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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
AS dark night closes upon the day And the wolves of the forest stir Sniffing the air and snuffling each other They stretch their legs Nuzzle sister and brother. And as they move from tree to tree They scent their path On the ice pine sap Then turn to the pack With the faintest yap And leap ahead through the forest gaps. For a light beyond the pines is their guide The moon, where it hangs like a queenly orb Shines bright on a sparkling world almost blue A light irresistible, bold and true, Which calls all the spirits of the night. And the wolves halloo its naked light As the huntress moon reveals herself And lightens the darkness And grips the hearts Of those who seek their kill. Take pity on their prey tonight Be fearful for the timid For the moon has aroused their hunger; how Saliva has flowed in their gullets Their lolling tongues and killing fangs Will taste of blood and flesh and gore Before this moonlight night is o’er. For the call of the wild cannot be resisted No wolf would be sane if he desisted It’s nature’s way to clean up the forest To rid the place of the old and infirm Keep all the herds pristine and well Yes the wolf brings release When it howls their death knell. But be assured it’s all for the best That the presence of wolves rejuvenates all From the vegetation to the waterfall Having top predators can save the day And the year and the century from decay Ecosystems will be renewed And our earth could be saved by letting them kill. So when the wolf bays at the moon in the night Feel safe not fearful; she’s saving our plight.
Wolves are fascinating creatures. They are top predators in many parts of the world and there are children’s stories designed to make us fearful of them – eg – Little Rad Riding Hood. However, I wonder have you read about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park. here. It is incredible the difference that is being made.
Snow scene Paints times of nostalgia Quintessential village landscape Bedecked with a blanket of snow The coverall. Happy families skipping by the river path To the kismet bridge Beneath the star that was foretold. And beneath the snow Under that cloak of invisibility What lies there on a cold winter night of glad tidings; Do you know? Have you watched the homeless Beg in the shopping mall And the destitute turn to crime Or shoot their own stars So they too can dream of fluffy white* Marshmallow clouds in the arms Of evergreen Christmas trees? Yet it’s Christmas, a time of winter cheer Giving and goodwill; give it a thought.
I was attracted by this lovely snow scene in the barber’s window and in most of the small shops in town a different if similar Christmas snow scene. So lovely and happy and it did in fact raise my spirits to see it. However, as I sat down to write the poem twisted itself as I thought and saw that our preparations leave the poor and destitute even further behind. A time of goodwill and giving to others has been turned inward and made a gluttony of excess. In my local town the churches have thankfully set up night shelters for the 3 months of December January and February and Christmas Day itself promises to be special. I wonder what Christmas specials are happening in your towns?