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across the UK, he was charged with publishing obscene images and four of his cards were immediately banned and 17 withdrawn from sale.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


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


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?


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


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


Swift and turquoise
Fish diver
Riverbank dweller
Water watcher
Branch sitter

1. Robin



2. Blackbird



3. Kingfisher



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!


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.

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

Limericks for St Patrick’s Day

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day this week, we wrote limerick poems about ourselves. Limericks are silly poems and can be very funny!

I hope you enjoy them! Have a go at writing your own.

St Patrick's Day leprachauns.jpg

Irish Leprechauns on St Patrick’s Day

There was a young miner called Arthur
Went looking for a girl called Martha
He took his chance
To find romance
But Kathleen became his life partner!

A dashing young sergeant called Ray
Went for a stroll one day
He felt like a frown
But when the sun shone down
He danced and shouted “hooray!”

A lovely young nanny called Masie
Liked meat and two veg with her gravy
She sat down to eat
And said “what a treat!”
And all that food made her feel lazy!

There was a young mother called Heather
Who loved to be tickled with a feather
She started to sneeze
And fell on her knees
And Dad whacked her round with a feather

There was a young lass called Karen
Who flew to the Isle of Arran
She expected some fun
Seaside and some sun
But it was just rocky and barren

There was a young man called Malc
Who plastered his walls with talc
It all fell off
When he gave a cough
And that ended poor old Malc

There was a young lady called Anne
Who jumped in a watering can
A dog drank the water
Spat out a tomata
And she came out with a wonderful tan!

There was a young gardener called Ian
Who grew some tall plants worth seein’
They kept on growing
Then he had to get mowing
With help from his friend called Liam

There was a young lady called Pat
Who wore curlers instead of a hat
A penguin at Chester zoo
Popped up and said “yoohoo!
Adopt me instead of a cat!”

A smart young deputy head
Had a troublesome pupil called Fred
He was talking in class
But she let it pass
How kind is that deputy head!

A very efficient PA
Was late to the office one day
She said “I’m so sorry
I got stuck behind a lorry
Please don’t dock my pay!”

There was a young lady called Chris
Who said “Will you give it a miss?
I’ve only had a wink
And I’m too tired to think
I’m waiting for Prince Charming to give me a kiss!”

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.


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!

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.





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.


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.
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.

Our truth about love

Last week at Newholme, Walton and Cavendish hospitals, we belatedly discussed Valentine’s Day. But it’s never too late to talk about love. Love can be a tricky subject for older patients, who may have suffered bereavement. But for some people, it’s a chance to revive cherished memories of a life-long partner.

Some patients have partners who lovingly visit them, and sending and receiving Valentine’s cards is really important in keeping the love alive, despite difficult times. These poems represent romantic stories and recollections of younger days. I hope you enjoy them.

older love

The beauty of loving someone for life.

Our Truth About Love

He was in the army. He had curly hair.
They sent him to Christmas Island,
And when I came home from work,
There would be piles of letters from far away.

A few weeks later, I came home, and there he was.
Sitting with my parents,
And he’d already asked my dad for my hand.
Dad told him to look after me.
And he did. For over fifty years…

Getting ready for a date,
Running towards him in high heels.
Best dress on and red lippy,
To Dronfield Picture Palace.

Love means kindness and gentleness,
When you’d do anything for someone.
Love and kindness lead the way.
Families are loving and giving.
Sending and text message every day,
Even though they’re far away.
A phone call – coming to see me.

Love means a lot.


I can’t tell you anything about love

I can’t tell you anything about love,
All different kinds of love,
Family and friends.
It’s the same as it always is, being at home.

Having your family around you,
Home means love.

I knew that she was the one,
And we’re still in love,
Still giving each other cards.

But I’d prefer a cake,
Or some chocolates…
I love you and I see you.
You’re lovely!

Some Enchanted Evening,
And romance lingers in the air.


A long time ago

It was donkey’s years ago.
Was it true love at first sight or on the rebound?

We were too close to send love letters.
Working together at Masson Mill.
You got used to the noise.
We didn’t make a big fuss on Valentine’s Day
– Rock ‘n’ Roll dancing in a suit and tie,
And I got married in my winklepickers.

A long time ago,
I went to dances in Edale.
I’ve always liked dancing.
Waltz and quickstep
Foxtrot and tango
Military two-step and barn dances.
I loved them all.