Tag Archives: spring

One of Life’s Downs

ll lives have ups and downs, and yesterday was, I admit, a down. I did not submit a single piece during the month of February. The fault lies with me being lazy and disorganised. I’m not happy that I allowed it to happen but I’m finding it remarkably easy to bounce back. I am, after all, accustomed to being lazy and disorganised, and experience shows that I will gain nothing from being dramatic about it.

Last month is over. Next month is a whole new month, and there are at least six opportunities, probably more if I start looking. I have been getting into a rut lately so it’s probably good to have a shake up.

This month I don’t have a presentation to give at the Numismatic Society,so I have no excuses for not getting on with writing.

For now, however, I have washed up, eaten breakfast and watched |TV – my normal sort of Wednesday morning. Julia is off to lunch with friends soon and I will be accompanying as chauffeur. Not sure hat I’ll be doing for lunch but this afternoon I will be doing some planning and writing, followed by preparing tea and doing a little more writing and some TV viewing. It’s not a punishing routine, but I thought I’d work my way into it gently.

The forsythia has started to flower, and I can see a mass of yellow from my seat. As today is the first day of meteorological Spring, it’s a good day to see it. Poetry today is going to feature blossom quite heavily (it’s one of the penalties of writing nature poetry – it’s easy to find a cliched subject). I ill have to try to find a new way to write about it.

Time to go now. I will be back later to report on progress. The picture is one from stock, and a little optimistic.


Day 122

I wrote most of Day 121 (Part 2) and then seem to have fallen asleep sitting at the keyboard. When I woke I crawled off to bed and went to sleep. It appears to me that I need to have a good look at my habits, particularly the habits relating to going to sleep at a sensible time.

April has been a poor month from the poetry point of view. Two magazine subscriptions need renewing and only one submission made (though several are still open into May). I know I’m paying for blood, sweat. toil and tears when I subscribe to a magazine, but it still seems like a lot of money. And the tears are often mine. A couple of the submission windows spanned April and may so I bounced them into May. I now have 8 submissions to make in May.  Stranger things have happened, but it’s looking like I may fall short of my plans again.

At this point, I started to write about the bleak world of international politics. I seem to be doing this far to often, and really do need to start a programme of cheering up.

This is always a bad time of year for me – the magnolias have fallen, the lilacs and the laburnum are out an I realise that the best part of the year is done.From here we just have summer and a decline into winter. It seems that spring is quicker every year and winters last longer.

The pictures are some of this years poppy pictures.

Spanish Poppy – slightly wind blown. They seem to be stronger flowers this year.

Welsh Poppy – a welcome self-seeded invader.

Day 84

It’s actually well into Day 85 but my attempts at blogging kept turning out to be miserable and moaning. If they depress me, I thought, they really aren’t suitable for posting.

So, an hour after starting, I have a blank screen (to match my mind) and no idea what to write about.

I can’t write about spring, because I hardly saw any today, being stuck in the back of the shop. I see spring for an hour in the morning as I take Julia to work and then go to the shop. I don’t see much of the outside during my time in the shop, and then I go home and go inside. I suppose i could do more to get out, but by that time I want to get home, get the kettle on and compare days with Julia. We really should get out more now that the evenings are lighter, but we have got out of the habit over the last few years, as i may have said before . . .

That’s the trouble with blogging, you don’t just repeat yourself, you repeat yourself in writing, and to an audience.

Now, there’s a question. As “audience” probably comes from the same root as “audio” can you have an audience of people who aren’t listening? I just looked it up, and audiences seem to be groups of listeners in most of the definitions. Fortunately, as you read further, there are also definitions which include a group of readers, so I don’t need to worry about that.

It’s strange how you can use a word every day without really thinking about it and what it really means.

And with that thought seeming to form a natural conclusion, I will go to bed.

Yellow flowers in need of identification

Day 73

I note from a Twitter post that Julia showed me, that someone has painted Putin’s face on a dog poo bin in a park and labelled it Pootin. Several other artists seem to have used dog faeces as the medium for painting portraits of the tiny tyrant. (That’s Putin, not Julia, though she is actually shorter than him. They both terrify me, if I’m honest). I’ll let you search for that yourself, if that is the way you are inclined.

It’s all part of a Great British tradition. I have also seen Napoleon and the Kaiser featured in a similar way.

I counted our plant-based dietary sources tonight – 32 for this week, though I still have to check if we are doing it properly.  Some ofm them were small quantities used in  a green salad.

Tonight at the Numismatic Society of Nottingham we had an interesting talk on the life and time of Queen Anne told through coins and medals. It was very interesting, and like me, he’s more interested in the history rather than the minutiae of die varieties and are dates on coins.

He joined the society in 1958, the year I was born. This made me think.

Apart from that, the day nearly got off to a messy start when a cyclist jumped a red light and cut across the front of me. It nearly came to a messy end too, when two learners on underpowered motorcycles cut down the side of me when there really wasn’t a gap. In between times there were at least six cars that pulled out in front of me, causing me to adjust my speed. Considering that on most days I don’t have any problems, this was a notably bad day on the roads. It’s clearly the counterbalance to my good day last week.

Meanwhile, the crocuses are out all over town, the flowering blackcurrant on the corner of the street is out and the white blossom that is probably plum blossom is also starting. I noticed a magnolia budding up tonight and there is a definite haze of grey-blue hanging over our rosemary plants. Looks like Spring is starting.

Day 57

Spring is definitely starting to show now – lighter mornings, lighter evenings, a bit of brightness and a few more flowers. It’s difficult not to feel happier.

This was slightly moderated by three conversations in the shop today (really yesterday, as I’m writing in the early hours of Sunday morning). One was with a man who had just suffered a death in the family, one with a man whose parents have just been scammed out of their life savings and one with a man who has lived here for many years but still has friends and family in the Ukraine.

This sort of  conversation makes me realise how lucky I am.

I( am, I admit, having to do some thinking about death, mainly whether it makes sense to take out a pre-payment plan for a funeral or not. Clearly it’s cheaper to sort it out and have it all ready for when the time comes, but  what happens if they go out of business between now and the funeral?

I’ve also been thinking about keeping my money safe in years to come. I don’t want to hand it all over to a fraudster, and I don’t want to spend it all on high-priced TV offers, as many of our customers do.  I’m reasonably confident I can keep it safe now, but worry about what I may do in the future. I mainly rely on a bad memory and being disorganised at the moment, meaning I couldn’t hand money over to scammers even if I wanted to, but as I get older and have to get more organised, this may become a problem. Similarly, as an incurable collector I would hate to find myself reaching for the phone to buy over-priced coins.

The coin marketing companies are probably even less moral than the criminals. The criminals are at least honest about their dishonesty, but the coin marketing companies, whilst targeting the elderly, pretend to be coin dealers.

And finally, of course, I don’t have family in the Ukraine. It’s bad enough having to watch what is happening without having to worry about family.

I am not a political blogger, so will leave it there. I do, however, dabble in poetry and would like to draw this Kipling poem to your attention. It’s about dane-geld.  For those of you who don’t need the links I will quote the last verse.

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”


Long Tailed Tit - Rufford Abbey

Day 48

In my haste to complete last night’s post in 20 minutes I see I missed out the news that I have placed another haibun. The other side of that news is that I now have some poems back, as they aren’t required. This is not actually bad news, although it does involve rejection, as it gives me something to work with for the next set of submissions.

Having placed a few things this month I now feel more like a writer again. This is probably helped by the appearance of some new greenery in the roadside trees, and the first crocuses. I like snowdrops, but you can’t beat a good crocus as a harbinger of spring. Soon I expect the birds will get in amongst them and start tearing them up, but it’s all part of  nature, so I won’t complain.

I’ve just been looking at a new house on the internet. It’s in Derbyshire and it overlooks Carsington Water, which I have written about several times. It’s not quite where I had been thinking of retiring to but it cropped up and seemed nice.  I note from the links I just added that I mainly seem to talk about eating at Carsington Water rather than bird watching, natural beauty or water. This is probably an accurate reflection of my life. Three links, two about cake.

We had a package back from Portugal today. It had a customs sticker attached telling us that it was being returned for being non-compliant with recent legislation. As far as we can tell, after research on the web, it followed all the necessary laws and guidelines. Portugal is becoming a very difficult place to post to and a number of people we know are now refusing to post to Europe.

Preparing  a parcel for its voyage into the unknown

It’s all part of Brexit. First our costs go up, then our business declines and finally we are faced with asking if it is all worthwhile. This is hardly the easier, more profitable life we were led to expect. Could it be that politicians have been lying to us?

It used to be had enough when we had Italy to contend with – a country with  a Post Office staffed by thieves, and a population that embraced larceny as a second hobby.  Now we can’t send parcels to Portugal and Spain because the system has become devoted to losing mail in a variety of inventive ways.

The new house? Unfortunately we didn’t win the lottery so the £7 million asking price was a little more than a mortgage and a search down the back of the sofa could come up with. However, a man can dream . . .

Crocus at Nottingham


I Plod my Weary Way…

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
         The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
         And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Thomas Grey, Elegy in a Country Churchyard, but I expect you knew that.
It’s the first day of meteorological Spring today, and so it will be no surprise to learn that it was a foggy day with a lot of moisture in the air. If you’d simply plonked me down after six months in isolation I could probably have guessed it was Spring from the flowers, but the rest of it was very much like November, even the temperature.
Two days of Spring, then bang, it’s like a shutter coming down. Spring is over and autumn has returned.
However, it’s not all bad news. I have the day to myself and Julia made enough apple crumble for last night to provide a couple of generous portions tonight.
I’ve been watching the trailer for the Oprah interview with Megan and Harry. Speculation is rife. However, Julia is unimpressed by any of it and all it does is for me is bring out my regicidal tendencies. I have no faith in Republics, where the children of privilege rise to the top by money rather than merit, so we may as well keep our own system where we are governed by the children of privilege who went to Oxford University. However, the execution of Charles I did lead to the royals upping their game, and it’s probably about time to kill another one.
Looks like Charles is going to have to take one for the team, with Andrew as collateral damage, which will solve a few problems. I’d throw in Harry too. Now that William has kids Harry is irrelevant, something that he has failed to grasp.
I don’t know any Royals personally and have never studied them in depth, so I won’t say more, but I do think idea has some merit.
With a bit of thought I’m sure we could open it up to include celebrities and a public vote…
Meanwhile, back in reality, the header picture is Southwell and the pub at the end of the street is The Saracen’s Head. I suspect it will be renamed at some time in the future. On 5th May 1647 King Charles I stayed there and surrendered to the Scots, who were part of an army besieging Newark. The Scots, acting true to their reputation for frugality, sold him to Cromwell.

The Year Moves On

Today was another beautiful day, though somewhat marred by having to sit in the back room of the shop. Tomorrow, if it is similarly beautiful, I will probably spend indoors hiding from people. It is a very trying time but I don’t intend becoming ill just as we get in sight of a solution.

The birds are certainly playing their part – they were singing before dawn and wee still singing at dusk.

My Blood test results came back. I am hovering just within the permitted range – my reward is a three week rest before the next ritual puncturing. Julia posted her test kit today, so if things go as smoothly as last time we should have  a result tomorrow.

On the poetry front, things are going pretty much as you would expect. A set of haiku to one magazine were returned, as has become traditional. I’m not sure which one of us will break first. In fact I’m not sure if one of us will break before Death takes us. I don’t give up easily and she clearly doesn’t like my submissions.

Another one returned my attempts too, but it was a regular journal with a guest editor. I have  never managed to have anything accepted when they have a guest editor.

On a more positive note, Obsessed with Pipework had one of my poems this issue. They aren’t on-line so I can’t direct you to it.

The Haibun Journal has accepted a haibun for next month’s issue. Not online, so again there won’t be a link. I like the Haibun Journal – a well-produced old-fashioned sort of journal, which |I could imagine reading whilst wearing a smoking jacket in my Library.

To be fair, I like all journals that publish me, and quite a few that don’t.

The biggest news is that I’ve been shortlisted by Acumen.  They have  a two stage policy – Normally they turn me down and tell me competition is fierce, as they only publish about 1% of submissions. This time I’ve made it onto the list to be considered as part of the 1%. I probably won’t progress but it’s a step up from a simple rejection, and it’s actually more exciting than being published by a lot of other magazines.

For a week or two I can dream of publication in a prestigious magazine, but after that it will be down to earth with  a bang.

And on that note, it is time to go and drink tea in front of the Tv. It’s a hard life being a poet…


For a picture – snowdrops from 2018.


First day of Real Spring

Today was the first day of Real Spring. We have meteorological Spring – that starts on 1st March – and we have  Traditional Spring, which starts on 20th March this year. Neither of them are particularly realistic as they can both be quite dismal days, and it’s hard to feel springlike on a dreary day. No, you need Real Spring, which is the first day that feels like Spring. It has been getting closer, but today was the first day I really felt spring had arrived.

It was a lovely morning with a slight nip in the air, and a very light frost. There was just a touch of colour in the sky as I headed off for a blood test, and my feelings of wellbeing were enhanced by the lack of traffic – a lovely lockdown bonus. The sunrise was fading as I went to hospital, and by the time I returned home the sky was bright blue and cloudless. 

The sun, hitting the silver birches, produced a magical effect, further enhanced by a meeting of magpies. There were only a dozen of them, a long way from some of the groups I’ve seen at this time of year, but it’s nice to see that breeding is on the agenda.

As I turned into the hospital entrance, the area under the trees  was alive with snowdrops and small tete a tete daffodils.

In the car park a dunnock was singing its heart out, though, now I know more about its personal habits I’m not sure this is a bird to use as a celebration of spring.

There was no queue for the blood test, but that was the last good thing to happen for a while, as they managed to hit a nerve when taking the test samples (I was in for a double lot today)  and  that wasn’t fun. First, my arm hurt, then it started to go numb. The hand, which I’d ben told to clench, began to open. It took about twenty minutes to recover, so it wasn’t bad, but it’s still a bit sore sixteen hours later and there’s quite a lot of bruising. Normally I say good things about Phlebotomy at City Hospital, but this was not one of their better days.

The Daily Struggle

It’s hard to dislike any day as I’m approaching the age at which FDR, U S Grant, General Lee, Alfred Nobel and Audrey Hepburn all died.  The are are others, but that is enough for now. If you are of a similar morbid turn of mind you can look things up here.

However, of all the days of the week, Friday is probably the one when I am least pleased to wake up and realise I have survived another day. It’s the only day of the week when I have to go to work, so it’s tainted with the “back to work” feeling that I remember from the days I had a job I ‘didn’t like.

It started off badly when I couldn’t find some of the things I needed for parcels and ended badly when I got into a queue at the Post Office and found I was behind someone with a rudimentary grasp of parcels. He ended up having to repack it at the counter as he was returning some mail order clothing and thought it was OK to bundle it up in a plastic bag and leave the return address inside. It’s possible that postmen in his country have X-Ray vision, or just open parcels as a matter of course, because it took a lot of explaining before he grasped the idea that the return label should be on the outside.

Meanwhile, a man has just started a complaint against us on eBay as he hasn’t had an item he ordered. He ordered it last Friday, so at best it’s only been a week. A week is a bit soon to start complaining, even at the best of times. In times of COVID it’s definitely a bit too soon. He ordered after we closed on Friday, we posted it on Monday, the next day we were open and it has, since then, been in the hands of the Post Office. Words do not fail me, it’s just that they aren’t suitable for polite company.

That sums up my day. Fortunately, better weather is on the waya nd Spring is just around the corner. Six more weeks and I might try smiling again.

The night sky is a shot from January last year, when I actually used to go out and take photographs.