Chinese New Year: Year of the Dog #ChineseNewYear #Dog #festival #parade #London #Chinatown #zodiac #2018 #animals #books #Hastings

The Chinese New Year is different each year because it is determined by the Lunar calendar (falling between the 21st January and the 20th February).

In 2018 it falls today, the 16th February.

It is the year of the Dog (the Earth Dog, to be precise).

The Chinese zodiac moves in a 12-year cycle (as opposed to a 12-month cycle) and the order of each animal is on account of a marvellous legend…

Many, many years ago the Jade Emperor ordered the animals to come forward to him and each of the first 12 animals became the ones to date the years.

The cat was too late, so he will always chase the rat, who scurried on ahead of him and became the first animal on the list. The animals were chosen, then categorised into yin and yang, depending on their odd or even number of claws, toes or hooves and then alternated into a sequence…

Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.

Like with the New Year, 31st December/1st January it is celebrated with an explosion of light, colour and noise. Streets are lined with swinging lanterns; festivities and parades and costumes abound. Money, good fortune and food become the focus.

In celebration of The Earth Dog I am very grateful to Hula from Hastings Old Town for posing as my Chinese New Year Dog Of 2018.

She’s a very well-travelled dog, at her most happy when playing in the garden or out for walks with her lovely family or when she dines on bacon rashers (don’t tell The Pig).

I am also pleased not to have to search for any of the other animals (see list).

Happy Chinese New Year.

Coming 2018 – a new book: ‘ A Worldly Tale Told Of Mothy Chambers’ by Kate Barnwell

Follow my blogs www.katebarnwell.com

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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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Refuge and Respite in Poetry #poetry #peace #War #France #GreatBritain

Legend has it that during the Second World War, the RAF (British Aircraft) parachuted thousands of copies of the poemLiberte‘ over occupied France. It was written in 1942 by French bohemian poet, and founder of the surrealist movement, Paul Eluard (1895-1952).
This act illustrates the social and spiritual power of poetry in the face of terror, and the delicacy and beauty of hope founded in effective words, which unite, inspire and console people.

Paul himself, was a sickly man; a wounded and scarred (mentally and physically) soldier of the First World War, at one point writing up to 150 letters a day to families, announcing the death of fellow soldiers.  

The War soon over, he wrote home in 1919, ‘We will now fight for happiness after having fought for Life.’ 

He found solace in poetry and in friendships with other writers.
His wife, Gaia, helped him with his poetry verses, and gave him the confidence, encouragement and security he needed to achieve her own belief, that he would be ‘a great poet.’ Never underestimate the power of the woman behind the man.

‘Liberte’ is a poem of 21 short stanzas with 4 lines per verse, each ending with 

‘I write your name’

The verses reflect on daily life: ‘my dog greedy,’ ‘the lamp that gives light,’ ‘the sill of my door,’ ‘the wakened paths,’ ‘desk and the trees’ as well as incorporating powerful images such as ‘naked solitude,’ ‘marches of death,’ ‘soldiers weapons.’  

The final verse states:

‘By the power of the word

I regain my life

I was born to know you

And to name you

LIBERTY.’

When Paul died in November 1952, ‘the whole world was in mourning,’ stated Robert Sabatier. He was buried at Pere-Lachaise cemetery, just outside Paris, where a crowd of thousands had spontaneously gathered in the streets to accompany his casket to its final resting place.

Freedom, Equality, Democracy, Love, Brotherhood and Peace.

For this we fight (and so we write) every day.

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