Celebration

Celebration book.
Another editing job;
Poems for the King.
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From time to time my poetry group produces a booklet of poetry by members. Although we are not a writing group as such, more of a poetry appreciation group, some members do also write and if they have something that fits the chosen topic for the meeting then they are welcome to read their own work. When we produce poetry booklets some of the members who consider themselves as 'non-writers' also rise to the occasion and make the effort to come up with something for inclusion. We print enough for our membership and a few extra to sell to family, friends and other interested persons.

The most recent booklet of our own poetry was for the late Queen's Jubilee last year, with a print run of 40 copies - all gone! The member who usually edited our booklets (a former professional magazine editor) is no longer able to do so and cannot come to meetings anymore so I volunteered to take it on; having edited a now defunct sailing association magazine for many years I have the necessary skills and no-one else wanted the job!

Now we have a new King, who is due to be crowned in May, so one of our members came up with the idea that we should produce another booklet to celebrate the coronation, even though it is so soon after our last booklet. Once more I am required to put on my editors cap and also come up with a couple of poems for inclusion myself. I'm going to have a busy couple of months!
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Wassail

Today I finally got around to wassailing my apple trees. I have been meaning to do this for some time. Traditionally Wassailing takes place on or around 6th January and I did go to a Wassailing event in a local orchard on January 8th but like all good intentions (and due to bad weather) I postponed Wassailing my trees at home. However, I decided that today, being Imbolc (or St. Bridget’s Day) and the beginning of Spring it was a good alternative day to do it.

I also made one or two changes of my own to the tradition. Usually the ceremony involves beating the trees with sticks, making a lot of noise with song and dance and so on. At the event I went to people hung bits of toast on the trees and poured a libation of cider or apple juice around the roots. We were also given a slip of paper with the words to recite whilst beating the trees:

Apple Tree, Apple Tree give us some fruit,
or it's off with your head and up with your root.

I have to confess I wasn't really very happy about the idea of beating and threatening the trees with dire consequences of their failure to comply so I made up my own words to bless, rather than threaten, the trees and ask nicely for their bounty. I did not beat them with sticks but simply offered each tree in turn (3 of them) an apple juice libation with these words:
 
Wassail, wassail to you Apple Tree
and to the Good Spirit residing in thee.
This libation I offer, take it down to your roots
and I ask that you grant us your bountiful fruit.

The word ‘Wassail’ is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon ‘Waes Hael’ which means ‘good health’ and is the root of our words ‘health/healthy’, so I simply wished my trees good health and, without threats, asked them to provide me with fruit. It remains to be seen if it works!

Happy New Year

May all your hopes and dreams for 2023 come to fruition.

Old Fleece

Yes, I’m back at last. We have had a wonderful time touring through France to Spain and back and had some glorious weather most of the time. It didn’t begin to feel autumnal until we were at least half-way back through France. By the time we got back to the coast to make our ferry crossing torrential rain and gale force winds in the Channel caused all ferry sailings to be cancelled. We managed to book on the next one, half a day later, but it wasn’t the best of crossings. We also encountered bad weather for the first part of the journey home on the English side. This soon dried up, but we were then bedevilled with roadworks, road closures and deviations (including a lengthy detour from the M6 round Wolverhampton) as we drove north, finally arriving home in the small hours of the morning last Wednesday. Since then I have been catching up with various necessary jobs, cleaning the motorhome ready for winter lay-up, doing piles of washing and making an attempt at tidying the neglected garden. There is more to be done but it’s a start.

I sweep fallen leaves
wearing an old fleece jacket.
Damp autumnal chill.

Travels

This will be my last post here for a while. We’re off on our travels again tomorrow, driving through France, visiting friends and relatives as we go, then to Spain to visit our daughter – our usual annual jaunt. Depending on where we are I may be able to pop in from time to time as I will have my laptop with me, but it will be spasmodic as we will be in our motorhome and not always where we can have wifi access. As always our son will be holding the fort at home – what would we do without him? We don’t expect to be back home until early to mid-November so apart from a possible few brief visits I look forward to seeing you again then.

Soak

Not an end to drought
but the ground has had a soak.
Lovely, lovely rain.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

We have finally had a good rainfall overnight and all morning. Gentle rain that soaks in well and saves the need to water the garden for today at least. It has refilled my water butt. This is not the end of the drought though, rivers and reservoirs are still very low and hosepipe bans in place around the country, thankfully not where I live yet but I have been avoiding using the hose and only watering where necessary with waste water saved from the kitchen, using the watering can. The forecast is for another dry spell by the weekend. Still I am thankful for what we have, many areas have not had much at all for a long time.

Sunhat

Sun
beats down.
In shop window
just what I need;
sunhat.

My new sunhat

When I pass near my local Charity Shop I usually pop in, mainly to check out the books and craft stuff – it never ceases to amaze me the amount of crafting materials they have at bargain prices and I usually come home with something. Walking past this morning I happened to noticed this rather smart sunhat in the window – just what I need, I thought. I do already have a sunhat but it is a bit old and battered and also rather big. This one fits a treat – it’s mine now!

Hosepipe

Watering
the garden.
Thankfully hosepipe ban
not in my area
yet!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
We have had some rain recently, for which we are thankful, but by no means enough and the threat of a hosepipe ban has not gone away! I am trying not to be too wasteful with the water and only watering the necessary areas - vegetables, fruit trees and bushes and the flower borders. The lawn area has greened up nicely with the rain that we have had but I never water that anyway - grass has great powers of recovery after drought.

Sherwood Forest

Last week we stayed at Sherwood Pines campsite which is part of Sherwood Forest. This is a recently opened campsite with great facilities, which gave easy access to woodland where there were many cycle tracks and a visitor centre with other attractions and a cycle hire shop. On the first day we did the ‘Maid Marion’ trail, which is the easiest of the trails and recommended for families. Our reason for doing it was that we were of course on the tandem and the visitor centre staff implied that doing any of the more difficult trails would not be ideal on a tandem due to narrow, and twisting tracks in among tree roots and other such hazards of woodland!

The Maid Marion trail was on more generously proportioned tracks. However the ride wasn’t very long, the whole ride including getting from the campsite to the visitor centre was barely 7 miles. About a kilometre out from the visitor centre on the return loop we managed to get a puncture and had to walk into the centre where we spent some time repairing this. The puncture was the result of not finding and removing a thorn from the tyre which had caused a puncture last time we were out with the Tandem Club but which we hadn’t found at the time. Having found the thorn this time we needed the help of the mechanics at the cycle hire shop to remove it.

The following day saw us going on a much longer ride, much of it again on trails with some road riding around Sherwood Forest proper, just over 21 miles, on what the boss termed ‘La Tour de Sherwood’. This took us up to the Major Oak, the most famous of the ancient oaks in Sherwood Forest. It is believed to be between 800 and 1,100 years old and many of its branches are now held up with wooden supports (see photo), however it is still thriving and supporting a wide variety of wildlife. Legend has it that this is the tree where Robin Hood and his Merry Men met, but sadly we didn’t see any evidence of them thereabouts. There were some interesting information boards nearby and I share photos of them here too, hoping you can read them!

The Major Oak, (note our tandem to prove we were there!)

The rest of the week saw us riding several different routes around the local countryside, between 28 and 33 miles, mostly on road but also occasionally on tracks. Amazingly they all seemed to pass a lovely cafe, the Daffodil Cafe, which we found in a village called Eakring, where we enjoyed superb coffee or tea and cake. One ride took in Southwell Minster (church) and another took us through the ancient village of Laxton, which claims to be England’s last ‘open field’ village where the fields are strip farmed as in ancient times. We also passed several times through a ford at a village called Rufford, well we went over the footbridge. The ford went past Rufford Mill, a local visitor attraction. Here lots of children lined up along the footbridge encouraging cars and vans to charge through the water at speed and send up a wave over the path, soaking the watchers. On one crossing we also got caught up in one such wave and got soaked! Fortunately we had pretty much dried out by the time we got back to the motorhome.

The weather was mostly good though overcast and cool at times with occasional showers but plenty of sun and we finished our last day with ice cream at the visitor centre. One thing we learnt is that there is an awful lot of interesting places to visit in the area, including wartime history. We will have to go back again and just maybe, if we do, we might catch a glimpse of the elusive Robin Hood?

Another Break!

No, I haven’t broken any more limbs. I am taking another short break from the blog.

After a rather hectic few months we have decided to have some peaceful time to ourselves so we are off in our motorhome today until the weekend. My brother-in-law, who has been staying with us since Easter, has now moved into his retirement apartment and is settling in well and our youngest son will be here to look after things at home, watering the garden and so on, so we are going to Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire to recharge the batteries and enjoy some tandem riding along the forest trails (I’m not yet up to riding a solo bike, my wrist is still in recovery mode). I wonder if we will meet up with Robin Hood and his Merry Men! ‘ll let you know when I’m back next week.

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