Autumn is falling – Leaving London   #leaves #autumn #London #GreenPark #October

Between the green stretches of Hyde Park and St James Park in the city of Westminster lies Green Park, 47 acres of public strolling grounds.  

It is both a lovely green space in the heart of London, and the lungs of the city too, providing fresh country air – perfect for escaping Piccadilly madness.

There are no lakes, no playgrounds, no buildings and no planted beds (so no king may gather flowers for his mistress). There are 3 memorials.

Here is a quick history of the area:

In the 17th century it was a swampy burial ground for lepers.

In 1668 the area was part of the Poulteney family estate, who then surrendered the bulk of land to King Charles II, thus becoming a Royal Park, ‘Upper St James Park.’  Charles, in his turn, enclosed the parkland with a brick wall and built an icehouse for cold summer drinks (as one does).

By the 18th century it was an isolated area, haunted by thieves and highwaymen. Horace Walpole, writer and politician, was robbed here.

In the 18th-19th centuries there were public firework displays (in 1749 Handel composed music specifically for a Green Park display) and ballooning (up, up and away) and even duelling (sword fights).

In 1820 John Nash landscaped the area and in June 1840 from Constitutional Hill, Edward Oxford made an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria.

For me, in 2017Green Park (also a tube stop) is an excellent in-between walking route from Berkeley Square to Victoria, early in the morning when the squirrels are busy burying conkers and tourists are making their way to Buckingham Palace.

The plain trees are beginning to shred, scattering brown and yellow crinkly leaves along the pathway; there is an earthy dampness, a grey chill and a pale light filtering through the flaking canopy.  

Autumn is now the season to go strolling.  

Green Park offers everyone a green and pleasant land in London Town.

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The Last Bank Holiday of the Year, August 2017.  #holiday #Hastings #beach #festival #music #Boyzone #weekend

What better way to spend the bank holiday weekend than down on a British beach, with summery British weather & a wild mix of British people all having a thoroughly good time. Everyone entertained by Hastings Old Town, spending their English pound and speaking in their English tongue, turning pink and trying new things. Watching and observing, or taking part and letting go.

The weekend started with a big Boyzone concert on Hastings Pier. Ronan Keating and fellow Irish lyrical lads were singing till late, out at sea, under an orange moon and far from the madding crowd. Girls were ecstatically happy, the boyfriends were less-than pleased.

Safe parties on the beach, picnics, swimming, sailing, church-bells, wrapped fish and chips to individual tapas, it can be original or fancy, working classy to posh and arty.

Everyone is welcome.

By next week this pebbly beach will be a desert, not from stones to sand but from lots of people to very few. But it won’t be long before we can fish out and dish out a new festival, The Seafood and Wine Weekend, in 3 weeks, for example: the celebration of British wine and seafood; a feasting festival, with plenty of live music and tipsy-ness.

Wherever you are in Britain, I hope you’re taking full advantage of the last, long bank holiday of the year. It is still summer, despite an early crop of apples, signifying a shift into autumn.

Hastings is merely a stone’s throw away from London… lots of things have happened since 1066…

http://www.katebarnwell.com

Star Movies, under the stars, on Hastings Pier #hastingspier #cinema #movies #films #outdoors #summer #weekends #stars

Hastings Pier is happy to announce three summer weekends of classic cinema, as voted by the general public; “you asked, we listened!” was their mantra. So it’s time to look forward to these all-time favourite movies with family and friends and enjoy their iconic lines and lyrics, on the Pier, just as the sun goes down, the sky turns black and one by one the stars appear.

The first weekend is May: 26/27/28.

I’m booked in for Back To The Future, “Great Scot!” “save the clock tower!” “You made a time-machine out of a deLorean!” “where we’re goin’ we don’t need roads!”

Then comes ‘the unsinkable’ Titanic, “take a deep breath, jump!” Hmm this will be a chilly night, as the tide rolls in and the waves crash against the steel girders, and you hug your dearest and offer her your life-jacket; “women and children first.” Over a hundred years later it’s a struggle to find a man who’ll hold open a door for you.

Then it’s song and dance time with Mamma Mia “does your mother know that you’re out?” Here’s a film to really let your hair down; serious and un-fun people, keep away or be warned, Dad may do his dance…

Moving into June 15/16/17.

Hastings can’t resist a pirate, so Pirates of The Caribbean – The Curse of Black Pearl will be sailing onto our shores; dressing up is essential, although some people won’t need to, they are gifted with the pirate look.

The cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows next, actor Tim Curry turns transvestite; and then action-packed men-in-the-air, Top Gun, flies in, with the adrenaline-boosting, “the need for speed.”

And finally July 20/21/22.

The dinosaurs are coming as Jurassic Park opens its doors and lets you in. Buckle up and smile at the T-Rex, he’s got lots of teeth to eat you with. And that scream will echo as far as France; we do like to keep them guessing.

Then comes Quadrophenia: mods and rockers clash in a ‘coastal’ town.

Last but not least comes Grease (hopefully no atmospheric lightening). John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John bring their summer lovin’ into town, to warm those ‘chills that are multiplying.’

Well you’d ‘better shape up’ and get along to one of these cinema events. Tickets don’t buy themselves, there’s a great time to be had and once again Hastings Pier has the right touch. Weather cannot be promised, but an unforgettable night is assured.

Walk the prom, see you on the Pier!

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Kate Barnwell, Lyrical HIP http://www.hastingsindependentpress.co.uk

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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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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Highlighting the Highlife in Hastings  #Hastings #Battle #1066 #celebration #October #fireworks #bonfires #parades

From the 8th to 16th October 2016 the Old Town of Hastings, East Sussex is celebrating & commemorating the great Battle of Hastings that took place 950 years ago exactly on 14th October 1066.  

There will be two enormous parades:

1. Come dressed as an Anglo-Saxon or a Norman warrior and join the fight for a feisty procession. Friendly weapons of the 11th century variety allowed.

2. Fire breathers, bonfire societies, and drummers join forces to light the East Cliff beacon and rumble through the old town wielding burning torchlights, culminating in a gigantic 🔥Bonfire on the beach, and a spectacular 💥 Fireworks display above the black skies of the English Channel (perhaps even visible from France over 20 miles away).

Also…. 1,066 people will be taking on the 17 mile foot race following the 1066 country walk from Pevensey (where King William landed) to Battle (site of his famous victory).

This 950th anniversary will be an eye-popping (sorry King Harold) momentous occasion – its been sitting in the calendar waiting to explode onto the scene for many-a-year. 

Now we’re warming up because here it comes and Hastings Old Town (the most extraordinary place in the world) has it completely covered. 

Prepare to be amazed at what a town can do!

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Drumming up support #RNLI #charities #lifeboats #pirates #Hastings #Shakespeare #TheTempest #parades #drummers 

In this photo The Drumskull pirate drummers are drumming inside the Hastings Lifeboat Harbour Building (RNLI Hastings. Saving lives at sea since 1858). The echo of the beating drums is defiant; a pounding and thunderous roll.

A small sense of irony in that pirates are raising money for lifeboats, but what a wonderful thing! Hats off to anyone and everyone who raises and contributes money for charities big and small.

William Shakespeare is said to have derived some of the inspiration for his play, ‘The Tempest’ from a shipwreck that began on this day in 1609, as described by Silvester Jourdan, “… we were taken with a most sharpe and cruell storme upon the five and twentieth day of July, Anno 1609, which did separate us from the residue of our fleet…”

Luckily for the crew, on their way to Virginia, they fell upon ‘the islands of Barmudas’ where they remained for 9 months, ‘fruitful and inchanted.’

Back in 2016 it’s time to enjoy the summer season whether on the English coast or abroad or maybe some exotic island.  

Remember to pop a bit of money in a charity box; a few savings.

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‘Fare thee well!’ #travel #song #ballad #poetry #London #India

Here is a charming 18th century English folk ballad, to beat away the blues of January.
The first published version of this song appeared in Roxburghe Ballads, 1710.

‘…stay a while with me

For if I had a friend all on this earth

You’ve been a friend to me.

And fare thee well my own true love

And farewell for a while.

I’m going away but I’ll be back

If I go ten thousand miles.’

And on this cheery note, I must bid a 21st century friendly farewell as I depart London, England for Goa, India for 3 weeks of intrepid adventures and exciting discoveries. 

Sunny climes and warm skies beckon beyond and over the horizon – actually, geographically speaking, lying north of the Equator, just beneath the Tropic of Cancer.

New friends to meet, old friends to greet: ‘But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep…’ (poet, Robert Frost).

There are many ways to part and many paths to wander…

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A Birthday In The Bleak Mid-Winter #Rossetti #December #OnThisDay #poetry #music

On the 5th of December 1830 (85 years ago today) Christina Rossetti, the youngest of the artistic Rossetti family, was born in London.
She wrote the well-known, wintry, Christian lyrics of the carol ‘In The Bleak Mid-Winter.’  The widely-hummed music was composed by Gustav Holst (1874-1934).  Holst was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and is most famous for his composition ‘The Planets.’
The words and the melody come together perfectly to form a delicate, soft and slowly journeying hymn. There is nothing too trying for the vocal chords, one could almost read the verses over a log fire with the cold wind locked outside.

‘In the bleak mid-winter 

Frosty winds may moan;

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter,

Long ago…’

First verse of In The Bleak Mid-Winter’

It is perhaps appropriate to mention that Christina also wrote a poem entitled: ‘A Birthday’

‘Because the birthday of my life 

Is come, my love is come to me.’

There is plenty of singing and rejoicing this time of year; we are deep in the heart of poetry, music and storytelling.
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Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please! #OperationSmile #Christmas #charity

Christmas is the time for giving and sharing and smiling.
I have been discussing a particular charity Christmas event since early July…so do not tell me it is too early to start ‘talking about it!’

The children’s charity Operation Smile is holding a Carols by Candlelight evening in two beautiful, old London churches:-

One in the heart of the city, St Boltolphs without Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street on Tuesday, 15th December, 2015.

The poet John Keats was baptised here in 1795 in the present font. While the city of London continues to grow higher and higher, allowing modern and expensive skyscrapers into its midst, this dear little church, the fourth since 1212, has suffered two World Wars and continues to stand its small ground.

And one in The Mayfair Church, South Audley Street on Wednesday, 9th December, 2015.

This church resembles a New England style church and was the American allies choice of worship and prayer during the 1939-1945 War. It also happens to be close to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square.

So there you have two perfect English churches, with two different personalities yet united in presenting an evening of merry-making and money-raising for Operation Smile.

We have traditional carols, live music and special readings (poetry, prose, verse and books) by celebrated (I prefer this word to celebrity) guests, all by candlelight in these two-tiered, charming churches.

Then afterwards join the happy crowd for mince pies and mulled wine.

In the meantime the money raised from these evenings will continue to provide children born with clefts in the developing world the free, safe surgery they need.

So, in a (chest) nut shell! you are allowing these children to live and to smile; you have the opportunity and the ability to change their future forever. What could be better? The more the merrier.

Please come and join us, meet wonderful, dedicated people, and let’s raise the roof (metaphorically), raise a glass (carefully) and raise lots of money (literally)!

Thank You for reading, listening and sharing…

http://www.operationsmile.org.uk/carols
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Famous faces & Casanova’s kisses #Soho

When this clock in London’s Soho district strikes the hour, a fabulous thing happens…
The Italian seducer extraordinaire, Casanova kisses Theresa Cornelys, a soprano and impresario who hosted lavish parties at her home in Soho Square; she winks at us; a bearded Karl Marx takes a sip of a coca cola whilst reading his book, Das Kapitas.
Lots of famous painted faces are gathered in this group from all warps of life and all centuries, from John Logie Baird (inventor of the television) to Percy Shelley, William Blake, Dylan Thomas to Mozart and Canaletto. The flamboyant mural is as theatrical, vibrant and as coloured as Soho herself; a thriving, creative district welcoming and supporting all sorts into its narrow streets and cobbled paths. Come join the fun!