Thursday, July 31, 2008

Here’s a link to our local paper…parochial and sensational but lots of information about the locality and the scurrilous activities of its inhabitants. Enjoy!!
6am 31st July 08

Dawn is up and the sun shines
Through a hole in the clouds
It highlights upon the distant hill
With long fingered rays of sunlight

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Normality restored to our idiosyncratic weather as it was another warm and sunny day till 5pm. I sat in the yard when I got home from work and watched the sky turn to deepest black. Then followed lightning in huge arching violet traces but for a time there was no rain. It came after a few minutes riding on the reverberation of the thunder. Huge heavy drops that hit the ground sizzling like aquatic cymbals accompanying the bass thunderclaps. It rained violently during the close of the storm and then like a magician had waved a wand the grey vista peeled away to reveal a perfect summer evening. Normality restored on a blue sky with clear air and doves cooing in the trees. The only reminder of the storm, the wetted ground and the scent of ozone fading from the air.

K D Lang is playing Manchester tonight. I only hear about it yesterday and tried to get a couple of tickets as she is one of Nick’s favourite artists (and I think she’s ok too.) Not to be though as all the tickets were sold out...went on sale in March. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We are born to something higher and nobler
Than the pain and suffering of the world
We shall eventually grow old and fade
But like night it shall be toward a better dawn
I have now no fears for tomorrow or beyond
For you are with me till the heavens fall to earth
You are my dreams borne out of the stars
To walk softly through eternity with me
For you are found to me as a treasure
And I shall guard my treasure well

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday 27th July 2008
Well somebody up there must have read the last post as the weather improved dramatically. The last couple of days have been very warm and it looks set to be another warm, sunny day today.
To sum up Lancashire it rains a lot. “When you can see Darwen Tower it’s going to rain and if you can’t it already has,” is a local saying which tongue-in-cheek is generally true. (see section below on Darwen Tower it is quite interesting and difficult to believe that access was prohibited at one point.) I guess some things have changed for the better.
Courtesy of Cotton Town (the local council site)’s quite interesting

Darwen Tower

They say you can see the Welsh hills from the top. I've never seen them and I must have been up there a hundred times. More often than not you are lucky if you can see the Lancashire hills; mist and moorland are seldom parted. But whatever you can or can't see from up there, from down below and from many miles away, it commands your attention. You can see it from the M6 north of Blackburn; you can see it from the centre of Preston; you can see it from the hills above Bury; the hills above Chorley and the hills above Accrington; you can see it in the gaps between houses all over the town: Darwen Tower is a beacon that beckons the eye. The urge to build something on the nearest hill surfaced in Darwen just over one hundred years ago. On one level it was a gesture of loyalty to a monarch celebrating her sixtieth year on the throne, but on another it was a gesture that struck at the very thing that monarchy is all about: the ownership of land and the power and privileges that go with it.

Much more so than now, in those days communication was by foot. There are plenty of people up on the moors on a sunny day today, but their business is recreation, a hundred years ago their business may well have been business. Packmen, peddlers, farmers and labourers communicated by track and trail and moorland path, not by phone, fax and the Internet. So when in the 1870's the Lord of the Manor the Reverend William Arthur Duckworth began blocking ancient rights of way and turning people of the moor, he was doing more than depriving them of the right to a leisurely stroll after work, he was denying them a basic form of communication.
The Reverend William Arthur Duckworth was born in 1829. He was a nephew of George Duckworth who had bought the Manor of Over Darwen in 1810 from John Trafford. William Arthur was educated at Trinity College Cambridge and ordained in 1854. In 1859 he married Edina Campbell daughter of the Lord Chancellor. He visited Darwen only rarely, residing for much of his life at Orchardleigh near Frome in Somerset.
When the Manor of Darwen had been offered for sale in 1766 it was described even then as being well stocked with game. By the time it came into the Reverend William Arthur's hands gaming rights had become a valuable commodity. Wealthy captains of industry loved nothing better than to ape the aristocracy; buying castles and Scottish islands, riding to hounds, shooting and fishing. The last thing Duckworth wanted was to have his land devalued by what he saw as trespass on the moors.
Set against him was another William, William Thomas Ashton. He was born in Blackburn in 1832 and came to Darwen at the age of fifteen to work first at Brookside Mill, then as cashier at Bowling Green Mill and then as manager of Eccles Shorrock's mines at Dogshaw Cough and Entwistle Moss. He knew the moorland footpaths well, taking orders from farmers and other customers. When Duckworth's gamekeepers blocked his way, he unblocked it. When they erected more substantial barriers, he went for his saw.
The story of the freeing of Darwen moors has been told many times. It's enough to say that apart from a few bloody skirmishes on the moors, the struggle took place in court and that Duckworth lost it and that in September 1896 the negotiations were finally completed and the townspeople had regained the right to use the moorland footpaths. Ashton had died in 1894, but his three sons lead a celebratory procession up on to the moors to the spot where the Tower now stands.
The victory coincided with the need to think of a way of celebrating Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. There were not that. many people in the town who could remember anyone but Victoria being on the throne. To us now it would be as if Elizabeth had succeeded to the throne in 1937. No doubt there was a feeling something grand should be done, if only to outdo Blackburn. Perhaps the idea of a tower had been discussed openly in the town already, perhaps when the suggestion first appeared in print in the Darwen News on January 13th 1897 it was a novel idea. The writer signing him or herself Landmark added as an afterthought that such a tower would also mark the freeing of the moors. There was something for everybody in an idea like that: flaunting a victory for the common person in the guise of a loyal gesture to the crown. In spite of some grumbles about the cost, the idea was adopted.
A competition was held for a design for the Tower, which was won by David Ellison of the Darwen Borough Engineers office. Jubilee Day was June 22nd 1897 and up on the moor the first sod was cut on the site for the Tower by the Mayor Alexander Carus. It was a hot Summer's day. In the evening there was a bonfire and a firework display.
It must have been a mixed blessing of a job for the men who built the Tower. There was a long climb up to the site with their tools, the stone was already to hand at Red Delph quarry; but then on fine days there'd be grand views all around whichever way they looked. Of course fine days would be the exception, more often than not there'd be bitter winds, slicing rain and cold, grey skies. Indeed bad weather so delayed work that by the official opening day, September 22nd 1898 some of the porticoes round the base were still not completed.
Another fine day and the Reverend W. A. Duckworth was there to declare the Tower open. Over three thousand people came up on to the moor to see him do it. Many of them must have wondered what was going through his mind. It was a long way from Somerset to Darwen in those days. Was he just being decent about it, after all he had donated the stone for the Tower? Was he just showing his face, reminding everyone that he was still a force to be reckoned with? Certainly he used his speech as an opportunity to explain his position and to express his hope that people going on to the moor would cause as little disturbance as possible to the game. His tenant Mr. Ashworth was not there, but Duckworth read a message from him expressing his hope that trespass on the moor would be less in the coming season than the last.
A pepper pot, a space rocket, a stumpy, awkwardly proportioned piece, thus has the Tower been described over the years. It is in fact an octagonal structure with outer faces fifteen feet in width. It has sixty five stone steps and an iron staircase of seventeen steps. It has sixteen windows and three panels over the northern archway. It is built square to the compass with walls two feet thick. It stands eighty five feet high. It was built by local contractor R. J. Whalley with ironwork by Robert St. Foundry, copper work by Entwistle and Nutter of Market Street and plumbing and glazing by H. C. Jepson of Bolton Road. Darwen Tower though is more than the sum of its parts.
First of all it stands for the town in a way that other towers, with the possible exception of Blackpool Tower, do not. Darwen Tower is Darwen Tower because it was built to stand for the rights of Darwen people. Furthermore it has encouraged successive generations to visit the moor and has become a welcome landmark for hill walkers. And last but not least it has been an inspiration for countless artists, reproduced on canvas, in wood, in ceramics, and in metals both precious and base, most recently of all on the new railings in the town centre.
It has stood up there for one hundred years, even though on a number of occasions its future has been uncertain. During the second world war it was feared that German bombers would use it as a landmark and attack the town. An editorial in the Darwen News urged that it be pulled down. Of course it wasn't and apart from in October 1940 when seven bombs were dropped and a double decker bus going up Marsh House was machine gunned the town escaped relatively lightly.
In 1947 however gales blew away the original wooden turret that had crowned the Tower. For a long time the abbreviated Tower suffered from the attention of vandals and the neglect of officialdom. There were proposals that it be bricked up indefinitely, but in 1971 Bill Lees as Mayor launched a fund to have the Tower repaired, cleaned and topped with a new dome. This was done and on January 18th 1972 the refurbished Tower was declared open.
The most bizarre threat came later that year when an offer purported to come from the U.S.A. was made to buy the Tower so that it could be exported and reassembled overseas. The town council considered the matter and declared its refusal to accept any offers for the Tower.
And there it still stands one hundred years later at an altitude of 372 metres or 1,200 feet as we used to say. As a listed building, it looks set fair to survive well into the twenty first century and who knows that one hundred years hence folk won't be celebrating its two hundredth anniversary. What will you be able to see from the top then I wonder?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

22nd July 2008

Without wishing to sound boring the weather is starting to get on my nerves now. Will it stop raining and will the clouds part to let us see some blue sky. One can only live in hope.
Had my first new potatoes this week and they were absolutely delicious. There’s quite a lot so should keep me going for a few weeks. Which is just as well, as there is not much of anything else? The pigeons ate the gooseberries and the lettuce and tomatoes need a little more sun. I can’t actually see any tomatoes yet just lots of flowers. The mushroom experiment has yielded nothing either but I guess I’ll have to wait till the autumn to see if it has been a complete failure. The trees though are magnificent this year...tall and green and so full of health. Even the ones the squirrels munched all the bark off.

The pond is 2/3 green from the growth of water plantain, marsh marigolds and water mint. The branches of the willow arch over the water and it all merges into the soft, green duckweed that grows over the surface. The whole scene is of the greatest tranquility amid the green, freshness of water. Hundreds of black flies cross over the surface whilst I imagine the tadpoles nearing completion waiting in the water below to emerge in the coming months.

I walked up to the top of the hill but I have to say came down very much faster as horseflies eyed me up greedily, some even making forays onto my flesh but luckily no bites. I watered the tomatoes and the flowerbeds (such as they are), but then the midges came in a cloud of biblical proportions to put the skids under that idea. It is so wonderfully, magical here sat here listening to the wind chimes with the breeze softly making the trees sing. Everywhere I look I see the treetops sway and I feel so at peace. I am and shall be at peace for however long I remain sat here at this moment in time in my green heaven carved from a barren hill and may it remain ever so that nature can comfort so wherever I shall be.

Apart from that it’s all rather quiet at the moment just days of work. I had a nice meal in Leeds on Saturday with the group that is going to Las Vegas in November. Nick didn’t come to Leeds but he went on the razzle with a friend to Manchester and had a great time. Then got up early and played a tennis match on Sunday morning. I think he might be a little bit fitter than me!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fri 18th July 2008

It’s been a grim seven days with cool, windy weather and absolutely no sun to speak of (some July.) Nick knocked a cyclist of his bike (not his fault) though it is still a traumatising experience. Cyclist was ok but the car has gone in for repair. Then Mike’s mum fell and had to go to hospital. She’s ok and coming back home today.

Seems like every time the TV is on there is more economic’s not looking so good out there. Looks like a grim few years are coming. ( I'm not a pessimist...well ok maybe a bit!) Food and bills are getting more expensive and will continue to do so. It’s funny though when people say the “good times” are over...for a lot of people around here they never started. I really thought when I was 20 that by the time I got here to 50 the world would be at peace and greed would be a thing of the past. Ah the folly of youth...too many people and too much greed and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

I need some sunshine...have a good weekend.

They’ve just a published a survey of the UK quality of life (see below) and I would have to broadly agree, although I question the statistic only 41,026 people left or that we earn the highest incomes...are they nuts! One thing’s for sure for every 1 out there are 2 immigrants coming in and Darwen is beginning to look positively cosmopolitan these days. That can’t be good!

From Yahoo news

The UK offers among the lowest quality of life in Europe despite residents earning the highest incomes. According to the European quality of life index, the price of fuel and other essential goods, below average spending on health and education, short holidays and late retirement place the UK just above Ireland. Although British families earn more than £10,000 more than the European average, they pay the highest prices for diesel, 18 per cent above the average, and the second highest price for unleaded petrol, 6 per cent more than average.
They also pay 49 per cent more for gas and 5 per cent more for electricity - the third highest prices in Europe. UK spending on healthcare and education is below the European average while life expectancy is the third lowest at 78.9 years, compared to 80.9 in France or 80.7 in Sweden.
Workers have the third highest retirement age and suffer the shortest holiday entitlement - a week below average. The weather adds to the grim tally, with Britain receiving 80 per cent less sunshine than Spain and 17 per cent less than the European average.
A total of 41,026 residents left the UK in 2006, the highest number in Europe, with total emigration increasing by 30 per cent from the UK since 2001. The study assessed 19 factors to rank the UK in relation to nine other major countries across Europe. Spain offers the best quality of life in Europe, despite families earning an annual net income of just £16,789 - £8,500 below the average and less than half that of the UK. The country enjoys low taxation, cheaper essential goods, higher than average life expectancy and a generous holiday allowance, uSwitch said.
France came second, boasting the second highest spend on healthcare and the highest holiday allowance at 40 days

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A field of gold and purple sown for loves feet to tread
The perfection of delicate petals of the east kissing the sunlight
Beneath shadows of iridescent butterflies on arching Buddleia
Walk toward the light hidden low behind tallest reeds of purple
And see the sunsets arrive, the first blue and gold and beckoning
Us to see one more framed of vapour and orchid brilliance
Marvel at the end of the world’s day as it darkens to blackness
See the malevolence of impending night arrive to shroud the day
Feel my arms around you tight and know the night holds no fear
For we hold close and love comforts and warms till the new day

Day becomes night with a gentle exhale that
Trembles green sails hoisted high on slender masts
Of ivory heartwood encapsulated within elemental bark
Verdant, billowing napkins held aloft by toothpicks
That dab away at the melting crumbs of dusk.

Moths awaken, flutter velvet wings in mossy crevices
Then alight like evening angels upon the chilling air.
Soft, firm wings beat and plough the air into moonlit furrows.
For last vestiges of the day pass and cling to the distance
With all the simplistic symbolism of light against dark.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What sits within the heart waiting?
Across times of cooler seasons and…
Knows no roads to tomorrow save…
A longing that whispers for something
Better than its means may deliver
Into a void of despair made manifest
Through a longing of sorrowful tears
Into the dawn of future worlds that…
Promise all and deliver naught, save
A kiss of hope upon a brow creased
With the worries of the world that vie
Into inclement directions that keen
Across senses like a wind of change
To tell us we are strong and vibrant
That we will survive and at the end
The world shall be ours evermore

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nick’s poem

Soft air takes the promise of joy and paints the world in laughter
For who but paupers would not smile in joy at these summer eves?
To sit amongst sylvan scenes and watch each star open toward earth
For on such nights magic is born to fill warm nights with longing for…
Ancient rites and future hopes that swarm among tall brown boughs
Reach up placing thoughts of all we shall be among melodious angels
Melodious angels saying follow your heart whilst holding my hand
The clear skies bear witness to eternal dreams cast under it embrace
The sky is pale with heavy clouds that stain it like salt left upon the rocks after the tide. In the cycles of clouds, the tide tonight is far out to sea and beyond the eastern hills bathed in the last of the evening sunshine. Here in the garden all is cool and it is not so welcome at the end of a long wet day. Still I sit entranced by the beauty of my surroundings. For the world tonight is beautiful and you are beautiful and all is blessed in my heart. I must love always just as I shall forever love the grass and the trees and the sunsets that colour the skies at dusk.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Time has no sense of tomorrow her energy is in today
Time is precious between us and shall never come again
So I take every second I am given and while there is life
Shall give each one I have to you my special, precious love
For time may descry the future but mine is within your arms
And as dissipates the day into the mists of night that hang
Like moss over the ancient stone walls flung from clouds
Magic keens through the air and jolts the senses like electricity
As it leaps through the consciousness that exists between us
For life is ever mighty and our words the power of our age,
For the ancients understood where lay the greatest truth
It is under the stars of heaven on a summers night
In the sap that moves upwards through the trees
To feed from the hungered earth beneath our feet
With a honeyed taste of all the summer’s riches.
For the echo of a wind stirs a memory
Within my flesh that waits for your touch
When night falls upon the Earth
Slowly unfurls the great map of the heavens
Like some great cosmic jigsaw puzzle,
Little pieces of greater purposes are revealed
Some nights the pieces shall never fit
We may grow frustrated with the vision
Yet within all remain those joyous touches
Keeping us true to all we aspired and became
Vessels of eternity filling fast with all the love
We may safely bear, and yet still live
Never to overrun, nor wither our hopes
All is everlasting and we are infinite
Come soon; take a look at the stars with me
For they belong to us forever now
We both belong to the ages that take us
To tomorrow and always to each other
We are birthed in love and honour and truth
For hearts and minds will always
Find a way through the time and space
To give joy and comfort to those who…
Would see the beauty and peace within a soul
That somehow slipped away from the other
In ages past and now at last returns
Through the lonely fog of aeons
Never to be lost again
Shall never now slip my grasp
You are here and my world is complete
And I shall never let go for love is ours
So slip days into the past to become memories
Till we meet once again and can walk and laugh
In glorious and certain joy of each other
For each day lost to reverie is a footstep to joy

Monday, July 07, 2008

So slip days into the past to become memories
Till we meet once again and can walk and laugh
In glorious and certain joy of each other
For each day lost to reverie is a footstep to joy
Time has no sense of tomorrow her energy is in today
Time is precious between us and shall never come again
So I take every second I am given and while there is life
Shall give each one I have to you my special, precious love
Oop’s put the pictures on the wrong blog sorry

For one reason and another never seen Nick this weekend but I know exactly where he will be. Sat ensconced in front of the telly watching the men’s final as it is the end of Wimbledon today. You could be forgiven for thinking it is 2007 though, as I think both the male and female final players are all the same people again, (or seem to be.)

A new day shines clear and bright through the branches of the sycamore. Three squirrels are chasing through the branches watched by a solitary jet-black rook who ‘caaw’s’ every so often in a sluggish fashion. I am sure he isn’t fully awake yet. Just like me. Someone’s black cat crosses along the wall and the Robin falls silent and dives within the Holly bush out of the feline line of sight. I can see the garden bathed in the early morning sunlight and hope the heat of the morning rays shakes the moisture away from the ground. Then it begins to rain and just for a second I think wouldn’t it be great to go up there right now without getting ready. Just to enjoy this moment of awakening on this July morning and one thing is for sure I should come back more alive than I went and certainly more wet!

Enjoy the pictures of the garden and also note where the squirrels are chewing the bark off the beech tree…the little bastards!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Soft upon me love falls as a feather

Onto a fresh new day laid in summer

Caresses soft as angel wings till

I come forever within your world

And so sweet, so sweet beckons

Your gentle breath on my lips

A touch of a summer windblown across

Honeysuckle and roses that turns
To jasmine and orange blossom at dusk.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wednesday 2nd July 2008

Been relatively busy as I went to a barbeque at the weekend at the house of one of the ladies who Nick and I go to Devon with. She lives in Knebworth (nr London) so it gave Nick a chance to see all his relatives for the day. The weather was absolutely glorious by the way. Don’t know if it’s the price of petrol but the roads were quiet in both directions. I can’t believe it is Wednesday so quickly again but the days merge together as the weather is extremely poor up here in the north of the UK with relentless grey skies and rain. Must be summer then! Tonight brought a swift, black sky and torrential rain before brightening up again. Peculiar weather even for us! It moved me to write something.

The evening dimmed ahead of normal time and deep, black clouds rolled swift across the horizon. Time froze as all stilled to mark the heavens crash and moan before ejaculating rain down on the mortals below. Then almost in real time the skies thinned and clouds parted to reveal an endless blue sky.

So hopefully tomorrow may be a little brighter.

Ps Blog is working normally again..and have you noticed the red dots on the map top right.
The sky tonight has been a blue background laid with clouds of immense size; swollen, brooding, smoke-grey mountains that hang stationary in the air. The world drew to dusk and horizons blurred till I could no longer tell where land ended and clouds began. I become part of another world and as I peered up at the sky I seem to be looking downward upon a land of valleys and hills backlit by a burnt-amber sun. It seems to look like heaven and I imagine the future free of physicality. To be ethereal and swift, flitting in and out of soft, moist clouds and I feel I have one foot on Earth and the other upon destiny. I shall continue to take joy in every sunset, every cloud and every blue sky. For like the skies no two days are alike and yet each one is full of the most beautiful possibilities.