Archive | March 2016

Fifth March Blog

Fifth March Blogn

This one will just squeeze under the wire.

Eagle Flight.

Eagle, in your element,
Flrying high in the firmament,
What do you spy, above the torrent,
With your wingspread, up aloft,
Soaring over town, forest or croft?
Piercing eyes seek hidden bounty
Rabbit, weasel in mountain or country.
Lifted on the swirling wind,
Feathers rippling, like dreams in the mind.
Crying, calling, in your mountain eyrie,
Above the treeline, snow shimmering,
Ice drops melting to streams, purging.i
Over valleys of grassy meadows,
Drifting lazily, seeking, spying.
When you come to earth, beguiling,
Talons ready, grabbing, grasping,
Will you land on tree or rock?
Ride the thermals, swiftly pouncing?
For you lare Nature’s guiding force.
Your majesty. A flighting wing.
Do you see a different world?
Lord, surveying a kingdom?

Copyright Evelyn J. Steward. March. 2016.

Storm Katie has hit our western shores, plunged inland across country. Brought down trees, roof tiles, blown far on treacheous winds from across the Atlantic ocean.

It is windy in London, but the sun is shining too. So I guess we are luckier than many who have borne the brunt of this storm. And I am thankful for that but sorry for anyone who has suffered because of this natural disaster.

The last day of the Easter weekend, and like most Easters, from past memories, it has been cold, partly wet and generally miserable. To most, this is not news. To most in the British Isles, it is often the case, so we grin and bear it, and let it pass on by. Perhaps this will be winter’s ‘ last hurrah’? I wonder! I hope so.

An email from a garden plant Company today, shows me a new colour in a flower I have grown before. Petunia ‘Night Sky’. Do I spend the money? They are not that expensive, even with postage. My hesitation is this. In past years, I have bern offered promotions of plug plants, thinking they would arrive when the weather is warmer.

Nada! They arrive a few days after I place the order. FAR TOO EARLY for me to kep the plants warm, to plant them in pots ( to allow snails to eat them away as an early treat!). Plus, after last years razing of everything, I will not be going out the back until it is much warmer, much calmer weather. MSo, you can see my dilemma! Buy them, risk them coming way too early for the weather, for my preparations? Or let them go, with loss of 10% discount and ior lose them to a possible sellout? A quandary indeed!

Methinks I have to let them go. They may be around in a few werks time, mightn’t they?

I hope April will become like the poet’s dream “Oh to be in England, now that April’s there”.

Be jolly, be happy be SAFE out there.

Evelyn

This entry was posted on March 28, 2016. 1 Comment

For the Sake of a Crown – the Marriage of John of Gaunt and Constance of Castile

What a tangled web, more so than one would think be looking up our kings. So many involved marriages.

History... the interesting bits!

Constança_de_Castela,_Duquesa_de_Lencastre_-_The_Portuguese_Genealogy_(Genealogia_dos_Reis_de_Portugal) Constance of Castile

Constance of Castile was born in 1354 at Castro Kerez, Castile. Her father was Peter, or Pedro, king of Castile. Although he had earned himself the nickname of Peter the Cruel, he was also known as Peter the Just. In 1353 Peter had married, in secret, Maria de Padilla, who would bear him 4 children; of which Constance was the 2nd oldest.

In the summer of 1353 Peter had been practically forced to marry Blanche de Bourbon, by his mother and had had to deny that a marriage ceremony with Maria ever took place. However, almost immediately after the wedding, Peter deserted his new bride and returned to Maria.

Peter and Maria were together until Maria’s death in 1361, probably from plague, and they had 3 daughters and a son. Although their son died young, their 3 daughters grew to adulthood. The eldest, Beatrice, entered the Abbey…

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Fourth March Blog

Fourth March Blog.

Salmon.

Trickling water, o’er stony bed,
Hiding salmon fry,
Heading downstream,
Seeking the ocean,
Distant surf, to feed
Amongst salty fish
And kelp.
To swim the vast ocean,
Feeding, fattening,
Returning years hence,
To the same river of spawning,
Fighting currents,
Leaping waterfalls,
Dodging bears and eagles,
Finally reaching limpid pools,
To lay eggs,
Then to die.
Such is the cycle
Of Life.

Cooyright Evelyn J. Steward. March 2016.

FISH!

One has to wonder at the wonder of fish!
(The picture is just a general idea of some edible fish).

Why? I hear you say. That, my friends, is the question. We live on land. Air-breathing creatures who have, some of us, learned to swim ( not myself, who would drown) and with modern technology, can dive into waters with tanks of compressed air. The swimmers/divers see all kinds of fish and other creatures, living quite at home in water, salt and fresh.
Rivers, pools, lakes and oceans are packed with fish, all shapes all sizes, all colours, all living in that alienating substance.

Certainly, thousands of years ago in man’s infancy, most ‘people’ ( I use the word advisedly) did not live near an ocean, or even a river or lake. Would not even seem to venture into strange waters they came across in their travels to observe and think of venturing in or on this wet world, so different from land, ( to catch fish, swimming about or crustaceans further out), to feed themselves.

So when did ‘we’ overcome fears to discover the wealth of a food source that resided in water? I wonder? I do not know the answer but I guess it must have been gradual and possibly at first, more accidental than by design. Some may have found shellfish on the shore, pethaps fish that crept out of the ooze or jumped and landed on dry land accidentally. Better minds than mine must have a more informed opinion than I.

Suffice it to say, that somewhere down the line, what then passed for people, found a type of edible food near ir in the edge of water to sustain them. First shallow shores, then later, perhaps, tickling, or some kind of hook and line and found that fishing could be good, productive.

Aeons later, boats were better for catching more and larger fish, often by teamwork maybe? Who knows? Suffice it to say that over lots of time, fish and shellfish of numerous types became one of the normal food substances for our forefathers, worldwide.

However, in this modern day and age, I feel that many more varieties could be farmed and utilised as food sources. It just takes a bit more thinking about rather than depleting the more common varieties that have been overfished. Another disturbing problem is this Quota situation, brought to the European Paliament by Hugh Fernley Whittingstall, but which seemsto have done little in the short term about dumping perfectly edible fish.

I also subscribe to ‘farming’ fish in good ( possibly Scottish) waters in large ‘tanks’ by ‘growing’ eggs and fry. I know it may not be so cost effective, but it would be sustainable fishing! Some tanks already exist for salmon of course, but I believe another variety of white fish is being tried out in this manner, albeit on a small scale as yet ( also some lobsters in mini tanks -alone as they would fight and kill each other if they were all together).

What is your favourite fish? I like Haddock and Sea Bass and Trout, and in season, Sprats for fresh fish, my favourite smoked fish is Wild Alaskan Salmon (in my humble opinion, the best tasting smoked salmon) which is more expensive here than the farmed smoked salmon, smoked trout and on occasion, Kippers and Arbroath Smokey ( when I can get it, not often). I do like shellfish, cockles, winkles ( though they are not available now), Prawns and Shrimps, especially English Brown shrimps, Lobster and Brown Crab. I cannot eat mussels though. Though this amount of varieties is small comparef with the amount of different fish around our shores, even if I include varities I am not keen on or do not eat or buy for one reason or anothet.

I am sure fish all over the world is different, I know Australia has some weird and wonderful fish and shellfish varieties, have seen them on t.v. Programmes of many kinds. How exciting to try something new? Bugs, for instance, a special shellfish creature off the shores of southern Australia. Abalone and so on. There is a world full of possibilities just waiting to feed us, yeah, us, the top preditor. Loads of new protein I would love to try.
Wouldn’t you???

***The surf thunders in, beating against the sandstone rocks, spray covering the lone fisherman. He jumos back a couple of steps. Too late! He is drenched. Never mind, he has togged up for this session and worries not.

Wet hands tie the hook to the line on his rod, and in the lull, he twitches the rod, his line flying out into the surf fifty yards. The undertow takes the hook down to where the fish feed. Baited, the weights keep it low, ready for a piscatorial challenge. Several fish feed in its vivinity, but the man wants only one kind. His favourite. This one will be his supper. This one, his wife will cook to perfection and his two children will enjoy the flavour.
Suddenly and silently the line jerks a little. He has bern waiting for this telltale sign.

Slowly, he winds an inch or two on the reel. The line becomes taut but he is not yet certain. It tightens and another couple of inches is reeled.
Snap, he has it and reels faster. The fish is fighting but as he reels he is careful not to jerk the rod. Too fast, and the fish could jump off the hook. But he sees it now. Braving the surf spray, he must not move. Must not loose tension on the rod.

Finally he feels the tiredness of the fish who is giving up the fight. The end of the line is close. Only a few feet. With surpreme effort, he hooks the rod. Line and fish sail over his head to land on the rocks behind him. He sighs audibly, moves out of the next huge spray, back to where the fish lies gasping.

It is big. Eight pounder at least. Tonight he will not go home empty-handed.***
Cooyright Evelyn J. Steward. March 2016.
Be aware, out in this great world of ours, have fun but be safe.

Evelyn

This entry was posted on March 21, 2016. 3 Comments

Book Corner: 24 Hours at Agincourt by Michael Jones

Pigued my interest.
Evelym

History... the interesting bits!

24 hrsAgincourt was an astonishing clash of arms, a pivotal moment in the Hundred Years War and the history of warfare in general.

In August 1415, King Henry V claimed the throne of France and landed an army in Normandy. Two months later, outside the small village of Agincourt in Picardy, he was preparing for certain defeat. On 25 October his exhausted, starving and ailing troops faced a far larger French army, whose soldiers were fresh for combat and determined to destroy their opponents. But what was to take place in the following 24 hours, it seemed only the miraculous intervention of God could explain.

Interlacing eyewitness accounts, background chronicle and documentary sources with a new interpretation of the battle’s onset, acclaimed military historian Michael Jones takes the reader into the heart of this extraordinary feat of arms. He brings the longbowmen and knights to life, portrays the dilemmas of the…

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Silk Purses and Royal Scandal

I do love these ‘Interesting Bits’
Evelyn

History... the interesting bits!

heritiers Philip IV with sons Charles and Philip and daughter Isabella on his right and his heir, Louis and brother, Charles of Valois, on his left

In the early years of the 14th Century, scandal rocked the French monarchy to its core and inadvertently contributed to the end of the Capetian dynasty.

1314 was a tumultuous year for France; the final act in the destruction of the Knights Templars was played out when Grand Master, Jacques de Molay and the Preceptor of Normandy, Geoffrey de Charney, were burned to death on the Ile de la Cite.

De Molay cursed Philip IV, King of France, and his descendants from the flames. Philip IV would be dead within a year and his dynasty’s rule over France would end with the death of his youngest son, Charles IV, in 1328.

220px-Margaret_of_Burgundy Marguerite of Burgundy

Philip’s eldest son and heir, Louis, was married to Marguerite de…

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Third March Blog

Third March Blog

Searching.

Like the falling forest tree,
Does anyone hear us,
If we shout into the void?
Does the wind stir
If we push forward
At a fast pace?
Do we move mountains,
Speak to the silent,
Touch infinity?
We would like to think so.
Would feel elated, as if
All our efforts come to fruitiion.
A goal has been met.
But, is that what we have striven for
Since we have become human?
Is this the end of our quest,
Our search for others of our kind?
Did Guillaume le Batard gaze
At the night sky and wonder
‘Is there someone out there
I need to find, to conquer?’
Did our Henry, charge through
Six women, not so much for
An heir, but for some strange
Longing he could not quite understand?
So when did this insane push
Occur? When did we need
To know what or who is out there?
And, is this what forces us
To strive, to seek more?
Is there some future, out there
In infinity, that calls us ever onward?
For if not, what is left?

Cooyright Evelyn J. Steward. March 2016.

What’s Out There?

I think we see this search for sonething more to life on this planet ias a modern feeling. But what is classed modern these days, as the years move on and our scientists and astrophysicists force technology even further across the threshold, out into the beyond?

Have our genetics reached the end? The human body seems to have come to an impasse. The length of life, this frail creature that is us, has been given, has, over many centuries, expanded manyfold. But still we are prone to diseases, illnesses that have not been illiminated. Can our human flesh be extended further without ridding the body of such frailty? I doubt our scientists can extend life until these conditions are met.

People, scientists, have made great strides in the last two centuries.

Two centuries, quite a long time, and they have made good inroads. But, little will occur, I feel, in what remains of my lifetime. So, what of the future of the 21st century? What indeed?

How do you see human life bettering itself? Will our form change dramatically? Will we, as many sci fi writers predict, become ethereal, whisps in infinity, able to transcend the boid? Or will we become staid, not moving much because we will be reying on machines, and in doing so,will we become sloths? Will the machines rake iver our live, reducing the frail human to no mire than a slave to AI.? Who, at this point in time, can tell?

Would we indeed fall into the trap we appear to be setting ourselves? Racing ahead, scientifically may sound exciting, but I see a side where, if we rely too much on machines, we will be complicit in allowing them to take us over. Quietly, slowly, we are akready heading that way. Like in the ‘Terminator’ films, at 3. 57 a.m. Machines became self aware, or like ‘The Matrix’, will we become human batteries to service those machines?

It is a thought to ponder, people. A thought to make sure we, as a race, are nit eliminated!

Be good to yourselves, but above all, be careful out there.

Evelyn

This entry was posted on March 11, 2016. 3 Comments

Second March Blog

Second March Blog

Black storm.

Dark ominous clouds
Hang on the distant horizon,
Like some jade Bhudda,
In judgement of the flock.
A presentiment, foreboding,
The storm looming, waiting,
Omipresent. Ever closing the gap
Between far away, and
About to strike.
Layers of greys, almost black,
Or medium, like dirty rice.
Lightning bolts pierce
The gloom, like bright white daggers,
Tied to brilliant arcing streamers
Of hot metal, jagged. Ork
Sheet lightning, like some
Weird table cloth, showing
Up as light red or brown
Or yellow, only to die down
Back to black.
1/1000, 2/1000, so the count goes,
Until the raging sky is clear
Once more, storm passed,
Clouds dissipated, only tufts remain,
Then they too fade into evening twilight.
A lowering sun perps beneath the
Clouds layer, dispersing remaing gloom,
Higlighting trees, barns, fields
At the nd of the day.

Copyright. Evelyn J. Steward. March 2016.

Winters End?

I have written this poem today because, though March in the UK is tantamount to almost spring, nay, some years it is spring, I think this year will be a month of changeable weather patterns. Already parts of the North have had wintry snow, a few inches derp, whereas the rest of the winter, nott so much, and very possibly somewhat warmer through the previous months.

So gardeners, bouyed by the presence of blooming spring flowers like daffodyls and narcisuss and a few others,thought they were anythng to go by. Plus the mild winter temperatures in most of the country gave us a sense that winter this year, had passed us by. It seems that Nature is full of irony. Plonks down snow when it should be nuch warmer by now, heralding spring.

I keep waiting for the mildness of spring to boost my flagging feelings of ‘when will it end’ by wishing the sun to disperse the chill. But it doesn’t!. Oh, the sun cones out quite often, but it is not that warm. chilly winds keep blowing. At least! I still feel the cold in my old bines. I cheerfully will admit that all my life I have been a cold mortal, only because we have more cold than heat, in my humble opinion.

Sure, there have eeen times when it has almost reached the top of the thermometer, in summertime, but those times are never to be relied on. Why? Because in this ‘neck of the woods’, hot summers seldom happen. A time when the temperature has been so hot that eggs can be fried on the pavement, or the local Lido has been packed out during the week, is not a common occurramce. Some summers are so cool and rainy that we feel as though we have not had a summer at all.

At the moment of finishing this blog, the sun is shining. This can and mostly does change in minutes. As I say, nore of our weather here can be relied upon to stay consistent, consustent in being changeable and cool.

Are weather patterns changing all over ( as they definitely have done in past aeons)? One might think so with cries of Global Warming being badied about!

Of course, we have surely made a difference in the last two to three hundred years with our machines: like, on a smaller scale, steam engines. But more so since the motir car and aeroplane, the factories belching out all kinds of noxious byproducts into the atmosphere. Not much, you might say. But as each country joined the race to produce more, use more items made by these machines, then the pollution has risen exponentially.

Surely, this has made a derogatory change in our invironment, globally? And, if that is the case, then add to that the various nuclear bombs and accidents ( like Chernobyl) must add to atmospheric depletion? It must make a difference, like warfare. Back in the day, arrows, Trebuchets etc. made little impact on the environment. Even canons would not have set the air on fire.

Of course, it may just be that the planet is cooling down, as it has done many times before. We will not be here to find out if there will indeed be a New Ice Age!

For what it is worth, i really do hope this winter peters out quickly. I, for one, have had quite enough of chilly sunny weather. I want warm sunshine to ease my aches and pains. I wih to be able to sit outside and paint, stare ate the birds and inaects, or just dizze in warm sunlight. Roll on the sun, goodbye to chilly light.

Take care everyone.

Evelyn

This entry was posted on March 7, 2016. 2 Comments