Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Sunday Posts 2013/The Kiss

I hoped that he would love me,
And he has kissed my mouth,
But I am like a stricken bird
That cannot reach the south.

For though I know he loves me,
To-night my heart is sad;
His kiss was not so wonderful
As all the dreams I had.

Sara Teasdale
Photo by Alistair.

Thursday, 28 March 2013


A year ago I wrote this.

Emily Ursula Pauline Hudspeth

Life changes everything and never more so when that life is a new one. Hello Emily, a much longed for first daughter to my brother-in-law and his partner and who was born on Wednesday . I think it's safe to say that for Karen and Leonard life will never be the same again. It will always be better. Welcome to the family little one. Welcome to the world. May you know only love. See you soon. I have so many wondrous stories to tell you.

Today, in one short, magical year she has become this and fulfilled many of my dreams for her along the way:

Happy First Birthday Emily.

Listening to

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Sunday Posts 2013/Hope is the thing with feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A Tale Of Two Cities?

Our hero is bemused - as usual.

I turned the key in the lock and walked out to the car across the half inch of snow that was being slowly added to by the minute, the bags heavy in my hand as I opened the boot and placed them, my camera bag and a couple of other things we'd decided to take on this short break, carefully inside. We always have a holiday around my birthday and this year's no exception, although we'd decided to stay in the UK to save money for later in the year, something I was regretting momentarily as snowflakes managed to get down the neck of my shirt as I got into the drivers seat. It struck me that somewhere warm and sunny right now would be a nice relief from the cold and damp of a Scottish winter. Technically it's not winter any more of course, but no-one's taken time to let the weather know and it's been dourly consistent in its approach to the passing days. This holiday would take us to England, staying a few days with a friend and an overnight somewhere on the way back at the end of the week.

Ok - maybe not quite half an inch. Sue me.

The snow on the road at the end of the drive was red slush, stained the colour of the local soil from the fields around the village, but had all but disappeared as we joined the main road a few moments later and headed south on the twenty minute drive to Berwick Upon Tweed to catch the train due in half an hour. I flicked the wipers on as dirt spray spattered from cars in front and decided that lights wouldn't be a bad idea either on a day so grey and flat and with the world in monochrome beyond the window.

The day was dull and grey and monochrome.
A lot to say in English.
In Scots we'd just say 'dreich'. Everyone would understand.

A few minutes later than the scheduled time we pulled out of the station comfortably sat at a table to ourselves. G was texting ahead to let our pal Indigo Roth know that we were on our way while I  was busy setting up my laptop for the journey- a couple of hours then a switch to take us another couple of hours down towards Cambridge before finally changing to a local service to get to our friends home town. Part of my birthday pampering was this part of journey in first class, with its extra leg room, better seats and a never ending supply of complimentary tea, coffee, drinks and various other goodies. I was pleased, but we'd be coming home standard class as we'd decided to break the journey into two smaller portions with an overnight stay in York, - one of  'our places'- making first class an unreasonable cost.

 G is a seasoned rail traveller from her time working in Edinburgh but it's not something I've done a lot of over the years, my preference almost always being to drive. A rail journey then, is special to me and I'm always reminded of my first train trip as a small boy - a visit with my Grandmother to her twin sister who lived at the other end of the world. Or that's how it seemed to me at the time. Being such an unusual and evocative means of transport to me,  trains are therefore special and I always get a frisson of excitement as a journey starts. In some ways it's part of the reason I'd rather be an infrequent passenger. I like to keep it special. I'd hate to lose the feeling.

As we stepped off the train a few hours later the figure of our chum was easily identifiable. It's not easy to miss the afghan-lean six foot five figure of Mr Roth and today was no exception as from the other end of the platform he raised his walking cane and waved a cheery greeting some distance over the heads of our fellow travellers. While we walked towards each other he doffed his gleaming bowler hat and beamed a smile, his dark locks shining in the late afternoon sun. He'd dressed for the occasion in an impressive Victorian style frock coat,  with dark, muted stripe trousers over gleaming shoes and spats. From beneath his coat the edge of a crimson waistcoat caught the eye and led the glance past an immaculately starched ivory shirt and a Jacobs-coat-of-many-colours cravat at his throat to our monocled friends face. By the time he'd reached us he'd removed one of his pale calfskin gloves and proffered a hand the size of a small country to G, who was delighted when he bowed and kissed the back of her hand before scooping her into a hug and lifting her several feet off the ground.  When he gently returned her to the platform he kept an arm protectively around her as he replaced the hat on his head, adjusted the angle to 'jaunty' and thrust a manly paw in my direction. I reached out to shake it to find myself pulled to his side while he exclaimed his delight at seeing me again. I felt my shoulders squeeze several inches towards each other as he manoeuvred all three of us around to face the opposite direction. He gently encouraged us in the required direction and when I turned to collect the bags found that he'd scooped them all up, one in each hand and one under each arm. Nodding cheerily towards the exit he began explaining all the plans he'd made to introduce us to the local area over the next few days as we walked from the station.

Ely Cathedral

At the large sleek automobile parked in front of the station building he flipped open the expansive boot and put the bags effortlessly away before the gleaming lid seemed to close automatically. I found myself grinning at the sight. Typical! Nothing's ever ordinary around this man. A quiet cough brought me from my reverie to find him standing by the open rear door as G took her seat. He closed it behind her and opened the front door, indicating with a look that I should sit up front beside him. The journey from the station took only a few minutes as he explained the rail company had built the station on the edge of his estate and sure enough we were soon to pass through the entrance gates and onto the drive beyond. It was 'unfortunate' in one way explained our host as he drove at breakneck speed through the grounds, as the views were 'somewhat curtailed' by the station but it was frightfully handy for visitors. He went on to explain that the view in the opposite direction took in almost the whole estate and he'd set aside rooms for us on the third floor so we could take full advantage of the scenery. Nothing but thoughtful is Mr Roth.

Windows like these are really hard to see out of.
Putting them them so far off the floor doesn't help either.

He paused at the wide door long enough to punch a few digits into a keypad and once past the secure entrance and into the house itself we were shown to our room and given time to get freshened up. Indigo said we should take our time and when ready he had some refreshments prepared and we could relax and catch up with all the news since we'd last met when he'd come to ours to stay a couple of months before.  Later, after a wash and brush up, our host, now sat langourously in a huge wing-back chair with a velvet smoking jacket to replace his outdoor coat,  a tassled fez perched on his dark hair and with red velvet slippers on his huge feet, plied us with delicious coffee and petits-four. The coffee, as expected coming from something of a connoisseur, was exceptional. I enjoyed the after dinner snifter that followed a home cooked meal later too. The perfect and civilised end  to a days travelling.

Indigo had just completed a challenging month of writing while working on his first book, but the output had been largely frustrating as it had shown him that what he'd hoped to get out as one novel was now looking like three or four. Glad of the opportunity to take a breather, he'd organised the next few days so we could spend time together and indulge in our shared passion for photography and cream teas. Sorry - I mean architecture. He talked us through the architectural delights of some of the coffee houses, tea shops and cathedrals he hoped to take us to before we spent the rest of the evening comparing our camera gear and discussing the pros and cons of digital photography and visualising travel through time and relative dimensions in space until it was time for bed.

York Minster

The next few days would pass quickly as we hurtled enthusiastically from place to place with Indigo behind the wheel of his charabanc. Writing this from home after the event and given the speed of his driving, the memories are blurred. Hopefully, the photos aren't.

York Minster
I got some odd looks lying down to take this.
{but I still enjoyed the snooze too}

Thank you Indigo. Hopefully we can do The Edinburgh Festival this year.

See you later.

Listening to:

The Sunday Posts 2012/White Rose

A White Rose

The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.

But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips

John Boyle O'Reilly

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Sunday Posts 2013/ A Psalm of Life

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solenm main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Sunday Posts 2012/Short Song

Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad-
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.

Dorothy Parker
Photo by Alistair

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...