Sunday, 25 October 2009

Recuperation complete

view down the valley towards Knighton (Powys) - England on the left of picture, Wales on the right (my little camera does not do justice to the stunning view)

We have had such a wonderful few days away, on the Welsh/Shropshire border (in the Middle March), staying on the campsite of our dear acquaintance, Jocelyn, and her husband Jim - a sheep farmer whose land straddles England and Wales, on the upper reaches of the River Teme, and towards the skyline, along a part of  Offa's Dyke. No work, but art-journaling, and delicious food prepared in our cosy caravan; rain and more rain, but it did not matter. I crashed out, wrote and read, took photographs (poor!) and retreated into myself. The last poem I wrote before heading for home on Saturday (yesterday), is my Monday offering for poetry aficionados, ahead of time, because tomorrow morning I will be back at work and also stitching like crazy to finish a fabric keepsake for the birthday next Saturday of one of my grand-daughters. Our little holiday was perfect, but as always, it's good to be home.

the last picture I took on Friday evening, before settling down for a final quiet few hours in our caravan; as I walked upstream, a heron lazily rose from the water's edge and flapped towards trees just out of view to the left. I spotted my first water-ouzel, watched a trout hang motionless in the water, maintaining position with scarcely moving fins,  and had hoped for the electric-blue flash of a kingfisher. Another time, perhaps; we must return soon - it's been twelve years or more since we were last here.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Aviation Sunday / Poetry Monday

First, I must thank everyone who commented on my last post and apologise for not responding individually (and 'hello' to my latest dear follower, Dori). It's been a hectic week, as usual, but the week ended (or began, depending on where you put Sunday in your calendar) with a lovely gentle day: a fly-in Raymond and I had organised for members of the LFA - lawyers and their families or friends. Whilst I stood on the chilly airfield, waiting to greet them and later to say goodbye, my poem for Monday 'happened'. So as it describes the magic of the day far better than a straightforward description, I will offer it here. It was also my birthday; a lovely way to celebrate.

Click on the poem to enlarge the text if it is too small to read as it stands. And now I am taking a break for a while - I need to recuperate for one reason and another and plan to spend my time journaling and making mixed media art. See you all again soon.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Poetry Monday

what is poetry?

I have been visiting blogs that were new to me in my spare moments this last week and one blog thread led to another and I found some fascinating posts that inspired and intrigued me. One such a week ago was The Weaver of Grass (I liked the name) and I discovered that it was 'Poetry Monday'; she had posted a poem and, without knowing the rules, I posted a comment which was an off-the-cuff poetic response; or so I hoped. 

So it was a complete surprise when Weaver emailed me to say she loved it. She suggested I contact TFE who runs 'The Poetry Bus' and he has invited to me to come aboard. The rules are that he posts a theme; you have a week to write and post and he circulates all the other 'passengers'. Well, the first assignment is either to watch a film (I don't have time), or to read a set poem by Sylvia Plath, and write one in response. That smacks to me too much like the analysis I did in VIth form in the 1950s and anyway the one I sent Weaver was based on Plath's "not waving but drowning". It led me to realise that I don't write in a calculated and unstructured way - all my 'verse', be it blank or rhymed, happens - of itself, without help from me, other than to write it down and tidy it up. I always was contrary and still bend the rules! 

But I so wanted to participate, so, whenever I can, I will write spontaneously on a Monday morning to challenge myself; and if I can't, will try to post one of my 'poetry happenings'. They tend to be littered within both my blogs anyway. They won't always be written that very morning, but one that did not labour to be born. My first offering, because it happens to be typed already rather than scribbled on a bit of paper, was the subject of a post on 11th September, but the poem itself was not included. It is now; click on it to enlarge the text:

the post that refers to this was dated September 11th and titled 'Friendship'

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Gardening & Food Show: Malvern-3

View from the Showground, looking towards the northern end of the Malvern Hills.

A week ago we were attending the Autumn Gardening & Food Show at the showground of the Three Counties Agricultural Society. Notes on our journey to Malvern are already in my Journaling blog; here I will share some of the Show highlights.

I come to these events with such anticipation, not sure whether I will be enthralled or disappointed. You never know what you will find or discover – but that’s what I love about reviewing: the atmosphere, the unexpected, the need to meld what I see into a cohesive whole whilst following the briefs of the magazine editors for whom I will be writing. This year was no exception; I was captivated from the moment we arrived (a day in advance for photography purposes).

Claire Potter's stunning design for the 'Good Life' stage and cookery theatre was a masterpiece, reflecting four stages of the 'grow-your-own' ethos: wild but edible plants at the perimeter of an allotment, brick-bordered conventional beds, container-grown produce and harvested veg in the kitchen. Truly, you could eat the stage set! And Claire won a 'best feature in show' award as well as appearing on stage in a cookery challenge.

What transpired will appear in two forthcoming articles in the December issues of ‘Grow it!’ and ‘Kitchen Garden’. What follows here are my personal observations that are not relevant to the features already on their way to the magazines concerned. For ease of working, we stay on site, alongside other exhibitors, in tent or caravan or motorhome. There is a camaraderie … late nights by candlelit barbecues in a field below the idyllic Malvern Hills. We do not participate: we work late and start early (on the pre-show evening Raymond already has over 100 photos manipulated and printed. We eat well in our motorhome on my pre-prepared beef stew, drink a 1986 Grand Cru Classe ‘Cos Labori’ from the Medoc (France), chat, plan my articles … and fall asleep still writing.

Our motorhome combines living space and a working studio, so we are able to work on site.

The next morning (Sat 26th Sept), we arrive early in the Press Room and I am instantly asked if I will help judge the Commercial fruit Juice Competition – they need a journalist on the panel. Nonplussed but honoured – I’ve never done anything like this before – I agree and am soon being initiated into juice colour, ‘nose’ (aroma), taste, homogeneity and clarity. Three classes and around 40 entries, each to be assessed and tasted! Three hours later, nine winners have been selected, I am way behind with my planned schedule and feel as if I am literally floating in fruit juice.

I am bewildered at first by the technicalities of 'juice judging' but soon find myself deep into a long but enjoyable tasting session.

New to the show garden scene were Helen Williams and Caroline Lennon, who designed and created a very clever contemporary courtyard kitchen garden with raised planting trays, specifically for the less-able or wheelchair users.

Throughout the weekend I interview various lovely people whose work I admire and chat to others about their participation at the show. It is incredibly busy with a perpetual buzz of excitement, particularly within the 'edible garden' marquee.

Paul Hervey-Brookes captured the spirit of Autumn with his circular 'Equinox' garden with a wonderful colour palette of edible plants. Paul's allegorical designs are always a delight and he well deserved his 'best in show' award. (Lots of close-ups of this will go into my journal.)

Raymond takes ‘proper’ pics for my articles (over 500 during the weekend), whilst I snapshot those needed for my blog. I cannot resist old nostalgic artefacts and vegetables, fruit and berries for shape, colour and texture, thinking of the nature journaling that I will do come winter. I make a few personal purchases: yet more paper napkins (I am an obsessive collector of these), some lovely cream-coloured hessian potato sacks to cut up for journal pages, a basket lined with lace-edged linen to hold my sewing, crochet or knitting, and a realistic pear-shaped candle and wooden coaster to light our m’home supper.

I take lots of quirky shots like this for my personal 'pocket-page' journal, which will be assembled come winter.

By the end of each day we are exhausted, continually walking from one end of the showground to the other, to catch various timed activities, all connected with ‘the celebration of nature’s harvest’. It is late; the sky pales in the north-east silhouetting the dark shapes of the hills; a half-moon (just post-equinox) rises in the south-west. Parties are in full swing in the camping field: exhibitors sitting around braziers, woodsmoke, lamps on poles glowing in the quiet dark. Our candle is lit, food on the table, a glass or two of beer, fruit, chocolates.
We eat by candlelight looking towards the hills, now silhouetted against a gradually darkening sky.

Forever Malvern! It's been a useful weekend; we are tired but content. And we'll be back in the Spring of 2010.