Friday, December 30, 2016

Crawl

And tomorrow is just another day away
To loose again its meagre heat upon winter
Slithering away at the approach of dusk
Across the heavy rime of unforgiving chill
The orange spider crawls off the world
For now night and the cold holds sway


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Time Bloom


We are a passage of innocence in a swift perfect chaos
Until we are torn asunder in time's irreverent perception
Looking back through the mocking occlusion of memory
All I remember is how extraordinary my awakening was
Memories of flowered sunshine under long, green days
Warm, careless fumblings and a burning to wreak change
Now innocent desire is lost in the slowing, reflective, days
But flowers remain as totems of remembrance to adventure
And if days shall darken more, they will scent the journey
For in the age of dwindling reason, hope blooms all the more 


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Goodwill


To fully celebrate the Christmas fable
We light the windows, trees and gable
Pile delicious food upon a groaning table

But I cannot pretend I rightly know
Just what happened 2000 years ago
In the biblical lands without any snow

And I am now a little long in the tooth
For all the misplaced optimism of youth
So forgive me if I just pour a Vermouth

In the custom of trying to find a better way
In truth's light and our chance of sorry to say
I do understand this need for one special day

But for me in my doubt, it is never, very clear
When if we profess to hold this goodwill so dear
Why is the world still full of misery and fear

So let's absolve the past in hopes of a better time
But don't quickly forget once bells cease to chime  
For lasting peace man still has a long way to climb

So in these Christmas festivities be of such good cheer
But throughout the New Year keep this thought near
For peace to be real, we have to forgive 365 days a year

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Panettone

I finally got around to making a pannettone this year. I bought the baking tin about 10 years ago but kept thinking it would be incredibly hard to make - Wrong!! It takes quite a while as it has to proved in the refrigerator, but it is simple to make and cook. Can't believe how good it tastes toasted with some real butter. The recipe comes from Paul Hollywood of BBC fame. Good baker and good recipe. I did not use cherries and added extra fruit to make the weight. I also did not use whole almonds and substituted flaked almonds instead. On the second rise it is OK to do this outside of the refrigerator so long a you put it in a cool place. This would also work in a large, standard loaf tin as a great fruit loaf.



Panettone

Paul Hollywood’s version of panettone is a recipe that sits between the classic panettone and a brioche. You will need an 18cm/7in panettone tin.

Ingredients
500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour

7g salt

50g/2oz caster sugar

2 x 7g sachets instant yeast

140ml/5fl oz warm milk

5 free-range eggs, at room temperature, plus extra for egg wash

250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

120g/4½oz dried cherries

120g/4½oz dried sultanas

120g/4½oz dried currants

100g/3½oz whole blanched almonds

Preparation method
1.Place the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, milk and the eggs into the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook.

2.Mix slowly for two minutes, then increase the speed to medium and mix for a further 6-8 minutes until you have a soft dough.

3.Add the softened butter and mix for another 5-8 minutes. Remember to scrape down the bowl periodically to ensure that the dough mixes well. It will be very soft.

4.Add the dried fruit and nuts. Mix until all is incorporated.

5.Tip the dough into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill overnight until the dough has firmed up enough for you to able to shape it.

6.Prepare a 18cm/7in panettone tin by brushing the inside generously with melted butter.

7.Remove the panettone dough from the fridge.

8.Knock back the dough, shape into a ball and place into the tin.

9.Leave to prove at room temperature for a further 2-3 hours, until the dough just starts to dome over the top of the tin.

10.Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

11.Brush the top of the panettone with egg wash and bake for about 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and bake for a further 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Check the panettone periodically in case of oven hot spots. Bear in mind that the sugar and butter in the dough could brown too much before it is actually fully baked.

12.Remove the panettone from the tin immediately and allow to cool.

13. Serve toasted with butter or use for a delicious bread and butter pudding by spreading marmalade on slices, pouring hot custard over and briefly baking


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Icon


The shrouded accomplice to imagination
Comes as spectre of our ghostly collaborations
The emissary of fear reverses our intelligence
And where a life imitates its art and withers
So broaches evil night upon the counterpane
A tangible icon of cultured terror to senses
A tarantula that paws the cover relentlessly
Hairy drumming made to a slow music of night
And it repeats in dreams of shadowed dismay
Or it is the rasping creak of danger upon stairs
The slow footsteps ever upon riser and tread
That falter briefly, ere they resume more softly
And then to fade like an echo of abandonment
To ask in earnest that we tell a different story
While we may still imagine a better world
Before we wake to another bloody dawn 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Obliquity



The days are ever renewed by small degrees and we shall say they are but the seasons. Short passages of changing wonder wrought by the writ of a cosmic science. And yet, this is indeed a glorious globe, a glittering orb of enchantment laid to full recline by winters crushing touch that readies to rise from her slumber. And marvel of this obliquity of a green-blue silk wrapping a starry throat. The soft rise and fall of this graceful body with her daily imperceptible changes. And is it not a wondrous thing that sated and coldly exhausted from her resting passions the softer, longer, light of a new spring, shall come.

Here's a graphic of the solstices. I made it - so a guide only.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Journey


Though this is no new day
I am made almost complete
A dawn born without night
Splendour has forsaken me
You may turn your eyes away
Focus upon the distant vistas
Pretend you do not see me
There is no clarity upon this
No empty space to ease within
Everywhere is taken and held
Save the cold, dark places
But who would venture thus
Unless the world was within them
And they were born incomplete
And so the journey begins...

Friday, December 16, 2016

Light

A light I made for Christmas from a sheet of A3 matte photo paper which I made into a tube and then lit with battery lights. It's reverse says Happy New Year so it's a 2 for 1 light. It looks good and bright in a dark place.



New Days


The new, unwelcome days ignite
But always where there is loss
New flowers will bloom the swifter
In blossom enough to change hearts
So remember if days sadden and fail
Buds will open to incense our sorrow
And leave trails of beauty to follow 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Glass


When iced breath of night is exhaled
Clarity is spun coldly about living things
Tis a seeing glass that wraps about growth
To set its glossy crust of harm on promise
Only to depart on the first kiss of dawn
This swift yet ruinous embrace of rime
Like lover's promises before ardour withdraws
All wilts under the early morning sun
The rigid stem is broken and droops
And only blasted leaves now remain 
What fools we were to think of more
To let patience usurp a wanton desire
That makes us cultivate too quickly
When still there is ever risk of more frost

Friday, December 09, 2016

Dream

The brief tapestry of dusk
Subsumes the last threads of cobalt
And the day closes shut again
Shadows run across desire
The orange weft comes swift
Upon a day yielding climbing skies
But where sun sails to darkness.
Just for a moment I see another place
Sitting below the rim of the world
It lies unfettered beyond reach
And nothing of this absurdity
That passes for advancement
Can touch its sweet existence
And if such illusion passes swift
As night's spider weaves dark webs
It is ever a good dream for sunset

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Entwistle Reservoir

The annual Christmas tree dressing is in full flow at the reservoir. Well I am not sure it is the right thing to do here, but it does no harm I guess as long as they remove them again. Oh dear my humbug is showing again!








Friday, December 02, 2016

Help

Today I saw an old man; he looked a bit like me
Or at least how I'll look, when I reach seventy three
He was resting on a bench, soaking up the midday heat
And all seemed well, till he tried to stand on unsteady feet
No one else saw his trouble, as he struggled to get upright
Mostly we pretend to look at the floor, than do what is right
I offered him assistance, but he dismissed it out of hand
"I don’t need help thanks, though it takes longer I can still stand"
"When I can't look after myself, that's a day to know I'm done"
"So save your pity for yourself, for you'll be here one-day son"
So if you see an old man who looks like he needs help in a crowd
Don’t bother to offer aid; let him alone and able to stand proud

Monday, November 28, 2016

Story


And so the story goes
But not for the want of telling
And the ice still grows
Upon the dead of night
Waiting for the sun
To break its covetous fingers
And where is the unicorn now
When our time is all but spent
When sighs break like farts
Upon the new morning airs
And if there is no more hope
There is always tea and sympathy
And it is just enough now
To guide a star fallen to earth
Back up into the heavens 

Friday, November 25, 2016

It must be...

It must be Christmas soon; all the lights are out and switched on. Is there any shop out there that is not having a 'Black Friday' sale. Methinks the frenzy is hiding some very weak sales. Here is a picture of the House of Fraser store in Manchester that I took last week. Very colourful but mid-November - really!


Heretics


Radical heads cleaved and conspirator hung
From out of dark, tortured confession sung
And never imagine our malice cannot return
That on high pyres, witches again may burn
After all, only eight christening gowns ago
Heretics were destroyed upon a fiery inferno
Now scarce we can believe that we did such ill
But remember in other lands, it happens still
Here they wait for the dark days to reappear
To hunt down the weak, the free and the queer
Liberty is a currency each generation must earn
Only vigilance can stop the archaic night's return 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Invisible

I need no longer hide in the world trembling
Lest I am discovered and asked to participate
Time has wrought this splendid thing upon me
I, decaying spectre of aged imperceptibility
A latent force; no longer any catalyst of chance
Walk slower now there is no fear of attention
I have time to watch rain fall in gentle elegance
For I am at last become invisible to all others
I move naked and unafraid through the world
An autumn wanderer among thickening mists
Where care and worry dissipate on resignation
I become a resting dove that shelters from cold
Stilled into such appreciative wonder and calm
Though it took a lifetime, I am in the end saved
With time enough for one last incorporeal flicker 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Well

And what is made well; endures
For we are not well provisioned
And now merry is as merry will
When our empty fields need no till
For now the winter finally holds sway
It is indoors we come to make play

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Reflection

Some pictures from my walk around Entwistle reservoir the other day




Sunday, November 13, 2016

Undone


Comes now the quiet time
In this decay of illumination
In the shrinking days
We flee to our comforts
To fires and hearty repast
But where firelight perishes
Where heat will not reach
To gloomy corners and nooks
Returns there the time of ghosts
That sit within quiet shadows
They brood and murmur regret
To prick late upon conscience
And look you well  
At what you have done
In the dark of a winter's night
When fairness was forsaken
And all they accomplished undone

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Winter is Coming

Summery autumn is finally overcome
The eastern winds and cold have won
They take the days and shake the trees
Conceal the birds and kill all the bees
Under skeletons of bare wood we now play
Looking up into foreboding skies of grey 

Monday, November 07, 2016

Monica Waddington (1931-2016)


A shadow has fallen upon us
Naught can be made whole again
Though I am forever undone
No shadow will be upon you today
And though tis a sweet deception
All things grievous will seem repaired
And time will attest my resolve
When wood and fields yield;
Deep skies less blue than my mood
But now is not the time to feel sad
For all shall be ended well
I will wrap my goodbyes in gold
And lay red roses upon your carriage
For you have been remade
To be reunited with your love
And though this loss is bitter to me
I say goodbye knowing you are in joy


Saturday, November 05, 2016

Gold

This is the finest gold though perhaps you do not count it yet as a worthy treasure. Yet when the days fall into ruin and the sea rises above your defences in the autumn of your existence you will see that the greatest treasures were ever about you; if you had, only but looked up. 



Friday, November 04, 2016

Red


It must be autumn as the Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric is growing in huge patches around Entwistle reservoir. They never get to full maturity as people always destroy them, but you would have to eat a lot to poison yourself. It is a hallucinogenic first and foremost, which thinking about it actually might explain a lot. I wish they would grow in my garden as they add a feeling of enchantment and colour to contrast against the decay of the season.

What grows in autumn between wall and wood?
Rises from the night in a fresh-dewed awakening
Tis a red opulence that blooms like fortunate treasure
A scarlet caveat and yet welcome sign the world is well
And is there not a comfort to see such dangerous things
For if, we are to be made safe from everything harmful
Then tomorrow may wait for its protected correlation
For no wonders in crimson disguise would ever come  





Thursday, November 03, 2016

War


I think, therefore I am
But if I would use flesh to live
I become a thinking fiend
And thinking makes untruths
And I have thought up such lies 
With my dimming finite sentience 
Infinitesimal and vulnerable
Ere compassion could coalesce clarity
And we could never live long enough
Not even if we had a thousand years
To see what monsters we are become
And this is the tragedy of man
In his war against the animals 
Surely it is time to make a peace

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween


Hollywood enters  Halloween
Theatre meets its theurgy
And tis a horror best left unseen
For who can make such a fun
Of these frightening things
When by terror are we all undone
Yet I cannot suppose we care
If evil should indeed be seen
Already in our world it is there
So if you will enjoy the evil day
Make sure you have a mind
Your pretend dread will go away


Friday, October 28, 2016

Wither


Time now becomes witness
To a splendorous withering
The flowers are all fading
Desiccating as autumn leaves
Naught can restore their colour
For their vibrant instance is over
So let the wind blow and rage
Cast sepals and petals to earth
For what remains is ever, intact
The seeds endure and can wait
For new days that come again
And spring occasion births them






Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Flicker


The honey has dripped away
Bitter is this winter to come
The sharp days dull like pain
Blur around a growing dark
Beauty withdraws its grace
We are become winter bees
Inside fragile hives of dreams
With only flickering firelight
To draw memories of better days

Monday, October 24, 2016

To Rest


Rest now upon the ages
Night has come
For a child of the sun
She withdraws her light
That shone upon us all
And our days shall become darker
But in this unwelcome gloom
This unlooked for quiet
She may find sleep now
Become a ship becalmed
Slumbering through ages
On an ocean of flowers
She may take her rest
On her long missed lovers arm
And wait for sweet reunions
That one by one
Will come to her
When our winters' fall

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fury


These days come upon us wet
A feral water crashing in fury
Upon the tall, wooden cliffs
Shore and tree line lock to furious battle
As the wild seas break like awakening
Winter comes home from the west
Skyward look as leaves fall like comets
Shadowy snowflakes slide down glass
Liquid stone rupturing upon heat
New days are made to slumber in
As wasps crackle and wither in starry airs

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wit

Granted it is a sharp barb, but no blade of dignity is this lesser part of courage we choose to call wit. It is the refuge of the scoundrel who would seek to usurp reason with jest and inconsequence than be ennobled by kindness. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mermaid



Today was made for the mer-people. Water swirls around my feet as though it would wish to make a fluid knot and slowly unbalance me; drag me down into a mermaid's arms. Is it not told that in the rain they come to the surface and watch us but that all we humans ever see are signs of decaying ripples left by these aquatic fairies. Expanding circlets of wonder left as they dive in their silvered robes, flashing long tails of black lined scales. Moreover, if you could hear them, they sing of the perils of the sea. A long slow lament of deep water and fading light within bottomless oceans. Though I must confess I have never seen a mermaid the legends makes their possibility all the more real;  for as science expands it seems only the mysteries that remain hidden and unexplained are the greatest enchantment still.


Kate in Manchester

Some pictures of Kate and William in Manchester last week taken by Mike and others. She looks so different in the top and bottom pictures.




Sunday, October 16, 2016

Casualties

When I put the kitchen light on this morning, I could hear a tapping on the window. I opened the blind to see about thirty wasps flying aimlessly against the glass in an attempt to get to the light. The nest is breaking and anarchy is the queen now. The males have been evicted and the workers wander aimless and lost.


I make a light in the night and then shrink back
And tortured, purposeless they come to the window
Winged warrior queens in a vain and futile fluttering
The wasps are fading into the dawn in swarms of pain
Raging yellow- black stains on late summer's glassy page
Their summer almost done; they curse the new days
They now reject its unsolicited options like a tragedy
And were they to touch me they would surely strike
In a jaundiced ill that seeks only to assuage its pain
Piercing me with a sting, I could not draw out again
So I damp the light and retire into shadows once more
Let them rage and batter the glass for I cannot help
These bittersweet casualties of winters war against us

Friday, October 14, 2016

Halloween


It's a little early but i'll probably do another later. I made an animation to go along with it. 

Shadow on ceiling, window and wall
Monstrous silhouettes to chill and appall
Flickering shapes that form in the night
We hide under the covers; shake in fright
For what might slither from under the bed
Or lurk within a closet to fill us with dread
Vampires and werewolves, ogre and witch
A bestiary of monsters to our reason unstitch
And once the fiends your own eyes have seen
You will begin to believe about Halloween 




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fall


This folly, this whim, this optimism of day
Till dusk when I settle still to fade and fall
And so I lie, as the night flies soft about me
But still my dreams burn and rage against time
These hopes and wishes set ablaze in the hearth of day
To now be consumed in such disenchantment by night
Yet still I settle and still and I fade and fall
And in such a state am I revived again to rise
To rekindle the sweet anticipation for tomorrow 


Monday, October 03, 2016

Endgame


The last new hornet queen leaves the nest to make her way into the autumn as two of the workers watch by the entrance.

Vespa:   Well that's the last of them gone; finally we have some free time for us. It has been a hard summer getting all the new queens raised. You'd think we'd get a bit of gratitude from the old one, but no; might as well wish for jam everyday instead.

Crabro: If you think there will be any free time then I suggest you make the   best of it. Have you not noticed how cold it is becoming, or that the light fails ever earlier these days?

Vespa:   Hey I've been busy you know. Feeding these ungrateful new queens was pretty hectic. So what if the days are not as warm now.  We will fly only on the sunny days and spend the other time here at home among the family. Though I have to say the mood of the hive is so much gloomier of late. You think everyone would be happy to see the end of our great work.

Crabro: And there you have it. It is the end of our great work and also it is the end of us. You do understand we won't see another summer sister? We have completed our task in the great scheme of the world. We are not fertile and we cannot feed in the winter. We are expendable; there is no food and even if there were, we cannot survive its cold. We shall linger a few weeks more and maybe the frost will come late if we are lucky.

Vespa:    It doesn't seem to be very fair then. We do all the work and then die.
Crabro: Fairness is immaterial. The queen is worn out and ready to rest as are also most of us. The new queens have mated and will feed and then sleep till the days of spring return. Then completely alone they must begin all this again. Do not envy them sister for theirs is the hardest task of all.

Vespa:    What of the males then. Will they survive?
Crabro: The males who mate die soon after and the rest well they follow pretty soon after. They are bred for a single purpose and once they have left we do not let them back again.

Vespa:    How come you know all this happens to us sister and yet I do not?
Crabro: Because sometimes due to chance one of us workers will survive the awful winter and emerge again in the spring. I remember I fed and then I slept among the paper cells till the new queen awoke and then I was able to serve her.  This is my second year. I am older than the queen herself.

Vespa:    You know I always thought your wings were ragged. But I didn't like to say.
Crabro:   May I tell you a secret sister.

Vespa:    Of course

Crabro: I layed a single egg once and watched it for weeks till it hatched. It was a male and it was raised and in the autumn it flew out to mate and I never saw him again. I remember it had silver antennae which is very rare for us wasps. Normally they are completely black.

Vespa:  Can we lay eggs then? I thought only the queen could do that.
Crabro:  Normally that is the way of things but sometimes if we wish it enough we can produce them.

Vespa: I wonder what happened to your boy?
They sit on the paper comb silent and the old queen comes over.

Queen:    Come on girls, you know the rules; no loitering at the entrance. Away with you both; there is still some nectar to be had yet. She flicked them playfully with her silver antennae and they bowed and flew off into the dawn.

Vespa:  did you see; her antennae are silver
Crabro:  I always wondered about that too.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Forget


But I could never forget you
Like mist on a summer morning
Softer than all my whispered lies
Memories wreath my footfall
And if I stumbled and fell
I would not stay down
For you taught me to rise up
And disperse into dawn's bliss

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wait


The warm wolf of inclination comes out from night. See her come swift upon us and feel her humid breath exhaled from between the fangs of growth; for summer is here. But she will exit as fleetingly as her entrance just as we become accustomed to her warmth. For as soon as we come to love the heat that drives down like a hammer upon us; we, the temperate nails fashioned from the 'joie de vivre' of spring she is gone and winter will return. Then we will shrink to the warmth of hearths and kitchens but we will not wither. There we will rest and plan and wait by the well stocked larder for another summer to bring forth its bounty.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Doors of Moria

From the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J R R Tolkien


The Moon now shone upon the grey face of the rock; but they could see nothing else for a while. Then slowly on the surface, where the wizard's hands had passed, faint lines appeared, like slender veins of silver running in the stone. At first they were no more than pale gossamer-threads, so fine that they only twinkled fitfully where the Moon caught them, but steadily they grew broader and clearer, until their design could be guessed.

At the top, as high as Gandalf could reach, was an arch of interlacing letters in an Elvish character. Below, though the threads were in places blurred or broken, the outline could be seen of an anvil and a hammer surmounted by a crown with seven stars. Beneath these again were two trees, each bearing crescent moons. More clearly than all else there shone forth in the middle of the door a single star with many rays.

'There are the emblems of Durin!' cried Gimli.

'And there is the Tree of the High Elves!' said Legolas.

'And the Star of the House of Feanor,' said Gandalf. 'They are wrought of ithildin that mirrors only starlight and moonlight, and sleeps until it is touched by one who speaks words now long forgotten in Middle-earth. It is long since I heard them, and I thought deeply before I could recall them to my mind.'

'What does the writing say?' asked Frodo, who was trying to decipher the inscription on the arch. 'I thought I knew the elf-letters but I cannot read these.'

'The words are in the elven-tongue of the West of Middle-earth in the Elder Days,' answered Gandalf. 'But they do not say anything of importance to us. They say only: The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter. And underneath small and faint is written: I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs. '
 
Picking up his staff he stood before the rock and said in a clear voice: Mellon! The star shone out briefly and faded again. Then silently a great doorway was outlined, though not a crack or joint had been visible before. Slowly it divided in the middle and swung outwards inch by inch, until both doors lay back against the wall. Through the opening a shadowy stair could be seen climbing steeply up; but beyond the lower steps the darkness was deeper than the night.


My picture take on it