Friday, September 3

Cornwall III The Eden Project.

I've wanted to go to the Eden Project for as long as I have heard about it in the media.
Lots of friends and family have already been and drooled over the amazing concept that it is.
Thanks a lot ...I want to see it for myself. [ little pout!]
So off we set from Looe on the Monday morning. All three cars. All eleven people.
I don't quite know what I expected, but I was blown away by the sheer size of the place.
That was one big quarry in it's day and goodness how it's changed.
From bare stone to lush and full planting!

I thought about what we had done those 30 years before at the Potters House, when we took what had become an unofficial rubbish tip for the local neighbourhood. That was a mere drop in a big ocean compared to this.
To have the vision and to, "put your money where your mouth is", needs long term commitment to the land and the people who will support you.

Being in the equatorial dome reminded me of my school and college days when I regularly walked through the Botanic Gardens in Belfast.
We often had a meander through the glass houses  on the way home  after school. They were some of the earliest to be constructed in the British Isles. Sadly they got smashed in the years of the Troubles, but more recently they have been completely renovated and restored to their original splendour.

The favorite place however was the den building tent.
Not many children got a look in there!
Serious constructing went on with fathers and grand fathers and mothers and children were consigned to being goofers!

Den building has gone on even since we all came back up north. This is the real thing folks!

Nuts to you!

We were sitting up the field having a lovely afternoon cup of tea and a wee bit of cake, Alan's best chocolate, when we noticed at our feet a collection of empty hazel nut cases! Nooooo! This is the first year that we have had any good harvest on the hazel tree. There are three in the hedges that surround us and this one where we have a seat is the most mature. We had great excitment a few weeks earlier when we realised that there would be a nut harvest this year. It seems that the family of squirrels thought so to! So no sooner seen than down came the branches and we gathered the lot. Well I say the lot, I'm sure that the squirrels will find that we have missed some and anyway there are two more trees that they can feast on. It's not as if there aren't two chestnut trees available you squirrels so go bark at yourselves somewhere other that our best hazel nut tree!

Thursday, September 2

A Poem for Thursday


Three blackbirds sat
in the rowan tree,
They wiped their beaks
and sang to me.
" There's nothing left for you to see.
The fruit was ours
and the fruit was free."

Three blackbirds sat
in an old fig tree.
Each winked an eye
and sang to me.
" The fattest figs all belong to me,
The fruit is mine
and the fruit is free".

Three blackbirds sat
in the damson tree,
And they were as fat
as fat could be.
They'd eaten as much as they could see.
For the fruit was fine 
and the fruit was free.

Three blackbirds sat
In an apple tree,
And each kept a beady eye on me.
But I clapped my hands
for I couldn't agree
To let them think
that this fruit was free!

Give us a break blackbirds!

Wednesday, September 1

The Story of Ballyferris...."The Beach"

The name... Ballyferris...  is enough to set me off on a sweet daydream.
Growing up in the suburbs of Belfast city... life lived by the Co. Down coast meant freedom.
 The flat landscape, the open skies, the ever present blue-grey Irish Sea, became a raison d'etre for living ...yes I think it's not going too far so say that this became a truth for me .....and the main reason for this obsession was definitely the beach.
 Nowadays, with cheap air travel we  have a greater knowledge of beautiful expanses of golden sand and turquoise sea, from Portrush to Portugal, India and least on the internet!!
But nothing can compare with early memories, and mine are of the beach at Ballyferris.
 Waking up to the smell of an Irish fry, bacon,eggs, mushrooms and toast. Knowing that a whole day and the exploration of the beach was ahead of me. No homework, no responsibilities,this was tantamount to heaven. I didn’t analyse it then, and it’s taken me a lifetime to work out even a little of why I loved it so much.
Come with me, as we walk over the little grassy ridge at the coast edge of the field.  Come down to the beach , there you will find yourself treading the worn path that many have taken before. Around you , the smell of  beach daisies.... a type of camomile. My love for these innocent flowers  has stayed with me since.( I even wrote a song about them once... “I love the flowers , I love the trees , but most of all I love daises.” ...not exactly  Larkin or Heaney!...)
When I walk on other beaches, Morecambe or Southwold, Portrush or Brighton... I strip some seeds from the abundance of the seedheads, to drop on coastal areas bare of daisies.
 Rarely did I return to the caravan without a bunch of these flowers for mum.
So, on past the daisy strip, which by the way could take any thing up to an hour, on down the beach, heading to the sea.
If the tide was out , I squelched my way over a mound of sticky brown seaweed ,treading lightly in my bare feet, for fear of some squirming creature having been caught there, left by the receding tide. The hard sand was cold beneath my feet.Truth is it was very cold, and this was probably why my patient mum always shouted after me to put on wellington boots I ran off from the caravan. Clothes for Ballyferris were basic.... a t-shirt or at the most a felted woolly jumper, a pair of cotton shorts and bare feet. I’m convinced,  this is one of the reasons why I still have fairly healthy... if rather large feet! Reach the water and take a tentative dabble at the edge with toes in, before running  back up the beach to warmer sand.
At the end of the summer the sand at the top of the beach had dried up in the sun and shone like silver dust. It was very fine and a joy to scrunch under your feet until they were covered by the earthy warmth.

This poem below was on a post by Anthony Wilson ...writer , poet and reminded me of that girl and the freedom she had in those days...


Who is that child I see wandering, wandering
down by the side of the quivering stream?
Why does she seem not to hear, though I call to her?
Where does she come from, and what is her name?

Why do I see her at sunrise and sunset
taking, in old-fashioned clothes, the same track?
Why, when she walks, does she cast not a shadow
though the sun rises and falls at her back?

Why does the dust lie so thick on the hedgerow
by the great field where a horse pulls the plough?
Why do I see only meadows, where houses
stand in a line by the waterside now?

Why does she move like a wraith by the water,
soft as the thistledown on the breeze blown?
When I draw near her so that I may hear her,
why does she say that her name is my own?

Charles Causley, from The Collected Poems for Children  (M..altered gender to suit my memories)

Tuesday, August 31

Cornwall II The Church Fete.

There is nothing that we like more, we Potters House people, than a good local fete and on the Sunday, the son managed to find a great one close to Looe at a church which is associated with a local convent. Tents and marquees and stalls full of goodies. Food cooked by a wandering Frenchman. Plants from the convent gardens and other lovely know the kind of thing that I mean!
I bought a little silver ring. The lady, and I think she probably was, informed me that it had been her daughters and she wanted £10 for it . I think she saw the look in my eyes as she very quickly reduced it to £5.
I gave it to Kate. It fitted her finger exactly!

I bought a plant that the nuns had grown. It was 12inches high. I paid my £1 and then the salesman said, "it will grow to 10 feet high". Gulp!  Never mind, let's have a go and see how long we can keep it alive up north. I can't remember what its called, just that it will get very BIG.

We try to hold a fete ourselves at The Potters House each year although with all that has gone on, we didn't manage it this summer. We usually do it and split the takings between The Jennifer Trust for SMA sufferers and their families and Francis House Hospice for Children in Didsbury.These are pictures from last summer.

                                       It's a time for neighbours

A time for families

A time for music and laughter

This is the main man
He can play what you ask!
It's fantastic fun and all the locals look forward to it and are disapppointed when it doesn't come off.

 But back to Cornwall and the fabulous food.
And the potter is wearing that sweater again!

                       Food is always a big part of any fete.
                        Don't you love how photos lie!
                       The potter looks like a midget next to the son!

the daughter has her purse open again...
don't miss a bargain!

daughter-in-law samples the savouries

and always the seagull waiting to clean up what we drop!

Monday, August 30


We are just back from a week in Cornwall. We,that  is all eleven of us, and we  got on fine!
We stayed in Looe, at least up the hill from Looe, and did as much as we could do without getting too wet from the rain! On Wednesday the local weather forecaster commented that, "It has been the heaviest day of rain in August for many years". The water under the bridges in Polperro was a mere 12 to 18 inches from the underside. But we did a lot because that's who we are!
So I think that I shall put up a kind of diary of our doings through the week. Mostly for myself as a sort of memory as it was 37 years since Alan and myself were there.  it was also quite a  special  time as it brought  back the doings of our youth! But if you know Cornwall, as I'm sure so many do, then maybe it will give you a reminder of all that  there is to enjoy.

The grown-ups sit and shelter from the rain


children gather treasure

and yachtsmen ignore the weather

even when they can see very little!

every where the signs say "don't feed the gulls"
but the gulls ignore the signs
and wait until we have finished our fish and chips
 and bring their young ones to the feast.

and Kate and I decide to do some drawing
down the jetty
as the fishermen go out
on the high tide.

Kate just wants to gaze at the sea
it's that way when you live inland
it has that effect on you. 

The Poetry Bus

Here's a recurring nightmare!
I was ever a dreamer.

The School Bus

I am dawdling
And the mother's voice
Cries out
The old refrain.
"Have you got your beret,
Got your satchel,
Got your homework diary?"

I am waiting
At the bus stop,
And it's just begun
To rain.
There's no shelter
And as usual
I'm not exactly early.

Bus is crowded
Full of children
So I'm
Standing up again.
Getting glances
Some smug glances
From a seated
Little girlie!

Still, I'm first off.
And I'm running
Through the gardens
Through the pain.
For the prefects
For the mistresses
The masters
Will be surly

If I reach
The gates of High School
Of the rugby-playing
And I'm late there
For the roll call
For the class room-
Where's the class room?
What's the subject?
Who's the teacher?

Ah I'm dreaming once again!