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across the UK, he was charged with publishing obscene images and four of his cards were immediately banned and 17 withdrawn from sale.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!

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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!

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!

A Celebration of Shakespeare

Last week, we looked at the life and works of Shakespeare, because today (the 23rd April, 2016) is the 400th anniversary of his death. Celebrations and commemorations are going on all around the world!

Here are the contributions to this grand occasion from the patients and staff of Walton Hospital in Chesterfield, Cavendish Hospital in Buxton and Newholme Hospital in Bakewell!

shakespearequestion

Shakespeare was a bit of a man of mystery

Romeo and Juliet

Royal seal of approval from King James
Ophelia in Hamlet
Macbeth – a Scottish King!
Eleanor of Aquitaine appears in King John
Othello – a jealous husband

Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife
Not the best of husbands (running off to London!)
Died exactly four hundred years ago.

Juliet, the star-crossed lover
Under the balcony
Lear! The foolish king
In the reign of Queen
Elizabeth the First
To be or not to be.

Stratford Upon Avon

Shakespeare was born and died here
That is the question – some of his life a mystery
Romeo and Juliet
Actors on the stage
Twelfth Night
Friend of Ben Johnson
Or was he? Was he poisoned?
Richard the Third
Died shouting “my Kingdom for a horse”.

Under Juliet’s balcony
Polonius in Hamlet. There were no public toilets in those days – it must have been smelly!
Ophelia the daughter.
Novice in all his words, but never too late to learn

Anne Hathaway (his long suffering wife)
Venice – the Merchant of…
Open Air Theatre
Never forgotten, after four hundred years.

A Trip to the Flicks

This week in Derbyshire hospitals, we’ve been taking a trip down memory lane to the old days of cinema. Before over-priced popcorn and huge multiplexes, every suburb, small town and even rural villages would have their own cinema. This treasured picture palace would be where dreams were create, where the imaginations of small children were set alight, where couples courted, and where people went to see what was going on in the world. In the days before TV, cinema newsreels were an essential service.

Saturday morning cinema clubs gave parents a much-needed rest, while the kids ran wild (sometimes!), throwing monkey nuts around and getting a fix of cartoons and Wild West excitement.

We wrote some acrostic poems about some of the things we talked about – I hope you like them!

Showing tonight! And Saturday morning.
(Bed)Nobs and Broomsticks
Over the rainbow
Watership Down

Winter Wonderland
Holly and the Ivy
I believe
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll love you tomorrow
Every drop of rain that falls.

People queue to watch the film
Odeon cinema in Manchester
Pathe news with a crowing cockrel
Children watch cartoons
On Saturday mornings
Regal costing sixpence to get in
No noisy popcorn or smelly nachos, please, we’re British!

Trip to the flicks
Hitting me on the back of the head with ice cream
(a strange way for boys to flirt)
Excited, waiting in the queue

Roy Rogers and Trigger
Eyore – watching Winnie the Pooh
Giant gorrilla – King Kong
ABC Saturday morning club
Lone Ranger, loved by everybody!

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 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…

Celebrating pancake day

This week in Derbyshire hospitals, we’ve been making and eating pancakes, and thinking about Shrove Tuesday traditions around the world. From our own tradition of using up all the rich foods in the house by making pancakes and eating as many as we can, to the exotic celebrations of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in New Orleans or Carnival in Rio. The three hospitals I visit, in Chesterfield, Buxton and Bakewell, had very different pancake preferences, and we’ve written three very different poems together.

classic-pancakes

Pancakes with classic lemon and sugar

Pancake Day

A thick pancake with a ladleful of stew
That’s me done, I don’t know about you!
Or mop it up with a dollop of gravy
Or meatballs to make it really savoury

I don’t like pancakes – bad for my tummy
Even though most people find them yummy!
But Yorkshire puddings with sugar and jam
Suit me just fine with a slice of ham.

People queue up to eat them through my garden gate
We used to bake, but now some just cook and shake.
We take pride and make ours from scratch
Oh, what a lovely big beautiful batch!

Sprinkle on sugar and squeeze on lemon juice
Or blackcurrent jam, or chocolate mousse
Nutella and ice cream, rolled up hot
Golden syrup spooned all over the top!

Yum, yum yum!

Lent

It’s pancake day – use up all your rich food
Lent should be a time to do things that are good.
For forty days and forty nights, we fight our greed
We think of others who are in need
(and try to give up drinking mead!)

Visit a lonely neighbour to cheer them up
Keep her company and tea to sup
Volunteer at a charity shop,
Helping out with a brush and mop

Some give up chocolate, some cake
Some might give up sausage and steak
Some give up Facebook, some give up the phone
Try to be positive – stop having a moan!

Give up chips and lose off your hips!
Because soon it’s Easter – and chocolate will be passing our lips!

Pancakes

Ooh! Tastes lovely!
It was alright.
She knows how to mix the batter –
I’ll eat at least half a dozen
Very nice –
Delicious with lemon and sugar
Sweet and tart
Sharp smell
Yummy and scrummy
Excellent and lovely.
Eggs for creation,
Flour – the staff of life,
Milk for purity.
A pinch of salt for wholesomeness
And maple syrup.
We’re not mardy,
But full of gras,
Because we’ll always have a “Ha Ha!”

Favourite Places

Last week in Derbyshire Hospitals, we talked about our favourite places, near and far. It was interesting to see what each group came up with when it came to writing poems about the places that we love.

In Chesterfield, our minds dwelt on sunny climes and golden beaches, but our deep love of being at home, in familiar surroundings. We are lucky in Derbyshire, to have some of the world’s most fantastic scenery on our doorstep, and sometimes we don’t even need to go outside. The views out of our windows can be spectacular!

Travels Near and Far

chesterfield spire 1

Chesterfield’s famous crooked spire

On our travels, we’ve been far and wide
The beaches of New Zealand, the water crystal clear
But when I’m flying home, my heart burst with pride
The Derbyshire Dales are the best, just near here.

The warm sun and golden beaches of the Med
But you can’t beat Yarmouth – such a lovely place.
A glass of sangria, as the sun sets red
Anywhere on holiday, life’s a slower pace.

Or a donkey ride in Blackpool, and a stick of rock.
A trip up the Tower and a drive to see the lights.
But the nicest sight to see if the crooked spire’s clock
You don’t have to go a long time to see the sights.

In Buxton, with a view of the Derbyshire hills and Solomon’ Temple out of the hospital windows, we thought about Chatsworth, one of the most famous stately homes in the world, a short drive down the A6.

The Palace of the Peak

chatsworth cascade

The grandeur of Chatsworth’s cascade – enjoyed by a duck!

A warm, welcoming place to stop
A beautiful view from the top
Buying cakes from the farm shop
And salmon with parsley on top.

A jewel in Derbyshire’s sparking crown
Gardens designed by Capability Brown
Watch the water in the Cascade run down
Bakewell is the nearest town.

Rooms full of statues and priceless art
Afternoon tea with sandwiches to start.
Victoria sponges and a chocolate tart.
Days out like this really lift my heart.

Having a trip around the country fair
There’s livestock, showjumping -everything’s there!
Take a picnic with Champagne to share
What a wonderful way to take the air.

In Bakewell, we thought about the way that snow transforms places. We had a slight dusting of the white stuff last weekend, taking us back to childhood memories of sledging and snowballs.

Derbyshire Snow

snow in Derbyshire

Fun in the snow

When the snow falls on Derbyshire
It mutes the whole world.
From the valleys of Dovedale
To the height of Kinder Scout.

Wrapping up warm and stepping outside
That tingling feeling in fingers and toes
Building snowmen with coal for eyes
A borrowed scarf, and a carrot nose
Or a snowball fight in the park – who knows?

Then coming inside – bang your boots on the wall
Hands around a hot chocolate, and a sweet snack.
Hang your wet coat and gloves up to dry
And watch the flakes falling down from the sky.