Is it winter?

There was a time when winters here were cold
When snow and ice bit deep into the bone
And frosted windows met us, rising, every morn
When icy pavements meant we slipped and slid along.
There was a time when summers were so warm
The sun shone bright between the clouds
And heat rose humid from the fields,
Bright with wildflowers, buzzing insects
And the heady scents of earth and farm.
But then came now, and now it should be winter
But the February temperature tells me no,
For I feel the heat rise across both town and country
See a clear blue unremitting glare upon the water
And the butterflies awake and flit and start
But it is winter or is winter summer now?
For this thing called climate change has confused us all.

Poem and photo copyright Englepip©

Strawberry Hill

The house frontage onto the gardens with current marquee/ cafeteria extension. Note Queen Mary’s University is actually attached.

An iced fairy-cake,
White Gothic structure
Shining in the sun with
Turrets, towers and chimneys
Spires, like icing sugar
Spiking heavenward,
Brilliant against
The dome of a blue sky.
Castellations of legends
And pointed, arched windows
Full of intricate tracings.
Paradise of imagination,
Packed with curiosities
In the collections of
Walpole’s desires
And eccentricities.

Strawberry Hill, London, is currently open to the public with an exhibition of some of the items collected by Horace Walpole (son of Britain’s first Prime Minister). He was an avid collector of art and curiosities, from fine art to armour and coins etc.

Chimneys and spires against a stormy sky at Strawberry Hill.

The house originally fronted onto the Thames, but the land in front has now been built upon and the site has been developed as part of Queen Mary’s University, London, in fact the students wander around the campus on the lawns outside and have lectures in the adjoining rooms.

Walpole designed this house together with his friends Richard Bentley and John Chute, as a ‘private retreat and a house for show, a place for study and for elaborate parties.’*

Not only is the exterior beautiful, but the interior has rooms or varying shapes, and sizes, ceilings which must be some of the best examples of Gothic revivalism known. There is a mirrored gallery, glitzy with gold and cream Gothic pinnacle ceiling and the prettiest library I remember ever seeing. Unfortunately I could not photograph the interior this time due to so many of the artefacts being on private loan.

It is well worth a visit though for those who like the Gothic style.

The turret and ornate iron staircase at Strawberry Hill.

Poem, prose and photos copyright Englepip©

In praise of donkeys

Four-legged beast of burden
Rough-haired or smooth
Piebald, brown or dun
Long-eared and skinny-tailed
Capturer of our hearts,
Nudging at our pockets
And snuffling for a carrot.
Baring teeth when moody
And singing your own song
Loudly braying and laughing
At the human it does not want to please.
Beast of burden
Reliable until that point
When stubborn will intercedes
And nothing will move him.
Jack the father
Jenny the mother
Led by man for 5000 years
Bearer of Christ and His mother
And a cross to prove it.
And now beach companion
On a summer’s day in Europe
Fun to be with,
Loving, faithful, knowing friend.


Words and photos copyright Englepip©

WE TWO

We two,
Born within an inkling of each other;
We two,
Seeded from one father;
We two,
Sheltered by the warmth of one mother;
We two,
Thinking as one; doing each as the other;
We two,
Together in spirit and mind, forever.

A dull day today but one to visit the park and see the swans. These two acting together like twins or maybe they are a pair for swans mate for life. When one preened the other preened; when one fed so did the other. I have friends who are twins – their thoughts echo each other and their actions are so alike!

Poem and photo copyright Englepip©

Glass and steel

Bush and grass;
Nomadic units.
Mud and thatch;
A season’s shelter.
Timber, wattle and daub;
A whole community.
Stone and flint and brick,
Lots of brick and stone;
Built to last;
A permanence:
Solidity, reliability
Cities and government
Confirmation of continuity
Substance, dependability.

Cold steel;
Reflective, shiny
Repellant
Outward gloss;
Hard.
And glass
All revealing
Transparent glass.
Windows to the outside
Portals to the inside.
Transparency and truth
Everyone can see;
Everything.

 Words , poem and photo copyright Englepip©

The last few decades have seen a new architecture throughout the world. There is a change in style and feeling and I wanted to express how our architecture says a lot about us socially. This is a picture of Basingstoke, once a small market town evolving into a commercial hub – the place where Burberrys were invented in a small retailers; where Eli Lilly and Smiths industries and Lansing Bagnall led the way; where the Automobile Association still is based in what was until recently the tallest building between Hampshire and America; where the bank note printers De La Rue still has its headquarters on the edge of town. But as we move away from industry and manufacturing, – this is on the edge of the Uk’s silicon valley – to ethernet and internet and the need to face each other and work together physically, so architecture has changed. From solid stone with a ‘built to last’ feel, we have moved to glass and steel. Does it represent the unforgivingness of the working environment today? Does the transparency of glass mean that – yes we can see you are not hiding things but that you are being watched all the time? Does the brittleness of glass reflect the ease with which our individual worlds can be smashed and broken?