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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Um – brella – come rain or shine #rain #sun #tradition #London #history #umbrella

Let me share a quote with you that seems appropriate in the current ‘crazy’ weather climate, affecting a vast number of people across the globe.

Here it is, direct from the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival, a sometimes quite rainy area of land inhabited by Scots: 

“I like to imagine the guy who invented the umbrella was going to call it ‘brella’ but he hesitated.” 

Um, firstly I think it’s rather presumptive to assume it was a man, but let’s think of the ‘he’ collectively.

The name umbrella evolved from the Latin umbella – a flat-topped rounded flower and the term umbra, meaning shadow or shade. In Italian, Latin’s closest modern-day language, the term for shade is ombra and for umbrella, ombrella.

While we play with names and definitions here are a few more of notable interest:

Un Parasol (French and Spanish) protects against the sun, para means stop or shield and sol is sun.

Un Parapluie (French) is an umbrella, para (shield against) pluie (rain). 

A Parachute (English, French) – para (shield from) a fall.

The oldest reference to a collapsible umbrella is 21AD in Ancient China. Then we follow the umbrella, in all its forms, through the traditions and customs of dynasties such as Ancient India, Siam, the Middle East, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Aztecs and Europe.

In The Middle Ages (of Britain) a cloak, not an  umbrella, was often the desired clothing against rainstorms.

In 1768 a Paris magazine stated:

‘Those who do not wish to be mistaken for vulgar people much prefer to take the risk of being soaked rather than be regarded as one who goes on foot; an umbrella is a sure sign of someone who does not own his own carriage.’

It would not be long before umbrellas became a fashionable item; an accessory not only to shelter from the rain but to avoid the heat of the scorching sun (the sunbeams being particularly piercing in India, for example). 

By the 1750s the British people had got over their natural shyness and promoted the umbrella’s general use.

One such character, Jonas Hanway, founder of the Magdalen Hospital, dared the reproach and ridicule – the staring, laughing, jeering, hooting, heckling and bullying – of hackney taxi-cabs, of carrying an umbrella in London, everyday for 30 years, dying, nice and dry, in 1786.

There is a small street in London’s Fitzrovia, leading from Oxford Street winding itself to Tottenham Court Road, called Hanway Street, reputed to be named after our man. His popularisation of the umbrella was more successful than his attempt to introduce stilts into London, keen to avoid the muck and grime of the 18th century streets. 

Clearly he likes the theme of ‘avoidance.’ 

Ironically Umbrellas are the most ‘left’ items in taxi-cabs. 

They are sometimes extremely annoying but desperately useful articles, not everybody wants to ‘sing in the rain’ or have ‘raindrops keep falling on their head’…
Global National Umbrella Day is 10th February.

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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

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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St Patrick’s Day  #StPatrick #Ireland #saint #March #mission #shamrock

The 17th March 2017 – 17.03.17 or, as styled in America, 03.17.17. Its all the same day.

St Patrick’s Day and the most important in the Irish calendar. 
Patrick is “the voice of the Irish.”

He is remembered by the wearing of a shamrock, for St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity:

“The shamrock is one leaf in three parts, as God is one God with three parts: Father, Son and Spirit.”

Patrick fled to France and entered a monastery where he prepared to be a missionary.

After many years work he returned to Ireland and devoted his long life to the Christian mission. He died on 17th March 461 AD.

Every Saint has a story.


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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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Cliffhangers #books #cliffs #EastSussex #NationalTrust #reading #adventures #cliffhangers

Are you on the edge of your seat with a good book?

May I recommend: The Case of Aleister Stratton‘ by K.G.V. Barnwell 

http://www.aleisterstratton.com

http://www.katebarnwell.com

Also available worldwide on Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com

The photo below shows The Seven Sisters of East Sussex, the white Chalk cliffs of the Sussex Downs. The landscape, seascape and cliffs-scape are all protected and proud sculptures of British culture. The crumbly bright white cliffs are chunky slabs of cheese sandwiched between two beautiful blues: the shimmering sea and the celestial sky.

All the people look so small, even those long reflections on the rocks below, bottom right.

You make recognise this view from a National Trust calendar or from the film ‘Atonement

Best to find your cliffhanger in a book and view these cliffs from a safe spot.

Happy reading, happy adventures.

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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 

Good books in High places#travel #books #Spain #locations #photos #England #reading #foreign #mystery #worldwide

Taking a break from my world in soft, autumnal southern England and going to another world of granite, forested, undulating lands in southern Spain
Flying to foreign parts of foreign tongue and on the way reading a good fictional tale of English origin, ‘The Case of Aleister Stratton’ by K.G.V.Barnwell.

It’s wonderful to be able to travel and to photograph your own book in some new, remote and distinctive locations. 

This photo was shot on a lonely, high castle cliff of a Pueblo Blanco in southern Spain, with the Mediterranean Sea & rock of Gibraltar to the South, the vast plains of Spain to the North, granite hills and farmlands to the West and to the East, cork, olives and oaks trees clinging to the cliffs. 

Quiet and solitary, with eagles and vultures circling above, the perfect setting for a dark mystery.

Wherever next?
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Buy the mystery http://www.aleisterstratton.com ‘The Case of Aleister Stratton’


A Somme-ber Silence #TheSomme #WorldWarOne #anniversary #remembrance #EUreferendum #France #GreatBritain #democracy #decisions #bravery #Europe #poppies

The 1st July 1916 on The Battlefield of Northern France: The Somme; 20,000 young allied men lie dead, 40,000 wounded; the worst single day in British military history.

A sad, brutal symbol of modern machine warfare and of futility – the German machine gun was known as the Devil’s paint brush; a desperate loss of innocence for many generations and the devastating repercussions of what ‘Europe is capable of doing to itself.’

The battle raged for 5 months, by 18th November 1916 One million were dead or wounded on both sides; their bodies rest on muddy foreign soil, a white headstone remembers their fall, their sacrifice and their significant memory.

The 1st July 1916 is also deemed to be a mid-way point between the start and the end of World War I. 

30 years later a Second World War would just be ending.

A further 70 years later The Democracy of The United Kingdom would make a tight decision to split from the EU, European Union, and face the wrath of the World.

‘This precious stone set in the silver sea’ may now face a storm and have to sail a rough course, before, once again, ruling the waves and being the great, Great Britain it is. 

We all make the country what it is, so end the moans and groans and clouds of despair.

Don’t be SOMBRE, be responsible for making it even better and even stronger.

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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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In England – now! #England #Spring #blossom #seasons #poets #writers #weather

‘Seasons change winter to spring’ (so they sang in the film, Moulin Rouge).
Spring leading to summer warms the spirit and the pen, and becomes an inspirational and contemplative period for poets and writers, thinkers and dreamers, wanderers, followers and gatherers.

In May the world’s spin passes The Great Britain of temperate climate, through a gloriously green, flowery, abundant and prospectively fruitful season.  

Whether the weather brings sunny rapture or cloudy repulsion, there remains a gay, optimistic, signal of hope for this early part of the year.

From, Robert Browning, 1845

‘And after April, when May follows,

And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallow!

Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge

Leans to the field and scatters on the clover

Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge- ‘


To, A. E. Housman, 1890, whose diaries cover two areas of interest, “the variety of the seasons – mainly Spring and Autumn – the weather, and the dates at which flowers come into bloom.”

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough…

About the woodlands I will go 

To see the cherry hung with snow.”

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White Apple blossoms framed by the dotted blue of forget-me-nots, in England – now!


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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Looking Rosy #poetry #roses #quotes #March #England #London #Shakespeare

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Act II, Scene II ‘Romeo & Juliet‘ by Shakespeare).
But I do particularly like ‘The Poet’s Wife’ (Auswhirl) grown by David Austin, English rose aficionado of Great Britain (see photo). This variety was introduced in 2014 and is the first yellow rose of his collection since the ‘Charles Darwin‘ of 2003.

‘Beautifully formed’ ‘Strong and unfading’ ‘Rich and Fruity’ 

Now is the time to start planting these beauties … there are some wonderful names to choose from. Take a stroll around Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park, London and find hundreds of wonderfully named bedded buds (not yet in bloom, of course, but perfect in sunny June).

‘Why June is the time for a rose to bloom’

The rose is adored by poets from Robert Burns to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  

Who is this poet and who is his wife? 

Ans. ‘Naturally rounded’ and a very fine inspiration for his work, perhaps.

Get searching and share your favourite named roses…
(See previous blog Captivated by Roses -November 2015).

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Thumbs up: New release on YouTube  #poetry #TobiasMenzies #YouTube #video

Hello, Greetings and new News

I have just released a Poetry Video on YouTube, a lovely one minute, calming piece.

The poem is ‘Wanderings’ by me, Kate Barnwell and it is beautifully read by actor Tobias Menzies, whose birthday – quite incidentally – it happens to be today: 7th March.  

Tobias is currently performing at The Almeida Theatre, London in Chekov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ and in the BBC John Le Carre drama, ‘The Night Manager’ (if you are in America, or outside the UK look out for this fantastic 6 part series of espionage, intrigue, plots and swirling locations).

Congratulations all round.

The poem was recorded at Essential Music Studios in Soho, London and features in my second collection book:

 ‘Ever Truly Yours – Reflections on Love’.

It is also available to hear and view in the POEMS section http://www.katebarnwell.com alongside other read works and one other video, ‘In Fields’.

I appreciate the kind comments that have come my way, particularly in a world so competitive, critical, sarcastic and cruel, should it choose to be so. Lovely people unite!

On a happy note follow the LINK


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Feeling Fruitful #India #travel #life #experience #world #market

Namaste: Good day to all,

Where in the world are you?

It’s always a feast and a friendly fight to experience shopping, Indian-style in the depths of a Market in Goa, picking up the bare necessities…

4 tomatoes

2 sticks of cucumber

2 coloured peppers

2 baby aubergines 

2 red onions

Slice of pumpkin

A line of finger bananas (the King Louis of ‘The Jungle Book’ variety)

Large papaya & 4 limes

A Bunch of coriander & a bunch of mint

1 queen pineapple

Best price…

200 rupees = £2.10

Living extremely well, for extremely little, extremely easily in the extremes of India.

The brilliant capacity of the capable human being to be able to gradually and calmly adapt to new circumstances is, the very essence of travel.  

This is the continent of sensory overload and sensational awakenings…burning tandoors; coconut carts; piles of sweet red onions; light, warm embracing breezes of holy incense and night jasmine; swirling white egrits like spirits of the jungle; silky, pink sunsets.

Seeing is believing, so believe.

Uplifting, Enchanting and Enlightening

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January Joy comes flowing in #January #poetry #England #NewYear #quotes

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Continued from yesterday…

Poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, ‘I Stood on a Tower’ (1865)

‘Seas at my feet were flowing,

Waves on the shingle pouring,

Old year roaring and blowing,

And New Year blowing and roaring.’

Tennyson wrote to his lifelong friend and poetry editor, Francis Turner Palgrave:

“What a season! The wind is roaring here like thunder and all my holly trees are rolling. Indeed, we have had whole weeks of wind.” 

Here we are in January 2016, 150 years later, a new wind whips up the waves, stirs a restless sea and rustles the senses.

‘The gulls to the sky, went soaring

The waves, heavily churned, came falling

Whipped to the tip, spilt on the beach

A hundred horizons for us to seek

Today, tomorrow as the days flow

Bathe thousands of places for us to go

At home, for rest, we safely stay, until

The leaning winds send us far away

And just like birds, who leave awhile

We’ll each return to our worlds and smile.’

KB, 2015/16
Take the first week of January calmly: ‘J‘ for Jolly, for Joy, for enJoyment.
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