Food for thought


Sitting round the boiler
In the old school room
We sewed as we sang
“Flow gently sweet Afton…”
Stoking memories for the future
Solid fuel for our fires
Sited next to the cattle market Early lessons in fatality
Like lambs to the slaughter, we.
Filtered by failure, our futures foretold
“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

I wonder where they are now

I wonder where they are now

NaPoWriMo 6 ~ A Good hare Day

For NaPoWriMo on day 6 there was a simpler challenge than Saturday’s thank goodness. We were asked to look out of a window and write a poem using what we observed. Having to be always contrary I decided to look into windows instead.
This is because I went to Cirencester to see the March Hare Festival.

A dreary day in the Cotswolds,
Wind blows and cold rain drizzles down
Stone cottages are looking weathered and worn,
Daunted daffodils and bluebells bend low
Agitated pheasants scurry, flapping over Ermin Way,
Committed we continue, to Cirencester for the day.

Like Brigadoon this market town appears out of the mist,
One of those magic moments, a place by angels kissed.
A colourful celebration reflecting local life is underway;
A Festival of March Hares, some dazzling some restrained,
In windows, doorways, churches and shops creatively displayed

Cultured, cosmopolitan and colourful vignettes,
Cameos of ancient times are captured in mosaic,
Homages to industry, hospitality, trade and faith
Veterans of two world wars amusingly portrayed
Childhoods caught in acrylic, nature, myths and legends true
Captured by artistic celebrities, dignitaries and ordinary people too

Visitors and residents alike, excited and involved
Chat, sharing what they have found, advise, inspire, enthuse
Pubs overflow with merriment, cafes are buzzing too
Music pours from the Brewery Arts, crafters’ skills on show
Working in glass and gold and silver, in wood and pottery and silk,
Local artists interpret the world in paint and pen and ink.

In recent years there has been a spate of large ceramic or stone objects appearing in towns and cities of the UK. Having mentioned it to my daughter last night I know that they have been seen in the USA too. The first time I came across it was when my grandchildren, Ben and Rosie went to London and were photographed alongside large colourful elephants. Wallace and Gromit were in Bristol recently too.
Next I heard of a Gorilla festival in Torbay and Exeter. There was also a festival of decorated horses in Cheltenham in honour of the races. Now there are 5 foot tall hares in Cirencester.
Why hares you might wonder?
Well Cirencester was a very important place in Roman times. It was called Corinium and had very good road links to the rest of the UK, such as Ermin Way and the Fosse Way. In 1971 during an archeological dig in Beeches Road near to the River Churn, a Roman mosaic was discovered depicting a hare. The original is now on show in the Corinium Museum. Hence the theme of hares for this festival. There will be about 50 hares around the town eventually. Most of them will be 5 foot tall and decorated by local people including schoolchildren, members of the public, celebrities and artists. All of the large hares are named to reflect their sponsors. One of the most beautiful hares is on display in the Corinium and it is named Tess.
Apart from the large hares there are lots of smaller hares dotted around the town and there are prizes for discovering and photographing them. I think I will have to go back as I only found 10 large ones! I did however find the solid chocolate one which weighs 10kg in a lovely little chocolatiers called ‘Lick the Spoon’.
The festival does have a serious purpose which is to boost trade and tourism in the town. Judging by how much money I spent yesterday they are going to be very successful!
They are also aiming to raise the £50,000 needed for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to begin to develop the Green Hare Churn Walkway around the River Churn in Cirencester. This new trail project will involve schools and community groups and will have lasting benefits for residents and visitors alike. The hares will be auctioned off at the end of the festival to raise the funds.
I hope they do well as we had a wonderful day, and we will certainly be going back. The Festival of Hares is on until 14th September and is well worth a visit at any age. To give you a helping hand I have listed the names of the hares that are on display at the moment and where you can find them. Tomorrow there will be more as phase two will be hidden around the town! Some of them are in schools which won’t be open now til after the holidays.

Bare Hare at the Agricultural College
Harry, King of the Hill at Kingshill School
Mr Harebushes at Organic farm Shop, Burford Road
Via Albatine at Whiteway Workshops
Harebelle at the Twelve Bells
Flame, The Phoenix Wayfarer at Phoenix Way
Hareoh the Phareoh at St John Baptist Church
Whare’s Davey in Davey Law Offices
Haretherop in Waterstones Bookshop
Harriet in Mistral Clothes Shop
Harold O’Hare in Zippy Pix Photo Shop
Hartley in 51 Dyer Street
Harrison in Hampton’s Estate Agents
Daniel George in Bishop’s Walk
Hopportunity Hare in Cirencester opportunity Group
Corina at the Corinium Hotel
Tess at the Corinium Museum
General Lievre at Gardiner Haskins
Harelequin at Beeches House
Miles, the Millionhare at Limes hair Company
Wooly Jumper outside the Fleece
Madame Butterfly at McGill’s Chartered Accountant
Hicarus at Cotswold Airport
Eostra at Rendcomb College
Sign the Hare at Bingham House

NaPoWriMo 5 ~ Golden Shovel

The prompt for day 5 of NaPoWriMo I found incredibly difficult. The challenge was to write a “golden shovel.” This form was invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem, The Golden Shovel. The last word of each line of Hayes’ poem is a word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem We Real Cool. You can read Brooks’ poem by reading the last word of each line of Hayes’ poem! It was a tortuous process but so rewarding as it introduced me to a poet I had not come across before, Terrance Hayes.
I chose a short poem to use for my golden shovel:

Their relationship consisted
In discussing if it existed.
-Thom Gunn

My inspiration was a walk back from town yesterday. I was admiring a beautiful display of daffodils when I was suddenly aware of a group of boys playing football nearby. They suddenly charged after the ball and threw themselves down on the grass with no thought for the flowers, bent, broken and crushed by their bodies. And so my poem was born…

Plodding through fields of daffodils their
Yellow hearts performing, I pondered the relationship
Between plants and poetry.  Concluding it consisted
Of long periods of silent suffering in
Deep, dark soil, alone.  Discussing
This is futile.  But bleak experience can be transformed if
Hidden hurts are buried in fertile soil for long.  It
Results in a joy and beauty we never knew existed.

Phew, I hope day 6 is a little easier!
daffodils by a fallen branch at St Peter's Grange, Prinknash Abbey

NaPoWriMo 3 ~ Charm to disperse Toxic Smog

Today’s prompt asks that we write a charm, spell or rhyme.
In view of the unusually high level of air pollution in the UK at the moment, that is the target for my spell!
I just came back from a walk with little Stanley and I was grateful for the huge Chestnut trees that grow near my house. Trees are brilliant at soaking up the pollution from the traffic. I hope my spell will get them to soak up the toxic smog and Saharan dust that is filling our skies this week. It is so bad that although Stanley and I could hear the helicopters which regularly trundle across the skies to a nearby small private airport, we couldn’t see them because the smog was so thick and low. Very disappointing for Stanley so a spell is required!

O chestnut tree, o chestnut tree
Bend your branches, listen to me
the air is full of toxic dust
Its hard to breathe although we must

O chestnut tree, o chestnut tree
Lower your leaves, listen to me
Dark clouds are forming in the sky
Helicopters are hidden although they fly

O chestnut tree, o chestnut tree
Turn your trunk, listen to me
Buildings and vehicles are shrouded in sand
People are suffering throughout the land

O chestnut tree, o chestnut tree
Call forth your conkers, listen to me
There’s an invisible killer in the land
We need you now to give us a hand

This rhyme seems gauche but it has a serious side. The local council have plans to cut down all out lovely mature chestnut trees to make way for a third lane on the bypass dedicated to buses. Not only will this be the end of conker collecting in the Autumn for the local children, which has been a joy for generations, but it will be the end of our one and only dedicated cycle path so cyclists will have to share the very busy main road. This is something I have strong feelings about. The whole project is money wasting madness.

NaPoWriMo 2 ~ Shishi ~ The paired lion-dogs that guard the entrances of temples

This haiku is inspired by one of the creatures from from Japanese legend. Shishi is the paired lion-dogs, one male and one female, that guard the entrances to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. The Shishi have magical powers to repel evil.
Jp. = Shishi 獅子 or Kara Shishi 唐獅子, Chn. = Shíshī
Also known as Koma-inu 狛犬 (lion dog) in Japan

I chose this topic for two reasons. Firstly I have a cast iron garden chair which is very decorative and it has a lion head at the end of each arm rest. Secondly, one of my daughters used to be a dancer and she worked in Japan for a year when she left LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts). She loved Japan and the people she worked for who were so kind to her. One day she went for a trip to see a newly built temple. In order to raise money to complete the temple roof tiles were being sold with a dedication on them. Knowing that my interests are spiritual she Paid for a tile to have my name and a blessing carved on it. I think it is probably one of the most unusual, the most thoughtful, and the most wonderful thing anyone has ever done for me.

Serene and smiling

Weathered guardians of childhood

Casting out evil

Buddhist temple in Willan, UK

Buddhist temple in Willan, UK