Monday, 30 January 2012

Exercise and Me ....

Well it's rather like this - I was never great at any sport and never really an enthusiast.   I love to watch tennis and always get carried along with the Olympic thing but apart from that - No.   I have attempted to get into "going to the gym" but always came away feeling it wasn't "really me" and that I'd much prefer digging a hole in the garden, eating chocolate, reading a book or even watching paint dry .... for which you do not need spray on tan or fancy gym gear.   Then there were aerobic classes followed by Step Reebok, callanetics, pilates, yoga, zumba and probably others I've long since removed from my memory, and I was always the one secretly looking at my watch to see when this particular torture would be over with...... please let it end.   The only thing I've actually enjoyed were my daughter Sian's amazing yoga classes in the States and they are great especially the music she plays during them!

Anyway I need to confess that I now have my own enforced unbidden exercise routine ..... as in yesterday ... it was Sunday and I had been to church, cooked dinner and washed up.   Steve went to do the man jobs - cleaning the car and putting out the bins (as it happens we work well as a team with traditional gender roles so please don't scream at me!) and so with a cup of coffee I would relax and read my book.
Ah where is said book - upstairs beside my bed and so running up (exercise one) I get book and being a woman decide to tidy a few things away and also pop into Steve's office for something and down I come ... get myself comfy, have a slurp of coffee ... now where's the darn book?   Must have left it upstairs - retrace steps (forgetting some actions) and come back down to lounge again to hunt on the sofa amongst the cushions - nothing - aagh!!  Back up again (still running) check everywhere and then remember I went into his office - of course there it is on the desk .....
Now do you understand I do this unbidden style of exercising several times a day and it's driving me craaaazy!   Having to return to the place you first visited in order to remember what it was you were going to do next .... oh well perhaps it's God's way of making sure I do engage the old body now and again even if it won't be in any standard routine previously mentioned!     Right now where was I, what page was it, ah yes here we go - happiness is curling up (eventually) with a good book even if the coffee is cold ....

Monday, 23 January 2012

Hand-knitted patchwork bedspread

Ta-da! Just completed my bedspread which was knitted by me totally using charity-shop wools in smoky pinks and neutrals .... I've backed it with a busy little rosebud patterned cotton which has a lovely taupe background so not too girly .....   I started it at the beginning of September (even doing quite a big section in the States in October) and have turned to it inbetween knitting a cardigan, sweaters, hats for the homeless etc.  It was fun and I'm warmed both physically and visually by the result.

This image shows the backing fabric.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


With the bulbs prematurely forcing their way through the cold soil I started to dwell on the myth behind the narcissus flower and the following poem came about ......

Golden Mimosa brushed his lips
Silver orchids at his fingertips
White roses round his ankles, toes
Between those toes a tiny rose
Upon his splendid head twined laurel,
Ivy, bluebells, lillies, sorrel
A body fine and handsome he
He pined away so lovingly
Enraptured by his own facade
Now captured on a Grecian vase
And in that lovely flower in spring
Narcissus' only offering.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Arlington Street

Whilst spending time in Massachusetts in the autumn of 2011 I experienced many special moments;  one in particular inspired the poem below, Arlington Street .....

Arlington Street

It’s a street, just a side-street
A neat street, not my street
Arlington Street, Somerville, Boston
My daughter’s street ….

It’s October - not a sunny day, nor a dull day
It’s not a rainy day, nor a gusty day
It’s a sort of blah day
You know, just a day ….

Looking out of the living-room window
I see and hear the clanking of the dustcart
It’s collecting the appropriate bins
Trash, recycle, garden waste, whatever
It moves on down the street
Arlington Street …..

The houses on this street
Are proud, tall 1850’s three-storey
Clapperboard of grey, faded-green and the like
Now and again there are apartments
Small front gardens, hard surface drives for the cars
You know the sort of thing  ….

I’m still standing there, still staring there
In my early-morning fug
When, opposite there is a woman
There on the drive, in Arlington Street, beside her flat …

She’s neither plain nor beautiful
She’s neither young nor old
She’s neither plump nor skinny
American I guess but the flash of dark eyes
The slant of the cheekbones
Speak of the East

I blink
I blink again
Mmm Yes, she’s still there

Wearing what I’d call a jumper, they’d say, sweater
It was neither fancy nor dull
The same could be said for her pants –
Not distinctive, just average ….

But here, before this unseen audience of one
The woman holds me captive
She’s mesmerising
She’s performing Tai Chi
With fluid gazelle-like movements
It’s entrancing …. So out of context, so perfect ….

Her face is unchanging, inscrutable
One moment she’s standing straight on one leg
Upright, like a summer’s silver birch
The next she bends the knee of the other and with
Perfect balance revolves
Like a Markova, a Nureyev even ….

She crouches, she squats, arms stretch, then bend
And all the time the torso is straight
The head erect and poised.
One minute up and  then down, so many different moves, poses and
Never a wobble, never a falter.
Just like water flowing with beauty and grace….

It must be twenty minutes  I’ve stood stock-still
Watching this  strangely moving and mystic drama unfold….
I want to applaud,
Throw flowers at her feet
Rush out and gush out my admiration …..
Of course I do none of these things.

Instead I watch awestruck as she turns on her heels
And workmanlike  walks from her drive
Leaving me to dwell on the magic and magnetism
Of ordinary people
Doing extraordinary things.
This time on Arlington Street, Somerville, Boston.