End of the Year! #NewYear #AuldLangSyne #celebration #song #remembrance #poem #midnight #kindness

Wherever you wake up today and wherever you end your night, be it Sea, City or country dwelling… be safe and be thoughtful.

It is customary, in English speaking countries, to end the year, at the strike of midnight to a delightful (if struggling) rendition of the Poem ‘Auld Lang Syne’ by Scotsman, Robert Burns, written in 1788 (with slight variations to the original) and sung to a traditional folk tune.

The translation of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is ‘Days Gone By,’ or ‘For the sake of old times.’ That we might think of long-standing friendships, old acquaintances – they should not be forgotten – and days passed, memories made; reflection and contemplation and remembrance.

If ever there was a time of year to consider what has been and gone it is now, before we busy ourselves with what’s next.

So here’s to looking back fondly and moving forward faithfully.

Start the new year with a cup of kindness.

Should old acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot

And old lang syne…

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne,

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet

For (the sake of) auld lang syne…

COMING UP in 2018, a new novel: ‘A Worldly Tale Told Of Mothy Chambers’

by K.G.V. Barnwell



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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Love is on the cards, St Valentines Day #Valentines #hearts #poetry #love #cards #february

St Valentine (died Rome, 14th February 273AD) is widely associated with romance and devotion; many legends surround this saint and martyr. 

Mid-February is also the time birds begin to pair up. Look out for their springtime busy-ness. They are the natural sign and symbol of a new season, breaking away from winter, spreading their wings and preparing for new beginnings.

For the humans amongst us how about a little love poetry to delight and soothe the senses and to remind us that everyone, somewhere, needs love in their life. To find it can be hard, to give it, well a wonderful gift.

Tobias Menzies reads ‘In Fields’ by Kate Barnwell

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Play your cards right, it’s one day, however anti-materialistic you feel: ‘show some love, you ain’t so tough…’


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.



Hare & Hawthorn have it! #books #bookshops #poetry #story #Hastings #local #AleisterStratton #EastSussex #history #hare

It is with great pleasure I now happily announce that my two poetry books, Poems & Lyrics, and Ever Truly Yours and my short story novella: The Case of Aleister Stratton (special, signed pre-release copies) are now available to buy in a lovely, local bookshop and bindery in Hastings Old Town, ‘Hare & Hawthorn.’ A unique little shop with beautifully bound new and old classic books, illustrated paper, mugs and pens all chosen and selected to the owner’s taste. This special, individual shop is found down one of the many twisted alleyways in one of the oldest towns in Great Britain.

Hastings of East Sussex, known as the 1066 county, celebrates its 950th anniversary in October, 2016. It is wonderful to be part of its fabric of history.

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Check out… ‘The Case of Aleister Stratton’ http://www.aleisterstratton.com


March Mothers, no stress #poetry #sculpture #MothersDay #March

English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born on 6th March, 1806 (210 years ago today). She was mother of a boy called Robert and nicknamed Pen (!)

‘How I love thee? Let me count the ways…’

Italian painter, sculptor, architect and poet, Michelangelo Buonarotti was born on 6th March, 1475. Here is a poetical piece by him, in sculptural terms giving birth to a beautiful figure of Carrara marble. Listen to him explain it, my lady…

‘My lady it’s the taking 

away that gives the marble grace

and bares the figure’s face

to grow beneath the flaking.

And like the figure I’m encased:

so hard the rough excess

of carnal appetite,

which closes me from light,

that straining is no use.

But lady you can carve distress

away and sculpt me lose.’

Carve away all stresses and strains and enjoy a peaceful day of mother’s love this Mother’s Day; long wonderful hours, united under an umbrella of happiness.  

No phones at the table, focus on the here and now; the happening not the must-have need of a small piece of matter (iPad, mobile phone etc) allowing you to exist in a mammoth technological space.  

The only world you need today is the mothering one.

A bigger and greater world is made in sharing time and being together.

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No mothers were harmed or alarmed in the taking of this ‘shop window’ photo.


Act on your words #OrsonWelles #writing #acting #books #poetry

Writing is one thing, saying something in your writing is another.  
Who speaks to you? And in what way?  

Plays, poems, books, films, television, theatre and musicals; each have the ability to influence, inspire and infiltrate our lives – in their own way, at different stages throughout, maybe once or many times over.

Actor Orson Welles once said to a British friend “we have now acted in theatres, on radio, in films and on live television – they can’t think of anything else, can they?”

A new generation will always bring forth a new adaption of literature, and along the way make a new discovery for themselves and others, which means, furthermore, that ‘old’ books and ‘old’ plays and ‘old’ poems are always kept new. Of course new work is produced as well and that’s where we stand as writers today, creating and evolving…

‘A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.’

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A Real Lady’s Marmalade  #breakfast #marmalade #Seville #poetry #January

Hip, hip hooray Seville oranges have just hit the shelves.
After growing through the winter in open orchards stretching across the Andalusian landscape in southern Spain, dotting their green trees with perfect round orange baubles, this citrus fruit has now been picked, selected and packed and transported from such sunny climes to dress the tables of North Europe, (that’s us in Britain). 
Not wholly as themselves, of course, do they delight us, but as Seville orange marmalade – who would have thought that a bitter, blotted, ugly little orange could be made into something sweet, sticky and oozy and gushingly adored by the British for their morning toast? Toast, butter, marmalade and Tea.

So it is as it is, and we must therefore toast this remarkable specimen for being turned into a delectable jammy item; from chunky, thick-cut peel to fine, fancy fronds suspended in jelly. Everyone has a favourite marmalade; there’s Robertson’s Family jar to Oxford’s Preserves to Tiptree’s classic to Fortnum and Mason’s with whiskey. Which shall grace your breakfast table? How about homemade? Remember to use preserving sugar, lemon juice, watch the boiling and have packets of patience…

And now, a fun poem featuring marmalade: the sweetest jam of January.

“Excuse me

Your Majesty

For taking of

The liberty

But marmalade is tasty, if

It’s very



The Queen said


And went to 

His Majesty:

“Talking of the butter for

The Royal slice of bread,

Many people 

Think that


Is nicer

Would you like to try a little



From ‘The King’s Breakfast’ by A.A. Milne, (1882-1956) 

The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh

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Happy New Year from London, England #BigBen #NewYear #London #poetry

To avoid the crowds this year, a jolly, good fellow has made me a model of The Houses of Parliament, which means Big Ben, (St Stephen’s Tower) a little imagination and ‘the bare necessities (of life) have come to me’ …(see pic)…

On the last day of the year in 1865 (1 day after Rudyard Kipling’s birth in Bombay). Poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) wrote the poem ‘I Stood on a Tower’

‘I stood on a tower in the wet,

And New Year and Old Year met,

And winds were roaring and blowing;

And I said, “O years, that meet in tears,

Have you all that is worth the knowing?

Science enough and exploring,

Wanderers coming and going,

Matter enough for deploring,

But aught that is worth the knowing?”‘

The last 4 lines of this poem shall be the feature of tomorrow’s blog, on the 1st January 2016, with a photo that best suits the passing of the wet, weary Old Year and the revealing of the shiny New.

12 days of Christmas, 12 bells of New Year…

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One ‘If,’ no ‘buts’  #Kipling #poetry #December #history

‘If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on others…’

From ‘If-‘ the masculine ideal poem written by Rudyard Kipling in 1895 and based on Dr Jameson, leader of the fiasco which came to be known as the Jameson raid, (1895-1896) in the war with South Africa.

Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay (now, Mumbai) India on 30th December 1865, 150 years ago today.  

His parents, John Lockwood Kipling and Alice MacDonald, first met at Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire (North England) in 1863; a popular place for courting with its rowing boats, funfair, brass band concerts and dozens of tea rooms.

By the end of the 1800s, 20,000 excursionists bought cheap train tickets to Rudyard Lake. Blondin, the world’s greatest trapeze artist, fresh from his feat crossing Niagara Falls on high wire, came to repeat his achievement at the lake.

Rudyard Kipling would take his very British name and his strong legacy into world history.

(Poetry– ‘My Boy Jack’, ‘If-‘, Literature– ‘The Jungle Book,’ (the last-animated-film made by Walt Disney in 1966) the book ‘Kim’ as well as The War Graves Commission in World War I). Along the way, at some point, everyone will meet Rudyard.

Keep ‘keeping your head’…and keep the peace…two days to New Year.
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Time to rage against the ‘dying of the light’  #solstice #poetry #December #Hastings

In the UK, the 21st December is the shortest day of the year – the ‘winter solstice’.

In Hastings, East Sussex – beside the sea and looking out about 40 miles across the channel to the northern beaches of France – the sun rises at 07.58 and sets at 15.54.

Every day the sun will set exactly one minute later, ‘come rain or shine’ as Sinatra once sang. However sunrise works at a much slower pace increasing (not decreasing yet) by one minute every few days.  

In the first week there is no noticeable difference, but you are happy in the knowledge that ‘the days are getting longer.’ What a great relief!

Naturally the sunset and the sunrise do not determine the weather conditions – these are a whole other phenomenon.

So whatever you are doing – indoors or out – you’ll be gaining priceless light minutes in which to do it, which will add up along the way…!

‘As the blinding shadows fall,

As the rays diminish,

Under the evening’s cloak, they all

Roll away and vanish.’

From ‘Night And Day’ by R.L.Stevenson

‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light…’
Dylan Thomas

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Scarves, coats, gloves, hats, Sea Fever and Lines for Winter  #December #poetry #poets #Winter #sea

Welcome to December.  

If you are living on Earth, in the northern hemisphere of a temperate climate disposition then this is most definitely a Winter month.

And the wind, rain, grey, dull temperatures, and lack of light confirms it…. 

Sunrise 07:38 Sunset 15:55

‘Tell yourself 

as it gets cold and grey falls from the air

that you will go on

walking, hearing

the same tune no matter where 

you find yourself – 

inside the dome of dark

or under the cracking white

of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow…’

From ‘Lines for Winter’ by Mark Strand (US Poet Laureate from 1990-91)

Poetry, in many forms, can bring a lot of light into your ‘darkened’ world.

A source of comfort and pleasure, on your own or openly with friends and family…start choosing a ‘party piece’ to share this Christmas.

In other news…

Leigh Hunt’s ‘Young Poets’ published 1st December 1816, named John Keats as one of three “young aspirants … who promise to revive Nature and put a new spirit of youth into everything.”

On 1st December 1902, the poet John Masefield was not hopeful the book, ‘Salt Water Ballads,’ which features his most popular poem ‘Sea Fever’, would sell.

He wrote: “they are a rough and tumble lot of ballads dealing with life at sea and drunken sailors…not much romance about them.”

The 500 copies were sold out by the end of the year (ie. a month later).  

Find your Winter Spirit and Keep Warm!

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Burning bright #OnThisDay #poetry #history #London

William Blake was born in London on 28th November, 1757 (d.12th August, 1827) and lived all his life in the city, apart from an absence of 3 years, when he lived in Felpham (Sussex).
He is difficult man to fathom, despite detailed and comprehensive study of his work, particularly in the late 20th century; he seems to stand entirely alone in his collection of crafts.

He was pre-Romantic, yet a Romantic poet; a printmaker and painter (engraver, printer and illustrator of his own illuminated poems and manuscripts).  

Blake was described by writer and scholar William Rossetti (1860s) as ‘a glorious luminary’ and as ‘a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors.’

Artist or genius, or mystic or madman?

Perhaps an element of each; unafraid to show, explore and reveal his true self.

Tyger, tyger, burning bright

In the forests of the night 

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy perfect symmetry?’

  From ‘The Tyger‘ William Blake

His home in Soho, London was demolished in 1965, and is recognised by this plaque below; his grave is unmarked, he lies somewhere in Bunhill fields, (Islington, London), where there is a memorial stone.

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A Rosette to a Rossetti #poetry #poets #London

The Rossetti family of 19th century, central London, became a distinguished bunch of people, dedicated to their talents of Art and Literature.  

The family house in Bloomsbury was filled with the old master influences of Petrarch and Dante Aligheri, as well as the visiting presence of Italian scholars, artists and revolutionaries.

Let’s be briefly introduced… 

Father of the family, Gabriele Rossetti was a poet and political exile from Vasto, Abruzzo, Italy.

Mother of the family was Frances Polidori, the sister of John William who was friend and physician to Lord Byron. John was also an enthusiastic writer; the first to create the idea of a blood-sucking-vampire, whose gentlemanly breeding, manners, and sophistication were based on Byron.

Son, William and daughter, Maria both became writers.

Son, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (and William too) was co-founder of the artistic group, The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; he was an influential artist and poet.

And finally Christina Rossetti, the youngest child, was an intelligent and creative poet; with a mix of her own troubles and experiences, she channelled her ideas into poetry and prose.  

Today I wish to announce that it is she, Christina, who shall wear the rosette for writing some of the most beautiful, imaginative and evocative lines in the English language. She followed in the steps of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning as the main female poet of her time (1860s) and was highly regarded and much appreciated by the critics of this male-dominated society.

At some point in your life, in some way and maybe without realising it, you will come across a Rossetti.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;

Hang it with vair and purple dyes;

Carve it in doves and pomegranates,

And peacocks with a hundred eyes;

Work it in silver gold and grapes,

In leaves and in silver fleur-de-lys;

Because the birthday of my life

Is come, my love is come to me.

Second and final verse from ‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti.

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 “Times they are a’changing”#clocks #time #poetry

This weekend we, UK citizens, put our clocks back, which means an extra hour’s sleep, but sadly a gradual decline in light, early sunsets, long winter nights and steadily darker mornings too.

I found this special ‘Time‘ poem by American poet, Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) and then continued it with a verse of my own; it’s a helpful exercise in testing your ability to follow through a theme as well as immersing yourself in an idea

Time is

Too Slow for those who Wait

Too Swift for those who Fear

Too Long for those who Grieve

Too Short for those who Rejoice;

But for those who Love

Time is not.

But for those who Love

Time is not a measure.

Love is not kept within these boundaries

But sealed inside the heart

And shared in great abundance.

Love, turns like time, through the centuries 

Seeking kindred spirits for the time of its Life.

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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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At the end of the road – turn to WRITE-ING!#poetry #travel

How marvellous to find one street, with one name, written in two languages…

The cul-de-sac of the ‘Poet– first in French, then in Catalan.

Catalan – known as a Romance language, derives from Vulgar Latin. It was the troubadours of the 12th century who founded lyrical poetry and love songs(cancons).

Els Amants by Vincent Andres Estelles (1924-1993)
‘Es desperta, de sobte, com un vell huraca
I ens tomba en terra els dos, ens ajunta, ens empeny.’


The Lovers
‘Love, it awakens suddenly, like an old hurricane
It throws us to the ground, it joins us together,
Squeezing us tightly.’

A little walk, a little looking around, leads to bigger things in surprising places!
They do say, “What goes around, comes around,” – well it was a cul-de-sac!

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My Boy Jack #poetry #quotes #remembrance

On 27th September 1915 (100 years today) Rudyard Kipling‘s son John was killed in The Battle of Loos.

‘Have you news of my boy Jack?’
Not this tide
‘When d’you think that he’ll come back?’
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

At first he was seen limping on the field of conflict and believed to have been taken prisoner.

“I trust that your great anxiety may be allayed by definite news of his safety soon,” wrote John’s commanding officer. No such news ever came.
Kipling conducted a 2 year search in vain for news of his son. His grief, the same desperate grief of an entire nation (a nation burning with sadness, drowning in tears, sick with pain) was expressed in poetry and in many voices.

‘My son died laughing at some jest, I would I knew
What it were, and it might serve me at a time when jests are few.’

From September 1930 Kipling instigated and funded the nightly sounding of The Last Post at the Loos Memorial where his son’s name was inscribed.

One, Lost in a foreign field. One, Loved in a family’s heart. One, Poppy.
Remembering all those who gave their life in The Great War (1914-1918), commemorating its 100year period.

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Turning into Autumn #autumn #poetry #Keats #quotes

Autumn cannot be officially heralded in as a new season until we have quoted poet, John Keats’ magical dedication to our temperate climate’s tertiary quarter of the year.
In September 1819 he took himself on a 16 mile walk across a Devon landscape, describing the scene in a letter:
“How beautiful the season is now – how fine the air… I never loved stubble fields so much as now – better than the chilly green of Spring. Somehow a stubble field looks warm – in the same way that some pictures look warm…”

With a pool pot of thoughts stirring and the atmospheric turn, from a harsh, relenting summer into a delicate, delighting autumn, Keats composed the poem ‘To Autumn.’

Let’s take a large, leafy leap into Autumn with him –

‘Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun…’

‘To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core…’

‘While barred clouds bloom the soft dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue…’

This detailed, sumptuous poem is tasty to read, melting keenly from the mouth as you pass over each wordy sentence.
Poets love words, why use just one word when you can enjoy a plethora (over abundance) of words?!

Autumn is here now…tumbling, crispy leaves; soft sun-bleached apples with tart, blushing skins; damp, dewy cobwebs and burnt, breathy bursts of sweet smokey air.


Poem, Poem on the wall! #theMADmuseum

Thank you to the wonderfully creative and supportive people at The MAD (Mechanical Art and Design) museum in Stratford upon Avon who have framed my poem and screwed it tightly to the wall to greet happy visitors, locals, tourists and eccentrics from young to old.
This is a fascinating and ingenious museum – minutes from Shakespeare’s birthplace.
One town, many worlds!