Making precious memories: Thomas Hardy’s poems

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violin

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Thomas Hardy  has always tended to be better known for his novels than for his poems, but among the hundreds of poems he wrote on a wide range of subjects, there are some very memorable ones. This has always been one of my favourites:

The Self-Unseeing

Here is the ancient floor,

Footworn and hollowed and thin,

Here was the former door

Where the dead feet walked in.

 

She sat here in her chair,

Smiling into the fire;

He who played stood there,

Bowing it higher and higher.

 

Childlike, I danced in a dream;

Blessings emblazoned that day;

Everything glowed with a gleam;

Yet we were looking away!

Hardy here is describing a scene from his childhood: it’s a family occasion with his father playing his violin as the young Thomas dances and twirls and his mother looks on smiling. The last two lines are the most poignant since they carry the message that this family time was a very precious moment  but, sadly, they had not appreciated this at the time. Continue reading

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?

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Now the better weather’s here, there should hopefully be some time for at least most of us to take a break and relax a little. As spring is gathering momentum, it’s a good time to get outdoors and – well – do nothing. Just have a look and enjoy  the natural world around you.

Technically, this poem by  W.H. Davies may not be the greatest, but I’ve always appreciated the sentiment expressed in it and the poem is certainly eminently memorable and quotable. Over the years, the opening two lines have often popped into my head at times when I know I need to slow down and get some perspective in my busy life.

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Developing your Creativity

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What is Creativity?

What do we envisage when we hear someone called a “very creative person”? Possibly we assume that he or she is a gifted artist or composer, or someone whose home is filled with beautifully hand-crafted objects. Maybe it sounds like this is someone we should be in awe of. Then we might compare ourselves –inevitably unfavourably , telling ourselves that we just couldn’t hope to compete , that we’re “not that creative”.

But creativity has nothing to do with competition. The etymology of the word “create” is connected with the idea of giving life – of producing something where nothing existed before. Beyond this, it has the sense of being able to transcend traditional ideas to produce something original and imaginative. In other words, to come up with something a bit different. Continue reading

How to organise your day – and feel good!

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Now that we’re moving into the busy season of a-million-things-to-do-before-Christmas, it seemed a particularly opportune moment to think about how I could organise my time a bit better. I had three key goals:

  1. To get some tedious tasks done out of the way
  2. To avoid procrastination
  3. To factor in time to do some things I enjoy

When I have a free day, (I reasoned to myself) I could perhaps spend all of it doing the dreary things that need to be done: sorting out accounts and admin, cleaning and housework   or organising my clutter. But, of course, I don’t want to do those things so none of them even get started. Alternatively, I could plan to spend the whole day doing something I enjoy: seeing friends, reading or watching a film, immersing myelf into a craft project. I don’t do that either, though, largely because I feel guilty about not doing all the dreary things. Continue reading

Do you know your proverbs?

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In days gone by, people loved wise old sayings. It seemed like a point was never made simply and directly if it could be dressed up in an illustrative metaphor or catchy phrase.

My mother and her mother could have whole conversations in proverbs. It would go something like this:

Mum: Old Arthur’s sailing close to the wind.

Gran: Yes, he’ll need to look before he leaps.

Mum: But he’d better strike while the iron’s hot.

Gran: Well, fortune rewards the brave. It’s an ill wind, after all.

Mum: Hm,but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Gran: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Though there’s many a slip!

Rough translation:

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Top 20 Healthiest Foods #12 Carrots

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What’s not to like about carrots?
Carrots are cheap, readily available, eminently versatile, easy to store, filling, nutritious – and colourful. What’s more, you can enjoy them both raw and cooked. No wonder carrots are the UK’s favourite veg!

Beware, though, of cheap uniformly shaped and sized supermarket carrots which have often been frozen with a resultant loss of flavour and a tendency to rot quickly. These have often been treated with pesticides too so, if prices are reasonable, it makes sense to buy organic. Carrots fresh from the ground have unbeatable flavour. (Actually, they’re easy to grow – why not give it a go?)

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When in Rome do as the Romans do

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So there I was in Rome. The eternal city; the city of echoes; the city of illusions; the city of yearning; the city overwhelmed by its own greatness. Hm, a lot of people have said a lot of stuff about Rome.
But what should I be doing while I was there? Ah, of course: “When in Rome do as the Romans do.”
I simply had to find out what the Romans do, then copy it. Clearly there was a need for some close observation of the Romans. During my three-day stay I reached some obvious conclusions about what Romans do, then gave careful consideration as to whether I would be able to do this do too – or, indeed, whether I would want to.
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