Archive | April 2017

Spring again, as beautiful as ever

I can’t resist the cherry trees or A.E. Housman so here they are again.

Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my three score years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

A.E. Housman

Spring and Fall 

Forsythia blazes golden in my garden,
Daffodils bob and sway, the hedge unfurls

Into a tender tangle of green curls,
Old fruit trees creak as new buds swell and harden.

Now finches fall in showers, thrushes sing
And blackbirds bounce in conflict, shrieking shrill,
Ponds fizz with tadpoles, squirmingly alive,
Trout leap, lambs stagger, piglets roll and thrive.
The whole world gleams and wriggles, nothing’s still
In the dizzying effulgence that is spring.

But I lie dormant, thirsting for the call
That does not come. I hang in winter air,
Flung between rigid patience and despair,
Hoping to spring yet fearful of a fall.

Postscript to a Spring Sonnet  

Snowdrifts prove me wrong
To have dreamed a spring song,
Too early, careless sung,
Too late knowing.
Nestlings halt small lives
Under sleet knives,
Buds stain and fade
Hacked by snow-blade,
Blossom’s blighted brown,
Fry and tadpole drown.
And lambs freeze to death
Before they can draw breath,
Too early given tongue,
Too soon going,
Killed by the icy swing
Of unpredictable Spring
In two cruel days.

Whom Gaia breeds, she slays.

 

I’m sorry to strike a sad note at the end but I am rather down, having had to face the fact, that since Mr Powell of the Felpham Village Conservation Society put his article in Felpham in Focus there is nothing I can do to save poor Blake’s Cottage.

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This entry was posted on April 19, 2017. 5 Comments

Two fishy stories

Two stories for the price of one today and the first really is about fish, rather pretty ones and rather a lot of them and I thought they were dead. Boo hoo.

To begin at the beginning. I’ve lived in this house and loved this garden for thirty years and the pond my son dug for me when we first moved in, has been one of the great joys of it. My grandchildren helped me to buy the fish for it and fed them diligently every time they came to visit, so they soon became rather fat fish and very contented. We had newts that swam happily among the fish and frogs that covered the surface of the pond with their spawn every spring and produced lots of tadpoles. It was a great pond and Larry nurtured it, cleaning it every other year and keeping it in good order. But for the last six sad years it has been horribly neglected, because he was too ill for gardening and died three years ago. I think of him every time I see the pond.

Unfortunately untended ponds deteriorate and this spring I had to face the fact that my one was in a bad way, full of mud, covered in a tangle of weed and slimy with algae. Now and then I caught a glimpse of an orange back struggling below the surface, but that was all. It was time to call for help.

And such good help it was. From a real pond expert. His name is Roy, like my old darling, and he originally came from Barbados, and he was so patient and thorough, it was a joy to stand out in the garden and just watch him at work. I told him I was afraid I’d killed all my livestock with neglect, but he assured me that if the fish and the newts were there he would find them and rescue them. Which he did. It took him hours and he seemed to be smiling all the time, as he removed one small shape after another from the mud and transferred it into the huge tank he’d set waiting for it. To my delight he found 30 fish, 10 newts, masses of tadpoles and 2 frogs, who scrambled out of the pond and into the garden before he could transfer them to the tank, but sneaked back in as soon as the pond was completely clean and filled with fresh water. When two of my great grandchildren arrived to visit the next day they spent most of their time transfixed by the sight of so many creatures in the water, which I have to admit to my shame, they had never seen before.

And the story doesn’t end there, because my splendid gardener rescued the pump and the waterfall too and restored them to their original glory, so now I spend far too much of my time out in the garden enjoying the sight of his restoration. It’s almost as if I’ve stepped back in time to the days when the two men I loved most in my life, were still lovingly with me.

The second story is nowhere near so pleasant, but it is certainly fishy, because it concerns poor old Blake’s Cottage. Ever since I read Mr Glynn Powell’s page in Felpham in Focus I have been trying to find out if the “donation” that the BCT were reported as having “secured” actually exists. Nobody I have contacted – local reporters, trustees of the Blake Society, the Felpham Parish Council, the local member of the triumvirate – seems to knows anything about it. And the cottage is still not being repaired.

The oddest thing about this story is that after I contacted the trustees of the Blake Society, which is chaired by Tim Heath, one of them sent an email to me to say that they’d had a committee meeting at which my request for information had come up. The trustees had been advised, presumably by their chairman, who is Tim Heath, that they were to tell me to approach the BCT and ask them for information, which is very odd indeed, because the chairman of the BCT is none other than Tim Heath, who is also the chairman of the Blake Society.  How peculiar is that? Downright fishy if you ask me!

 

 

 

This entry was posted on April 12, 2017. 3 Comments

Being shut out

I was a bit surprised when I read the April edition of the Felpham freebie magazine to find that the editor had given someone (unnamed so I can’t tell you who) from the Felpham Village Conservation Society a free platform from which to inform the village that everything with Blake’s Cottage is perfectly all right.  The FVCS has ‘created a working group to liaise with the owners,’ he wrote. And a little further down the page he reported the BCT ‘has now secured a donation that at last lets them appoint architects.’ It must be a very large donation, I thought, to cover the £50,000 fee that Tim Heath wrote about on the BCT website. And I wondered why the news hadn’t been noised abroad in the local papers.

 

So I asked around and discovered that the reporter at the Observer hadn’t heard about it. Then I wrote – twice – to Mr Johns but he didn’t answer, which was odd. So I tried a few of the Trustees of the Blake Society to see if they’d heard of it and they hadn’t. Curioser and curioser.

However being told that the BCT were expected a large donation is nothing new. On June 16th 2016 the Bognor Observer reported that the cottage ‘is to be fully restored after a £500,000 investment was pledged this week’ and Mr Johns was quoted as saying ‘the Trust hopes to have permission to start work on the roof within days.’  But nothing was done, as we all know, and we heard no more about the investment, which didn’t surprise me a bit. I have to say I don’t think we shall hear any more about the new ‘Donation’ that has been ‘secured’.either. Such an odd word to use. If you’ve been given a donation you usually say just that.

So the next thing I did was to ring up the editor of Felpham in Focus and ask if I could write an answer to the article. She said I could but was plainly nervous and stressed that she could only let me have 200 words and I wasn’t to say anything critical about the FVCS so I agreed that I would make it as anodyne as possible.

I wrote a list of events in chronological order so that the working group would at least know the history of what has been going on before they liaise with the owners. But she was horrified by it and said she couldn’t possibly published it. It is now obvious that I am not going to be allowed to tell anyone in the FVCS what has actually been going on. As you might remember I wrote to the Chairman of the Society and offered to talk to the Society so that could have a better idea of  what has been happening. But he turned me down flat. Now two doors have been shut in my face. It’s horribly discouraging.

However I let her have my anodyne 200 words. So I thought I’d let you see them too.

 

When Blake was put on trial for sedition the locals went to the court in Chichester and perjured themselves to get him off. It was a very brave act because it could have got them into serious trouble.

Now the locals, some of them descendants of Blake’s villagers, are concerned about the state of his cottage. To give them a chance to voice their concern I set up a petition on September 12th 2016. It said ‘William Blake’s cottage in Felpham was bought by funds from public subscriptions and a charitable donation of £400,000. It is seriously in need of repair having stood empty for three years but nothing is being done.  We the undersigned require immediate action to save this hugely significant building before it is too late and we lose the birthplace of ‘Jerusalem’ ‘

Over 500 Felpham people signed it. May I use this magazine to thank them publicly?

 

And may I say to any of them who are reading this, could you spread the word that I will enlighten any of the members of the FVCS  and anyone else in the village who would like to know what is really going on. I am still here and still available to them. All they have to do is answer this blog.

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2017. 2 Comments