So we could celebrate VE Day and the P de C by riding out on our classic ‘Freddie Grubb’ bikes in our Retro Team GB cycling kit, that we would have worn at the Pedals de Clip, looking very patriotic while cycling through our local small town where all the UK flags were flying, very British! Youngest son Chris was despatched with the camera to do the photoshoot – see photo above.

We then continued on for a short ride of about 9.5 miles (nowhere near as long as the Pedals de Clip would have been) while being cheered and waved at by the front garden ‘street party’ goers that we passed in much the way that on-lookers would have cheered the P de C participants. Thus we ‘killed two birds with one stone’ as the saying goes and had a wonderfully different sort of local ride past friends and neighbours who thought we were being terribly patriotic.

 

Bathing

Watching a pigeon trying
to bathe in my mini pond
takes me back in time
to when I bathed babies
in the washing-up bowl!

Sweet Treats?

Crow pecks at
fallen daffodil bloom.
Finding something to eat?

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I have probably mentioned before that we have a lovely grassy bank on the other side of the road opposite our house. It boasts several trees and in the spring it has a wonderful display of daffodils. From time to time I go and pick up those that have been broken off, giving them a chance of a slightly longer life by putting them in a vase of water. I collected a few this morning but left one that was beyond hope on the ground. Later when I went out I noticed a crow pecking at it and appearing to eat. I had no idea crows exhibited this sort of behaviour and wonder what it was eating!

LitFest

Stafford, my county town and only 9 miles or so from where I live, is holding its first ‘LitFest’ (Literary Festival) this year and hopes to make it an annual event.

It is being held on 18th April at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre and will include all sorts of literature related ‘happenings’ – guest authors from all genres, talks on anything from creative writing to book marketing, question and answer sessions, open mic etc. – together with book signings and book stalls.

I have been invited to have a stall there to sell my books. This happened completely by chance, one of those serendipitous opportunities. I would not have applied for a stall as I know I wouldn’t sell enough books to cover the cost of the table and still make a profit for the charity my sales support. However I did enter the writing competition asociated with this event, submitting a couple of poems (the winners to be announced on the day). The entry could be made by hand, which I did and, to cut a long story short, this led to me having a brief meeting with one of the organisers a week or so later (not a competition judge I assure you) and during the conversation I mentioned that I had published some books which I sold in aid of The Donna Louise Trust, a local children’s hospice. She then asked me if I would like to have a table at the LitFest and they would waive the fee for the table as it was in aid of charity. So of course I jumped at the chance!

There will be a meeting at the theatre later this month which I have been invited to attend in order to meet other people involved and to see the space available so it is all rather exciting for me. I have had to order some more stock of my ‘Simply Elfjie’ book as I am down to only one spare copy but I still have plenty of my other books and who knows, other selling opportunies may arise from my participation. As for my competition entries? Well I have no great expectation of winning, I just wanted to support the event in the hope that there will be sufficient interest for it to truly become an annual event.

 

 

Weather

The weather we have been having recently has brought to mind an old Girl Guide song we used to sing over and over for the benefit of our parents as we arrived back from summer camp:

It rained on Monday and it rained on Tuesday
and it rained on Wednesday too.
It rained on Thursday and it rained on Friday
and it rained on Saturday all day through.
Then along came Sunday and we thought that’s one day
when it certainly won’t rain,
but it rained on Sunday and along came Monday
and it started all over again.
Oh…
It rained on Monday and it rained on Tuesday
and it rained… etc.

Brexit Day

This is not a political blog, never has been, never will be, and nor is this a political post, however at midnight tonight EU time (11.00pm British time), Britain is leaving the EU and I just want to share a few thoughts.

This is not a day for celebration, there are no winners here, the outcome of the public vote being so very close. The whole process has been utterly divisive with many insults, accusations, half-truths and unchecked so called ‘facts’ about how it will affect us being bandied about. The media have been instrumental in stirring much of this, along with some individuals on social media. I do not believe that another chance to vote would have resolved the divisions. Even had it gone the other way the result will probably have still been very close and still divisive – probably more so if it overturned the original vote by an equally small majority.

This choice by the people of Britain was a completely across the board choice, nothing to do with social class or age against youth as some activists would have us believe, but based on every individual’s own decision on what would be the best outcome for them.

Now the decision has finally been made and it is time accept it, to re-unite and do our best to make it work for everyone, failure to do so would be a disaster. It is time the media industry took steps to heal the wounds not continually scratch at them.

This is what we need now: reconciliation.

Brief Visit

Caen Hill Locks

Caen Hill Locks

Last week we went for a brief visit down to the West Country. We should have gone about a month ago, as we needed to go down to Falmouth in Cornwall on some personal business but circumstances prevented it.

On that occasion we would have been away for a couple of weeks, but this time could only spare one week due to other commitments, hence it was a rather packed week. However we did manage to stop for a few days on a camp site near Devizes by the Kennet and Avon Canal and cycle part of the tow-path including the famous flight of locks at Caen Hill, pictured above.

I had originally hoped we would be able to visit near-by Avebury and its sacred landscape as I have never been there before but unfortunately we could not spare the time, so that is one place still on the ‘bucket list’. Stonehenge, which is also in the area, I have visited two or three times in the past, before it became quite so commercialised so missing this was no hardship.

One way and another this year has turned out rather hectic and there is no promise of let up for the next couple of months. It has been increasingly difficult for me to find the time to post on this blog and still do the various other things I would like to find time to do. I was glad of the break away last week even though we were rushing from one end of the country to the other – after leaving the West Country we headed straight over to Essex for a lunch gathering with friends there before finally heading home.

Not having to write posts for the blog while we were away was a relief and I hadn’t realised just how stressful it had become constantly thinking of the need to post something. This has focused my mind a little and I have decided to take a bit of breathing space and step away from the blog for a while. Therefore this will be my last post this side of Christmas. I will review the situation and see how I am fixed to return in the New Year.

I thank all my readers who have followed me faithfully over the years, many of you have become friends and I thank you all as well for the comments you have left here.

I will probably drop by at Christmas with appropriate seasonal greetings and let you know what will happen for the future. I shall still be on Facebook for those of you who also join me there, but here, for now, it is goodbye. I wish you all well and will perhaps see you back here in the New Year.

 

Lone Magpie

Magpie

Magpie (Photo by Adrian Pingstone via Wikipedia)

A lone magpie visited my bird feeding station this morning. It brought to mind the traditional rhyme about magpies:

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl and
Four for a boy.
Five for silver,
Six for gold and
Seven for a secret
that’s never told.

 

 

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This has been recorded as a most beautifully haunting song by The Unthanks on their ‘Mount the Air’ album.
Sorry, I can’t share the video here but check it out on YouTube.
Search ‘The Unthanks – Magpie’.

Cancellations

Today I was due to go to the dentist – at the joke time of 2.30pm believe it or not! This was for a treatment resulting from a routine check-up a couple of months ago. I was about to get ready to go, in plenty of time to ensure I wouldn’t be late, when the phone rang cancelling my appointment. Apparently my dentist was taken ill this morning and had to go home. This puts me in mind of a similar incident that happened to my husband recently.

He had been to visit the Doctor’s, seeing a Locum who was on duty, who had then referred him to the hospital telling him he would be treated as a priority and should hear about an appointment within a fortnight. This meant that we had to postpone our proposed two-weeks holiday in the West Country at the end of last month. He duly received notification of a cancellation in the second of the two weeks and booked in. He took himself along for the appointment to be greeted by a rather confused looking receptionist who eventually explained that the cancellation had occurred not because a patient had cancelled, as we had thought, but because the Consultant had been taken ill and gone home.

The receptionist was very apologetic and asked him to wait while she tried to find someone else to see him. It turned out that there was no-one available so he left the hospital. As he was crossing the car park his phone rang. It was the centralised hospital appointment service, where the confusion had obviously arisen, with a profuse apology and offering him another appointment, which he has since attended.

These things happen, probably more often than we realise, but I have to say I am thankful that, unlike my husband, I hadn’t made the seven mile car journey to the dental surgery before I found out. I have rescheduled, but I have a sneaky feeling this will be during the time that we will be away, having rescheduled our trip to the West Country (and for which I haven’t made a note of the dates) – oh well, I can always cancel!

Discovering New Poets

I may have mentioned before that I attend a Poetry Group at our local Library on the 1st and 3rd Thursday each month. This is not a writer’s group but more of an appreciation group, though we may read our own poems if we wish so long as they fit the topic. We have a yearly programme of topics suggested by members and this can be anything from, for example, simple ideas such as ‘Yellow’ through things like ‘Trains and Boats and Planes’ to named poets, such as Milton, Shakespeare and of course more modern poets too. The topic can be interpreted how you like and is for guidance only.

One of the things I like about attending this group is that in researching poems to take along I often come across a poet entirely new to me, or maybe I’m introduced to such a poet by someone else’s choice, especially poets who may be less well known. I have found many a poet to admire this way.

Last Thursday was our first meeting after the summer break and the topic was ‘An Irish Poem’. This gave pause for thought about semantics – why not Irish Poets? What makes a poem an Irish poem? This was by-the-by, most people interpreted it as Irish Poets. I wished to avoid the obvious such as W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney whose books number amongst my collection and who I thought would be well represented by other members of the group so I set about researching Irish poets writing about Ireland. I came across Eavan Boland.

Although apparently well regarded as a poet I had never come across her before. I am lead to believe that she is somewhat better known in the US than in the UK. She was born in Dublin in 1944 but spent her childhood in London and New York (her father was a diplomat), returning to Ireland for secondary school and University at Trinity College, Dublin. She is married with two daughters and her poetry often takes on board the relationship with her daughters. Her subjects tend towards domestic life, myth, love, history and the Irish rural Landscape. Poet Ruth Padel refers to her ‘commitment to lyric grace and feminism’ and she is keenly aware of the troubled place that women hold in culture and history, including the difficulties faced by women in a male-dominated literary world. She endeavours to write an honest account of female experience in Ireland.

If you have never come across her before I thoroughly recommend you look her up. I was most taken with the samples of her poetry that I discovered on the Internet and choose two to read at the meeting, although in the event I only read one of them but I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of our other members had also brought a poem along by Eavan Boland – her chosen one was one of the family poems whereas I had chosen poems about Irish myth and history, poems that could only be set in Ireland. The poem that I didn’t get to read at the meeting I would like to share with you here. Since I found it on the Internet I hope I am safe in assuming it is in the public domain:

‘My Country in Darkness’ by Eavan Boland

After the wolves and before the elms
the bardic order ended in Ireland.

Only a few remained to continue
a dead art in a dying land:

This is a man
on the road from Youghal to Cahirmoyle.
He has no comfort, no food and no future.
He has no fire to recite his friendless measures by.
His riddles and flatteries will have no reward.
His patrons sheath their swords in Flanders and Madrid.

Reader of poems, lover of poetry—
in case you thought this was a gentle art
follow this man on a moonless night
to the wretched bed he will have to make:

The Gaelic world stretches out under a hawthorn tree
and burns in the rain. This is its home,
its last frail shelter. All of it—
Limerick, the Wild Geese and what went before—
falters into cadence before he sleeps:
He shuts his eyes. Darkness falls on it.

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