High Days and Holidays

Two weeks ago, we talked about seaside holidays and wrote poems about our holiday memories. Derbyshire is a long way from the seaside, so a day by the sea is a very special occasion.

This week, we’ve been talking about fun a bit closer to home. Most Derbyshire towns and villages have their own well dressing. This  is an ancient local tradition of blessing our wells and village pumps with pictures made from petals, leaves, buds, seeds and anything else natural, pressed into heavy boards filled with clay. Communities come together to design and make the well dressings, and when they’re on show, the community has its carnival. The fair comes to town, the pubs are full, people will have communal barbecues and parades.

Banned saucy cards on show

PIC SUPPLIED BY GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY 07976 880732. Copyright Donald McGill Museum & Archive PIC SHOWS ONE OF THE CARDS APPROVED A complete collection of SAUCY seaside postcards which were BANNED from resorts around the UK more than 50 years ago have gone on public display together for the first time All 21 comic cards by prolific artist Donald McGill have finally gone on show in a new museum 56 years after the designs were burned because of their bawdy humour. McGill, who was dubbed the King of the Seaside Postcard, published saucy classics from 1904, featuring fat old ladies, drunken middle-aged men, honeymoon couples and vicars. He produced a massive 12,000 designs over nearly six decades and sold more than 200 million cards in small shops in British seaside towns. But in 1954, after a mass clean up at seaside resorts across the UK, he was charged with publishing obscene images and four of his cards were immediately banned and 17 withdrawn from sale. Now these censored seaside postcards can be seen at a new museum in Ryde on the Isle of Wight which houses the largest collection of McGill’s work in the world. It also features the whole series of postcards which had orders of destruction placed on them by censoring committees across the UK. SEE COPY CATCHLINE Banned saucy cards on show

A Perfect Holiday

A trip to California
Many a perfect day
Lying on the beach
And having a sway
On a big, long boat
Cruising around Scotland
Around the sea or on a loch
Or pottering along the canal
On a sunny day.

But you have to watch what you’re doing
When you’re steering that boat!
Sea food and ice cream
Crabs and prawns, cockles and mussels
Not whelks – they take too much chewing.
Lobster salad would be nice.
You’ve got to try new things and be adventurous –
But don’t be dangerous and dive too deep.
Golden holiday memories to keep.

Seaside Memories

Going rock pooling, looking for crabs
Fond memories to look back on.
Going on the donkeys on the beach
Paddling on the shoreline
Feeling the water splashing around your feet,
The sand between your toes.

Daytrips to Blackpool –
Only half an hour away.
Sandwiches and a flask to last all day.
Sitting behind a wind-break
Scrambling to get dressed, still sandy and wet
After a dip in the sea.
Candyfloss sticking to my chin,
Melting in my mouth,
Watching it being made, as if by magic.

Penny slot machines, grabbing canes – you never won!
Shivering with fear on the ghost train.
Bits of string dangling down,
Sixpence to ride the Helter Skelter
Mooching up and down the prom when we ran out of money.

It was rubbish in between, but we’d have picnics,
Paddling in the river at Hathersage,
Pretending we’d been to the seaside.

Derbyshire Carnival Time

Tissington well dressing

A well dressing in the village of Tideswell in Derbyshire

Making well dressings at school
Everyone involved – the children of Youlgreave.
In Eyam, everyone remembers the plague
And celebrates how the village was saved.
Everyone meets around the sheep roast,
Early in the morning, for a breakfast
Of oatcakes, cooked in sheep fat
To line your stomach for a boozy day.
That doesn’t sound appetising to me!

In Buxton, the well dressings are in the Spring Gardens
But everyone goes to the fair.
You can’t even see one of them,
Because the fair gets built all around it.

Big Saturday in Tideswell too.
Carnival day, the whole village celebrates.
Lots of things happening: a duck race in Buxton
(I reckon someone’s cheating)
A wheelbarrow race in Youlgreave
The week before the carnival, all through the village.
Traditions old and new –
Pillow fights on a pole above the river.
Tugs of war, tombolas.
All week, there’s something –
Anything to raise money for local charities
An excuse to have a few pints.
Live music from a lorry in a pub car park –
Marching bands with bagpipes,
Blessing the wells as they go.
Billerettes in Buxton – male majorettes
Shaking their pompoms.

At last, summer has come to the Peak District
And men have an irresistible urge to dress as women
Bakewell Carnival – the first week in July.
Come and join us – give it a try!

Advertisements

Too many flowery sods…the stately homes of Derbyshire

This week, we’ve been talking about the stately homes of Derbyshire, and making a collage of one of the most famous grand houses in our area: Hardwick Hall, near Chesterfield. Derbyshire is well known for its mansions and ancient aristocratic houses, from medieval Haddon Hall near Bakewell, to the Classical Palladian mansions of Chatsworth, Kedleston Hall and Calke Abbey. Many of them are  now open to the public and are a firm favourite for day-trips and cream teas.

We read the poem ‘The Homes of England’ by Victorian poet Felicia Dorothea Hemans, which was the first time that the phrase “stately homes” was used. We were also rather amused by the phrase “flowery sods” in the poem!

Here is our reply to the poem:

No flowery sods for us!

We wouldn’t like to live in a stately home.
There are too many windows to clean.
Too many flowery sods about!
How many miles would you have to walk, sweeping the floors?
And if nature called in the middle of the night,
Imagine how far you’d have to stumble down the corridors?
If the heavens opened, the leaky roof would have you
Running everywhere with mops and buckets.
The electric bill would be enormous,
Lighting all those rooms.

Doing the garden would be an endless chore.
(Even though a ride-on mower looks fun!)
I’d need a giant leaf-blower too!
None of this is for me.
I’d rather have my semi-detached!

Poems inspired by William Blake’s Paintings

This week, we’ve been reading the poems of William Blake and finding out all about his life. Born in 1757 in London, he trained as an engraver, which is how he made his living until his death in 1827, but he was very creative, and produced his own paintings, engravings and poetry. He was never famous in his own lifetime, but is now considered to be one of the greatest poets of his age, and his visionary art continues to inspire people all around the world.

We looked at some of his paintings – some on Biblical themes, and some of them more mystical, and we talked about what we saw in them.

Blake, William, 1757-1827; Our Lady with the Infant Jesus Riding on a Lamb with Saint John

Blake, William; Our Lady with the Infant Jesus Riding on a Lamb with Saint John; Paintings Collection; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/our-lady-with-the-infant-jesus-riding-on-a-lamb-with-saint-john-30607

Riding on a lamb
No stirrups
The colours blend in well
The background has different layers:
Deep green contrasts with the pale.

 

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing circa 1786 by William Blake 1757-1827

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing circa 1786 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by Alfred A. de Pass in memory of his wife Ethel 1910 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02686

Fairies dancing
People in lots of different positions.
It’s beautiful.

The dance of Albion

The Dance of Albion

Very nice – he was very clever
Tightly curled hair
Lovely colours
Male bodies but feminine faces
The top half could be a woman,
Standing on rocks.

Jerusalem illustration

Jerusalem

He’s running away from someone or something.
Could it be a girl?
Is she going into a church?
Someone’s following her.
The church is a place of safety.
She’s looking sideways,
Looks quite frightened.
The shining orb in her hands
As she walks down the corridor.

Looks like somebody trying to escape.
A bloke with a flashlight.
Sneaking off –
Looking around to see if anyone’s seen him.
Up to no good?
Where is he going? Jerusalem?
Wearing flat sandles.
What’s that in his hand?
Reflecting the light from the door?
With no good intention.

Angels hovering

Angels watching over the body of Jesus in the tomb

They’re praying for Him
Watching over Him
Guardian angels
Waiting to take his soul up to heaven
They might be coming for him.

The Dawn Chorus – Bird Kennings

Last week, we talked about the Dawn Chorus, and wrote some poems in an ancient Anglo Saxon style about some of our favourite birds. The Kenning is a form of poetry that is like a riddle. Can you guess which birds we are describing?

1.

Territory defender
Winter visitor
Christmas card model
Night Singer
People liker
Red breasted

2.

Early alarm caller
Black and glossy
Orange beak and eye
Secret revealer
Nursery rhyme pie ingredient
Gardener’s friend

3.

Swift and turquoise
Fish diver
Riverbank dweller
Water watcher
Branch sitter

Answers
1. Robin

robin

Robin

2. Blackbird

Blackbird-6

Blackbird

3. Kingfisher

kingfisher8

Kingfisher

May Day and Springtime

On one of the coldest weeks in spring for a long time – in fact there was a blizzard as I drove home from my session at Newholme Hospital in Bakewell, we talked about spring blossom, warm weather, dancing around maypoles and the ancient festival of Beltane.

We wrote our own poems on the subject too. I hope you enjoy them!

cherry blossom

Cherry blossom – one of our favourite signs of spring!

Walking in the Woods

Walking in the woods
Looking at the changes at the start of the year.
First, the snowdrops grow,
Then the daffodils,
Followed by the wood anemones –
The pungent wild garlic, rich green with white flowers.
And then the bluebells.
So lovely and fresh – a true sight of spring.

In the summer,
I love walking on the beach,
When the sand comes up between your toes,
Feeling the sea water
Swirl around my ankles
Dreaming of Cornwall
The hotel on the headland in Newquay…
Until I step on a razor shell,
And I come back to reality.

 

Springtime in Buxton

It’s cold outside and trying to snow.
Scrape the frost off the car before you go.
But on the trees, the buds are growing.
In the fields, the farmers are sowing.

The lambs are playing, jumping high
Above our heads, the swallows fly.
The garden blackbird building his nest.
Busy rabbits in the garden never seem to rest.

We’re making the most of longer days
Look forward to summer holidays.
Around the maypole children dance
The May Queen gets many an admiring glance.

The cherry blossom falls like snow.
Sun on my face – I feel aglow.

 

Apple Blossom and Bluebells

Lambs frolicking in the dales
Jumping around, shaking their tales.
The purple heather blooms on the moors
The yellow primroses around our doors.

The bluebells form a carpet of blue
We wash our face in the morning dew.
And smell the fragrance of them too
Lovely cherry blossom – what a view!

Apple blossom white and pink
Over before we’ve got time to think
On the bough the blackbird sings,
And lots of birds spread their wings.

The cuckoos and swallows come back home
And new seedlings grow from loam.
Still time for cold and wintry blasts
We pray that summer comes and lasts!

Mixed-up Proverbs

This week, we’ve been looking at proverbs, quotations and sayings. We had lots of fun looking at local Derbyshire sayings, such as “It’s gerrin black ovver Bill’s mothus” (translation: it looks rather cloudy towards the horizon and it’s likely to rain). No one has the foggiest idea who Bill and his mother are!

Stitch in time

We still use ancient proverbs and sayings.

We’ve written some poems that mix up some of our favourite proverbs and sayings:

Mixed Proverbs

As one wise prophet in Chesterfield once said:

There are plenty more that shouldn’t throw stones
A rolling stone wins the race
A picture is louder than words
Cleanliness is worth two in the bush
A picture makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise
When the going gets tough, the tough save nine.
Keep your friends close and gather no moss.
You can’t make an omelette without fish in the sea
What makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise don’t make a right
The early bird is a penny earned
An early bird shouldn’t throw stones
The squeaky wheel is worth two in the bush
People who live in glass houses get the worm
Don’t count your chicken – it never boils!

Every horse has a silver lining

People who live in glass houses are mightier than the sword
Fortune favours fish in the sea
Don’t be a borrower – be louder than words
Never look at a gift horse, but prepare for the worst
Don’t bite the silver lining!

Hope for the worst and prepare for a free lunch
The early bird gathers no moss
When the going gets tough, get them home
No man is louder than words
A picture is worth keeping your enemies closer
A watched pot gets the worm
A penny saved has a silver lining.

Ancient Wisdom and Modern Advice (we were also looking at a book of household hints!)

You can’t make an omelette without any eggs
– Always keep eggs refrigerated and stored in the carton
There’s plenty of fish in the sea
– Look for the fish with the shiniest eyes
Neither a borrower or a lender be
– Keep hold of household possessions and their value for insurance purposes
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones
– Save egg cartons for planting seeds
Every cloud has a silver lining
– Hang them outside in the sun to dry
Never cast a clout before May is out
– Store your woolen hats, gloves and scarves away from moths

Poems about gardens and springtime

Spring is starting – very gradually – to warm our bones and fill us with hope again, after a long and dreary winter that keeps sending us flurries of snow and ice long after we wanted any of them.

This morning has been different – the first day when I’ve been brave enough to head outside without a coat and scarf. It makes so much difference to be heading out into the sunshine and warmth.

The poems we wrote this week in Derbyshire Hospitals are all about gardens, and our thoughts were leaning towards spring and new life.

Beautiful Gardens 15

Everyone likes a beautiful garden

Our Ideal Garden

A good fishing venue
A lake and lots of blossom
A large spreading lawn
Secret corners to explore
Flat and smooth for getting around
On a mobility scooter or sit-on mower
A lovely place for a picnic, near the peonies.

Table and chairs – a plate of salad and a glass of wine
Watching other people garden
Colourful flowers, beautiful colours
The smell of lavender
A stream running through, with a fountain
High plants and baskets – you’d live there forever.
It would have to be very big.

A cottage garden,
With hollyhocks and hanging baskets.
Rhubarb in buckets
Small stone walls
And trees for the birds.

A nice garden chair when it’s warm.
Sitting down in the sun,
Admiring all the hard work I’ve done.
Chrysanthemums and daffodils
A growing, tidy garden
Full of tulips from Amsterdam.

A place to sit and contemplate

Lots of lavender for the smell,
Clematis – purple and white
Roses of all colours, picked carefully.
Carnations and crysanths
Sweet peas growing up a clothes post
The smell of hyacinths – blue and white.
Tulips, roses, lilies, and geraniums
Dandelions, buttercups and dasies
White clover.
A thatched cottage garden,
A nice patio to sit out in,
A sunny corner.
Garden shed, painted bright.
A place to sit and contemplate.
Get the little children to plant the bulbs
Snowdrops and daffodils they’re so proud of
Feed the birds to make them spring
The songthrush and the blackbird sing,
The swallows come visiting in spring.
Wild flowers, growing orchids
Plants in pots, lupins.
A duck pond with ducks and ducklings,
And fish swimming round.
Cherry blossom in April,
Fluttering down…

A Knee-Deep Summer Meadow

A knee-deep summer meadow
All green and lovely – full of mint.
We don’t have the weather for it.
Nice gardens are what other people have got,
One that you don’t need to do any work on.
Chats with gardens – the rose garden,
Walking through the flower beds.
You can’t do – all these young ones,
Playing around with a football.
You don’t want to get thorns in your fingers.

Spring

When it comes, you feel alright.
A breeze to get the bins whizzing
Full of optimism…
But it hasn’t come yet.
Feeling positive for the summer.
That lovely grassy smell
Of the first cut
…But it’s going to cost me a fortune buying Easter Eggs!

Poems for Mothering Sunday

Last week in Derbyshire Hospitals, the patients, staff and I talked about Mothering Sunday – how the tradition started because people went back to see their families and to visit the “mother” church of the parish on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Young people working away from home as servants would carry a simnel cake baked by the cook of the big house they worked in, and on their way home, they would pick a posy of spring flowers growing in the hedgerows. It was a chance for families to have the day off together and relax the strict rules of Lent by eating their delicious simnel cake (a fruit cake topped with marzipan balls, now more associated with Easter). In a simple way, these are still the ingredients of Mothering Sunday – love, food and flowers.

In 1908 in the USA, Anna Jarvis started a campaign to make Mothers’ Day an annual holiday – a day to honour mothers whose sons had died in war and all mothers. She conceived this as a simple family day, and her campaign bore fruit. Mothers’ Day became a national holiday in 1914, ironically at the start of World War Two, when many mothers were to lose their sons. The Americans always celebrate Mothers’ Day on the second Sunday in May. Anna Jarvis herself was dismayed by the commercialism of Mothers’ Day, which has spread to the UK too – I wonder how many millions we spend annually on flowers and cards – a far cry from those hand-picked posies of wild daffodils and primroses!

daffodil_spring_wedding_flowers

Bunches of flowers on Mothering Sunday

 

Here are some poems we’ve written about Mothering Sunday, giving a different perspective on what really matters on this special day.

Mothering Sunday Treats

Four generations enjoying a boat trip
Messing aroud on the canal in springtime
Mothering Sunday – a chance for families to get together.
Chop some sticks and do some chores
Flowers and chocolates – a card
Made in school and kept secret
A day off from cooking – a Sunday roast
Afternoon tea at the Cavendish
– Avoid the busy Sunday like the plague!
Too many people, too expensive.
Breakfast in bed, and a walk in the fresh air
Get rid of the kids and a nice lunch.
What about a spa day? Relaxing
In a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs
at Eden Hall – a proper day off!
Or you could pamper the dog instead
At the garden centre, or buy a love-heart
On a Pandora charm bracelet.

There are many ways to celebrate and spoil your mother!

A Mother’s Day Bouquet

Daffodils so yellow and bright
Tulips are a vibrant sight
Carnations – a sweet smell from the past
Whose beauty, in the vase, will last.

Blue hyacinths that smell so sweet
On the windowsill, look a treat
Roses to show real true love
Primulas shine like the sun from above

Fucsia purple, fragrant dwelling
Flowers that everyone loves smelling
Make a posy, to give to our mum
To cheer her up when she feels glum.

These flowers we give – we want to say
How much we love you every day.
– Not just for Mothering Sunday!

A Yellow Shine Up on Your Face

A yellow shine up on your face
We’d shine a buttercup on your chin
Do you like bread? Do you like butter?
The flower would tell us.

We made flowers for Mothering Sunday
Selected buttons from a button box
Containing a lifetime of memories
From an engineer’s smock, coats and dresses
In an old biscuit tin.
Bun cases for petals
And golden paper to make
A Daffodils trumpet.

Mothering Sunday is coming this week.
The little children make posies
Of violets, nodding daffodils, even bluebells.
There could be snow, there could be sunshine.
But springtime is here,
Whatever it brings.
Sunshine is almost upon us…

Starry Starry Night – our Vincent Van Gogh tribute

Last week, we looked at the life and art of Vincent Van Gogh. Although he led a troubled life and didn’t become well-known in his own lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh is now one of the world’s most well-known and well loved artists.

The patients and staff really warmed to the task of describing and imagining what was happening in various Van Gogh paintings, and I hope you enjoy our poems.

Irises-Vincent_van_Gogh

Irises

 

Irises

It makes me think of cows
– I do like that one,
The shoots going down,
The blue flowers blend in with the leaves.
Nice colours. The natural shape of the leaves.

The colours and shapes,
White ones contrast.
Irises intertwined.
You can see the brush strokes,
Trying to paint the soil.
Well balanced.

The blue – like pansies,
Makes me feel calm and warm,
Like I’m in a summer meadow.

Le_café_de_nuit_(The_Night_Café)_by_Vincent_van_Gogh.jpeg.jpeg

The Night Café

 

The Night Café

It’s deserted
They’re not spending any money.
Nobody’s drunk yet.
A billiard table in the middle.
I can only drink ten pints of beer a year,
Maybe I’ll have a coffee.

I’ll have to have a crack at painting.
It’s inspiring.
Skilled at drawing
– I like the flooring.
All the bottles.
Mis-matched chairs, table worn out.

The colours make it warm and inviting.
The shadow on the floor.
Do the lights fit in?
The colours are right.
Mismatched gas lamps glowing.
That’s all they had at the time.

Wooden floors,
Chairs a bit iffy, you can soon clean them.
I think that’s a child, sat on a knee.
He’s got his head in his hands.
There’s a clock on the wall, empty glasses,
Half past twelve at night.
Probably when they go every night.
You’re welcome and not welcome.
It depends who you are and what you’re doing.
All day café, drinking horrible coffees.
Closing time.

The Night Café

Snooker Table
A drink of beer
I think they’re playing pool or billiards.
Harp lamps hanging down.
Big vase of white flowers glows at the back.
Wooden floor; a very high ceiling.
The chairs hanging down with the lamps.
The clock showing ten past twelve.
A happy couple in the far corner.
The waiter in his short white jacket
Starts to tidy up.

 

Wheatfield with crows

Wheatfield with Crows

 

Wheatfield with Crows

I like the yellow colour.
It’s summertime.
A railway track not much used,
So it doesn’t disturb the birds.
Where are the birds flying to?
Someone’s set fire to it.
Crows in a wheat field.
It’s nothing special,
But there’s a lot going on.
Disturbance.
It’s quite frightening.
Blue and black sky.
The white part looks like North Africa
It’s as good as any other.
I can see what’s there.

 

flowering orchards

View of Arles, Flowering Orchards

Flowering Orchards

The disturbing dark vertical poplar
Contrasts with the green, fresh plants.
The mass of the flowers,
An allotment where tall-stemmed plants grow.
The sharpness of the poplar,
The strip of greenness – spring onions.
The white bits, like hundreds of pictures of
The same scene on a camera.

The man digging has too much to do.
Bright spring sunshine – it’s still cold.
The breeze can still cut to the quick.
It’s a working area.
The railway line cuts it off from the town.

Wildlife In Winter

Last week, we thought about wildlife in the UK and around the world, and looked at photos of some of our favourite animals as inspiration for this poem, which was started by patients and staff at Walton Hospital in Chesterfield, continued at Cavendish Hospital in Buxton, and completed by patients at Newholme Hospital in Bakewell and their visitors. The weather outside gave us some inspiration too. On Tuesday afternoon particularly, it was sunny, followed by hail and torrential rain in the space of just a few minutes!

Fox in winter

A fox walking on an icy pond.

Wildlife Wonders

There’s a seagull bullying me, stealing my chips!
But my bird table is laid with fat balls and sunflower seeds.
Ducks swimming in the lake and taking a dip
Children giving them bread, the birds eagerly feed.

The spiky hedgehog helps us by eating slugs
We need to do them a good turn to help them to thrive
A hedgehog ramp in the pond. To eat, plenty of bugs,
A bowl of cat food left outside will help them stay alive.

The hooting owl gives us a fright
Out on the hunt for mice and voles
He’s feeding his family through the night
He spies them from high on the telegraph pole.

The robin with his jacket of red
Pretty and with a cheerful song.
He seems to greet us with a bob of his head
And visits the garden all year long.

When the hail bounces down,
The birds dash for cover
The rain’s so heavy, we might drown
Shivering like a plover.

Now the sun’s shining bright
And I am quite confused
It’s too windy to fly a kite
Or look at country views.

plover

A plover – in case you were wondering!