Showing posts from November, 2017

CRACKLEY WOODS - in memory of John and Lilian

A year ago today we left my father’s funeral and went straight to the woods, the path we had all walked together, with my parents before they were too infirm and then with my own children and nieces.  It was a beautiful frosty morning, sun glinting off the crispy grass, the path through the trees lit as if it was beckoning me into my future. When a breeze blew through the woods the last of the autumn leaves started to fall, spiralling down, sprinkling the hoar air like falling stars. We jumped and ran to catch them, as we did when children. That sad but lovely day reminds of this poem. It was written some years before my parents died, when they were both ill and in pain and would feel and share each other’s burden as if their own.   Over 60 years together they were linked by more than love. Rereading the poem I am suprised by its sadness and my melancholy.  There were hard days and difficult times but what I now remember of their last few years together was how much plea


Fiestas are the lifeblood of Valencian village life. Religious celebrations are held all year round but the main fiesta season starts with the passing of Spring into Summer, when days get longer and the sun higher. From May until September a town or village nearby will be in ‘Fiestas’ every week and young people spend the Summer months dancing and partying through the hot nights, coming home with the sunrise. The fiestas are organised by groups of neighbours and  the 'Festeros' with help from the Town Halls and they raise money throughout the year to pay for the weeks events, from fireworks, church processions accompanied by brass bands,  dance bands, races, village paellas and communal suppers. My four adult children were all ‘Festeros’, the young people involved in organising fiestas who then are presented to the village on the opening night, dressed in evening gowns and suits and garlanded with their fiesta sashes. They remember their 'Fiestas' as a highlight o


This morning I read the tragic news of the death of a women in Spain at the hands of her ex partner. I feel for the victim’s family and friends and yet again hope that their suffering at this senseless crime will not be repeated. However the sad reality is that domestic violence is a fact of daily life for too many women throughout the world and the number of deaths of women caused by their current or ex partners shows no sign of abating. A link to a article from the Guardian at the end of this page shows this is a problem in British sociey as well as Spanish and worldwide. We are all shocked and horrified by every such death but it is so common place it becomes a background noise to the rolling news we consume every day. This year 45 women have been killed in Spain. Their families, communities, local politicians all react and Governements plan interventions and promise new action but something major now needs to be done in our societies to change the culture in which men ar


Sitting in the red leather chair I recently inherited from my father reminds me of another time of mourning and a poem I wrote when the chair sat in my old family home instead of in my Spanish village house. I am often surprised when rediscovering poems written years ago and half-forgotten. The process of writing is long gone but the words reawaken the emotion of that time. I suspect I am not alone in wishing that our lost loves could flick a switch and say hello.                                         ARE YOU THERE?                                         Unusually, I sat alone, curled tight in her red leather chair, dad rattling lost, brother elsewhere, in the kitchen maybe, hiding sadness, making more interminable tea that failed to fill cracked, leaking souls. I stared at her in blank distress, blurred image posed a lifetime hence, entranced by her winsome air, Galway eyes, shyest of smiles, teenage bloom, framed with wave upon wa