Is it a coincidence that bees love the colour lavender?
It’s lovely to walk in the countryside; to hear the birds singing and feel the sun warm on your face. Our beautiful English lanes have many curves. We wander, asking ourselves the question, ‘what is around that bend?’
by Edward Thomas
Yes, I remember Adlestrop —
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop — only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
The thorn tree on Wearyall Hill which had its branches cut off in 2010. Glastonbury Tor is in the background.
Picture and note from Wikipaedia
My favourite bit of the Opening Ceremony on Friday was the beginning, the rural scene. It showed a mound or hill with a tree on top. The mound was to represent Glastonbury Tor. I wrote about that yesterday. The tree represented the Glastonbury Thorn. The explanation follows:
Excerpt from Wikipaedia
‘The Glastonbury Thorn is a form of Common Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’ (sometimes incorrectly called Crataegus oxyacantha var. praecox), found in and around Glastonbury, Somerset, England. Unlike ordinary hawthorn trees, it flowers twice a year (hence the name “biflora”), the first time in winter and the second time in spring. The trees in the Glastonbury area have been propagated by grafting since ancient times.
It is associated with legends about Joseph of Arimathea and the arrival of Christianity in Britain, and has appeared in written texts since the medieval period. A flowering sprig is sent to the British Monarch every Christmas. The original tree has been propagated several times, with one tree growing at Glastonbury Abbey and another in the churchyard of the Church of St John. The “original” Glastonbury Thorn was cut down and burned as a relic of superstition during the English Civil War, and one planted on Wearyall Hill in 1951 to replace it had its branches cut off in 2010.’
William of Malmesbury mentions Joseph’s going to Britain in one passage of his Chronicle of the English Kings, written in the 1120s. He says Philip the Apostle sent twelve Christians to Britain, one of whom was his dearest friend, Joseph of Arimathea. William does not mention Joseph by name again, but he mentions the twelve evangelists generally. He claims that Glastonbury Abbeywas founded by them; Glastonbury would be associated specifically with Joseph in later literature. Cardinal Caesar Baronius, the Vatican Librarian and historian (d. 1609), recorded this voyage by Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Marcella and others in his Annales Ecclesiatici, volume 1, section 35.
The accretion of legends around Joseph of Arimathea in Britain, encapsulated by the poem hymn of William Blake And did those feet in ancient time held as “an almost secret yet passionately held article of faith among certain otherwise quite orthodox Christians”, was critically examined by A. W. Smith in 1989. In its most developed version, Joseph, a tin merchant, visited Cornwall, accompanied by his nephew, the boy Jesus. C.C. Dobson made a case for the authenticity of the Glastonbury legenda.
Unfortunately in 2010, the tree was vandalised. Here is the report:
Excerpt from an article in the Daily Mail Newspaper December 2010.
‘Standing proudly on the side of an English hill, its religious roots go back 2,000 years. But a single night of vandalism has left an ancient site of pilgrimage in splinters.
The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury has been chopped down in what is being seen by some as a deliberately anti-Christian act.’
What was your favourite part of the Opening Ceremony?
From ‘this is Somerset’
‘Glastonbury Tor played a starring role in last night’s spectacular London 2012 opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.
A crowd of 80,000 in the stadium, and an estimated audience of a billion worldwide, saw artistic director Danny Boyle’s Tor creation form a central part of the £27 million show depicting Britain’s ‘Green and Pleasant Land’.
‘The iconic Somerset landmark formed an eye-catching part of the ceremony, and was then used to fly the flag of each of the 204 competing nations when the athletes arrived at the venue.
After getting under way at 9pm last night, the ceremony reached a spectacular finale shortly before 1am this morning with the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron.
The cauldron, formed of 205 copper petals representing the competing nations coming together in London for the Games, was ignited by seven young Torchbearers nominated by a cavalcade of Britain’s past and present Olympic and sporting greats.’
Glastonbury Tor has a fascinating history… You can read more about Glastonbury Tor here.
Tomorrow I’ll talk more about the tree.
This beautiful picture was taken by John at Urbangiraffe.com and he has given me permission to use it, so thank you John. It shows the Olympic flags in Regent Street, London. What a colourful display.
I am more than excited about tonight’s Opening Ceremony. It promises to be the best concert I have ever been to. I am looking forward to some wonderful music and visual delights, which are yet to be unveiled. All that makes our British Isles so Great.
I hope that you all enjoy it too. Don’t miss it, will you!
I am currently working on a crochet project for the winter. Can you guess what it is from the picture above? It’s a blanket and I’m making up the pattern as I go along. I’m using browns, yellows and fawns and it’s coming along quite nicely.
Then I saw a new book in my handicraft shop. The cover was most attractive and when I peeped inside, I could see lots of different granny squares. That gave me some ideas. I bought the book and carried it home. I couldn’t wait to get started.
I made four granny squares and sewed them into the corners. Each one was slightly different. Here’s one of them, just peeking out so you can see it.
Here’s the book. There are some gorgeous designs in it. I’ll be showing you some later.
Today has been hot and sunny in my part of the world and I have been out to lunch with some old friends. It was great to see them again and share our news. These are people I used to work with back in 1986 and until 1998 so we all go back a long way. Sometimes I like being old. There is certainly never a lull in the conversation.
As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world, too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.
Whose business is it, if I choose to read, or play, on the computer, until 4 AM, or sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50, 60 &70’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will.
I will walk the beach, in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves, with abandon, if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.
They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And, I eventually remember the important things.
Sure, over the years, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break, when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody’s beloved pet gets hit by a car? But, broken hearts are what give us strength, and understanding, and compassion. A heart never broken, is pristine, and sterile, and will never know the joy of being imperfect.
I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.
As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.
So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).
I had to reach up really high to grab this beautiful climbing rose so I could take a picture of him. Holding him steady with one hand and taking a picture with the other is not easy, believe me but I am quite pleased with the result. He is a little bit ragged round the edges owing to the rain this week, but overall he is surviving nicely and showing off his pretty colours, don’t you agree?
Don’t you just love the contrast in the colours below? The white of the feverfew with the blood red of the Sweet Williams is just gorgeous.
The potatoes are doing ok but the true test will be when I dig them up! I hope they are not rotten in the ground. We have had the worst summer ever in England this year and that’s not just my opinion! Apparently we are importing a lot of vegetables from abroad now because we have just had too much rain.
The runner beans (on the left) have at last got some flowers – now we need lots of pollinating insects to get them going so they set. In the front are some tomatoes – not many flowers yet!!!
The runner beans look healthy enough and most years it is hard to get enough water to their roots, but this year I don’t think I’ve had to water them at all. I can’t believe we were in a drought situation at the start of April! We even had a hosepipe ban!
These Sweet Williams are that cerise colour which looks so good in a fashion show.
…and doesn’t the yellow contrast so well with the silvery green of the dogwood?
In the next picture we’ve got purple and white. White lifts every other colour and what would have been a dark corner is now ablaze. Even some liatris has got in with the feverfew.
What is a young man to do when it keeps on raining outside and he can’t go in the garden to play?
Why, play with a balloon, of course!
He can have lots and lots of fun and forget all about the nasty weather…
If only it would keep still for a moment…
But then, all of a sudden…
There was a loud BANG and the balloon was no more…
In my book, ‘Murder in the School’ under my pseudonym Amanda Marigold, there is a chapter on balloons. The book is available for purchase in the Kindle Store at Amazon.com
It took a long time for Miss Pink, the teacher in charge of the Nursery Unit, to get all the Nursery children back across to the Nursery after the fiasco in the hall that day. Once they were settled she went into the Nursery kitchen to make a cup of tea and calm herself down. While she was waiting for the kettle to boil she heard the telephone in her office ringing. Quickly she went to answer it.
“Can I speak to the Head teacher please?” said a cheerful voice.
Miss Pink explained without going into too much detail that the Head teacher was unable to come to the phone just now and asked if she could take a message or get the Head to ring back?
“Yes, please. My name is Alex and she knows the number”.
Miss Pink’s heart skipped a beat. She touched the drawer of her desk. Inside was a letter from someone called Alex to the Headteacher, Ms. Gardner. Miss Pink had found the letter on the floor of the Nursery on the fateful day at the start of term when Ms. Gardner had observed the Nursery. So far Miss Pink had not had the courage to return the letter to Ms. Gardner. You see she knew what was in the letter. Curiosity had encouraged Miss Pink to read the letter and now that she had she was unable to give it back. Now that she knew what the words said she would have to be very careful. The future of the school depended on it.
Two weeks into October and a consignment of blue balloons arrived at PrimrosePrimary School. There were 500 all together; one for each child and one for each member of staff and a few spare. They were to be blown up, messages tied on and launched into the sky to celebrate the official opening of the new amalgamated Primary School. Reporters from the local newspaper were going be present taking photographs to mark the event and the local MP would cut the ribbon to release the balloons. The children were very excited.
Mrs. Smithers (the part-time School Secretary), had a special room upstairs in her cosy cottage at Wood End. This is where she kept her ingredients and where she made her spells. Shelves on the walls displayed rows of round glass fish bowls. These were ideal for holding the ingredients because they could be seen at all times and she could find what she wanted quickly. The glass fish bowls held such natural forms as shells, feathers, rose petals and pine cones. Mrs. Smithers reached up and took down a blue balloon and some coloured stardust. Next she reached up to the highest shelf and took down her hazel wand. Mrs. Smithers’ three black cats watched her. Their names were Sparkle, Little Mo and Bast. Sparkle was a longhaired beauty, mostly black with a white tummy and white socks. Little Mo was a small, pretty cat, shorthaired, also with white socks. Sparkle is her mum. Bast was a very large male cat, mostly black but with a white bow tie. He was very greedy. They each had their own basket in Mrs. Smithers’ upstairs room and helped her with her spells. When Mrs. Smithers cast her magic circle she always made sure that the three adorable black cats were inside it so that they come to no harm.
Gerald was the caretaker at PrimrosePrimary School. He wore a large bunch of keys at his belt and with these he could access every room in the building. He had had a shady past and could always be relied upon to GET things. He always knew the right person to ask when something unusual was needed and he could usually manage to GET things a bit cheaper. He had purloined some canisters of gas to fill the balloons for the Grand Opening and these he put in the spare classroom with the balloons. During the morning of the big day Mrs Wales, the General Assistant, together with some parent volunteers and a member of the Governing Body, set about filling the blue balloons with the gas. The gas canisters were old stock and there was leakage occurring. This caused the ladies to start giggling and when they spoke, lungs full of the laughing gas, their voices sounded just like Donald Duck. Ms. Gardner, patrolling the corridors as was her wont in the mornings, stopped outside the spare classroom and peered in through the glass window. What she saw were the ladies inside acting as if they were drunk; laughing and rolling about amongst a bright blue sea of balloons. Ms. Gardner pushed the door open and stormed in “What is going on in here?” she demanded to know.
“Ah ha ha ha ah ha ha”, giggled Mrs. Wales. “We’re blowing up balloonoohoonzzz, ahh ha ha ha.” Try as she might she couldn’t stop laughing.
Balloons were whizzing about in all directions .
“Yes, Ms. Gardner, ha ha ha ha , we’ve nearly finished”, said a usually dignified Governor. “only we can’t stop laughing, ha ha ha ha ha hee hee.”
Ms. Gardner, her face like thunder, exotic perfume from Marrakesh filling the air, slammed her hand on the desk and insisted that they came to their senses. Tears of laughter were streaming down the faces of the volunteers and then, miracle of miracles, Ms Gardner started to smile herself. Quickly she left the classroom, closing the door behind her and thought to herself “They’re all mad!”
That afternoon the Grand Opening of Primrose Primary School took place. All the children were excited to see the filled balloons. They were kept in the spare classroom until they were needed and then they were brought out carefully and secured under a net in the playground. Four ribbons tied the net to four chairs and another ribbon was in place, ready to be cut by the MP.
Mrs. Morgan, the MP, one of the Governing Body and Ms. Gardner walked out of the staffroom and into the playground for the opening ceremony. Parents clapped loudly.
“The children have been writing messages to send away with the balloons when we release them” said Ms Gardner. “We are hoping that some of the balloons will travel a very long way and spread the news about our new school.” She turned to the waiting crowd of children, reporters and parents.
“I would like to introduce you to Mrs. Morgan, our local MP, who is now going to cut the ribbon, declare the school officially open and allow the balloons to travel far and wide” said Ms. Gardner.
Mrs. Morgan stepped forward, made a short speech and used the scissors to cut the ribbon. Ooo’s and ahh’s from the children sent the balloons on their way with lots of little message cards fluttering like butterflies underneath.
Ms Garner had been standing amongst the balloons when the ribbon was cut and some of the cords had become caught around her arms. This coupled with a sudden gust of wind of gigantic proportions and Ms. Gardner was hoisted into the air with the balloons. Her legs dangled down beneath her as she was whisked right up into the air and dropped a few seconds later on to the roof of the boiler house.
“My God”, said Mrs. Van Gogh,(the art teacher), “Did you see that?”
Cameras were clicking away in gay abandon, taking full advantage of Ms. Gardner’s undignified landing, legs akimbo, either side of a chimney pot.
The smallest child in the Reception Class was the only one to see Mrs. Smithers clicking her fingers just before Ms. Gardner “took off” into the sky.
“How do you do that?”, she asked.
“I’ll show you tomorrow”, said Mrs. Smithers and the corners of her mouth turned ever so slightly upwards.
“She’ll be furious when she gets down”, said another voice, hiding her giggles behind her handkerchief.
“Fetch Gerald!” said someone else. “Fetch the caretaker”, “Gerald, Gerald, Gerald.”
Two days later a blue balloon came to rest in a market in Marrakesh, which was the very place where Ms Gardner had purchased the exotic perfume, which gave her such a distinct aroma when she passed by. Tied to the blue balloon was a small ticket which said “A. Gardner, Langwitch, England.”’
and just before you go, I want to bring you some real joy, although you might want a hankie close by! Please click here to watch a wonderful film called ‘The Red Balloon’, made in 1956.
I told you it was good, didn’t I.
I hope my post today has brought you much happiness.