Miss Lottie’s Allotment

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Of course the poem that follows is based on fact! My mother fell in love with an allotment in South London over 15 years or so ago and it became the highlight of her retirement. I worked on a freelance basis but later in many ways I also became her carer, which involved a whole range of tasks, including following her instructions and helping her sort out what to grow and where to grow it, on her newly acquired allotment near Shirley Oaks in South London.

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.

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I wrote the poem a two or three years ago several years after her death!

This week I  decided to give up my own plot on the Weald in Hove after seven years!  I live near Rottingdean and was on the waiting list for three years and eventually I was offered one half way up a steep hill near the Mill.

However an injury I call unsurprisingly  puppeteer’s back that came from operating heavy marionettes for much of my life, meant I had to have several discs fused together and even now hills are not my favourite things.

The Weald has been wonderful and fellow allotment holders  very special people, but now it’s time to plant even more veg in between the flowers in the garden!

Poems about, nature, art, eccentrics etc.  in ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’ 

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Posted in Ann's memoir, Ann's photography, Ann's poems, Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up, Gardening and the Allotment - for the love of it, Photography, Poetry - Creative Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fallen in love with a rose

not sure which one? I can be fickle and they are all looking very handsome in

my back garden right now!

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Earls Court Square – Poet in Residence – the day dawned.

P1080150On Friday night when we arrived the area around Earls Court Station was of full of enthusiastic tourists, busy cafes, pubs  despite the papers being full of stories about the dreadful fire that had killed so many. On Saturday a child was selling little pots of strawberries in aid of the victims!

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I was here to spend  two days as poet in residence in Earls Court Square, some way from the fire but in the light of so many other recent atrocities it all felt a bit incongruous. Maybe I think too much, but as I was a child born in the Blitz in 1940 and death was all around us I learned then to be wary of the unexpected. But I know too that everyone tries to get on with their own lives and carry on regardless.

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We check in to a modest hotel and head for the Square where we meet up with Katrina.  She is chairman of the garden committee and is busy sorting out the gazebo for the musicians,  rushing to and fro preparing for the visitors on Saturday and Sunday, many of whom will be enjoying her tea and cakes.

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Anna, the head gardener, is sweeping up leaves and checking all is just so.   Everyone is intent on making the weekend a success.

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The garden is a private space and for the rest of the year provides an oasis of calm for all the residents and a beautiful place for their children to play.

I had written some new poems inspired by previous visits, I had talked to Eyre, one of the gardeners and a few local residents.  Jennifer Ware, now in her 80s, had led the residents’ successful campaign to save the garden when it was threatened with re-development. She is a warm and wonderful person and with so many tales to tell!

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The residency is organised by the Poetry School and called Mixed Borders, Poets are spread across those  Open London Squares that request one as part of their activities for the weekend. The poets come up with all sorts of inventive ways to engage with the public as well as writing some new poems,

Some of the personal highlights:

We had chosen garden poems written by famous poets which we photocopied, laminated and displayed around the Square. Some visitors seemed intent on reading every one!

I really enjoyed meeting new people, some had checked that there was a poet in the Square and came to seek me out. One woman, a nurse had lived in the Square in the 70s.  Another was on a pilgrimage from the States to see where her mother had lived in the 30s.  A third had written a long poem about the uprising in Warsaw during WW2.   All were very willing to exchange emails for further contact.

Wandering around making notes for new poems I ran into Victor.   I had heard of him, but not met him before. A local resident who had been an art dealer but had also looked after the garden for over 20 years!   He told me he is a traditionalist as far as poetry is concerned and loves the work of Dylan Thomas.

We had printed leaflets of my new poems to give away which were well received and I gave three impromptu readings under the green parasol provided.

I took my  white rabbit marionette from Alice in Wonderland (my muse).  He  sat in his own deckchair and at one point two young children told him stories!

When we arrived on Saturday a German TV film company came by and insisted I wrote something on camera and read a poem. Goodness knows if or when it will get to be shown.

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The garden committee welcomed everyone to the Square.   There were two different groups of musicians performing under a gazebo, people sunbathed, children played, and hundreds of members of the public admired the flowers, shrubs and trees, drank tea and ate cake.

We had hoped to pop out to see some of the Open Spaces ourselves but this was not practical. We did, however, make a quick visit to the Mosaic Rooms nearby to see fellow poet Carol Rowntree Jones. Carol had collaged a mosaic bowl and put fragments of Arab womens’ poems inside, inviting the public to take one.

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I am a Londoner born and bred and so lucky to be part of this scheme. I was in Postman’s Park last year but Waterloo Park and Parliament Hill Fields were my happy hunting grounds as a child.

I still miss living in London but was grateful to get on the train back to Brighton to the sea and the cool air. Just in time on Sunday too to get the last of the elderflowers from my neighbour Simon’s garden to make some  cordial. Simon had also helped to choose the garden poems that were displayed in the Square!

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                      Poet in confusion reflected in the wonderful waterfall sculpture.

Stop Press –  just been sent link to the film

http://www.dw.com/en/london-open-garden-squares-weekend/av-39316029

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Posted in Cheer yourself up, Famous places, Gardening and the Allotment - for the love of it, Life and Times of a New Age Granny, Out and about in London, Photography, Poetry - Creative Writing, Poetry readings - London - Brighton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Excited to be poet in residence in Earls Court Square next weekend!

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I’ll love watching the changing images in the water feature globe!  Just about ready with a selection of garden poems by well known poets to put around the Square. I’ll be taking my muse, my white rabbit marionette. He was in Postman’s Park last year sitting in a tree but this year he has his own deckchair!

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All the poets for the Open Garden Squares weekend are sponsored by The Poetry school and naturally the main purpose is to be inspired to write some new poems.  So far I have written three and others are work in progress!

Do come and enjoy this wonderful space, read the poems and write a garden poem of your own!   We are promised music, tea and cakes etc.

http://www.opensquares.org/index.html

I have had plenty of fun visiting the Square although twice coming up from Brighton I have been greeted by torrential rain!

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I talked to Katrina, the chair of the Square committee, the gardener and some of the residents.   One person who is in her 80s invited me for tea.   She has lived in the Square all her life and knows all about its history,

It was very run down, particularly after the war, and local residents saved, had it re-designed and now maintain it, Famous artists, musicians, writers and ballerinas all once lived here and some still do.

I have heard from an unexpected source about some of the shenanigans that went on in the Poetry Society many moons ago but on this my lips may have be be sealed!

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Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

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Love it or loathe it, it’s still a highlight in the calendar of artists and art lovers.   We have always loved it.   I used to go with my mother to the private view for years and years before she died. Even when funds got a bit low she was still desperate to go and so we did!

Now it has become a wider family tradition! We buy the guide book choose a favourite in each room and have to guess the price!

This page is just a taster!

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The people looking at the exhibits can in some cases be as visually interesting as some  of the works of art?

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Paintings, prints, collages, sculptures, architecture and an award-winning film about immigration.

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We follow our visit with a picnic on the grass in Green Park, weather permitting…on Saturday the sun was shining!

An award winning blog  for a ‘blog that brightens our day’

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Making Dreamcatchers

weaving wool across willow, tassels feathers shells.

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This month Lara Small and Candy Hilton who run Saltdean Crafters taught everyone P1070961P1070965how to make a dreamcatcher. Wonderful instructors with plenty of knowledge and expertise.       A room full of happy potential dreamers.

Lara and Candy set up Small Hill Arts who spread art and craft techniques.

American Indians first created dream catchers using a small wooden hoop covered in a web of natural fibers, they added sacred objects like feathers and beads.

 

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Dragonflies mating

a seemingly endless dance

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of intensity.

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