Mood unpredictable as is the weather

First a heatwave P1110348then some cooling down and a poem of course.

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Got so tetchy had to stop checking into facebook, if only to avoid the sin of envy.    So many younger people some of whom I barely know prancing about all over the world and/or in Edinburgh, or at poetry festivals or maybe just having a knees up in Margate!

Having said that two of my grandchildren are currently in Japan. One working there for a year and the other on holiday.

Not sure envy is a sin but vaguely remember it might be. My old Granny was a Methodist, my ex-husband a Catholic and I went to Sunday school when I was a child, so such things do hover about in one’s mind.

But when the sun is shining joy can be found closer to home.

Seeing this bird of prey landing nearby on the Marina, maybe waiting to join in Joshie’s (eldest grandson’s) 24th birthday celebrations at Casa Brasil. They do a super duper buffet and wonderful barbie. Image

Josh was 7 when he helped paint this mural with his cousins in our beach hut in Hove. Recently he secured a big promotion in the pharmacy department of a hospital in Eastbourne. Congratulations Joshie!

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When it was too hot jumped into the sea at Saltdean and later met a beachcomber. I hadn’t seen one since I wrote the following poem ten years ago.

Beachcombing

Where a solitary seagull flew
hopeful of an unexpected catch,
an old man moved along
the deserted seashore
glancing upwards
as if to ward off new invaders.

He kept his gaze low,
pausing then pouncing,
hands sifting piles of slippery pebbles,
“Makes a good walk” he called,
digging to retrieve his bounty
two battered 20p coins.

“Like poetry?”
he called. I nodded,
so with one hand cupped
to the side of his mouth,
warding of competition
from the roar os the wind
on the incoming tide,
he launched into a sonnet.

His words swooped, soared,
glided past present reality
and far out to sea.
I clapped respectfully
as he continued to work the beach
as any showman might,
reaping his due rewards for such
a powerful performance.

from my collection ‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’

Last week read two new poems and one poem from ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’ at The Poetry School in London compered by Paul Crane. There were some brilliant poets and what a lively lot they are on a Thursday afternoon.

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White rabbits for July and other bits and bobs.

P1040516It’s tradition to say out loud white rabbits upon waking on the first day of the month, because doing so will ensure good luck. So I had better remember!  My white rabbit came to two of my poetry readings last month and I believe may have got more attention than I did!

But they say never perform with children or animals!

P1110293-001I have lived here for ten years now and it has been far from easy to settle. I just loved London, so much going on and I could get to most of it  P1110040easily, effortlessly and even cheaply with my freedom pass!

Retirement at the best of time just makes one think one is becoming an old person. God forbid! We joined a series of different things but it was still not easy to ‘fit in’. But in the end I guess we have just about found our feet.

Last week I came back from London by train and for the first time when I then got off the bus I thought well this is it! This is home, and it felt OK.

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Had been up and down in terms of health so thought about giving up my allotment (I have been tempted two years running) but this time I wrote a new poem about it. By the time I had re-read it, I was so full of good vibes I couldn’t give it up after all. So now I am stuck with the joys of weeding, planting and watering all over again!

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Have had a few outings up to London. The cost of going is off putting as are the endless delays on the trains but Kings College London Poetry Fest was brilliant.

A celebration of poetry hosted by the Centre for Life-Writing Research. A constellation of poets curated by Ruth O’Callaghan. A workshop run by poet Katherine Lockton, great readers including Fleur Adcock, an open mic session and all free.

I had a second visit to the Royal Academy and attended the SWWJ summer tea party at the Liberal Club in Whitehall. P1110300Just love walking up this grand staircase and then there is a chance to meet up with old friends and some new members.

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A posh tea and a talk by Anita Marie Sackett who is a poet and very enterprising, she also gives talks to about living in the 50s, Victorian Christmas etc.

The SWWJ are struggling as are other writing organisations, not least because older members pass on.  Personally I believe the days of writing full time particularly novels can only be for the lucky few in this day and age.  But the SWWJ is about journalism, drama. poetry too and so far does attract new members.

I was accepted as a member many moons ago when I was a freelance journalist and had my play ‘Travelling Nowhere’ put on at the Young Vic. Writing poetry came later.

Went up to Earls Court again. I was a poet in residence for a weekend in Earls Court Square last year. I just loved Brompton Road Cemetery which is nearby and it’s even better than Highgate Cemetery (which was near where I spent much of my childhood..) My mother once took me to where my great grandmother had been buried. Not far from the Swains Lane entrance where ordinary people could be buried.

Brompton Road Cemetary has many famous people buried there. It is also a haven for wild life and was built partly on a market garden.   One can still find wild artichokes in between the gravestones.  It is such a tranquil place like a huge park. I love to wander and read the gravestones, obviously plenty of scope for new poems.

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Last week John McCullough’s Advanced Poetry Course at New Writing South finished for another year.  A fantastic crowd of poets one of whom won a competition and another had work published by the end of the three terms.

Another last night for Pighog too because their poetry readings stop for the summer!

P1110047-001Spent all today with Alan pruning and dead heading roses in the garden. All the hedges had gone bananas!

I tend to get carried away with planting veg. I just love picking stuff from the garden or the allotment that is so so fresh.  Had my share of raspberries already and looking forward to the artichokes and tomatoes.
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There is always the debate about going away on holiday but quite honestly we are very lucky and now we live at the seaside there is a lot going for staying put.

Although I am a bit of a gypsy at heart and the need to escape for a bit is very compelling not least because I love French and Spanish food. Maybe I should just learn to to make tapas and create even more of a holiday illusion.

An older allotment poem, a white rabbit poem and two seaside poems for good measure.

Miss Lottie’s Last Chance.

She sets the brim of her straw hat
at what she hopes is a rakish angle
brushes bits of twig from her brown
cotton skirt, pulls the arms of her holey
cardie closer like a hopeful hug.

She climbs on a stool and places
bits of stray string into a rusty tin,
wipes secateurs with an oily rag,
seals half-opened seed packets, placing
them into an obliging array of jars.

She takes a swig of a brandy from a bottle
marked for emergencies, while a grumpy owl
painted on a shopping bag glares.
She makes short shrift of him shaking the bag
upside down to dislodge lurking spiders.

From the corner of her eye she catches
sight of her old black wellies, blushes
at the memory of sitting, only yesterday
on her bench, near to tears, her limbs
too soggy with fatigue to pull them off.

How lucky that an old gent on his bike
was passing and joined in the tussle.
Today she slips out of her old gardening shoes,
watches a flock of rogue cockatiels
spreading their wings and taking flight.

Wonderland

Sprawled on the kitchen table
the Mad Hatter
his top hat
covered in papier-mache
a newsprint
picture of Putin,
the March Hare
missing an ear,

Alice in
her victorian
lace knickers
awaits her dress
washed and drying
on garden wire
hanging over the sink.

The White Rabbit,
checking his pocket watch
in the perfect condition
he was 30 years ago,
has plenty of time.

(from ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’)

Day Trippers

Here they come streaming out of the station
and down to the sea
where squawky seagulls herald their arrival.

Ignoring stripy deckchairs at wind breaks
they settle for their beach mats and
home-grown towels.

Barefoot children brave the pebbles
to meet the chill of the sea,
throw stones to skim the waves.

Kites flutter with over optimistic gaze
ice creams melt,
tea in paper cups turns cold.

Too soon the fun comes to an end
and nervous crabs in buckets
await their fate.

But all is well,
everything is packed
children sent to discharge their captives.
(from ‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’)

The North Pier Blackpool

‘It’s a small world’ for our marionettes,
three shows daily on the North Pier.

Our parents busy, we take stock – the mighty
black tower, the circus and ballroom.

Donkeys stand in line ready for a ride
trams trundle along the promenade.

Crowds gather on the famous golden mile, kiss me
quick hats, tuppence to see a mermaid.

The man from Mars in a bright green jump suit
is surreptitiously eating a big cream bun.

And so the season goes on, families from the mills
the mines and the factories, everyone laughing.

(from ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’)

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Posted in Ann's photography, Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Famous places, Finding my feet in Brighton, Flowers/Garden/Allotment, Galleries and Art in widest sense, Life and Times of a New Age Granny, London out and about, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Jumping about in June – the RA – Tenerife

 

P1110047The garden exploded into action when I was away for a few days, typical! Now it’s still roses, roses everywhere and with loads of deadheading to be done. P1110046

I’ve sorted out the greenhouse yet again with raised beds and planted the tomatoes, all of which took forever.

My garden could be described as unruly, even a clump of  daisies the gardener gave me at the Ted Hughes Arvon Centre P1110043three years ago have established themselves in a crack in the step from the house. We have to walk round them as best we can.

P1110062So moving swiftly on…

Last week we visited the the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition on friends day.   This is a family tradition. I took my mother there for over 20 years.

This year it is described as the most colourful exhibition to date and  Grayson PerryP1110116 and his committee of fellow artists handpicked over 1,300 artworks in an array of mediums.

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The choice included art by people such as David Hockney and Joana Vasconcelos, Tracey Emin etc. but there was a tiny space for a painting by my daughter-in-law’s sister Maura which was a first for her!

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P1110079  Maura with her owl.

P1110096   P1110099  P1110095 This is a wonderful entry with handmade books, pictures and conversations about the art of bell ringing! (Sorry need to check her name!)

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All loads of fun – do go along if you can.

 

Other distractions in London that day.

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An unexpected holiday two weeks ago with eldest son and daughter-in-law who took us off to Tenerife.  All very relaxing.

Highlights including an intriguing shepherd’s cottage on the road to Mount Teide. A road builder had taken up residence when the road up into the mountains had been completed and lived there with his family. Much later he was on his own and reliant on goats, honey etc.  I love innovation and small places like sheds, campervans, homes in caves!P1100897

 

But also pyramids and the sea and sun, of course.

 

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Other small spaces nearer to home that I love   P1100773 my shed.

The allotment shed P1100727

Nearer to home again

Alan has been busy with his music and playing in Brighton’s Mandolin Orchestra

P1100829-001 P1100830 Here is the concert which included playing with the New American Mandolin Ensemble at St Georges!

Juliet at The Open Art Cafe in Rottingdean has gone overboard with her flower display this year and also has special summer menus.

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Good news for ‘The Hole in the Wall’

My illustrated poem for children ‘The Hole in the Wall’ that has been published by  The Dry Stone Walling Association has really taken off. I have just been asked if someone can read and sell them at a Dry Stone Walling event. Answer has to be yes!

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New Poems

Have several poems in the pipeline but making an effort to get a few more published. If they go on this blog they are considered published so its a bit of a dilemma!

But this worm has been around for a bit and is more than happy to appear again – such an exhibitionist!

The Worm

On the path
I just avoid
stepping on a
brown worm.
I place him
on rain sodden earth.
After all, anyone
can take
the wrong
direction.

 

 

 

Posted in Ann's photography, Arvon, Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Flowers/Garden/Allotment, London out and about, Nature - birds, flowers, sea or country, Photography, Poetry - Creative Writing, Retiring to Brighton - ups and downs, Rottingdean | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Muddling through May

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Wonderful bluebells at Nymans. P1100627Later in the week I watched a deer wandering into my eldest son’s garden. Apparently deer love to feast on roses!

I went along to see the children’s parade the start of the Brighton Festival. This year the theme was paintings so local schools provided wonderful representations from a whole range of painters including Freda Khol, Monet, Chagall, Hockney, Van Gogh and many more. The Festival programme itself is full of art, performance, music and exhibitions.

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I’ve been lacking energy recently probably because there has been lots to in the garden. it’s a tough life!  But managed to get to a few Fringe festival events, including a session on publishing and another ‘Come Rhyme With Me’ with Dean Atta and Deanna Rodger at New Writing South.  I even managed to be one of the open mic appetisers with a poem about ‘Temporary Employment’ forcing myself to read something written recently.  The evening  includes a wonderful Carribean dinner, so they describe the show in foody terms! The Starter: Daisy Behagg   Main course: Potent Whisper  Dessert: Usaama Minahs.

There are still plently of events on offer and loads of ‘Open Houses’ to catch up on. Tomorrow I’ve booked for Roy Hutchins and company with a show that includes music and poetry which should be fun

Less dramatic on Tuesday we had to re-line our pond on our allotment because it had sprung a substantial leak!

We got our plot eight years ago after being on the council list for three years! In truth it was a muddy field with a sad frog sitting in a dried out pond.   But we inherited an apple and a sour cherry tree and have grown plenty of vegetables over the years. But frogs and newts create responsibilities hence so much watery enterprise.

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In the Balance
May, they say, is full of promise
we have just two straggly bluebells and how long
before a late frost saps newly planted fragile shoots
and will the robin’s eggs in the nest survive, balanced
precariously between tins of fertiliser and a ball
of string on a shelf in the greenhouse?
A sleek ginger tom eyes the birds eagerly
from under the hedge, whilst I like a demented
guardian angel, attempt to fix an accessible
temporary door with sticks and chicken wire.
Now the growbags will not get planted and dreams
of the heady fragrance of ripening tomatoes
all summer long, drift into the mist of secret longings.
The robins’ beaks now full of curious green insects,
cautious at first, fly through gaps in the wire.
The cat stiffens, glares, his mouth tightens, he crawls
reluctantly back under the hedge.

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The following piece is three years ago and the following year a bumble bee made a nest in a corner of the greenhouse, which also created havoc with my planting plans.

Posted in Ann's memoir, Ann's poems, Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Gardening and the Allotment - for the love of it, Life and Times of a New Age Granny, Living by the sea, Nature - birds, Nature - birds, flowers, sea or country, Photography, Poetry - Creative Writing, Retiring to Brighton - ups and downs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My little book about a dry stone wall published!

I wrote  ‘The Hole in the Wall’ on an Arvon picture book writing course at Totleigh Barton many years ago. I remember the inspirational Pat Hutchins the author of ‘Rosie’s Walk’ and many other picture books was the tutor.   Sadly she is no longer with us.

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One afternoon I wandered around Totleigh and found the remains of a dry stone wall. On the spur of the moment I wrote a poem for children about the creatures that might live there and created the illustrations there and then.

As a child I remember spending a lot or time in our garden behind our house in North London. The flower beds were set on top of hand made walls as my grandmother had suffered a serious back injury due to a bomb destroying part of the house during the Second World War and this was the  only way she could manage the garden.

After the course I tried to get it published. Oxford University Press showed some interest but then dropped the idea. I was brought up in post war ‘waste not want not’ age so a few years ago I made it into a film.

How lucky that the charity Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain found my film on youtube last November and asked if they could make it into a book. Now they have produced a dear little  24 page book of the poem and pictures using my original artwork. I was even invited into a local primary school last week and the children loved it.

It can be purchased for £2.00 on the Dry Stone Walling  site – http://www.dswa.org.uk/books-dvds.asp

The art of dry stone walling is well documented and the Dry Stone Walling Association is promoting its use because not only is it traditional but also environmentally friendly.

Since writing ‘The Hole in the Wall’ I felt confident enough to attend more formal poetry courses at Arvon centres and elsewhere and have written and had published many poems, including a collection  P1040516‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’

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In and out of April

P1100546-001
In and out of April
decluttering
manic moods
losing weight
swimming
seed potatoes
chittering
sun cheating
clouds racing
resolutions falling
into the waste basket
the dark green bird box
made by a nuclear
engineer in Birmingham
only ever had two
birds nesting
best get out
do something
and
for goodness sake
give more attention
to verbs and line
endings.

The sun lightens up P1100518-001our lives as does the pavement poet
P1100543          Daniel Rowland chalking up his latest work.

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Brighton as mad as ever – people sail by on their pedal power celebration.

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Benny, at the new Ivy Restaurant, sees me looking at the menu,  stops to chat about their one thousand, five hundred enquiries in one day,  cycle lanes, P1100538-001signature dishes and the possibility of having to employ a traffic co-ordinator if they want a few yards of parking!

Well some dishes are a bit pricey, but plenty are fine. Opens 2nd May and would love to take a peek inside, so that’s one thousand five hundred  and one enquiries.

The next day success for Allie Rogers, she has a full house for the launch of the her new book ‘Tale of the Tooth.’   Well done her!

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Roy Hutchins was at the Hatchery in Hove on Saturday. Roy always ready to share his writing techniques but today he and musician/fellow conspirator  – Mike ‘Dr Blue’ Mckeon, shared a few pieces from Roy’s forthcoming festival event.  Innovative and touching, should go down well. P1100534   Bear North will premier at Brighton Fringe – May 4, 5, 9,11,16 and 19

Japan eat your heart out…

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not so quite so much blossom but a brilliant display in Eastbourne on Sunday.

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popped over for a japanese meal with eldest grandson, later we eat non fattening cakes on a patch of grass in the garden behind his flat.

 The weather changed completely on the way home but that’s April for you

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 –
and the potatoes were still busy chittering
 –
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 –

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100 year anniversary of Spike Milligan

We hope everyone at The Bell in Ticehurst has a happy time tomorrow, with all the Spike Milligan and Goon Show events they are putting on. Spike lived in Ticehurst for some time. Our look-a-like Eccles is very sorry he can’t be there again this year. He is busy in the garden tending his money tree, forever the optimist!

Our Eccles reckons he should have had the honour!         Eccles is at it again        Eccles on the Weald Allotment

Those with a keen eye will notice that our look-a-like Eccles is a shadow of the original but he was knocked up quickly for a Goon Show convention a few years ago.

With none of the original Goons alive the TeIegoons have had plenty of attention but sadly most of the Telegoon puppeteers have also passed on.

I was the youngest and last time I pinched myself I think I was still alive!

Yes I know a lot about  the Telegoons because my family made the pilot film that sold the series to the BBC. Tony Young came to our studio many times for advice and we were involved in the developing the rubber for the marionettes. But Tony’s dad ended up making them.

At first Television puppeteers had to have Equity cards, I got mine as an entertainer during my first summer season in Eastbourne. The Equity card was an acknowledgement of the fact puppeteers were part of the drama and did not just pull strings. But during this series the rules change and affiliation to a different union was acceptable.

Sadly the show was never a big success in Britain maybe because most people had their own ideas as to how the characters might look like from listening to The Goon Show  The Telegoons were much more popular in America and AustP1100509ralia.

I was one of the first puppeteers and performed with the marionettes and life-like models for 15 episodes. Whew! But working on that set carried enough setbacks and intrigue to fill another episode of the Goon Show!

Spike only ever visited the set once!

Some of the original sketches for the puppets.

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My eldest son first met Spike Milligan reading his poems in the Chimpanzee Tea Party enclosure at London Zoo, an encounter, he says he will never forget.

Naturally the grandchildren now 24, 23, and 21 years old, all loved Spike’s poetry. Who wouldn’t appreciate ‘Ning Nang Nong Where the Cows go Bong’ and his other wonderful poems for children?

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