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…

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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…Attention! #London #facts #travel #TheQueen #British #soldiers #summer #holiday #vacation #Wimbledon #AndyMurray

Anyone taking a holiday excursion, a summer vacation, a trip, a journey, or a city break to London, may wish to swat up on soldier (Guard) uniforms to impress fellow travel companions. It’s a little research that goes beyond the average guide book; it may even surprise the fore-said friends of your exceptional ability to record such interesting and diverse British facts. Let’s hope they pay attention instead or telling you to button up.

How about some of these as additional London facts.

1. There is always a flag flying above Buckingham Palace, but it is only the Royal Standard that indicates the Queen is in residence.

2. All swans in the Royal Parks are owned by the Queen.

3. Yesterday, The Wimbledon Tennis Championships 2016 (grass court) saw Scottish-born Andy Murray, cap and shorts, take the trophy for a second time.  If he had chosen to be a soldier he would be number 3 in the line-up. Buttons in threes. No plume.

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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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‘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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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)

  

Epiphany  #epiphany #poetry #Shakespeare #January #quotes #TwelfthNight 

To have an epiphany is to experience a sudden and striking realisation, which would then lead on to extraordinary revelations, like those experienced by Archimedes (mathematics, invention) Issac Newton, (gravity, mechanics, physics) Albert Einstein (theoretical physics) Charles Darwin (Creation & natural selection).  
Please note these are all examples of The Sciences, The Arts are not represented as examples of ‘epiphanies.’ I suggest everyone choose their own…eg. The Sunflowers (painting) by Vincent Van Gogh or A Christmas Carol (book) by Charles Dickens or Bright Star (poem) by John Keats etc. These are wonderful realisations; what they reveal is what you choose to seek and take from them; no formulas, no theories, no statistics, just pure, emotive, personal satisfaction.

In the Christian calendar the 6th of January, the 12th day of Christmas; Twelfth Night is Epiphany: the visit and adoration of the Magi and their realisation of the Virgin Mary’s incarnation and the revelation that Christ is the son of God. (phew!)

Fast forward to the 17th century

On the 6th January 1601 the comedy play ‘Twelfth Night’ by William Shakespeare was entered in the Stationer’s Register.

It’s the beginning of the year, we need some comedy, especially as one realises that the resolutions, so resolutely written, are now starting to dwindle and the still-winter months lie ahead.

The Magi ended their journey to see the new-born babe.

Shakespeare wrote a love song to be sung by the clown Feste to Sir Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek (great names!)

‘Trip no further, pretty sweeting;

Journeys end in lovers meeting,

Every wise man’s son doth know…’

From Twelfth Night ‘Sweet-and Twenty’

So it seems we are surrounded by wise men, adoration, revelation, realisation, journeys, love and poetry.

‘What’s to come is still unsure:

In delay there lies no plenty;

Then come kiss me, sweet-and-twenty!’

Shakespeare’s quotes and poetry still widely endure; their greatness, their humility, their magnificence, their grace, their morals… and their beauty.  

They search the soul for the same secret qualities; allow yourself to realise it; no equation or theory required.

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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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Enchanted Castles #castles #poetry #travel

Fairytales may well be exaggerated and magical distortions of the sensible and practical truth but…

Knights of the realm, fair maidens, damsels in distress, valiant heroes, brave warriors, honourable citizens, villainous invaders, victorious intruders, are all part of the rich history of life, in all its many forms; figures from the past merge into the people of today.

Here, on a forested valley, sits a perfectly peaceful castle, steeped in mystery, and inquisitive questioning, and full of many possible and impossible imaginations…

Far, far away, then reachable; pungently powerful in the daylight, then disappearing at night; soft and mellow like a child’s sandcastle then fortified, strong and sharp like a gentleman’s brandy; sometimes imperious, foreboding and stern then vulnerable, touchable and tame; teetering on the edge, ready to crumble to dust, or basking in the might of centuries of vigorous invincibility.

How encouraging to be conquering the adventurous journey of the world’s road with a little fairy magic

“Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger,
You may see a stranger, across a crowded room.”

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Cafe au lait, au lait! #art #travel #quotes

The most famous French cafe on the tip of the Mediterranean, Les Templiers (Knights of the Realm) in the Catalan fishing village of Collioure. Home to sun-seeking artists extraordinaire of the early 1900s including Picasso, Matisse, Derain, Dufy – inspired by the light, the warmth, the sweet wines, the traditional music, the scents of jasmine, caught by the nose and a sea-salt aroma, touched by the tongue.

The bar is adorned in artwork, donated by generations of artists who could not pay for drinks.

Scottish artist and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret escaped the smoggy atmosphere of London, to visit Collioure in the spring of 1924…

“We think it is one of the most wonderful places we have ever seen.”


Prennez le petit dejeuner, chocolat chaud, assiette de fromage
…soak up the ambiance, the distinctive style and the air-borne inspiration, drink in the magic of many artistic worlds.

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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.’

(Catalan)

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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A Book of One’s Own

How delightful to be able to sit on the banks of The River Avon in the town of Stratford upon Avon. There is no other river whose fine, wooden rowing boats are named after Shakespeare’s characters: Orsino, Banquo, Rosalind, Benedict…to name a few; where white swans swim up and down the banks and the willow trees sway, shading the benches, rustling as the rowers stride passed. This is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company…good company indeed!

Oh and to read a little poetry of one’s own!

Trains and Buttered Toast #MaryleboneStation #BluePlaques

Sir John Betjeman (UK, Poet Laureate from 1972 to his death in 1984) is remembered for his love of everything English. Particularly trains, churches, architecture and buttered toast. He embodies a unique sense of Britishness, both within himself and within his work; a culture so desired and embraced by tourists and foreigners alike. Chiltern Railways transport you to Stratford upon Avon (Shakespeare) Banbury (Banbury Cross) and Warwick (Castle) and apologies to Slough who Betjemen insulted with ‘come friendly bombs and fall on Slough’).
Approach the old towns of Middle England by train and see rolling hillsides, golden, wavy fields, hedgerows and woodlands, canal boats and waterways. A journey steeped in history, poetry and legends provides everything for the imagination. Grab a cup of tea, leave behind the capital, London, and soak up the atmosphere Betjeman enjoyed by train.

‘Not Waving But Drowning’ #poetry

On the 8th July 1822, the leading figure of the Romantic movement, Percy Bysshe Shelley, drowned in the Bay of Spezia, Italy, when his small boat foundered in a storm. He had just visited friends, poet Lord Byron and journalist and writer Leigh Hunt. In his pocket was found a volume of John Keats poetry.

Shelley was an extremely controversial figure…he disapproved of marriage, royalty, meat-eating and religion. In truth he was an absolute rebel and anarchist and his work reflects his intellectual courage and sharp sense of humour.

 ‘I weep for Adonais – he is dead!

O, weep for Adonais! though our tears

Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!’

Ironically, Percy Shelley quoted this section of his poem 17 months before on hearing of the death of the Romantic poet he so admired, John Keats (February, 1821).

In England, Shelley was hardly mourned, one obituary stated “Shelley, the writer of some infidel poetry, has been drowned; now he knows whether there is a God or not.”

Today, Shelley is remembered as one of the most significant poets of The Romantic Circle, who has contributed enormously to English literary and intellectual life.

Today’s blog title ‘Not Waving But Drowning’ is the title poem by Stevie Smith.

This Sceptered Isle

Within an hour’s drive, I was here in East Sussex at one of the most beautiful places that define England – the outline of the cliffs figure her beauty; the strength of her curving shores; the magnificence of her wide lands; the clear, wispy skies and the deep, dense divide of the English Channel. It is on this land great speeches, books, plays and poems have been dedicated…

‘This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself…
This precious stone set in a silver sea.
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.’

from Richard II by William Shakespeare

Everyday a different day…

Where shall we go today? Books and poetry, artists and their ideas can take us anywhere in the world; everyday we can discover a new voice, whether it be in your own language or translated into it, and a new place, whether it be real or imaginary, right where we sit. We don’t have just one tongue or one world or even one time we can have hundreds more of each!

So when you’re not travelling the world in body, you can travel it in mind instead…

“Earth has not anything to show more fair” (Wordsworth) 

“Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it” (Kipling) 

“All the world’s a stage” (Shakespeare).


“Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World,

With the wonderful water round you curled,

And the wonderful grass upon your breast

World, you are beautifully drest.”

By William Brighty Rands

I’m reading a book in English, translated from the Japanese, set in Russia, China & Japan & set over many time zones…! So where are you today?!