Stately Homes and Darker Days

I had three very productive sessions at Cavendish Hospital and Newholme Hospital last Tuesday. The autumn sunshine was golden, and we chatted about stately homes. My slideshow was about Haddon Hall, where I visited a few weeks ago, but the discussion was wide-ranging, and took in houses around the region, including the Tudor Bishop’s House in Sheffield, a place I’ve never been to, despite once working near its location in Meersbrook Park. It’s now firmly on my to-do list!

Here’s the poem that I wrote from the patients’ and members of staffs’ reminiscences:

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall

The old houses

The old houses live on round here,
Preserved, with time standing still:
The Tudor beams of the Bishop’s House,
The grandeur of Wortley and Wentworth.

Slipping on cobbles when it’s wet,
Taking a picnic if the weather’s nice.
The gardens have benches to sit
And think about the olden days.

Sometimes it’s a lot of money to get in
And then the teashop costs a fortune
But it’s part of history, looking back
At how people lived before mod cons.

Sometimes not enough to entertain a child,
Standing quietly behind a red rope
In the stuffy air, not allowed to touch,
Aching to run and explore; hide and seek.

In the house, the pictures have gold frames
Hundreds of rooms, mostly lying empty.
But it’s good to see nature and greenery –
A bit of fresh air and paddle in the fountain.

 

One lady talked very poetically about her childhood memories of a big house where her aunt and uncle worked. I’ve written it down here, virtually unchanged.

 

These things stay in your mind

An auntie and uncle worked on a big estate. I forget which one.
It was a mansion. It must have cost a lot of money to repair and upkeep.
My auntie did the cooking and cleaning, and my uncle was the gardener.
In the autumn, he used to give my dad lots of apples and pears.
Dad would take them home in a suitcase. I went to stay there once. I was about nine years old.
There was a big white angel in the window of my bedroom. Statues everywhere.
I would wake up in the night and see it, and it would frighten me.
I looked around on my own. It was an adventure. These things stay in your mind forever.

As each century goes by, it becomes history.
You can pass it onto your children.
It gives them an insight and knowledge of what each generation lived through.

 

At Stanton Day Hospital, we took a different tack, and the discussion concentrated on good mental health, and the things you can do to look after yourself. This poem is inspired by our conversation of the things that we can do to make ourselves feel happier now the nights are drawing in and it can be easy to slip into introspection. I don’t write many rhyming poems, so I feel quite proud of this one!

Enjoy an autumnal walk!

Enjoy an autumnal walk!

Things to do on darker days

Long dark nights can be a strain
Your mind can turn to fear and pain
So do the things that we enjoy
To keep us happy – what a ploy!

Golf’s a fascinating game
Go for a walk, and clear your brain
Of negative thoughts, and get fresh air
Go out dancing if you dare.

Upbeat music lifts your soul
Play some football – score a goal!
The harmony of a male voice choir
Sit in front of a real log fire.

Knit some woollies for your friends
Get scrubbing round those old u-bends
The satisfaction of polishing brass
Talk to people – take a class!

Take Fido for his daily walk
Eat a gateau with a fork.
Sort out your old holiday snaps
Where to go next year, perhaps?

See friendly people, smiling faces,
Chat about your favourite places.
Stately homes and bracing views
Life’s a rainbow of many hues!

By Anne Grange (with help from the patients, staff and volunteers at Stanton Day Hospital!)

 

“Beyond Hope” – a new term starts!

My work with Derbyshire County Council at Newholme Hospital has resumed, and I’ve also started working at Cavendish Hospital in Buxton, where I ran a couple of tasters in July. I’m continuing to work with patients, giving them stimulus through photographs, objects, words and music, and through that, an opportunity to reflect and talk about their experiences, places they’ve been, and things they’ve done.

Last week, we looked at Kinder Scout, and the more rugged aspects of the Peak District. Many of the patients knew the mountain well and had climbed it several times, even once with a cine heavy camera! I hope the film taken on that day still exists somewhere, waiting to be rediscovered as a testament to the effort it took to carry the camera. That’s what the project is about, and I hope that we can continue to rediscover and document forgotten voices and preserve memories, engaging with the patients and their creativity.

Here’s a sonnet I’ve written, compiling some of the interesting things we found out and discussed. I must say at this point for readers from further afield, that Hope is a very picturesque village, about seven miles from Edale, the starting point of the Pennine Way and the climb up Kinder Scout. Hope lends itself to puns, such as the song “She Lives in Hope” by John Shuttleworth, and “Beyond Hope” is one of the things that people say about Edale, a reference to its remote location!

Amazing rock sculptures at the top of Kinder Scout

Amazing rock sculptures at the top of Kinder Scout

 

“Beyond Hope”

 

I used to drag the dog and the wife up Kinder Scout.
I remember seeing the Downfall frozen in the winter;
The twisted shapes on their plinths along the high plateau,
As if a modern sculptor had been chipping away at the rock.

While millennia of rain, wind and snow carved the millstone grit.
Countless human hands piled rock after rock to make cairns,
Helping lost souls to find the paths in the fog and dark.
Now the Mountain Rescue braves the cruel elements, finding

Fools who don’t heed advice or warnings, or get caught
In fickle changes of the mountain weather, sun to storm
As the wind changes and graphite clouds gather above Edale
Although the valleys had been golden, setting off from Hayfield.

There are ghosts on the peat moors; a deadly mermaid lurks
In the tarn’s dark water, or she may give you eternal life.