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Autumn – a poem by Melody

Trees prepare for invasion,
Nature is battling with force,
The leaves are brave little soldiers,
Fighting for their cause,

Gone is springtime,
Gone is youth,
They prepare for execution,
Natures truth.

A Morning Walk – a poem by Melody

Happy Walk - landscape painting in oil on canvas

Whence I came apron a grove,
Upon a halting light,
The sun did nestle, hallowing,
A tender dove in flight.

The blessed dew,
By the breath of dawn.
Daisies mirroring,
The sunlight born.

Trees and trunks murmur,
Poppies sway,
Blackbirds and Finches chatter,
Worms contentedly play.

A spontaneous flow of nature,
Softens my eye,
And I understand,
Gods reason
Why.

The Hurricane of 1987 – a poem by Melody

The wind cavorts dangerously
Uprooting trees and rocking me,
Tearing relentlessly
Mercilessly.

The birds are hiding,
High in their trees,
Heads bent as if in prayer,
‘’Please save me”.

Beauty is moved by breezes and bees,
This disrupts even the seas.

So fierce and wronged,
Revenge maybe?
The anger awes and reminds me.
How dangerous
The accosting wind can be.

A Windy Day - landscape painting in oil on canvas
A Windy Day – landscape painting in oil on canvas

Home – a poem by Melody

The journey seems endless,
I feel groggy and tired,
Wilting away with all the miles.

My sleepy eyes recover,
I fix my gaze,
Twinkling stars beacon,
Lights overhead blaze.

I’m nearly home now,
Majestic and calm,
The church is alight, a beacon,
Guiding me into the night.

Welcome!
Visitors and its children alike,
Rest is a promise one can surely rely,
A magnetism draws me,
The warmth prevails,
Invisible rays guide me
To my port,
Curing my ails.

Here the abundance of nature reigns,
Life’s fuel
Is a gift,
To enjoy.

Home for a while,
To rest and be free,
Here is my anchor
Greeting me.

This poem-records the view of St Michaels Church which is on North Hill where we lived in Minehead and is depicted below in Melody’s painting, the church is the blue building in the centre of the hill . Melody has several stories of the church, one is of using the powerful floodlights to roast apples.

North Hill Minehead - landscape painting in oil on canvas
North Hill Minehead – landscape painting in oil on canvas

The Gardener’s Office at The Lost Gardens of Heligan – David

Two photos from our time exploring The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Taken at different times, but that is what is special about revisiting a location, it is almost new but each visit seems to make more and new connections and memories.

The first photo is of the gardeners office, in itself I may not have taken this although I am glad I did. This is a photo with a story and a very strong emotional connection. Towards the end of our stay I had half a day to wander the gardens on my own, in truth I find it very difficult to take photos with Melody or Monet following, I just don’t focus, ha! ha! couldn’t resist that.

At the time of this visit they were celebrating the First World War and the staff who had gone to fight and give their lives. As I arrived at the gardener’s office I found a large photograph outside with a write up of why this was there. The photo had belonged to the elder brother and had been on his wall until his death, he had survived the whole of the war and beyond, but his younger brother had not been so fortunate.

The photo and write up described how the younger brother arrived towards the end of the war and was a picture of him dressed in uniform and ready to depart. This young man, to the best of my memory, was under 5 feet tall, he had a back pack that would have weighed over 80 pounds and a rifle with bayonet attached that was so much taller than him that it was almost comical. He didn’t survive long and was never found.

So, as I entered the gardener’s office I was quite emotional, brought up on stories of the war that my grandfather told me. Perhaps it is a good thing to connect with a subject, not that you would have guessed the story from this photo.

The Gardener's Office in The Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Gardener’s Office

My other photo is close to this and I am trying to remember if it is the outside of the office, but I am not sure, I think not. We do love visiting Heligan, it is such an inspirational place and draws you in, as an engineer I love the Victorian ingenuity, no electric heaters or other modern answers, theirs were simple yet brilliant.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan - The outside of the gardene's office
Heligan Gardens – The outside of the gardener’s office

Camping at Wimbleball Lake On Exmoor – David

 

Camping in October

Well usually we have our caravan, what luxury, as comfortable as home maybe even better.  This year I had asked for a tent for my birthday, why, I almost shout at myself, well I have found that I want to get places to take photos but it is just too far to travel for a sunrise or sunset. 

The caravan is great and would be my first choice, but you can’t tow a caravan into the middle of Exmoor, so a tent seemed to be the answer.  

So late October and I decide that if I am going to try it out this year then now is the time.  On a lovely day I set out to Wimbleball Lake.  It takes a while to translate the minimal instructions but eventually the tent is up and looking good.

Let me suggest to anyone thinking of using  a tent for the first time in years, they re not naturally warm, I woke a few times in the night realising how cold it was.  Surviving until the morning and emerging from my tent I realised how cold it had been as the ground was white with frost and the tent was covered in ice.

At least it got me up early and I watched the sun rising over the misty lake, it was spectacular and it is in those moments that the effort is worthwhile, of all the things I see or watch on television this was a moment that I could easily have missed and yet here I was watching my own personal show.  

Later on I walked around the lake and that is when I found the canoe sitting under a tree surrounded by autumn leaves.   I was an interesting walk, the lake which was formed as a reservoir during the 1970s was very empty with one section being almost completely empty.  I didn’t manage a full circuit, it is probably about 10 miles, partly because I stopped and took photos on the way and just enjoyed the day.  I did make it to the dam, to be honest it wasn’t the most scenic dam I have seen, but the lake was lovely and except for a few walkers and a group of fishermen I had it nearly to myself.

I must remember this day when I next plan a stay in my tent, it was certainly worth a bit of discomfort and I got two photos that I have now printed and framed.  Some days out, even if well planed, end up with none, so this was good.

As this is a few days before Christmas, may I wish anyone who reads this a happy Christmas and new year.

Remembrance Day 2018 in Porlock – David

Remembrance Sunday, 11th November at 18.30, Porlock led by our Town Crier Grant Dennis joined with 1000 other communities to commemorate this notable day.  Follow Town Crier link to see the full programme planned for that evening.  A lot had gone on in the day and Melody was back out ringing the church bells, along with many other churches and cathedrals around the country.

To continue the remembrance I have included some more of the songs recorded by the war blinded veterans of St Dunstan’s, now Blind Veterans UK.  These were recorded for Melody in 1985 when she worked with these veterans of The First World War and Second World War.

If you would like to donate to St Dunstan’s please follow this link to – Blind Veterans UK where you will find a DONATE  button at the top of the page.

St Dunstan’s choristers with wartime songs part 2- Melody

More songs by these blind war veterans are available at the bottom of this page.

During the early 1980’s  while  working  at St Dunstan’s Ovingdean I wrote this poem.

St Dunstan’s is a Joy,
Heaven sent, to be sure,
A helping hand to secure.

The stories are many,
Their pain very real,
Yet shining with intensity,
Is their courage,
Their Zeal.

Some days may seem bleak,
This is surely so,
Their eyes see a distant life,
Of long ago.

They feel old limbs,
Once fresh and young,
While agile minds,
See humour carrying them along.

Their brave fight-the battle is won.

 

During my time at St Dunstan’s I was deeply moved by the bravery of those I cared for.  Every day was a challenge yet humour really did carry them along.

One memory I’ll share today was my dancing lessons with Elmer Richards..

Elmer was blinded in the First World War, he had, I remember really soft hands and a beautiful almost porcelain  complexion, with a warm  gentle humorous face.  Elmer liked to dance at the tea dances held in the afternoons.   I’d never learnt to Waltz so watched on.

I remember one day while walking along the promenade from The Brighton Pier to Ovingdean, a walk Elmer liked to do whenever he could.  Elmer decided to teach me to dance, there and then –   he couldn’t see the folk watching as they passed by. I remember laughing as he took hold of me and swirled me into a waltz. Elmer taught me, one two three, one two three, back, to one side then forward, something like that.

Elmer Richards St Dunstans warblind veteran with Melody
Elmer Richards St Dunstans warblind veteran with Melody

On most of our walks along the prom  Elmer  would dance.  I expect people got used to seeing a man with a white stick and hat swirling around a young lady. I remember the day I danced at my first tea dance, in my uniform.  One St Dunstener I remember remarked,” where did you learn to dance? your quite good”.

Elmer also taught me to play bowls which he loved, a great way to spend a rainy day. I remember he brought me a pair of white Daps  in Woolworths. as I’d  said in passing that the walking was wearing out my shoes. Elmer had never heard plimsoles called  Daps. It’s a Somerset saying!

Elmer  loved it when I told him how smart he looked in his  white bowls uniform which he wore for his matches.  Dear Elmer, what a lovely old  friend he was.

If you would like to donate to St Dunstan’s please follow this link to – Blind Veterans UK where you will find a DONATE  button at the top of the page.

 

 

 

 

St Dunstan’s choristers with wartime songs – Melody

One of my most treasured possessions is a tape made for me by my dear friend Harry Wheeler with his friends  35 years ago while working at St Dunstan’s – now Blind Veterans uk.  Harry served in the First World War he loved to sing to me and tell me tales of his time in the trenches.

If you would like to donate to St Dunstan’s please follow this link to – Blind Veterans UK where you will find a DONATE  button at the top of the page.

 

To commemorate 100 years since peace was proclaimed, it seems the right time to share  these songs to honour his and other precious friends service.  I  hope through my memoirs  with St Dunstan’s will also  give  the opportunity for donations.

When I was twenty two my mother, Marie lead a team of 25  looking after the day to day care of the residents of Pearson House.  At the time I was a beauty consultant for Mary Quant, however, in my spare time I enjoyed spending time with the blind folk.  When a full time position came up I applied,  it seems I was  the youngest care assistant ever to be employed.

Being a care assistant  was the best experience of my life, I loved  the first and Second World War veterans, and the young soldiers blinded more recently, their brave humour was always inspirational.

On my first day I was asked for the Braille mirror!!  I was told to go to the information desk to ask for it.. Laughter rang all  around at my  naivety … My first day also involved talking to a blind young soldier.  A face grey and  blue from gunpowder, and wounds where his eyes had been. I think he liked having me to talk to as he was only 19. When I escorted him out to Brighton Pier I remember describing some pretty lace, he brought his Mum a hanky and kindly gave me one too.  I also remember how fiercely he clutched my arm as I walked.  Harry a First World War veteran and other veterans would walk confidently simply holding my elbow gently.

Harry Wheeler, and the other older veterans would  help the newly blind with humour and gentleness. The men all held my hand I remember, for comfort.

I’ve many stories I should love to share to accompany these songs, 55 in total but not all here at this time, starting with songs from the Boer War through the First World War and up to The Second World War

I will be eternally grateful to the men and women who gave me so much for our freedom.