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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

It was no use. Sicily, 2011.

The stifling claw of the southern Italian heat
And ash-laden mood
weighted my expectant heart,
with every Sicilian breath.

Sweet citrus scents
and soft oleander fragrance
cloyed my thoughts,
Wafting my wispy hopes
and hazy Italian dreams.

The Calabrian border taunted
with its distant closeness.
Swallows goaded.
Town piazzas teased.
Ancient sculptures jeered
with antique jibes and gazes.

The Noto cherubs  and grotesques
Smirked, with baroque smugness.
Winking, with knowing,
telling eyes and smiles.

And whilst the fresh Ortygia market soothed.
Whilst the Tyrhenian coastline calmed.
Whilst the silken bitterness
of stark espresso mornings
lulled my brooding thoughts,

It was no use.

In vain, Etna offered,
with her lower–sloped arms,
a gift of groves and jays.
But the wild-flowered garland
that crowned and softened her forlorn heights
Could not bridge the solitary distance
from her scattered  Aeolian family.

And nor from mine.    
                            
                                                                        
Whilst I searched the mountains,
ravaged the seas,
and plundered the tables;
Savouring the tangy taste and memory
of sweet lemon-drizzled gambaretti crudi.
I still fringed the persuasive landscape
and life, with an unforgiving heart.

Ignoring the summons of bells
From goats and churches.
I  bowed and grazie-d
With a heartless tourist will.                     

I knew with every ounce of denial
That this was Italy,
to the bone and quick.

But still I cast away, betrayed,
with sacrilegious purpose,
something that had once been held so sacred:
That long awaited, aged, cherished dream.

“One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Monday, 10 August 2015

"Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” ― Henry James

Thomas Coryat, a 17th-century traveller and writer; author of Coryat's Crudities. Coryate described his "...love of Odcombe in Somersetshire, which is so deare unto me that I preferre the very smoke thereof before the fire of all other places under the Sunne".

Sunday, 12 July 2015

"Sweet Thames run softly till I end my song." Edmund Spenser

I enjoy long distance hiking so I'm currently solo walking the River Thames tow path from the Thames barrier to the source in the Cotswolds (184 miles). Hoping to complete it in 12 stages. Last weekend I walked from Putney Bridge to Windsor which was 42 miles. The scenery was fabulous, I felt I was in another world down by the river. So I'm hoping to sketch my way along the Thames too.

Time and tide wait for no man.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

There's a sketch at every turn. (J. M. W. Turner)

Imagine my surprise this year when I stumbled across JMW Turner's 'Sheffield, from Derbyshire Lane' in the local gallery. He painted it during a visit to the city in 1797. I love Turner's work, so was very excited to know he had visited so close to the street I had grown up in, although my house was built in the 1890s, 100 years after his visit. The view hasn't changed much in over 200 years apart from cars on the hill rather than the horse.

A pen and watercolour study of Sheffield from Derbyshire Lane by JMW Turner

Monday, 23 February 2015

'From Death's Cold Shadow Fly'

Silence before the drop.

Both inspired by the book 'Burial Rites' by Hannah Kent

Set in Iceland in 1829 and based on true events, it tells the story of a woman on death row.
The twisted fairytale unfolds as a family are forced to listen to her story, winter is coming,
the ravens are waiting and the execution date of Agnes Magnúsdóttir approaches....