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



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

Follow my blogs http://www.katebarnwell.com

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

Look Out! #photo #quotes #unique #art #painting #frames #poet #artist #London #JohnLewis

Good morning, good afternoon, good night…

I’ve just passed by these quotes, set inside picture frames, for sale in a well-known London department store:

“Every picture shows a spot with which the artist has fallen in love.” 

Alfred Sisley (French Impressionist painter of en plein air-landscapes).

Every touch of the brush, from the layering of colours to the speck of a pigment, is essential in defining and beautifying the final, individual piece.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see,” 

Henry David Thoreau (American author, poet and philosopher).

Everyone interprets ‘some-thing’ either similarly or differently, but first you must look and then you will see; first you will hear and then you must listen.

Each of these words is ever so slightly different from the one to which it comes close to.

Get ready for your close up and frame your Uniqueness.

Follow my blogs http://www.katebarnwell.com


Pleasure, Pain & Poetry #Kipling #poetry #OnThisDay #January 

On the 18th January, 1891, poet Rudyard Kipling married American Carrie Balestier.
On the 18th January, 1936, 45 years later & 80 years ago today Rudyard Kipling died aged only 70.

“Kipling, though short, was lithe and slim, with beautifully balanced movements. His most arresting feature was his heavy eyebrows, which shot up and down with his talk: under them twinkled bright blue eyes.”

To learn poetry by heart (a short piece, a verse, a line) means we take a gift with us wherever we go; whether we travel alone or we share the poetry of our hearts, it can be a constant source of companionship.  

In grief, poetry can provide refuge and recovery and may be a helpful source of peace and understanding, especially when we struggle to find the words ourselves.  

Sometimes someone else, perhaps from another era or of a different gender, can speak for us.

Pull down that dusty poetry book from the shelf, or google a poem; read the lines and read between the lines and maybe you’ll realise that there’s a poet talking to you, writing for you; reach and you will find…

‘There is pleasure in the wet, wet clay,

When the artist’s hand is potting it.

There is pleasure in the wet, wet lay,

When the poet’s pad is blotting it…’

 Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)



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

Follow my blogs http://www.katebarnwell.com



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


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.
Follow my blogs http://www.katebarnwell.com


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…

Follow my blogs http://www.katebarnwell.com



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.
Follow my blogs http://www.katebarnwell.com



Things I moose do… #Christmas #OperationSmile #charity #poetry

Sometimes a list is the best way to deal with this busy time of year, primarily called Christmas, although it can take on other names such as ‘Noel’ and ‘The Holiday Season.'(yuk)

It’s never too soon to think it all through, write it all down, and then tick it all off, bit by bit!  
Expect some surprises, and last minute things too.

Selecting and highlighting TV programmes comes soon.

Shopping and preparing the meal is last of all, if it’s you…Good luck.

If you’re the guest…remember your oohs, ahhs, pleases and thank yous, always take a gift and say ‘yes‘ to everything (including charades, scrabble, a recital of some sort, jokes and clearing up) – it is Christmas! (apparently).

Make everyday a ‘good-morrow’…

‘… all pleasures fancies be.

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.’

from ‘The Good-morrow’ by John Donne (1572-1631)

Follow my blogs http://www.katebarnwell.com



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.
Follow my blogs for free http://www.katebarnwell.com



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.

Subscribe to my blogs for free http://www.katebarnwell.com



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


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.

Subscribe to my blogs for free http://www.katebarnwell.com




John Keats, Reflecting on A Star #OnThisDay #poetry #JohnKeats

John Keats born 31st October 1795, (220 years ago today).

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen…’

From, ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ (sonnet) composed by Keats in October 1816 after a night spent reading aloud translations from Homer. These translations were completed by George Chapman in 1616, precisely 200 years prior to Keats, then add another 220 years and you reach our 21st century.

That evening Keats parted from his school friend, Cowden-Clarke, walked over London Bridge back to Dean Street (present day fashionable Soho) and at once wrote this sonnet.

Keats died of tuberculosis aged only 25 years in Rome, 23rd February 1821.

‘When I have fears that I may cease to be,
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain…’ 

He never got his girl (Fanny Brawne) and, in true romantic fashion, he strove to write and achieve the very best poetry; believing he had failed in his lifetime as a poet.

‘ – then on the shore 

Of the wide world I stand alone and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.’

Keats wrote some of the most beautiful lines in the English language.

Today he is considered ‘a bright star.’

Stars, whose fires corresponded with his own ardour (Latin ardere = to burn), were an endless preoccupation for Keats; he had a kinship with the transcendent world – a place where he might continuously exist outside the created world; free from life’s limitations and restrictions and ultimately death… ‘A Bright Star.’

Subscribe to my blogs for free http://www.katebarnwell.com

London’s Autumnal Reflections: ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever…’



It just dawned on me… Aleister Crowley #poetry #birthday #Hastings #poet

Aleister Crowley (12th October 1875 – 1st December 1947).
Poet; chess-player: ‘nobody ever beat him;’ traveller; artist and occultist, labelled The Beast was born on this day 140 years ago and died in Netherwood boarding house (sitting 500 feet above sea level) on The Ridge, in my town of Old Hastings, East Sussex.

He chose room 13, at the front of the house, with extensive views of the Norman castle, Beachy Head and the sea.

He was described by his landlady as “popular, pleasing, charming; very erudite; a good companion, a stimulating talker and quite unlike anyone else; from the day of his dramatic arrival, he was clearly no ordinary mortal.”  

He had a large collection of friends, received many visitors, and parcels of chocolate from America – when rationing was rife in Britain. In fact from his room permeated the smell of a strong molasses-tobacco; it was stacked from floor to ceiling with his books and packages of chocolates.

He often took long walks along The Ridge, leaning on lampposts, palms to the sun.

But during his lifetime, he promoted himself as “the wickest man in the world” and “the devil incarnate.”

On the evening of his burial, the coffin travelled from Hastings to Brighton for cremation, there was a tremendous thunderstorm with lightening that continued all through the night; his good friend remarked, “Crowley would have loved that.”

He had an extraordinary presence, and an unusual persona, was distinctively different, possessing secret magical powers, beyond all ordinary comprehension, and keen to make friendships with the inquisitive and intelligent.

Netherwood house was demolished in 1968.

“But this is dawn; my soul shall make its nest

Where your sighs swing from rapture into rest

Love’s thurible, your tiger-lily breast.”

‘A Birthday’ by Aleister Crowley, 1911
It just dawned on me…


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.

Sign up to my blogs on the HomePage…
Signup to Kate’s free newsletter
WordPress Twitter Facebook Youtube


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.


Bags of personality, bags of possibilities! #trains #poetry #Victorians #British

This wonderful statue (erected in 2007) of poet, writer & broadcaster Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984) stands tall and proud; we are instantly drawn to his admiring glance and topped hat as he poignantly looks upwards at the glorious, sweeping arches of the London station he fort to save, St Pancras.
To think they might have demolished this beautiful structure is ‘criminal folly!’ spoke the outraged founding member of the Victorian Society (1958) and ardent defender of Victorian architecture.
Betjeman’s poetry was humorous, ingrained deeply in a mid-20th century Britishness (Robertson’s marmalade, tea and tennis, angel cake, Ovaltine, bicycle gears, country lanes, buttered toast). It is alive and well in his poems but fading fondly into the quaint, misty background of a bygone British era. Who would have thought that the St Pancras Station of Victorian splendour, saved by Betjeman, would eventually become an International Station and connect us to Paris in 2 and a half hours? And why do the tourists flock to see London and Great Britain, because of our ‘quaint‘ Britishness…so let’s keep it alive!

Possibilities, personality and enthusiasm… You need bags of it…if you lose faith borrow my bag!

Coming into winter…
“Now that the harvest is over
And the world cold
Give me the bonus of laughter
As I lose hold.”
A Nip in the Air by John Betjeman