Marching on #March #April #Aries #Shakespeare #astrology #proverb #Leo #clocks #light #Easter

‘In like a lion, out like a lamb!’ is the sweet little proverb often associated with March.

We began the month with biting cold winds, hazardous black ice and blankets of snow; the fierce roar of winter raged on… and Spring was kept deep below the soil.

The origin of the proverb is to do with astrology.

Leo the lion is the rising sign, the sign in ascendency but by 21st March (to 20th April) Aries, the ram, arrives (lamb sounds better than ram).

March is, can be and may have been a difficult month for some. The month has several associations with erraticism:

‘March winds’

‘Mad as a March hare’

and Misfortune ‘beware the Ides of March’ from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar.’

This was spoken by a soothsayer warning Caesar of his portentous downfall.

When Caesar’s frosty reign ended on the 15th, it was nearly Spring.

The 25th March marks the change of clocks, with an extra hour of evening light…longer, lighter days are here to enjoy, providing the weather is kind.

Easter sneaks in at the end of the month too and then on Easter Sunday we awaken to April.

My new novel: ‘A Worldly Tale Told Of Mothy Chambers’ is available, signed, via kate@katebarnwell.com

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May-Day Merry-making #May #bankholiday #green #tradition #Spring #festivals #flowers #Hastings

This year May Day falls on the First of May, not since 2005 have the two come together so poetically. If you are a Morris-man or woman you will have been up since dawn, dancing and rejoicing, celebrating the release of Spring.
In Hastings Old Town, the capital of the East Sussex culture scene, we have gathered flowers, greens and specially-made wreaths to adorn our streets (Hawthorn blossom is called ‘May‘ because it will be picked at this time of year) and long, colourful ribbons to dress the houses, shops, pubs, cafes and churches.

 Bells, bangles, bikers, green men, green women, drummers, fiddlers, singers and sweepers, one and all prepare for the Jack in the Green parade, winding its green garlanded way around the old streets and on to Hastings Pier for more dancing and revelling.  

Everyone will be ‘a-maying‘ from sunrise to sunset. A Spring holiday of feasting (on local organic bread), drinking (on the local pub’s homemade beer) & cheering the most spectacular May Parade. 

Hooray! This is Hastings, no battles here. It’s alive with ‘ye olde world’ tradition and armfuls of green hugs. Come be merry-made…

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A Cup of of Camomile #quotes #Shakespeare #gardens #herbs #Spring #playwright #camomile

An English garden, or any of a temperate climate, through the seasons, holds a spell. It feeds the soul and mind in beauty, peace and rest and the body in herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. Please note I’m mostly concerned with Spring and Summer.

Many herbs and plants have made their way into Shakespeare’s plays…their use in medicines (Romeo&Juliet), in metaphors (Hamlet, Henry IV) & in magic (A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Shakespeare loved to garden. He would have been familiar with, and fully aware of the significance and importance of herbs. Their values, qualities and differences would have played on his imagination and are naturally and subtly woven (weaved) into his work with great effect.

“… though the camomile, the more it is trodden on the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears.” Henry IV

In herb gardens lie stories, tales and morals, and healing properties: prevention and cure.

Herbs and spices for sprinkling, wit and wisdom for thinking.


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Twitching #birds #calendar #Spring #song #March #wildlife #blog

Hello. This is not a tweet it’s…

my 200th Blog Post! and it’s dedicated to the poets and composers of the sky: Birds.

Take a look at these British Birds – poster babes or calendar chicks. After Winter, comes Spring and its time to start bird-watching. Here’s a lovely line-up of some of our favourites. Listen out for each unique tune…

Pay special attention in towns and cities, above the roar of traffic sing many a songbird. It’s a busy season: new buds, new grubs, new greens, new shrubs…keep ears and eyes open and support our wildlife. 
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The Long run of Winter  #WinterSolstice #winter #dark #light #December #short #Christmas #climate #festive #calendar 

Today, 21st December, is the shortest day of the year in the U.K. – known on the calendar year as The Winter Solstice.

In Hastings, East Sussex the sun will rise wearily at 07.58 and set quickly at 15.53.  

If it is a grey day (& it is) it’ll seem exceptionally short, and the light will be poor and bland, if it is sunny (maybe tomorrow) make the most of the rays as a lack of sunshine, especially around the Christmas period, can make you feel very low. 

On the positive side, the shortest day of the year will now give way to a gradual lengthening of days. This means that the cloudy, misty, oppressive days will become longer ones, so even more reason to grab the sun when it rises and shines. 

A short pre-Christmas day is best spent enjoying the colour of the festive lights, fiddling with wrapping paper and sticky, pretty bits of string, reaching for a spicy, warm mulled wine and filling the house with scents of cinnamon & orange and roast potatoes. There are lovely ways to spend this seasonal month and many pleasures to gain from living the cycle of a temperate climate, even in those darker days.
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For ‘the few’ a few words #remembrance #poppy #silence #war #WWI #November #Armistice

The 11th November is Armistice Day, pausing for a two minutes silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. 
12-13th of November is Remembrance Weekend with special attention on the Sunday for full commemorative services across the country and across the world whether they take place in church, mosque, temple, abbey, at a memorial or at home.  

The Poppy is the symbol of a lost life at war.

Everyone has love, loved; loss, lost. Reflection and memories require time and attention and Emotion can sometimes be indefinable (poetry can help express what we struggle to find in simple words).

Whatever the conflict, feelings are universal.

Emotion has no boundary or divide; it instinctively unite us, wherever in the world you stand.

http://www.katebarnwell.com 

A…Attention! #London #facts #travel #TheQueen #British #soldiers #summer #holiday #vacation #Wimbledon #AndyMurray

Anyone taking a holiday excursion, a summer vacation, a trip, a journey, or a city break to London, may wish to swat up on soldier (Guard) uniforms to impress fellow travel companions. It’s a little research that goes beyond the average guide book; it may even surprise the fore-said friends of your exceptional ability to record such interesting and diverse British facts. Let’s hope they pay attention instead or telling you to button up.

How about some of these as additional London facts.

1. There is always a flag flying above Buckingham Palace, but it is only the Royal Standard that indicates the Queen is in residence.

2. All swans in the Royal Parks are owned by the Queen.

3. Yesterday, The Wimbledon Tennis Championships 2016 (grass court) saw Scottish-born Andy Murray, cap and shorts, take the trophy for a second time.  If he had chosen to be a soldier he would be number 3 in the line-up. Buttons in threes. No plume.

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Signs that Stick (Out) #OnThisDay #War #signs #life #death #Hastings

Speedy lives, racing around, lots to do, no time to stop, then one day or some odd day, or some particular day comes along and in it there’s a sign; you stop to read it – twice, no more than a simple 3 minutes of your time, but what it says is striking…

On this site stood

The Swan Inn

& 1,2 & 3 Swan Terrace

destroyed by enemy action 

at about mid-day on Sunday

23rd May 1943 with consider-

able loss of life.

After that, you walk away much slower, much softer and much more removed from all around you, and furthermore you contemplate a situation of absolute pain, horror and devastation precisely 83 years ago, down that same path you casually wander today.

The land on which you stand has played many a-parts.

Pass with a new eye and a different tread.

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April awakens #April #poetry #Browning #Spring #travel

‘O to be in England

Now that April’s there,

And whoever wakes in England

Sees, some morning unaware,

That the lowest boughs and brushwood sheaf

Round the elm-tree bold are in tiny leaf,

While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough

In England – now!’

First verse of ‘Home-thoughts, from abroad’ by Robert Browning.

This poem was probably written at home in England in April 1845 when Browning was recalling his second tour of Italy

I am currently in South-West France, recalling and reviewing Spring photographs of England. This photo was taken not far from the Marylebone church in which Browning married Elizabeth Barrett in 1846: 170 years ago.  

The tree is a pink-cupped magnolia blossoming against a cobalt-blue sky.

This world is waking up from its winter slumber. Time to spring into action.

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London plays host to golden daffodils #London #parks #poetry #flowers #daffodils

Here is a delightful photo of bright and breezy daffodil heads bringing colour to the Royal Parks of London.
In the UK one can witness daffodils as early as December (East Sussex) and as late as late May (Perthshire, Scotland).

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 more golden daffodils were planted in Green Park and here they are in their floral glory.  

William Wordsworth wrote in 1804 a classic poet’s dedication to this supremely beautiful spring flower, with its open trumpet, framed frilly petals and long firm stem.  Ahh silence is golden.

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ was inspired by the daffodils on The Lakes in Grasmere which William’s sister Dorothy had described in her journal of April 1802. It must also be recognised that many of the lines were hers. “I never saw daffodils so beautiful,” wrote Dorothy.

Here is a snippet:

‘… all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils’

‘… they stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.’

‘… a poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company.’

‘… they flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude ‘

(Wordsworth noted “the two best lines in it are by Dorothy”)

‘And then my heart with pleasure fills 

And dances with the daffodils.’

Every spring they rise again, a fitting metaphor for the symbol of Easter.

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Foreign Bodies #poetry #poets #quotes #travel

Poets who are buried outside of their homeland, to name a few…

John Keats born in London, 31st October 1795, died, 23rd February 1821 of tuberculosis in Rome and buried in the Non-Catholic cemetery, Rome.

“Nothing becomes real till it is experienced.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, born in Sussex, 4th August 1792 died in La Spezia, Italy in a boating accident, 8th July 1822, buried in the Non-Catholic cemetery in Rome.

“A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer his own solitude with sweet sounds.”

Oscar Wilde born in Dublin 16th October 1854, exiled and died in Paris, 30th November 1900, buried in Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris.

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning born 6th March 1806 in Durham, died 29th June 1861 in Florence and buried in the Protestant English cemetery of Florence, Italy.
“Who so loves believes the impossible.”

“I shall but love thee better after death.”

Her husband, Robert Browning died at their son’s house in Venice in 1889 and is buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.
W.B.Yeats born in Dublin 13th June 1865, died in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 28th January 1939, repatriated in September 1948 to Drumcliff, County Sligo, Ireland.
“Cast a cold Eye 

On Life, on Death

Horseman pass by.”

Lord George Byron born 22nd January 1788, London, died of fever, 19th April 1824 in Missolonghi, Greece.
“Love will find a way through where wolves fear to prey.”

Rupert Brooke born in Rugby, 3rd August 1887, died of sepsis 23rd April 1915 in a French hospital ship, buried in Skyros, Greece.
“If I should die, think only this is of me

That there’s some corner of a foreign field. 

That is forever England.”

Spanish poet Antonio Machado born in Seville, 26th July 1875, died, 22nd February 1939 and buried in Collioure, France, after journeying over the Pyrenees to escape Franco’s Spain.

“There is no road, lonely wanderer 

Just wakes at sea, only that.”

  

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‘Stands the church clock at ten to 3?’

Sitting in Cafe des Westens in Berlin in May 1912 was a ‘sweating, sick and hot’ Rupert Brooke, desperately missing The Old Vicarage in Grantchester – pining for his English home: ‘get me to England once again.’
How far and remote and alone he must have felt. In the poem he wrote that May day he recalls with imaginative nostalgia –
‘my flower beds’ ‘the chestnuts shade’ ‘a bosky wood…a slumbrous stream’ ‘the lilac is in bloom’ ‘May fields all golden’ ‘flower-lulled in sleepy grass.’

At first he is descriptive and comical then he asks questions (with increasing heartfelt inquiry) of the land he so loves.
At some point in our lives we will all miss our home & the things that make us, us. We will long to return, to belong again, to enjoy a hot pot of tea, marmite toast or a red post box.
Rupert Brooke would never return to live out a full life; he died in 1915.
Yet in this poem he has forever preserved a corner of England.
Yes Rupert, the church clock stands, turning the time & the bees are buzzing at the apple blossoms in the orchard. Oh & the sky is a deep blue, with a fat, fluffy white English cloud!