Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A Little Treat

"If only I could read" sighed Tiddy

I treated myself to a little something at the weekend , whilst visiting the bookstore Waterstones . It was an extra specially rare treat because it was completely F.R.E.E ! Those are always the best sort of treats for people who can be a bit cynical about "looking for the catch".
I read a review of the brand new tales of Winnie-the-Pooh in the Telegraph . It's an authorised , sympathetic sequel to the previous adventures of Pooh and all his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood , and I was enchanted , not the least by the introduction of a new female character ; Lottie the otter (which just happens to be one of my favourite creatures)

My son made a beeline for one of those tables mounded up with kids' hardback books and pleaded for Charlie Higson's new novel "The Enemy" . Glancing at it tetchily I noticed a Buy One Get One Free ( or BOGOF as we all know and love it :0) ) sticker on the cover - then joy of joys amongst the others was the new Pooh book too (ooooh seems even I can emulate A.A Milne !!) so with a quick flick through and no further ado .... I rushed off to the cash desk bearing my prize!

I have a special little soft spot for cuddly Winnie-the-Pooh who , having first been published in 1926 , is around the same age as my father . I have a distinct memory of looking through a paperback edition when I was only 3 and wishing I could decipher all that unintelligible code between the pages because I was certain there was a wonderful story in there which was being denied to me !
Later on another of A.A.Milne's works ; "When We Were Very Young", containing over 40 poems, was my favourite introduction to the lilting sound of words in verse - despite the fact it was first published in 1924 and harked back to a long gone era of Nannies and nursery teas . In fact I delighted in the utter charm of it ! As far as I can remember bears featured in several places .... particularly when little children stepped on the "lines" between paving stones so materialising them even in the middle of London!

I mean to enjoy my new book as soon as possible - maybe cosied up in the evening with a little dog on my lap , and perhaps a "little smackerel of something" to keep me going .... Tiddly Pom ....

T.T.F.N , Ruth XX

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Trafalgar Day

This is a maritime flavoured post as today is Trafalgar Day , commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 ; made famous by the heroism of Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson who finally removed all fear of this country's invasion (it was thought to be imminent) , though at the cost of his own life . I know it is Trafalgar Day because it is also my father's birthday - "Happy Birthday" if you are reading this ! An amusing family anecdote tells that his own Grandmother insisted he should be named Trafford in honour of the day ! His parents preferred Reginald however - and "stuck to their guns" !

It has been suggested in the past that Trafalgar Day would make an ideal public holiday ; a suggestion ultimately quashed for being "offensive" to other countries (??) I think we are all quite capable of feeling a national pride in our past heroes whilst also putting their actions firmly in to historical context . Nelson was definitely a charismatic figure ; and after all he's been standing on top of that 170ft high Column in Trafalgar Square since 1840.

A few facts :-

*Nelson was only 5ft 4" tall.

*He joined the navy at age 12 , and suffered from sea-sickness , and recurring bouts of dysentery and malaria throughout his service.

* His arm was amputated with no anaesthetic during which he complained of the "cold" knives . He was also blinded in one eye.

*Before the Battle of Trafalgar he sent a famed signal to the fleet : "England expects that every man will do his duty"

*He wore full dress uniform with all his medals , remaining visible in the line of fire throughout , and was easily picked out by a sniper who shot him in the back.

* His renowned last words ; "Kiss me , Hardy" may actually have been "Kismet , Hardy" nobody is certain which he was referring to ; friendship or his fate ?At least he knew the battle was over before he died .

*His body was sent back to England in a barrel full of brandy , which preserved his remains on the long journey home .

Nelson's ship HMS Victory can still be visited in dry dock at Portsmouth . It was built between 1759 and 1765 , and is now the oldest commissioned ship in the world . I've actually been on it myself when I was a small girl , and I remember finding it fascinating and horrifying in equal degrees ; the decks are unbelievably cramped , the surgeonry was little above butchery and you can see the actual spot where Nelson died .

Here's to another 169 years up on the Column Lord Nelson !

Ruth xx

Friday, 9 October 2009

A Song of Autumn

There is a definite chilly tang to the air in the mornings and evenings bringing the turn of the season , and the end of the year even closer. I hope all those excited little baby Goldfinches tuck themselves up warmly at night ! I've probably mentioned before that I dislike all the plastic pumpkin-a-rama tat that shops insist on spilling off their shelves at this time ... but I do like a more gentle celebration of Autumn ; this poem is just wonderful and really deserves to be read aloud.

A Song of Autumn by Adam Lindsay Gordon

‘WHERE shall we go for our garlands glad
At the falling of the year,
When the burnt-up banks are yellow and sad,
When the boughs are yellow and sere?
Where are the old ones that once we had,
And when are the new ones near?
What shall we do for our garlands glad
At the falling of the year?’
‘Child! can I tell where the garlands go?
Can I say where the lost leaves veer
On the brown-burnt banks, when the wild winds blow,
When they drift through the dead-wood drear?
Girl! when the garlands of next year glow,
You may gather again, my dear—
But I go where the last year’s lost leaves go
At the falling of the year.

T.T.F.N ,
Ruth xx