Beautiful May Blossoms

This week in Derbyshire hospitals, we’ve been talking about May Day and making paper blossoms, which will hopefully last longer than the beautiful cherry blossom on the trees, which is over so quickly. At the moment, Sheffield (where I live) and the Derbyshire countryside, is covered in blossom, from blackthorn hedges to the ice cream pink and white of apple blossom.

We remembered union parades, maypoles with ribbons, Morris dancers, May Queens riding on farm trucks covered with greenery and blossoms, and Whit parades wearing white frocks.

However, as I arrived at Cavendish Hospital in Buxton, there had just been a blizzard, and as we talked about spring, large hailstones were falling outside the window! But by the time I’d arrived in Bakewell, the sun was shining again – and as I was driving along, I saw my first swallows. It was definitely a case of “four seasons in one day”!

Springtime in Buxton

Springtime in Buxton
Sees the snow fall
Spring cleaning indoors
Is the safest bet of all.

Taking down your net curtains
Washing all your woollies – and putting them away
But keep your winter coat at hand
Clean your windows – to see out is grand!

Making plans for May Day weekend
The plants bursting into green
Sweet peas and the blossom of fruit trees
Hanging baskets will soon be seen

Celebrating a special birthday
With cake, eating salads and fruit
Walking the slopes to see cherry blossom
Lighter evenings lift our mood.

As we come slowly out of hibernation.

Warmer Weather

Warmer weather’s here at last
please put bad weather in the past
Flowers breaking through the earth
Lambs running here and there with mirth

Blossom blowing in the breeze
All that pollen makes me sneeze
May Bank holiday – a great day off
A picnic spread on a tablecloth

Children dancing around the maypole
Let’s hope we’re not feeling cold
Morris men on the village green
The prettiest May we’ve ever seen!

Favourite things to do in May

A pint and a nice ploughman’s lunch
Gardening and pruning
Dancing around the maypole
Seeing blossom in bloom
Climbing up Froggatt Edge
Watching lambs gambolling.

Here are pictures of the paper blossoms we made, surprisingly simply, using this technique.

O, to be in England, Now that April’s There.

This week in hospitals around Derbyshire, we’ve been looking at St. George’s Day, and thinking about our favourite English things. Did you know that St. George never came to England? He was born in Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) in the year A.D. 270. He was a soldier in the Roman army, a Christian serving under the pagan emperor Diocletian. The emperor persecuted Christians, but George stayed true to his faith. Although he was a brave and loyal warrior, he refused to renounce Christianity, and was tortured and beheaded in A.D. 303.

In the twelfth century, when knights fought in the Crusades to recapture Jerusalem from the Muslims (who also regard Jerusalem as a Holy city), the Normans saw visions of St. George fighting alongside them. Richard the Lionheart, the Norman King of England, brought the “cult of St. George” back to England, and in 1222, St. George was named as the patron saint of England, and St. George’s cross, a red cross on a white background, became England’s national flag. Medieval knights would wear a tunic showing the cross over their chainmail!

The legend of George slaying the Dragon was brought back by the Crusaders, but is also similar to Old English stories of monster slaying, such as the epic poem Beowulf. In medieval times, dragons often symbolised the devil.

Here’s a poem I wrote about some of the patients’ favourite English things:

Our Favourite English Things

Fish and chips
A Sunday roast
Full English breakfast
With slices of toast

English humour
Sunshine and rain
The English weather
A lovely steam train

Friendly good manners
Rugby and football
Cricket in the summertime
Outside a stately hall

English gardens
Cream teas on the lawn
Ancient traditions
Birds singing at dawn

Marks and Spencers
The good old BBC
Green rolling countryside
The Royal Family

English village pubs
Striped bumble bees
Roses and blossoms
Making us sneeze.

Mushy peas and mint sauce
Old fairs and fetes
Medieval Churches
England is great!

We made collages of our favourite English things – see how many things you can spot from the poem!

Watch the Birdie!

This week at Walton Hospital in Chesterfield, Cavendish Hospital in Buxton and at Newholme Hospital in Bakewell, we’ve been learning about the dawn chorus, and the habits and folklore about some of the UK’s most iconic songbirds. We listened to birdsong recordings and had a go at making models of birds out of clay.

We also wrote some poems called Kennings, an ancient Anglo-Saxon form of poetry in the form of a riddle. Can you guess the identity of these birds? (Answers at the bottom of this post!)

Who am I?

A)

Night singer
Cheeky Chappie
Fierce Defender
Christmas Character
Colourful Chested
Christ Soother

B)

Little but loud
Boring brown
Sacred king
Sweet cheeper
Secret hider
Spider stalker
Common breeder

C)

Nest lover
Yearly visitor
Low swooper
Cat avoider
Summer arrive
Global traveller

D)

Strong singer
Friendly featured
Branch percher
Seed cracker

E)

Bright and bold
Bandit masked
Fluffy faced
Chirpy song
Greedy eater
Acrobatic mover

F)

Yellow beak
Brave defender
Sleek and glossy
Early riser
Alarm clock beater
Melodious heart-lifter

Any ideas? Before you peek at the answers, here are some of our sculpted masterpieces.

Answers to kennings:

A) Robin B) Wren C) Swallow D) Chaffinch E) Bluetit F) Blackbird

Hot Cross Buns and Poems

This week, in Derbyshire hospitals, we’ve been leading up to Easter. I started my sessions by making hot cross buns. I’d made the dough at home (plus shortcrust patry for the crosses) and I let my breadmaker do most of the work on Monday morning, although by the time my double batch of dough was ready to take out of the machine, it had risen so much that it was escaping. I put the dough in two large plastic tubs that had previously contained Celebrations chocolates. The hot cross bun dough tried to escape from the Celebrations tubs too, because it rose so much, but I managed to transport it safely to Cavendish Hospital in Buxton and Newholme Hospital in Bakewell. So much for spring weather – on my travels into the Peaks this week, I’ve encountered gales, torrential hail and rivers bursting their banks. It’s grey and drizzly now as I’m writing this.

The patients soon got to grips with kneading and shaping the dough, even one patient who had never cooked before in his life, according to his bemused visitors, who turned up to find him with floury hands. The buns rose up beautifully in the oven, and looked and tasted delicious.

While we were waiting for the buns to bake, we wrote acrostic poems about Easter and springtime. In acrostic poems, the initial letter of each line read vertically to spell a word. It’s a fun, and sometimes challenging way to write a poem, and I discovered that many of the patients and staff had poetic talents. Judge for yourself! We decorated some of the poems with Easter-related pictures.

Bunnies hopping in the sunshine
Undulating fields sprouting with new grass
Daisies and dandelions dancing in the breeze
Daffodils budding and bursting
Into flower like yellow suns
Narcissi and crocuses seeking the warmth
Grass starting to grow – the smell of the first cut.

Listen to the birds singing the dawn chorus
Evenings lengthen towards the solstice
All the colours so brilliant and all the new life
Violets in the hedgerows with a delicate smell and hue
Everyone’s happy that winter’s over –
Swallows and swifts will soon appear.

April Fool

April Fool

Bonnet

Bonnet

sweets poem

Sweets

lambs poem

Lambs

Carrots

Carrots

Budding leaves

Budding leaves

Butterfly

Butterfly

Daffodils

Daffodils

Easter bonnet

Easter bonnet

Holy Week

Holy Week

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns

Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake

And finally, here are some fantastic eggs decorated by patients at Walton Hospital in Chesterfield.

Happy Easter!

Have an eggciting Easter!

Have an eggciting Easter!