The sea looked beautiful before the stormy night that followed . . .

 . . . and during the calm before the storm, the second flowering on the cordylines attracted a host of sparrows.  They get right inside the plant and are quite difficult to make out – excellent disguise – but the fluttering and chirping emanating from the plants gave the game away as the the plants come to life. 

So after the windy night, I was glad to see that the skeleton of the pier, with the contorted rib cage like forms, looked reasonably intact, although frail.

 Debris from the fire damage  had been loosened and washed up on the beach overnight.

From a distance, I thought that more debris was floating around on the surface . . .

 . . . but then realised that some intrepid surfers were at it . . . rather Venetian . . .

 . . and in the Old Town, a pair of sun bathers were resting on the roof of a car. The gulls like the warmth of the metal and the rather superior vantage point  . . .

 . .  a young ‘resident’ . . .

 . . and two ‘old birds’.

 Fantastic sunset this evening and the strongest contrast to the night before when all havoc let loose . . .

 . .  such graphic images. The dog walkers start to inhabit the shore line at low tide and often there are more dogs than humans.

Invitation to the Voyage

My daughter, my sister,
Consider the vista
Of living out there, you and I,
To love at our leisure,
Then, ending our pleasure,
In climes you resemble to die.
There the suns, rainy-wet,
Through clouds rise and set
With the selfsame enchantment to charm me
That my senses receive
From your eyes, that deceive,
When they shine through your tears to disarm me.

There’ll be nothing but beauty, wealth, pleasure,
With all things in order and measure.

With old treasures furnished,
By centuries burnished,
To gleam in the shade of our chamber,
While the rarest of flowers
Vaguely mix through the hours
Their own with the perfume of amber:
Each sumptuous ceiling,
Each mirror revealing
The wealth of the East, will be hung
So the part and the whole
May speak to the soul
In its native, indigenous tongue.

There’ll be nothing but beauty, wealth, pleasure,
With all things in order and measure.

On the channels and streams
See each vessel that dreams
In its whimsical vagabond way,
Since its for your least whim
The oceans they swim
From the ends of the night and the day.
The sun, going down, With its glory will crown
Canals, fields, and cities entire,
While the whole earth is rolled
In the jacinth and gold
Of its warming and radiant fire.

There’ll be nothing but beauty, wealth, pleasure
With all things in order and measure.

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire


October 18, 2010

Up above the town on the bell tower roof, the watery surroundings of Rye make clear defined marks within the landscape. 


To the east, newish landmarks have been spread out. As a group, they look rather delicate and fine from this distance and they have pinpointed where the rainbow ends   . . .

The river Rother, wide enough for some boat traffic, with a gentle meandering footprint more obvious at low tide  . . .

 . . . the river and the lagoons . . . and the Ypres tower . . .

 . . and swinging towards the south west and a glimpse of a stream snaking its way towards a dark mass . . . 

 . .  Camber Castle built by Henry VIII . . . such an elegant waterway . . . .  quite different from the firm strong line of  the canal . .

 . . . the Royal Military Canal built to protect the flatlands from the new Emperor . . .

 . .  looking down as against into the distance . . . .  a landscape of roofs, tiles, angles and narrow spaces  . . .

 . .  with Henry James’  house beyond the  small pill-box tower of the church  . . .

 . .  and then, swinging right around to the north . . . and looking in more detail down, down . .

 . .  just below the parapet I catch a glimpse of a putto shoulder and need to discover what he is holding  . . .  looks intriguing  . . .

 . .  just balancing a bell.

And a final look upwards and then back down to what is happening on the street.

Not so ethereal more about day-to-day important matters like filling the stomach!

Van Dyck drew it from the South
From the river, seeing a plateau,
The great church riding eastward
In its tideless ocean of faith.

From the East, coming over the marsh
Or from the golf-club it’s a pyramid
With the church tower at the top.
A black silhouette in the twilight.

Turner halfway from Winchelsea,
From the West, romantically stationed
Upon some dangerous sea-stropped
Causeway of his imagination.

Drew Camber Castle flaoted away
Almost hull-down to the east
And Rye in a spotlight,  half Italian,
And half as it were a volcano.

With smoke and fire belching
From the church, it is always the church
That crowns the unique town.

From the North you come down hill
From the mainland then climb again,
Up this rocky hillock like a moraine heap:
Rye is an island, St Mary’s Mount.

Is also a castle, should have a drawbridge,
There are aeons of life in this pyramid,
Fire in this volcano,–
Is also like a beautifully jewelled broach
Worn at South England’s throat,
As land gives way to channel:
The Tillingham mates with the Brede
And both mix in the Rother
The sweet and the salt waters,
Below Watchbell Street and under
The eyes of the Ypres Tower,
Last dry land or first island,
A place between past and future,
A historic present to speak of
In a language of salty silence
That is sweet on every tongue.   Topographical  Patric Dickinson.

hastings finale

October 17, 2010

Last week started like this . . .

 . . . at Winkle Island. This week was the 944th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings  – the specific day being  14th October.

The musician, and a baby gull making off to the nearest fish and chip consumer. The little girl looks rather worried – is her mother dancing? 


Last night, events got noisier, more dramatic, colourful and exciting. The Hastings Bonfire Society processed through the town, in the dark, with drums and costumes to announce the finale – bonfire and fireworks – we’ve had one big fire already! 

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.   Fire and Ice. Robert Frost










October 14, 2010

in East Sussex, is a must on the itinerary for visitors to Charleston and all things Bloomsburyish. There is a pub . . .


 . . . maybe the foliage will hide the light soon.  At the base of the sign post,  a clutch of fungi denote the damp conditions and the lush growth on the turf . . .

 . . and a metal gate that hasn’t been updated yet . . thank goodness . . .

 . .  and on the way to the church I caught a glimpse of a crab, probably Malus ‘Golden Hornet’,  beautifully silhouetted and with much to show off at this time of year . . .

 . .  entering the churchyard there is a view across the fields to the north. A  kissing gate is an enticing entry to the paddock . . .

 . . and this well crafted grave stone would have made  Jeremy proud, I’m sure  . . .

 . . inside the Saxon and Norman church are the famous murals and a simple arrangement of pyracantha with some rosy apples tucked away at the base of the stems.

The ‘nativity’ scene is quite realistic in the context of the setting with a real Sussex barn and local children and a child Bell posing in their Sunday best. Check out the initial sketches on the highlighted website – they are quite majestic . . .

 . . . and the pulpit repainted by Duncan Grant with bright light coming through the south facing windows . . .

 . . and The Supper at Emmaus’ painted by Quentin Bell – live models again and a truthful and wonderfully dominant background of The Downs . . .


 . . . just turning to look out at the view again and I’m reassured that a sense of beauty still exists and Fauré ‘Libera Me’ for someone who is thought well about this week.


at the church in the wood

October 9, 2010

there are many angels . . .

. . . this one protects Leonora’s grave . . . she’s young, appears dutiful but looks pensive  as she gazes out towards the woodland . . .

. . .  another angel has a big cross to bear as she stands above the inscription ‘peace perfect peace’  . . . this is a peaceful place  . . .

another angel bearing a heavy cross . . .

 . . .  a step back in time – the setting remains as it was for many centuries but civilisation has encroached with housing developments and a new superstore butting up to the woodland . . .

 . . the graveyard is extensive and gently merges with the woodland  . . .

 . .  signs of bountiful fruiting in the native planting  . . . and a last  look at the young angel as I leave – she’s got to me.

I went by footpath and by stile

Beyond where bustle ends,

Strayed here a mile and there a mile

And called upon some friends.

On certain ones I had not seen

For years past did I call,

And then on others who had been

The oldest friends of all.

It was the time of midsummer

When they had used to roam;

But now, though tempting was the air,

I found them all at home.

I spoke to one and other of them

By mounds and stone and tree

Of things we had done ere days were dim,

But they spoke not to me.  Paying calls.  Thomas Hardy 

fabulous afternoon

October 8, 2010

Out in the sun and wandering around. Do I need this long coat for winter ?

Or do I need the fabric that is hidden behind the coat?

Or do I need this outfit? All to be viewed in Norman Road along with other goodies.

Or do I wander back up to the ‘invalid’ with all the other sightseers . . . or just enjoy and appreciate this view on a lovely sunny afternoon?

Some folks are enjoying a walk  . . .

 . . . and I decide to play hookey and wallow in the afternoon light at the allotment – who knows when we shall have such warmth again in autumn. 

I can’t turn a smell

into a single word.

you’ve no right

to ask. Warmth

coaxes rose fragrance

from the underside of petals.


The oils meet air:

rhodinal is old rose;

geraniol, like geranium;

nerol is my essence

of magnolia; eugenol,

a touch of cloves.  Rosa odorata   Jo Shapcott

Lovely to enjoy Aster ‘Kylie’ . . . .  . . and another aster, ‘Alma Poetschke’  . . .

. . and the stems of the red chard close up and also the flowering of the ornamental grass – label lost I’m sorry to say – which defines the end of summer and the start of autumn, but the sun this afternoon could have been full summer, two months ago. More please!

catalpa and colchicums

October 5, 2010

For me, some plants come into their own at this time of year. I admit to find them quite gross until the first days of October. The yellow leaved catalpa is a prime example . . . . acceptable within the frame of the yew – a personal view, of course.

Excellent here with the hot colours in the foreground . . .

 . . and just the ticket making a lovely limey splash within the muted colour palette . . .

. . and also not keen on crocus generally but these colchicums look lax and soft in long grass, much better than in borders and much better than autumn flowering crocus, in my opinion . . .  especially flowing down the side of a ditch . . . . Great Dixter makes good use of colchicums.

The scaffolding is down from the front elevation revealing masterful technique on the repair of the beams.

The windows look so elegant set within the broad oak upright supports. 

Dinner plate dahlias just demand full attention now. Brash when they first flower but they make me smile . . . 

. . . Mina lobata doesn’t come into this category – it’s delightful and shows itself off really well now when other flowering plants are fading. It looks very good with the agapanthus – a combination to remember. And finally, a poker – the colour really gleams out in the damp autumn light – just like a torch.

Now watch this autumn that arrives
In smells. All looks like summer still;
Colours are quite unchanged, the air
On green and white serenely thrives.
Heavy the trees with growth and full
The fields. Flowers flourish everywhere.Proust who collected time within
A child’s cake would understand
The ambiguity of this –
Summer still raging while a thin
Column of smoke stirs from the land
Proving that autumn gropes for us.But every season is a kind
Of rich nostalgia. We give names –
Autumn and summer, winter, spring –
As though to unfasten from the mind
Our moods and give them outward forms.
We want the certain, solid thing.But I am carried back against
My will into a childhood where
Autumn is bonfires, marble, smoke;
I lean against my window fenced
From evocations in the air.
When I said autumn, autumn broke


Song at the Beginning of Autumn  Elizabeth Jennings

poor pier

October 5, 2010

At 1am this morning October 5th  rather an auspicious date  for locals at least. Something good might come from something that seems difficult now!

Pix taken early morning and some months ago. Unfortunately, it made a rather beautiful vision this morning  . . .

 . . . . if sad.

The far end was originally a ballroom . . .

The banner seems now rather poignant!

In its heyday in early 1900’s – built in 1872 and 910′ long.

Being briefed . . .

 . . . and turning back to look again . . . locals went off to work.

After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city’s death by fire;
Under a candle’s eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales,
Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar;
Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales
Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why
Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails?
In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths;
To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath
Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails,
Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.

A City’s Death By Fire by Derek Walcott 

What a treat – early on a Sunday morning some of us were able to enjoy a performance of ‘As You Like It’. I discovered I rather liked viewing and listening to some theatricals at this time of the day. Great, because after we clapped  as the cast took their bows, I had the whole day ahead of me instead of, as usual,the end of an evening. The group, the Mercatoria Company usually perform in the open air in St Leonard’s Gardens and other outside venues in the neighbourhood. They put on this special performance for friends on the terrace. I hadn’t remembered that the play was set in the a French duchy although the most memorable scenes are played out in the Forest of Arden. We didn’t quite have onion sellers but there was a distinct French flavour to the production . . .

. .  Rosalind and Orlando . .

 . . .  Phoebe and Silvius and a small member of the audience who wanted to join in  . . .

 . . good profiles – the accordion player and William or Adam, not quite sure – but good disguise, make up + costume – honestly thought it was a bloke! 

An invitation to dance . . .

. . . not quite sure what is ‘appening ‘ere . . . it was bitterly cold and then the rain arrived but it didn’t manage to dampen spirits. Some of the important members of the audience sheltered under a rather theatrical canopy . . .

 . .  all lining up for the final curtain call . . Bravo, bravo! . . . The terrace really enjoyed it, merci.

On my way back, I thought I should make a record of the small patch of waste land at the rear of the terrace before the inevitable happens. Planning permission has been granted for single storey housing based on the fact that some cottages were here a very long time ago. Everybody has objected but we’ve been ignored. Strange as St Leonards has many empty buildings – some of a good architectural standard – but we must have more low quality housing thrust into every tiny unoccupied patch of land. This little waste land has become fully inhabited by sparrows, starlings, foxes and rather lovely vegetation – some indigenous and some decorative invaders. 

This is a modest piece of land that was flattened by bulldozers and diggers last spring. A colony of valerian, verbascums, feverfew, teazles, grasses and asters have seeded and thrived in the poor soil . . . behind security fencing . . .

. . a rather charming tapestry of self seeders. Antirrhinums and marigolds make their presence felt with strong colour  highlights . . .

. . . and the stem and branches of the trashed ivy seem to echo the famous speech by melancholic Jaques.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.    William Shakespeare.

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