Grandma’s House

our tiny bungalow
Grandma’s house is very small
Just 2 bedrooms off the hall
A tiny kitchen, shiny-floored
A larder where my treats are stored
A shower with a seat inside
Wardrobes where doggy and I can hide
An archway leads into the lounge
Where furniture gets moved around
To make a station for my trains
Or an airport for ‘copters and planes
Sometimes it’s a racetrack for my cars
Or a farmyard with tractors, paddocks and barns
Grandma puts blankets over the table
To make a den, a forest or a stable
In the garden there’s gravel that scrunches when I walk
And a patio where I can draw pictures with chalk
In granddad’s shed there are drawers full of tools,
Boxes of nails, tubes of glue, jars of screws
A little mouse is nesting inside the wood store
While outside live birds, bees, hedgehogs and more
Grandma says her shed is a magical place
It’s furnished and carpeted and curtained with lace
Lavender hangs drying from the painted ceiling
While pine shelves are covered in things that have meaning
Like Icons from Finland, and medals from Lourdes
Calabash from Africa made out of gourds
Matrushkas from Moscow, maracas from Spain
I can’t wait for summer to play there again
Grandma loves it when I come to play
She makes indoor picnics we eat off a tray
She has lots of photos all over her wall
The best one is my mummy when she was small.
tunnel of love

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all the lovely, talented, thoughtful and spiritual people who read and comment on my humble blog.  I have had so much pleasure from your posts and feel that I have got to know most of you personally.  2013 was such a busy year that I have not always managed to write as much as I would wish to, but in 2014  I will aim to be more focused!

The greatest joy of 2013 was watching little Stanley, my grandson, grow.  He was 1 year old on 1st December and he now walks and is a delight in every way.

If you want to see just how much he has changed and what he means to me you could re-read some of my posts about him.

 

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See how he has grown
Stanley with his first toolset 1

Silver

Inspired by Haiku-heights’ September Challenge Day 3 ~ Silver

Each night I take my little dachshund Dayna out to wander in the garden before she goes to bed.  I love to sit at the end of the garden under the gazebo, where it is very dark and totally quiet, to watch the sky and enjoy the last few minutes of the day.  Recently I have been enjoying the tail end of the Perseid shower of shooting stars.  Last night I saw a beauty which seemed much higher than the others I have seen.

Silver arrows pierce

The depths of distant darkness,

And faraway fall

~

Meteorites make

Momentary magic, leave

Lasting memories

~

Shooting stars shatter

The celestial stillness

With their final show

~

I can’t resist reposting a haiku I wrote when my grandson was just a few weeks old!

On a soft white cloud

As silver stars surround him

He silently sleeps

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Look at him now just 9 months old!

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Race For Life

Inspired by haiku-heights prompt “measure”.

It was too darn hot

But the girls ran the distance

In the Race for Life

Like any mum I am really proud of all my children, but at the weekend two of my daughters exceeded even my expectations. They both run regularly to keep fit and are naturally competitive. They are also very caring people who do a great deal for charities that are close to their hearts. So they both signed up to run the Race for Life with the aim of raising money for Cancer Research charities.
It was a scorching hot day on Sunday as they donned their pink tee shirts and set off for the Racecourse. The organisers made no allowance for the heat and kept the runners out in the sun for an hour while they literally “warmed up”.
There were literally hundreds of runners on the course, some walking, some jogging and some running. But my girls both managed to run the 10k distance in less than 1 hour. An amazing feat in view of the heat and the crowds they had to battle through to finish.

Ripples

This post is inspired by Haiku Heights prompt word ‘Ripples’.

Little plastic ducklings

Little plastic ducklings

Ducklings bobbing as

Babies learn to swim, making

Ripples in the pool

Stanley learning to swim

Stanley learning to swim

~

Fishermen despair

As dipping ducks surface in

Ripples on the lake

~

With muscles rippling

She races to complete the

London Marathon

My daughter did the London Marathon in 2010.  She said it was the most fantastic and memorable day ever. The 26.2 miles were long, gruelling and emotional but she completed it in a respectable 4 hours, 20 minutes and 33 seconds. She raised £2032 for Myeloma UK.

~

Recession’s ripples

Spread round the world.  The poor are

The first to suffer

~

Wireless waves ripple

“War is over”.  Not heard in

Jungles of Burma

~

Deep in the Burmese jungle in 1945, the “forgotten army”, including my uncle Robert, had no idea the war was over.  News took a while to filter through; some had no radios and others had no time to listen to the BBC.

Mountbatten said, “You call yourselves the ‘forgotten army’, well you are wrong.  At home they haven’t even heard of you”.

~

My tribute to Nelson Mandela

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This week’s word prompt at haiku heights is the word “Chivalry”.  My understanding of this word for the modern age is an honourable person with strength ~ of mind, body and soul, who is courageous and disciplined and uses their power to protect the weak and defenceless.  This defines Nelson Mandela perfectly in my opinion.

Cherishing freedom

He fought with true dignity

And changed the whole world

~

With perseverance

For freedom and harmony

He gave his whole life

~

On Robben Island

Prepared to die for his cause

He rocked the whole world

My grandson, Ben, was reading a book about Nelson Mandela for his homework on Monday and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss this living legend with him.  Someone once said “If you can’t explain it to a 6 year old, you don’t understand it yourself”.  I hope I gave Ben and Rosie a clear view of just how extraordinary and special this man is.  In fact I said that in my opinion he is a living saint!

I can’t imagine a world without Nelson Mandela, I am sure it will be a poorer place.  All my adult life he seems to have been in the news or making the news.  I remember the protest marches, the Sharpeville Massacre which took place on 21 March 1960 and shocked the world.  And how could anyone forget the fabulous song, “Free Nelson Mandela”, by the Specials.  You can listen to it here and I bet you can’t keep your body still ~ you just have to dance!  It reminds me of the cricket club I went to near Kisumu in Kenya with some friends in 1985.  The Tanzanian band played all night until the early hours and the dancing was out of this world.  I was lucky enough to go to one of the original tour concerts of Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 1987 too.  I will never forget that night, especially the township jive!

So, while the irreplaceable 94 year old, is still struggling for survival in a Johannesburg hospital, I thought I would pay tribute to him in my blog.  Firstly I would like to honour him by using his own name!  He was named Rolihlahla Dalibhunga by his parents but was given his English name, Nelson, by a teacher on his first day at school.  He is fondly known by his clan name – “Madiba” among his own people.  It is from the Xhosa tribe to which he belonged.

He wrote his own story in a book called Long Walk to Freedom.
Mandela expressed his goal so eloquently from the dock in court in 1964 thus:

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities,” he said. 

“It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

I think that he achieved his life’s ambition and he has left a great legacy in the form of the Elders.  They give me hope that the world will one day be a free, fair and just place for all people regardless of creed, colour or politics.

You can find all the facts and figures about Nelson Mandela’s life on the wonderful BBC site just click the link.

ladysmith Black mambazo band

Moral

Inspired by Haiku heights word ‘Moral’.

Fairness and justice

Honesty and compassion

Gentleness is strength

~

Every night should be

Like Christmas Night for me, filled

With wonder and awe

~

As I sit and suffer this weekend,  the moral of this haiku is to listen to my own advice and stay away from children with colds!

Snuffling and sneezing

Grandchildren spreading their germs

Thought I was immune

As I missed the deadline for the last 2 prompts, Eccentric and Stone, I am adding the links here in the hope that you will take the time to read them.

Eccentric ~ http://wp.me/p2gGsd-Ul

Stone ~ http://wp.me/p2gGsd-U4

Cotswold Stone

dry stone wall in the cotswolds

dry stone wall in the cotswolds

This post is inspired by the Haiku heights prompt word “Stone”

Golden meadows bound

With dry stone walling.  Built by

Cotswold craftsmen

The Cotswolds, where I live, is a very beautiful area in the heart of England, which covers the counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

Beyond the hedgerows

As far as the eye can see

Yellow rapeseed glows

Rapeseed field

Rapeseed field

There are gentle hills and wolds, meandering rivers rich with salmon, trout, roach, bream and eels, a coastline along the Severn Valley, ancient woodland in the Forest of Dean complete with wild boar and roaming deer, beautiful market towns and unspoilt villages,  gorgeous thatched cottages, magnificent country houses, fertile farms, and even several castles!

One of the outstanding features of the Cotswolds is the beautiful stone which is used for building.  During the time of the enclosures act in Britain it was cheaper for farmers to enclose their land with dry-stone walls than to plant hedges, and to this day one of the special features of the Cotswolds is the golden dry-stone walls about a metre in height which border country lanes and lush farmland

The limestone found in the Cotswolds is from the Jurassic period about 150 million years ago, a time when dinosaurs roamed over the earth and the area was once below the sea.  It is still possible to find fossils in the rocky cliffs and quarries.  In fact Huntsman’s Quarry has a superb collection of large fossils that were unearthed during quarrying.

Fossilised features

Of prehistoric creatures

In limestone preserved

You can download a fascinating fact sheet about the quarry here

Quarrying has been carried out in the Cotswolds for many years, for sand, gravel and clay as well as stone.  Some of the old quarries have been turned into the Cotswold Water park which covers an area of  40 square miles and has 150 lakes.  All sorts ofwater sports go on here and it is a beautiful area to walk around enjoying the nature and wildlife.  You can read all about it here

At the weekend I took my grandchildren to Warwick castle to enjoy the Horrible Histories.  It was a great day out in wonderful weather.  The castle was sold by the Greville family in 1978 and is now owned by the business group that owns Madame Tussauds.  This has enhanced the visitor’s experience as every room is filled with models of the famous people who lived in or visited the castle.  It must cost millions to maintain the structure of this impressive building.  The walls are so think and the building so huge, that the bedrock is groaning under the strain.  But there is 1000 years of history oozing out of every stone.

Stone steeped in stories

Of secrets and scandals in

High society

Bedrock is cracking

Sinking under centuries

Of blood-soaked conflict

Enjoy my pictures from the weekend…

Stanley’s growing up healthy ~ Haiku

These haiku are inspired by the word prompt at www.haiku-heights.blogspot.com

The word for this week is Health.

I am constantly amazed at the pace of Stanley’s development.  It seems that every week he has acquired a new skill and grown a bit more aware of the people, places and things around him.

He is now rolling over, trying to crawl, giggling at his toes or anything else that waves around in front of him!  He is also getting very sociable, going to ‘bounce and rhyme’ at the local library as well as ‘Little Fishes’ at the swimming pool.

He has started eating a variety of fruit, vegetables and cereals that his mum purees for him.  All in all I am delighted to say he is a healthy and happy baby and a joy to be with.

Mini masterpiece

A picture of perfection

Healthy and happy

Healthy and Happy

Healthy and Happy

Bootees abandoned

Tiny toes make tempting toys

Baby’s delighted

Tiny toes

Tiny toes

Curiosity

Compels him to crawl, eager

To investigate

Compelled to crawl

Compelled to crawl

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Betrayal ~ Haiku

This post is inspired by haiku heights word prompt.  The word is ‘Betrayal’.  It is a bit negative to be thinking about betrayal on such a lovely peaceful day, but there are always issues highlighted in the press which come under this theme.  Today I saw a front page article in the Independent Newspaper about a 92 year old man who died waiting for a bed on a ward, having been left in a side room for 11 hours.  This has got to be a betrayal by the NHS as an institution which is now seriously understaffed.

Unaccountable

Neglected, alone

Forgotten on a trolley

Died a lonely death

I read recently of workers in Bangladesh who died when the overcrowded and substandard factory building they worked in collapsed.  They worked for little wages to produce garments for sale in our shops.

Unacceptable

In squalid sweatshops

They labour for a pittance

Dying for profit

Due to the Government’s austerity measures we are having to make lots of cuts in every area of society.  But I was shocked to hear that soldiers returning from fighting (or peace keeping as it is referred to these days) in conflict zones around the world will lose their jobs when they return.

Unpatriotic

Returning from war

No thanks were they given, just

Redundancy notes

Of course the world’s problems have been largely caused by injustice and greed which in no little part has been fuelled by the big financial institutions.  It seems strange to me that the ordinary people have to suffer the consequences while the rich continue as if nothing has happened.

Unabashed

Arrogant bankers

Brought their business to ruin

But took their bonus

The world’s political classes are of course most guilty of betrayal whether intentionally or not.  They are the only people with the power to do something about the injustices in the world so what do they do?

Unbelievable

At summits they meet

To discuss the worlds’ starving

At black tie banquets

I could go on about betrayal of innocent, defenceless children who have been abused by their “carers”; +about animals that are kept captive or treated cruelly; about the sick and disabled who are being vilified in this country for needing benefits to live a basic existence; but I will finish with a heartfelt betrayal:-

Unforgivable

Brutal betrayal

To abandon the mother

Expecting your child

Story – Haiku

He said “you can’t make

a silk purse from a sow’s ear”

His meaning was clear

This post is inspired by the haiku heights prompt for today ~ “Story”

This was the comment made about me at the age of 10 by the Headmaster of the school I was expecting to go to when me moved across the country for my father’s job.  I had missed a lot of school due to illness so was way behind others of my age.  I also had a Geordie accent which he equated with being uneducated.  These factors led him to believe I was stupid and not worth educating!  My determined parents decided to move me somewhere else thank goodness!

His words have stayed with me always and inspired me to become a teacher.  Eventually I became a Headteacher.   My aim was to value every child, to educate them to the best of their ability, and to develop in them self confidence and high self esteem so that whatever their talents they could go out into the world prepared to lead full, rewarding and satisfying lives.

I guess it is a milestone in my story!

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Daredevil ~ Haiku

Inspired by this week’s prompt from haikuheights which is the word Daredevil I was reminded of my nephew who is in the Metropolitan Police.  He faces possible danger on a daily basis but manages to stay calm and positive in the face of it all.

Lured into their trap

Alone he stands his ground as

Gang gathers round him

My son too is unflappable whether riding his motorbike across the world, diving deep under the oceans or climbing up devilish rockfaces.

Devil rock lures him

into death defying deeds

He claws at its face

rich climbing

 

Gone Fishing

It’s that time of year again when the weather is just about good enough for Gerry to go fishing ~ joy!

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Under a fishing umbrella by the side of a lake in the pouring rain with husband and grandchildren, heaven happens.  There is nothing quite so exciting as being at the mercy of the elements but safe!  It appeals to our most basic human need for shelter and protection.  All our needs are met.  We are together, warm and dry and we have a picnic.  We are relaxed and at peace.  There is nothing we mustdo but enjoy ourselves.  It is a precious gift ~ time to be.  Grandchildren learn how to fish.  They watch the fluorescent tip of the float marking the place where the line enters the water.  The bait of sweetcorn gently drifts in the depths as we throw more corn in to attract the fish.  And it does.   The float waggles then dips down ~ a bite!    Ben gets the landing net ready and Rosie slides the…

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Xerox inspired Haiku

Hope you don’t mind if I sneak in 2 days worth of haiku as I missed yesterday!  So my open prompt comes today when ~ I heard my first cuckoo!

Loud and clear cuckoo
sings, summer’s early warning.
Nesting birds beware

~~~

Xerox inspired ~ Before I retired from my job in education, I was linked with Kianja Primary School in Nyanza Province, near Kisumu in Kenya.  The first time I went there I was amazed to see classes of up to 80 children in what were effectively large mud huts with no windows or doors ~ and no resources!  The teacher was using water to write on a wall to illustrate his lesson.  Sometimes teachers would take lessons outside under a huge mango tree.  The children were bright, keen, polite, well-behaved, friendly ~ and learning!

They had no electricity so a xerox machine would have been of no use to them.

Water on mud walls

left a lasting impression.

One teaching resource

~~~

African children

Learn in tribal village school

Under mango tree

Moth ~ Haiku

Tenderly treasured

Nurtured chrysalis to moth

Now time to release

P1090021 P1090025The grandchildren have been breeding butterflies and moths in a cage. When they are ready the children release them into the bushes in the morning while the sun is shining.  It’s a serious business and Rosie worries about them with maternal zeal.

April 23rd 1964 ~ 400th Anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare

As it is Shakespeare’s birthday celebrations in Stratford this weekend I thought I would reblog a post I wrote when I first started blogging.

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William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd 1564 and died on 23rd April 1616.  1964 was the 400th anniversary of his birth and I was living in Stratford on Avon, which was certainly the most exciting place to be at that time for a theatre mad teenager.

The highlight of my acting career had been the part of Mole in Toad of Toad Hall at St Gabriel’s Convent in Carlisle.  Cardinal Heenan was the honoured guest in the audience.  My part was memorable as it involved a tea party at Toad Hall.  We had real cakes and biscuits.   I had never seen those pink and white marshmallows with a biscuit base and coconut all over the top.  I became so engrossed in examining and eating them that I forgot where I was and had to be prompted to continue my lines.  “Oh, you silly ass, Mole”…

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Owl ~ Haikuheights April Challenge ~ A2Z

Solemn, silent sage,

Features frozen forever,

Fixed a stony stare

stony owlLooking after the grandchildren during the Easter holidays we stayed in a cabin by a fishing lake.  It was freezing cold, as you can see from the snow on the hills, but the children had fun.  Ben used the stone owl as a goalpost!

Butterfly ~ Haiku

To celebrate National Poetry Month this April, Haiku Heights is hosting a month-long Haiku writing journey. This journey will take Haiku lovers through the alphabet one day at a time.  Today’s  letter is B and the prompt word is Butterfly.

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Watching butterflies

Their beauty borne on the breeze

Children barely breathe

 

Breeze

This post is inspired by haiku Heights prompt word “Breeze”.

On of my favourite places is London.  There is nothing so inspiring as the city skyline viewed from the South Bank of the Thames on a summer’s evening.  Imagine feeling a gentle breeze drifting over the river at sunset and listening to the birds singing in nearby trees ~ magical!  Do click on my link to hear the fabulous Glenn Miller Band playing one of my favourite songs ~ the inspiration for this haiku ~ with a nod to one of my favourite poets too ~Thomas Hardy.

Nightingales

Nightingale Nightingale

As gentle breezes blow

Nightingales in bushes sing

Sublime serenade

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 One of my favourite times of year in the Vale of Evesham and generally in the Cotswold, is Spring, when the blossom covers the fruit trees and the ornamental cherry is out.

 Boughs bend to the breeze

Covering the earth in a

Blanket of blossom

 

Watching butterflies

Their beauty borne on the breeze

Children barely breathe

 

There are times when a gentle breeze can have a powerful effect, as can a still small voice.

Gazing on Taize

Sunflowers bow to the breeze

And my spirit soars

I will never forget the time I went to Taize.  In the 1940s Roger Schutz was appalled by the violence and suffering he saw across Europe.  Throughout the war years, he sheltered political refugees, especially Jews, whom he helped cross the border into Switzerland from the occupied region of France.  He began to develop the idea of a community based on mutual understanding and respect for all.  He found a suitable site at Taize near Cluny in the Burgundy region of France and on Palm Sunday of 1948, seven men took monastic vows.  They dedicated their lives to working and praying for ‘outsiders’ of all kinds; especially those living in extremes of poverty, hunger, or disease.  Taize is now famous for its gentle and powerful worship built on meditation through repetitive chants, a model of worship which has spread around the world.  Brother Roger’s work continues; to bring reconciliation, unity and peace to all the peoples of the world. www.taize.fr

There is a beautiful icon of Mary in the Church of Reconciliation in Taize.  I would recommend anyone who travels to France to make a detour so that they can spend some time there and see this Icon.
Icon of Madonna and child from the chapel at Taize Icon of Madonna and child from the chapel at Taize
When I went to Taize one summer I had an amazing experience.   I stood alone in a field full of sunflowers, at the foot of the hill looking up towards the church, as a gentle breeze blew.  The wind caused the flowers to bend and the sound they made was so strange.   It reminded me strongly of the beautiful words of one of my favourite hymns:
 Be still for the presence of the Lord
Be still for the presence of the Lord  The holy one is here
Come bow before him now  With reverence and fear
In him no sin is found  We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord  The holy one is here
Be still for the power of the Lord  Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal  To minister his grace
No work too hard for him  In faith receive from him
Be still for the power of the Lord  Is moving in this place