WHAT’S IN AN ALE NAME?

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Everyone loves a story! Everything holds a story within itself and that is true of names too…of all names, even ones of beers!

I was reminded of this the other day as my husband wistfully started reading out the label on the back of his beer…at times I tune out his mutterings but this time my interest was piqued and I just had to learn more.

Bottles of beer were duly bought and following research and photo gathering, I’m ready to unveil the story behind six beer names – who knew it would take me on a virtual pilgrimage to Canterbury, to 17th-century navy battles and to 12th-century court cases of brawling and swearing. Not forgetting the ride in an old motor car! 

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Old Speckled Hen has a wonderfully rustic name, reminiscent of the countryside glowing in the dappled sunlight similar in colour to the amber golden ale. As my mind is peacefully drifting among the meadows, hens pecking on the grass I’m brought back to the modern world with a shock whilst researching this beer.

The name owes nothing to the bird, speckled or not, rather it refers to a car!! The vehicle was a paint-splattered Featherweight Fabric Saloon which was the factory run-around car used by MG and fondly referred to as ‘Owld Speckl’d Un’ owing to its mottled appearance after years parked under the paint shop.

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The beer itself was brewed by Moreland on special request of MG in 1979 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their car factory in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Old seems a popular word when it comes to beers and appears yet again in the name of Old Peculier!

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This Theakston’s famous ale takes its name from the seal of the Peculier Court of Masham in North Yorkshire. In the 12th century it was the custom of the church to administer the law but this proved too an arduous task for the Archbishop, who was based in York.

Therefore he set up a Peculier Court which was independent of the diocese and headed by the Peculier of Masham.

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The court’s jurisdiction was varied and included dealing with offences such as not coming to church enough, not bringing children in for baptism, drunkenness, swearing and brawling.

Broadside, a dark red beer brewed in Southwold, Suffolk, has a fascinating historical connection and commemorates a famous but little-known Battle of Solebay in 1672.

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Solebay, nowadays known as Sole Bay,  lies near the brewery in Suffolk and was the site of a naval battle in the Third Anglo-Dutch War.

IMG_0324Broadside is the battery of cannon on one side of a warship and there were ships in abundance in the early morning of 7th June 1672 as a fleet of 75 ships from the United Provinces, present-day Holland, surprised the joint Anglo-French fleet of 93 ships anchored in the bay.  Across the two fleets, there were over 55,000 men and nearly 11,000 canons.

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The battle ended inconclusively at sunset after a whole day’s fighting with both sides claiming victory despite the heavy losses.

In all the Dutch lost two ships and 1800 men whilst the English lost two ships and over 2000 men.  The local people of Southwold cared for the 800+ injured and dealt with the bodies that washed up on its shores for weeks afterward. According to the historians, the Dutch had more justification to claim victory as the English-French plan to blockade the Dutch was abandoned.

Not all beer names have such interesting history as Broadside and are rather more lightly amusing!  One such is Badger’s ale of Fursty Ferret.

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This famous ale is brewed by Hall & Woodhouse which was founded in 1777. The name is thought to come from the inquisitive ferrets which used to sneak a taste of the local brew. I was baffled by the actual meaning of ‘fursty’ and one of the google responses was interesting: ‘The meaning of the given name Fursty represents innovation, independence, determination, courage, sincerity and activity.’ Just like a ferret, then! Or it might just be a  Fursty is local dialect for thirsty, being Dorset!

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Bishops Finger is a classic strong ale from Kent and its name has strong connections to the Pilgrims’ Way. Along the walk from Winchester towards Canterbury and the shrine of Thomas Beckett signposts called Bishop’s Fingers showed the pilgrims the way.

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The Pilgrims’ Way is a historical route which originally used in 500-450 BC and has been in constant use for 3000 years.

The last beer to be featured is called Bengal Lancer and this is another ale that has historical connotations, this time to India during the time of the British Empire.

20170510_093420As it was too hot to brew beer in India the only solution was to ship it to the troops out there. However, all the beers at the time were unsuitable for the six month trip and eventually a prototype Indian Pale Ale (IPA) was brewed which gradually became paler and more refreshing for the Indian climate.

Several brewers made IPA and this particular one, brewed by Fuller’s, is named after the regiment of Bengal Lancers in the army.

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The six beers bought for this post have been tantalisingly on display in our kitchen for the last week and my husband had to be reined in a couple of times as he’s tried to snag a bottle or two at night! At last, his patience will be rewarded and the bottles are duly released from duty. As he pours a glass of beer tonight, I’ll join him with a glass of … wine! I dislike the taste of any ales with a vengeance!

NB. Small segments of this post are taken directly from the labels attached to the beer bottles describing the origins of the beer names.

LASTING SANCTUARY

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Back and forth. The chair rocked gently, back and forth. Years, decades even, I’ve sat here on and off, rocking calmly, the squeak a welcome friend, the worn wood of the arms soft to my caress. Even as a child I sought solace here and closing my eyes, I drifted into a restful doze….

’Williams! Stop that rocking! I swear, I can see grooves on the oak floor. Williams!’

I’d only sneaked in ten minutes earlier and made straight for the rocking chair in its usual gloomy nook beneath religion and travel, navigating my way by memory with my spectacles grasped uselessly in my hands. Those bloody glasses! Bad enough they fogged up a hundred times a day, even worse they were NHS ones.

‘Caught any fish today, Snorkel face!’  That was the kindest thing anyone ever said to me at school. Even my name was a shout and a demanding, irritated one at that.

At last, the glasses cleared and my gasp of awe puffed audibly across the room. A gentleman in the opposite corner tutted disapprovingly, glared at me before returning his eyes to the book in his hands.  ‘Perfume’ if I wasn’t mistaken and one I could recommend to him. Books galore! My usual heavenly delight. The afternoon light shimmered through the windows, the dust danced around the bookshelves, the words within a promise of new worlds, of escape.

The coins in my blazer pocket clinked against each other as I reached for them. Two pounds altogether and well worth saving my 50p weekly pocket.  Who needed sweets anyway? For me it was all about the books. With a push the chair lurched forwards, depositing me on my feet with a satisfying creak and groan. I edged left around historical fiction, turned right at thrillers then stopped by biographies. 

‘What do you want to read them for?’ Dad always asked. Not waiting for an answer he’d reach for a beer from the fridge, his head lost within the cold vault as the muffled one-way conversation continued.

‘You should be out playing football with your mates. Out do you, hear? None of this bookshop rubbish.’

Why did he never realise that the bookshop was my haven, the dark wooden shelves my sanctuary, the books my guardian?

‘Mr Williams! Thank goodness, you’re awake. There was another complaint about that chair yesterday.’ I continued to rock, groggily, trapped in time, my Ralph Lauren glasses on the wonk. I straightened them slowly. ‘It will kill someone, one day, Mr Williams. That young lad, Joe, the one you always tolerate, who’s constantly here, was thrown off the chair yesterday when its arm broke right off. Yes, that one. I fixed it but it nearly killed him. Fell onto the floor, he did and banged his head. Nearly killed him!’

The laughter within me built up gradually, begrudgingly, relentlessly. 

‘Mr Williams, as the owner you’re responsible…’

‘For keeping things just as I want them! As I’ve done for over thirty years. Don’t change a thing! Now, where’s my laptop…’ Still chuckling I nudged it awake and started to tap on the screen whilst inhaling the muggy scent of books with satisfaction.

 A chair that takes people’s fate in its own hands is a story waiting to be published! And added to my bookshelves.

©Annika Perry, 2017

This piece was written in response to a prompt issued by my creative writing group – the options were eclectic and consisted of Lemon Tree Grove, Book Shops or Graveyard. I was tempted to write a short story including all three elements but fear this would become far too long for the group!

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Images courtesy of pixabay

BOOKS I READ ON MY HOLIDAY

I’m a sucker for lists of all kinds. To do lists, places to visit list, present list but surely the best type of all is that of books! Books are always a huge part of my life and even more so during a holiday.

This Easter in Sweden was no exception and thanks to ebooks I’m no longer restricted by weight to the number of books to take along – just as well as together my son and I read sixteen books.

It was a literary fest and here are a few of the varied mix I read…with just a brief overview and the effect they had on me.

51zIoSmxGJLThe book that carried me across the North Sea was The Legacy of Lucy Harte.  I need a good, no, make that a great book, to ensure that I am distracted from the fact I am 30,000+ feet up in the air with only two engines keeping me safely there and a thin sheet of metal is all that protects me from the airless minus 50 degrees centigrade outside.

‘Maggie O’Hara knows better than most that life can change in a heartbeat. Eighteen years ago she was given the most precious gift- a second-hand heart, and a second chance at life.

Always thankful, Maggie has never forgotten Lucy Harte – the little girl who saved her life. But as Maggie’s own life begins to fall apart, and her heart is broken in love, she loses sight of everything she has to live for…

Until an unexpected letter changes Maggie’s life..’

The Legacy of Lucy Harte is a gem of a read and I was desolate when I finished reading it. I had immersed myself in Maggie’s, her family’s and friend’s lives and it was a wrench to say goodbye to them. The book was wonderfully written and at no point a maudlin story.

LIONA good friend here on WP recently recommended the film Lion. I was all set to go to the cinema when it was removed from the schedule. That is so typical! l! However I saw the book available on Amazon and once I reassured myself that the book was written before the film, I just couldn’t resist this true-life story.

‘As a five-year old in India, I got lost on a train. Twenty-five years later, I crossed the world to find my way back home.

Five-year-old Saroo lived in a poor village in India, in a one-room hut with his mother and three siblings… until the day he boarded a train alone and got lost. For twenty-five years.

This is the story of what happened to Saroo in those twenty-five years. How he ended up on the streets of Calcutta. And survived. How he then ended up in Tasmania, living the life of an upper-middle-class Aussie. And how, at thirty years old, with some dogged determination, a heap of good luck and the power of Google Earth, he found his way back home.’

Lion is a wonderfully sweeping human real life drama; it is lovingly told, heart-breaking, tense and astutely emotionally honest.  The main characters in Saroo’s life are wonderfully captured. The whole book is cinematic in its scope, brilliantly written and by the end I felt I’d seen the film! This is a book that caught hold of my heart from the very start and had me reaching for the tissues. Surely a sequel will be written soon.

GO SET THE WATCHMANGo Set a Watchman has been on my shelf for a year and after the, at times, vitriolic, discussions across the news and social media I had decided to leave this. However, my curiosity was piqued and at the last minute this is the only paperback that made it into my suitcase.

‘Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her ageing father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s own conscience.’

The book is brilliantly written with the first part beautifully capturing Jean Louse Finch’s return to Maycomb and meeting up with family and friends, including her potential fiancee. However, about half way the whole book takes a sudden dramatic turn…and stays there. Whoa! Despite the comments I’d read I hadn’t expected the remainder to be a whole discourse on race in the 1950s and before. Like the slap she received from her uncle, I felt equally winded. As she argues for her beliefs I begin to feel her helplessness. I’m glad I’ve read it but can see why her publishers advised her to write To Kill a Mockingbird instead as indeed the first part of the book contains a lot of her memorable events which later find a central place in TKMB.

BRITT-MARIEFrederik Backman is very popular at the moment and he found success after writing a blog for many years (there is hope for us all!) I had thoroughly enjoyed his A Man Called Ove. I was less fond of My Grandmother sends her regards and apologises.

However, Britt-Marie Was Here is my favourite of his books and as far as I’m concerned Backman has totally redeemed himself!

‘For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It’s not that she’s judgemental, or fussy, or difficult – she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example (forks, knives, then spoons). We’re not animals, are we?

But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realizes.

So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg – of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it – and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her that she’s ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.’

Britt-Marie Was Here is deceptively simplistic in its style with a hidden far-reaching depth. The character of Britt-Marie and all whom she encounter are wonderfully crafted although it does take time to become engaged with them on a literary level. Britt-Marie’s world is odd, particularly with her OCD which dictates her life (I could identify with the obsession with lists, though!).

Do stick with the book as it is worth the initial effort and very soon her life and the lives of the inhabitants  of Borg will win a place in your heart and mind. As they are changed by her presence of Britt-Marie, she is equally affected by their disarming behaviour. Hers and their lives will never be the same. I just loved this book and at times found myself cheering along for Britt-Marie, at times screaming at her (silently of course); Britt-Marie evokes a reaction from the reader throughout until the touching and deft finale.

My final three books all have one element in common – Sisters. At last it seems that the era of ‘Girl’ titled books are on the wane only to be replaced by a proliferation of ‘Sister’ related ones.

THE LOST AND THE FOUNDI hadn’t even realised The Lost & The Found was about two sisters, one snatched as young, until I started the book.

‘SHE WAS LOST…

When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister, Faith. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.

NOW SHE IS FOUND…

Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…’

This is  YA book was recommended to me by my son and mostly so for its ending. The story is superb, well told, full of suspense building to a crescendo of twists. Wow! The first I was sort of expecting, not the second nor the heart-stopping third. I had to re-read it a few times…just to take it in. Finishing this book late at night is not recommended as a sleep eluded me for next few hours. This is an extremely powerful and one  I finished within 24 hours!

51AmnHYNpzLSister Sister is in many ways eerily similar to Cat Clarke’s book and alas only highlights its weaknesses.

‘Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.

Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.

Two sisters. One truth.’

In all honesty I would say this is the weakest of the books I read during the Easter break. A psychological thriller with few thrills. There were a moments of danger, but the story was clearly signposted, the characters deliberately vague to add to the confusion. It had me hooked to a certain degree however in the end I finished it as I wanted to read the end, see how the writer got there and if I was right. A good read overall, just not great.

Sister Sister also had the misfortune of using the same technique for one of the characters as Sometimes I lie in that one of the character is not telling the truth.

SOMETIMES I LIESometimes I lie is another book recommended to me by my son and this is a compulsive read which such intricate twists my son and I ended up discussing them at length, referring back to the book to double check details.

‘My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

  1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me any more

3. Sometimes I lie’

This brilliant psychological thriller had me guessing until the end, satisfying in its twists and drama, great hold on the characters which are fully developed. My personal pet hate is the very final sentence which I know is supposed to be tantalising but it just isn’t logically possible!!

I read an article on Mslexia  magazine about Twitter length stories and for fun I wrote the following loosely based around the themes of the last three books mentioned.

My long lost sister’s tatty teddy hung limply in the stranger’s hand, her gaunt eyes fixed on me.

‘Where did you get that?’

‘From Lucy…years ago. I managed to escape.’   ©Annika Perry, 2017

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my Easter book binge. Have you read any of these? Are you tempted to read any of them?  I look forward to reading your comments.

TRANSITION

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It’s less than a week since I arrived back from Sweden and the transition to everyday life has been harder than ever. The break was perfect on all levels and once home I realised that my body made it across the North Sea whilst my soul was still residing in the summer house, wandering blissfully on the land, clambering on the rocks.

Senetti with Petunias and Flowering Chives

Senetti with Petunias and Flowering Chives

To aid the unification of body and soul I set out to do what often helps in these circumstances. When I was younger that would have meant a splurge at a bookstore after hours of browsing. As an adult and keen gardener I headed to the local garden centre and spurred on by the rare warm sunshine the temperamental trolley was soon filled to the brim. Muttering at the trolley under my breath I steered the plants to the car and kept my fingers crossed for a sunny Sunday.

Senetti with Petunias

Senetti with Petunias

Today I woke to fair weather and keen to get started I left the housework and headed out to the garden. Quickly a new solace took hold of me, gently pulling or cutting the plants from the tight pots and planting with joy. Childlike glee swept over me as soil spilt onto the grass, the patio; little granules of compost sneaking their way into my shoes. One old and tired plant needed to be replaced and proved particularly stubborn on being pulled out. I tried digging it out with a trowel. No luck. Then it was time for the fork and with satisfaction I attacked the rock hard roots, hacking away! At last, I managed to replace it with a beautiful new flower. I could feel my spirits lift.

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A few hours later everything was in place…happily including my soul! 

Nemesia 'Wisley Vanilla'

Nemesia ‘Wisley Vanilla’

That is when the idea for this post struck me…another book-style post is partially written but just didn’t feel right at the moment and I had initially left comments on my last post on Bert Håge Häverö but turned them off at the last moment as I was dazed and exhausted upon my return to the UK, feeling overwhelmed to respond.

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Thank you all for being patient; I’m slowly catching up on your blogs and look forward to easing into normality in the coming week. Meanwhile, I want to finish with one poem featured on Brainpickings this morning. Maria Popova is a gifted writer and her articles are always a treat and consist of interesting, informative and thought-provoking essays on writers/artists/philosophers and it was:

‘Founded in 2006 as a weekly email that went out to seven friends and eventually brought online, the site was included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive in 2012.’ *

Today’s feature on poet Jane Hirshfield is particularly relevant as it was Earth Day yesterday. Enjoy.

ON THE FIFTH DAY
by Jane Hirshfield

On the fifth day
the scientists who studied the rivers
were forbidden to speak
or to study the rivers.

The scientists who studied the air
were told not to speak of the air,
and the ones who worked for the farmers
were silenced,
and the ones who worked for the bees.

Someone, from deep in the Badlands,
began posting facts.

The facts were told not to speak
and were taken away.
The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent. 

Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
continued to move toward their fruit.

The silence spoke loudly of silence,
and the rivers kept speaking,
of rivers, of boulders and air. 

In gravity, earless and tongueless,
the untested rivers kept speaking.

Bus drivers, shelf stockers,
code writers, machinists, accountants,
lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

They spoke, the fifth day,
of silence.

* From Maria Povova on https://www.brainpickings.org

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Senetti with Petunias

Senetti with Petunias

ON SOLITUDE AND LIFE

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This is the last in a series of Bert Håge Häverö (Swedish artist 1932-2014) paintings which I will feature during my holiday break this Easter. These delightful photographs were taken from our company calendar which we gave out to customers many years ago. Never having the heart to throw our copy away I came across this recently and wanted to share the beauty he saw of the Swedish landscape and people. Accompanying the paintings will be various quotations /sayings/poems that have inspired me or touched my spirit.  Comments have been turned off for this post.

 

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‘When I am feeling dreary, annoyed, and generally unimpressed by life, I imagine what it would be like to come back to this world for just a day after having been dead. I imagine how sentimental I would feel about the very things I once found stupid, hateful, or mundane. Oh, there’s a light switch! I haven’t seen a light switch in so long! I didn’t realize how much I missed light switches! Oh! Oh! And look — the stairs up to our front porch are still completely cracked! Hello cracks! Let me get a good look at you. And there’s my neighbor, standing there, fantastically alive, just the same, still punctuating her sentences with you know what I’m saying? Why did that bother me? It’s so… endearing.’

Amy Krouse Rosenthal (1965-2017)

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‘Reading it that evening was like having someone whisper to me, in elongated Germanic sentences, all the youthful affirmations I had been yearning to hear. Loneliness is just space expanding around you. Trust uncertainty. Sadness is life holding you in its hands and changing you. Make solitude your home.’

Rachel Corbett on Rainer Maria Rilke

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PERFECTION / IMP OF AN IDEA

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This is the second of three posts on Bert Håge Häverö (Swedish artist 1932-2014) paintings which I will feature during my holiday break this Easter. These delightful photographs were taken from our company calendar which we gave out to customers many years ago. Never having the heart to throw our copy away I came across this recently and wanted to share the beauty he saw of the Swedish landscape and people. Accompanying the paintings will be various quotations /sayings/poems that have inspired me or touched my spirit. Comments have been turned off for this post.

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‘I am lying on a hammock, on the terrace of my room at the Hotel Mirador, the diary open on my knees, the sun shining on the diary, and I have no desire to write. The sun, the leaves, the shade, the warmth, are so alive that they lull the senses, calm the imagination. This is perfection. There is no need to portray, to preserve. It is eternal, it overwhelms you, it is complete.’ Anaïs Nin

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‘It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley’s birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back into the mist.’  Mary Oliver

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THE FIRST POET / THE MUSE WILL COME

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This is the first of three posts on Bert Håge Häverö (Swedish artist 1932-2014) paintings which I will feature during my holiday break this Easter. These delightful photographs were taken from our company calendar which we gave out to customers many years ago. Never having the heart to throw our copy away I came across this recently and wanted to share the beauty he saw of the Swedish landscape and people. Accompanying the paintings will be various quotations /sayings/poems that have inspired me or touched my spirit. Comments have been turned off for this post.

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‘The first poet must have suffered much when the cave-dwellers laughed at his mad words. He would have given his bow and arrows and lion skin, everything he possessed, just to have his fellow-men know the delight and the passion which the sunset had created in his soul. And yet, is it not this mystic pain — the pain of not being known — that gives birth to art and artists’  Kahlil Gibran

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‘I start all my books on January eighth. Can you imagine January seventh? It’s hell. Every year on January seventh, I prepare my physical space. I clean up everything from my other books. I just leave my dictionaries, and my first editions, and the research materials for the new one. And then on January eighth I walk seventeen steps from the kitchen to the little pool house that is my office. It’s like a journey to another world. It’s winter, it’s raining usually. I go with my umbrella and the dog following me. From those seventeen steps on, I am in another world and I am another person. I go there scared. And excited. And disappointed — because I have a sort of idea that isn’t really an idea. The first two, three, four weeks are wasted. I just show up in front of the computer. Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too. If she doesn’t show up invited, eventually she just shows up.’   Isabel Allende

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EASTER AWAKENING

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The plonk of a parcel landing on the hall floor startled me from my writing reverie and with the eagerness of a child I dashed downstairs and fetched the promised package – these wonderful Easter creations knitted by a dear friend. During the winter months she’s been beavering away in the evenings with family and two lively cats around her and finally her collection was complete! What a lovely and kind idea to share these chicks, bunnies and carrots with family and friends! What a beautiful way to spread Easter sunshine to us all! 

For two weeks I’ll be enjoying the peace and beauty of our ‘retreat’  in Sweden, away from the busy bustling world, barely connected to its digital being. 

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I look forward to walking the land in the cold mornings, the freshness of the air biting my lungs – a sting I welcome as I inhale the crisp ozone air scented from the surrounding pine forests. The dew on the grass will be bathed in sheer white frost, crackling underfoot and dotted around I’ll spot tracks of nighttime visitors of rabbits, badgers, foxes and deer. This early communion with nature has been sorely missed! 

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Whilst on holiday I will heed the words of Thalia Gust’s latest poem, rejuvenating in the beauty of the natural world, bringing my full awareness to the sights and sounds…leaving those ‘Musts’ behind.

MUSTS

What is a Must 

when Cherry blossoms shimmer,

What is a Must

when the skylark sings,

 

What is a Must

when garden turns

        yellow, white and blue;

 

What is a Must

when the wind plays in the Willow

What is a Must 

when I sit on favourite bench,

 

Wren and Robin nesting

in bushes that surround.

 

I left Musts behind today

threw them in the river.

© Thalia Gust

I hope to be on Twitter some, a little on WP but otherwise want to wish you all an enjoyable and peaceful Easter!

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DIRT

Thank you to Lanaa  wonderful, gifted and creative writer, for inspiring / challenging me to attempt this unusual form of poetry. 

According to Lana, a Blitz Poem ‘is a run-on of phrases and words, a rush with rapid repetition.’ Having been an avid fan of stream of consciousness writing since childhood I couldn’t wait to give this poetic version a try…here is my first work, entitled ‘Dirt’.


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Dirt on her baby pink plimsolls

Dirt in her long blond hair

Hair that morning soft and shiny

Hair at dusk, all tangled

As tangled as chains

Tangled like her necklaces

Necklaces of beads and shells

A necklace of her grandpa’s blue fishing yarn

The old yarns he spun

Her yarns they never believed

Don’t be so trusting, Amber. So believing

Always believing. What an idiot

Idiot! Am not!

Idiot. Am

Am lying in the ditch

Am dying

Dying. Not breathing

Dying

©Annika Perry 2017

‘Perfume of the Mountain Grass’ *

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An unassuming man writes unassuming songs with such power and poetry that he’s single-handedly dominating the UK music charts with 14 of his songs in the UK top 15.

EDEd Sheeran, a Yorkshire lad, grew up in a village not far away and it was his ‘Castle on the Hill’ that first grabbed my attention with his signature style of telling a story of his youth, simple and straight forward but beneath the surface a soulful and profound message.

Quickly other songs on the album grew on me but ‘Castle on the Hill’ stayed with me and when I learned it was only an hour’s drive away a visit was planned. I just hoped it wouldn’t disappoint.

The predicted hour became a long meandering two-hour journey through quaint villages, thatched houses centuries old hugging the roadside. Soon other houses took on bold and vibrant hues, painted in ochre, startling orange, scarlet, dazzling blue. Small hamlets with the extraordinary names such as ‘Nedging with Naughton’ passed quickly whilst pedestrian style hunchback bridges spanned the brooks. Once again we spurned the Satnav and trusted to instinct, good luck and ultimately the good-old fashioned road until finally, we arrived at Framingham (and it only took three circuits of the town to locate a parking space!).

Framingham Castle dates back to the 12th Century and it was built by a local Norman family and was their home for over 400 years. Later it was briefly owned by Mary Tudor as she gathered her supporters to fight for the throne.

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The castle is built on the natural highpoint in the village and it stands magnificently on the mound; a landmark visible across the county to the North Sea.

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Its imposing facade strikes me as I walk towards the main gate which would have had a drawbridge across the dry moat. Towers reach for the sky and now number twelve out of the original thirteen and on top of some beautiful brick Elizabethan chimneys have been added by later occupants.

These were for both decorative and practical purposes and seeing their corkscrew design it is easy to understand why!

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Having read about the wall-walk this was our first destination. It is unusual to find a complete curtain wall in a castle in England – let alone be able to walk around it.

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The climb up the 10.5 m (30 feet) high walls was well worth the effort with spectacular views, particularly looking down at the mere below. When originally built the mere was three times larger and the castle would have been reflected in the still water and provide a striking and stately effect.

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Walking around the moat, past the mere the sense of peace is palpable, the sense of history all around. Where Normans and Tudors walked, fought, lived, sightseers of the 21st-century swarm. People from the village gather, talk, chat…discuss music, compose songs. It is not hard to feel the inspiration which has become a top hit for Ed Sheeran.

As the album ‘Divide’ popularity grows and yes, I have become one of over 672,000 to have fallen in love with the album and bought it and quickly another song stood out to me. Its quiet, peaceful lyrical beauty is a tribute to his grandmother  – it is wonderfully moving, touching the hearts of all who listen to it. I’m sure ‘Supermarket Flowers’ will have many in tears.

*From ‘Castle on the Hill’