Thursday, November 4

A Poem for Thursday.

At twentyone I left the land
and travelled on the Irish Sea.
I reached a southern port
And taught the children
on the chalky hills.
They thought I was a foreigner

French perhaps.

At twentysix I travelled north
And settled in a smokey town.
Where words were old and beer
was drunk on Friday nights
in crowded bars.
They thought I was a foreigner.

Scottish perhaps.

In troubled times I went back west
To where the planted people lived.
And dodged the bombs and
feared the fires where city folk
still walked and worked.
I felt I was a foreigner.

English perhaps.

Now 40 years have come and gone
And wars are fought and lives are lost.
And fights are won or
so they say though where
or when I do not know.
And none of us are foreigners

Human perhaps.

[The art work is based on the gaelic meaning of Donegal...."The stronghold of the foreigners...the Vikings". and all items were collected on Irish beaches.]

Wednesday, November 3

Autumn Colours at The Potters House Penketh

We may have a bonfire this evening if the rain stays off.
Even if we don't, this is the last week of these beautiful colours in the garden. Why am I always caught unawares by the glory of the late autumn?  I think,"oh no winter comes!", and then up comes this display, and I'm loving the time of year again. So here it is for another few days.

Lots of leaves, but more to come.

Berries and fruit galore.

The orchard has given up it's goodies.

No more swinging in the hammock, the family birch for each of the eleven members...settles down for a quiet winter.

Thankyou Gardener.

Tuesday, November 2

Alan's Art ..... The Drop of Water.

This ceramic piece was made for a show at The Brighton Festival a couple of years ago.
Each year Annelies Clarke, whose home we exhibit in, has a theme  for the artists in her show to follow.
That year it was the earth's reserves and how we use or abuse them.
This piece is symbolic of one drop of water and the earth's need of it to sustain life.

More art from The Potters House can be seen on Flickr.

Monday, November 1

The Grave

Rosie and I went looking for the grandparents' grave last week up in the hills north of the city.
Not as weird as it might seem, for we always talk family when we get together in Belfast.
I've written already about Aunt Helen.
She lived with us until Rosie was born and had a big influence in our lives.
If things were getting tense in the home on a slow Sunday...she would say," right Tish get your coat on girl, we're going up to the grave!!"
This entailed taking two buses and a bit of a walk. She maintained that it would do me good. I was about six or seven.
When we arrived there was always a procedure to go through.
Firstly she would be appalled at the state of the grass around the grave.
" Why do I pay that fella to cut the grass when he doesn't bother. Stay here Lizzie while I go up and give him a bit of my mind"
When back I was instucted to stay put , while she took the dirty water away and the old flowers and brought back fresh.
Each time I was informed that the hedge had been planted by my older brother, and wasn't it growing well?
When all was achieved she called ,"Come on Face, that's all that we can do, lets go home."
Much relief from me.
Do you think we could find the blooming place last week? Not a bit of it . We wandered for a good hour . Then eventually found a hedge and stuck our two roses in it.
It could have been the brother's, but then again maybe not.


I bought Seamus Heaney's new poetry book in Ballymena .
Here are some lines that say all that I could not.

A Herbal
after Guillevic's "herbier de Bretagne"

Everywhere plants
Flourish among graves,

Sinking their roots
In all the dynasties
Of the dead.

Was graveyard grass
In our place
Any different?

Different from ordinary
Field grass ?

Remember how you wanted
The sound recordist
To make a loop,

Wildtrack of your feet
Through the wet
At the foot of a field?


Yet for all their lush
Compliant dialect
No way plants here
Arrived at a settlement.

Not the mare's tail,
Not the broom or whins
It must have to do 
With the wind.


Not that the grass itself
Ever rests in peace.

It too takes issue,
Now sets it's face

To the wind,
Now turns it's back.


" See me?" it says,
" The wind

Has me well rehearsed
In the ways of the world.

Unstable is good.
Permission granted!

Go then, citizen
Of the wind.
Go with the flow." 

Seamus Heaney
Human Chain

Seamus Heaney by Derek Hill.

Sunday, October 31


Last week was spent with my sister in Belfast. That's Rosie McClelland the artist and teacher extraordinaire.
She is preparing the wedding goodies for her daughter's nuptials in Goa. I was there to be a "little housewifey" so that she could get on with the job in hand!
We had a ball. Laughed a lot ...'til we cried. Met some more of the new family..[there's a story and a half]..
Saw the new twins, I say new , they are soon going to be two .

Ate at the new part of The Merchant,  Berts, where my nephew is head chef, top food!
Ate at Zen Japanese restaurant, first time for that food.
Went to have a look at the gorgeous clothes in  Envoy of Belfast, where Rosie's daughter works...stunning!!
Met up with my old friends from teenage years at the Bay Tree in Holywood, and lots more laughing of course.

Went to the Ulster Museum to see the 2010 Royal Ulster Academy Show and then on to Clandeboye estate to see the latest exhibition at the Ava Gallery.
And she still managed to get three garments nearly finished!