Monday, 21 October 2019


The pleasure of a good read.

As Autumn draws in the urge to read is ever more strong. As darkness slowly returns the inner world needs fuel and sometimes
a call to revisit a book read and enjoyed previously is heard.

I think it was the actor Christopher Lee who returned to Lord of the Rings every October to follow Frodo on his life changing quest to destroy the evil ring of absolute power.I understand his need to do this.
 The urge is to again find a place of the numinous that makes delving deeper into the mystery of our  inner world easier. This feels essential as the year begins to slow down.

 This Autumn have found a new book to take me on such a journey.


I have said recently politics here and in the US and the carnage worldwide has been playing havoc with my peace of mind and this is a book that has taken me to other places. The world of islands, of folklore and human endeavor. A voyage taken by a man who has a wonderful sensitivity and acute observation and who can vividly share his journey taking the reader along with him.This book is the latest work by Phillip Marsden and is titled The Summer Isles.
  The author takes his boat and makes an exploration of the islands on the coast of Ireland and Scotland.

This is a pilgrimage as well as a voyage of discovery. As a young man Phillip used to visit his much loved Aunt Bridget for the holidays He loved the islands walking and climbing with this independent and adventurous woman. She and her husband had retired to live a dream of simple living in the remote and beautiful Summer Isles.Sadly while out climbing Bridget fell and died alone on the mountain.This haunted Phillip as they had planned to climb this mountain together .

As we travel through wind and weather with the author we share his fears and inner thoughts.
We meet many of the island dwellers, those that the he encounters and those from the past or from the mythic imagination.The book is rich in folklore,myth and anecdote and the mystique of islands both real and imagined. Illusive islands that appear and disappear in reality and in the minds of sailors.
The author allows the reader into his own private journey he discusses the place of  nostalgia in human life but is never sentimental.
I studied Yeats for A level and I took down my rather old copy of his Selected Poems from the shelf and found this poem,one my Mum would recite when I was young,we both loved it and although it has been over used like Wordsworth's daffodils it is still the most tender evocation of the idealized simple life. 

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

W B Yeats
 As I travel onward up the coast toward the Summer Isles in company with Mr Marsden I will keep these images of the islands in my mind could they be the fabled summer lands of folklore ?
 Whatever I think ,they are obviously embedded in the authors own many faceted inner world.

The two  paintings are by Winifred Nicholson whose works seem to capture the soul of islands,

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Bright Star returns !!!

Well I have been in no mans land for a while . I have been horrified by the ghastly politics and revolting hatred that has been prevailing in my country and elsewhere in our world. I felt I could not think about the things I loved. I felt paralyzed and totally depressed by the realization of my worst fears.
The rise of the right and xenophobia are a creeping poison I cannot ignore.To quote Wordsworth "Mans inhumanity to man"
 The ideals that make life worth living have been disappearing before my eyes. What did it matter what I  liked or loved when there was so much that I had no control over.The lessons from the past were being ignored and a new ignorance and arrogance was taking its place.

Losing myself in literature,art and creative hobbies just seemed  a self indulgent irrelevance in the face of corruption and ecological disaster. However I have to stop sinking into  this sort of horrified depression, it does not help me or anyone else . I will return to my blog and stop being so afraid. Today I would like to think about the message of Autumn.It has always been very special to me,the wonderful colours ,the sense of closing in and peace.The first fires in the wood stove, candles in the evening!
 and thinking of making a years supply of highly alcoholic marmalade !These are small joys I love.

The smell of mushrooms and making a delicious autumn omelette with them,all these  things cannot be cast away forgotten while we work through some of the most heinous of political times in my memory. Autumn is a time for thought and contemplation,casting aside the dead things,resting and hoping to survive winter and onward into a glorious spring. Whatever happens we must search for a humane way to deal with the problems we face but I must remember to feed my soul or I will loose myself in despair.It is our duty to vote for the best possible outcome for the most people and it is our duty to seek out the truth and not believe the liars and crooks who seem to be in control.
 Bright Star is named for John Keats, his life was far from easy and whose legacy is in his wonderful poetry,nobody can evoke Autumn like Keats.His life was cruelly short and bedeviled by disease and yet we have this from him.
To Autumn

I do not think anyone can touch this for an  evocation of of this season although there are many other worthy poems on the subject. I will leave you with that and I hope I can get back the enthusiasm I had in the early days of my blog.I started it as a sort of online diary to share. Speaking of diaries I have been reading Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journals and have been touched by her beautiful prose and everyday observations yet again.She had the French Revolution to cope with and Wordsworth's socks to darn not to mention dealing with the opium stoked Coleridge's problems so maybe I can enjoy writing the blog in spite of Boris Johnson and his ilk, if she can do it so can I.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Train Journey in Winter

Train Journey in Winter.

Devon's red earth muted by winter light to a pale russet.

Farms and barns are folded into the undulating land

while deer stand peaceful under the denuded dripping  trees.

Meditating on the end of dormant winter

their soft eyes gaze far into the distancce

and the rushing train leaves them behind.

Forlorn dull leaves cling pointlesly to sleeping trees,

a buzzard perches on a naked branch,his eyes sharp as scissors.

Churches,those ancient sentinels,sit solidly on higher ground,

begging for forgiveness their leaden crosses reach upward.

In never ending supplication, they stand

flagellated by wind and rain and neglect.

Beside the sea so close to crashing waves,the train speeds forward.

Daring the wild ocean to interfere with its destination,Paddington at three.

Along the strand a woman strides wrapped in a  green cloak,her red hair free.

Miraculously our yes meet, I raise my hand and wave and so does she.

We try to hold eachothers gaze but the moment passess.

I strain my neck to watch as wind and spray turn the red hair to seaweed 

Copy right Angela Bell 2018

I found some notes I had made on my last winter trip to see mum and the muse took over.Hope you like it.It is true !

Monday, 5 February 2018

Some days you can just get lost in making!

I have stopped thinking about the present political climate for a whole day and made some pretty little things. The urge to forget all headlines and household duties came upon me at the sight of some winter sun and a bit of dry cold.

My sewing room is the warmest in the house and in it I am surrounded by all the boxes of ribbons,lace , felt ,fabrics and bits and pieces I have collected. It is shameless in its magnificent prettiness!
I have often wondered why I am ashamed of my penchant for for prettiness,  it is not that I hide behind it, I am fully aware of the importance of  grittiness and realism.
A little balm for the Trump ,Brexit battered  heart is what I needed!
Perhaps  a Valentine for someone cute

I have made some cards and some gift tags with a mixture of recycled paper ,pressed flowers . buttons,lace and textiles.
I think I will start to collect flowers and foliage this year and press more of my own for craft work.
This card is embellished with antique lace bits and recycled Victorian shirt buttons.
The ties are made from organic hemp string which I bought in Totnes Market a few years ago. ltogether this little project has been soul food.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Love Hate Relationship

Love Hate Relationship

Well most of this afternoon has been taken trying change passwords,get into Bright Star ,delete some illegal thing that my clever grandson seems to have set up unknown to me!
The computer can can be so great but when you are not that good at com speak it can almost cause violent action AAAAArrrg.
Rushed into the garden and the flowers just up saved my sanity!

This is the star of 2018 and what a lot of crap we have to deal with,no amount of beauty and delight can placate me when I see Trump and the idiosy of Brexit .We have to do something about the rise of the far right in Europe and elsewhere or I think that we are entering a new Dark Age.Nothing will ever be perfect or stay the same but we have to move to a more sensible and caring way or we shall not survive and we shall ruin the following generations right to a decent life. We must challenge all vile and hateful attempts to dehumanize our lives and those of others everywhere.Oh there she goes again Mad Angela but I will not sanction the disgusting attitudes that are running amok across society in this or other countries. What a rant eh? I could go on but I would like you to stay with me for some other stuff.

Adoring an olive tree in Oxford.
We visited Oxford and Kelmscott Manor this autumn and seeing the Ashmoleum and Buscot Park too was inspiring. How we need people like William Morris to show a better way.

Must keep a sense of humour too,saw this on the way back!!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Life long Learning

Life long  learning!

Last time I posted seems so long ago.I wonder if I have said everything I needed to say? Have I retired and started to sink into a timeless reverie ? Friends say that it takes about a year to really relax after a lifetime of work.I am enjoying the freedom and relaxation but I do feel that I should be achieving more, more writing,sewing etc., getting a new direction perhaps? There are so many things to do that I seem to be flitting from one thing to another without finishing! I think that I have a dose of retirement guilt.Have I done enough with my life,was it all worthwhile?
The way through the woods.
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

 Rudyard Kipling

1. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;         

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,         

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.         

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.         

Autumn is always so beautiful and brings with it a certain ache, remembrance of times past and those who have left us. Perhaps it is useful to allow a little melancholy as the leaves fall.

So many things are happening in the world that seem cruel and backward looking,the rise of nationalism and the way people are being turned away from compassion and empathy.
It is easy to feel that you may never see sanity in your own lifetime .
Looking back too much is unhealthy and depressing.
Live for each day,I know that is the way forward and enjoy the simple things. Love and learning go on forever and the way will become clear .I am probably looking too far ahead and must take some time out to recharge the batteries.Then I hope that creativity will flow again.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Life of freedom.
Well I am now oficially retired,I am at the place that always seemed so far away!
No more being exhausted after running up and down the library stairs and shelving heavy tomesNo more waiting to hear about the latest library cut backs..
Now I can spend time pottering about in the garden and trying my hand at growing vegetables in pots. Planting the border with delightful flowers and also have time to do the weeding in a leisurely manner!
I can sit around reading at anytime of the day and not feel guilty!
I can continually drink tea with a dash of honey.
It really is good to be my own boss, and arrange my own time.
Every morning I walk down the garden with that lovely refreshing first cup of lady Grey and check what is coming up or opening.I watch the bees busy in the Pulmonaria buzzing  between flower heads.The birds calling and visiting the feeders The blackbirds and the robin buzz me.

Our small wildlife pond looks ancient but I only made it last year,We want some frogs this year.
The pasque flower is blooming.
Primroses have evaded the slugs!
I recently bought this gorgeous viola,the heads would look great pressed and used  for card making.I have the time now!

This is the first Snakes Head fritillaria that I have ever managed to grow and I have watched it open. There are also some more coming up.They are so fascinating and have a magical  quality.
Some broad beans to remind me of Spring in Almeria!
Here come the Sunflowers.
After over wintering in my small greenhouse the olive is outside and has buds coming.Last year we had olives.They were very small but turned a beautiful mauve.The forecast is
 a hot  summer so perhaps there will be more.

Some of the veggies are growing in pots and the rocks are for project rockery this weekend!
This is a shady spot that is home to my mint collection,morrocan,indian,apple and cologne  mints but also the good old standby used for mint sauce.
This is the newest  denizen of the garden,she is Hebe the goddess of eternal youth and cup bearer of the Gods.She is only temporarily in this position  and will stand on the top of the rockery.
I have been reading two very enjoyable books whilst in the gardening mood,The Writer's Garden by Jackie Bennett and Impressionist Gardens by Clare A.P. Willsdon. Both are full of beautiful photography and painting and give insight to the influence gardens have on the creative mind.

The present news with the gross Trump and the blind Brexiteers  terrible death and destruction of innocents has made me realize the importance of being mindful of the precious and lovely things in my small life I should like to advise Trump to read"Ozymandias" by Shelley!.