Sunday, 30 July 2017


     The classic poem I'm featuring today is by English poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Classed as being one of the greatest poets during Victorian times, unfortunately his work was not not recognised until after his death. His work has a  certain darkness about it, something that appeals to me. Being a  religious man, God also heavily featured in many of his poems. Other titles include, The Philosopher's Stone and I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.


I awoke in the Midsummer not to call night, in the white and the walk of the morning
The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe of a finger-nail held to the candle
Or paring of paradisaical fruit, lovely in waning but lustreless
Stepped from the stool, drew back from the barrow, of dark Maenefa the mountain

A cusp still clasped him, a fluke yet fanged him, entangled him, not quite utterly.
This was the prized, the desirable sight, unsought, presented so easily
Parted me leaf and leaf, divided me, eyelid and eyelid of slumber 

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Going Down to Bangor

    Some years ago I worked in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was a wonderful vibrant city like many capitals. In the time I spent in this wonderful country I tried to do as much site seeing as I could, although the weather was a little unkind. So when I went down to Bangor, unlike the Van Morrison song the sun didn't shine and I didn't neeed a bucket and spade.

    When I read that it will be ten years on July 31 since the British Army left the country, I wanted to celebrate and remember the time I spent there.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Secret of the Mere


    It's Monday and today I'm featuring a poem once again. Today's poem is by Scottish poet Robert Williams Buchanan. I was originally only going to post an extract as it is on the rather long side and the last thing I want to do is scare you away. But, this poem is very haunting and by cutting it short would do it an injustice.  

The Secret of the Mere

I built a hut beside the Mere
A lowly hut of turf and stone
Therein I thought from year to year
To dwell in silence and alone
Watching the lights of heaven chase
The phantoms on the water's face
The world of men was far away
There was no sound, no speech, no cry
All desolate the dark Mere lay
Under the mountains and the sky
A sullen Mere, where sadly brood
Dark shadows of the solitude
" It is an evil world," I said.
" There is no hope, my doom is dark."
And in despair of soul I fled
Where not another eye might mark
My silent pain, my heart's distress
And all my spirit's weariness
And when I came unto the Mere
It lay and gleamed through days of gloom
The livid mountains gathered drear
All round, like stones upon a tomb
Around its margin rusted red
The dark earth crumbled beneath my tread
I said, " It is a godless place
Dark, desolate and cursed, like me
Here, through all seasons, shall my face
Behold its image silently."
And from that hour I lingered there
In protestation and despair
For mark, the hills were stone and sand
Not strewn with scented red or green
All empty as a dead man's hand
And empty lay the Mere between
No flocks fed there, no shepherd's cry
Awoke the echoes of the sky
And through a sullen mist I came
And beast-like crept unto my lair 
And many days I crouched in shame
Out of the sunshine and sweet air
I heard the passing wind and rain
Like weary waves within the brain
But when I rose and glimmered forth
Ghost-wise across my threshold cold
The clouds had lifted west and north
And all the peaks were touched with gold
I smiled in scorn, far down beneath
The waters lay as dark as death
I said, " Go by, O golden light!
Thou canst not scatter darkness here.
In two sad bosoms there is night
In mine and in the lonely Mere
Light thou thy lamps and go thy way."
It went, and all the heavens grew grey
And when the lamps of heaven were lit
I did not raise mine eyes to see
But watched the ghostly glimmers flit
On the black waters silently
I hid my face from heaven, and kept
Dark vigil when the bright sun slept
And ever when the daylight grew
I saw with joy the hills were high
From dawn to dark, the live day through
Not lighting as the sun went by
Only at noon one finger-ray
Touched us and then was drawn away
I cried, " God cannot find me now
Done now am I with praise or pain
Beside the Mere, with darkened brow
I walked as desolate as Cain
I cried, " Not even God could rear
One seed of love or blessing here!"
Twas Spring that day, the air was chill
Above the heights white clouds were rolled
The Mere below was blue as steel
And all the air was chill and cold
When suddenly from air and sky
I heard a solitary cry
Ah me! it was the same sweet sound
That I had heard afar away
Sad echoes wakened all around
Out of the rocks and caverns grey
And looking upward, weary-eyed
I saw the gentle bird that cried
Upon a rock sat that sweet bird
As he had sat on pale or tree
And while the hills and waters heard
He named his name to them and me
I thought, " God sends the Spring again
But here at least it comes in vain"
From rock to rock I saw him fly
Silent in flight, but loud at rest
And ever at his summer cry
The mountains gladdened and seemed blessed
And in the hollows of them all
Faint flames of grass began to crawl
Some secret hand I could not see
Was busy where I dwelt alone
It touched with tender tracery
Faint as a breath, the cliffs of stone
Out of the earth it drew soft moss
And lichens shapen like the Cross
Some secret hand I could not see
Was busy where I dwelt alone
It touched with tender tracery
Faint as a breath, the cliffs of stone
Out of the earth it drew soft moss
And lichens shapen like the Cross
I hated every sight and sound
I hated most that happy cry
I saw the mountains glory-crowned
And the bright heavens drifting by
I felt the earth beneath my tread
Now kindling quick, that late was dead
I hated every sight and sound
I hated most that happy cry
I saw the mountains glory-crowned
And the bright heavens drifting by
I felt the earth beneath my tread
Now kindling quick, that late was dead
"We will not smile nor utter praise
He made us dark, and dark we brood
Sun-hating, desolate of days
We dwell apart in solitude
Let Him light lamps for all the land
We darken and elude His hand."
Scarce had I spoken in such wise
When as before I heard the bird
And lo, the Mere beneath mine eyes
Was deeply, mystically stirred
A sunbeam broke its gloom apart
And Heaven trembled in its heart
There, clustering in that under-gloom
Like rising stars that open dim
Innumerable, leaf and bloom,
I saw the water-lilies swim
Still beneath the surface dark to sight
But creeping upward to the light
As countless as the lights above
Stirring and glimmering below
They gathered and I watched them move
Till on the surface, white as snow
One came, grew glad, and opened up
A pinch of gold in its white cup
Then suddenly within my breast
Some life of rapture opened too
And I forgot my bitter quest
Watching that glory as it grew
For, leaf by leaf and flower by flower
The lilies opened from that hour
And soon the gloomy Mere was sown
With oiled leaves and stars of white
The trumpet of the wind was blown
Far overhead, from height to height
And lo, the Mere, from day to day
Grew starry as the Milky Way
I could not bear to dwell apart
With so divine and bright a thing
I felt the dark depths of my heart
Were stirring, trembling, wakening
I watched the Mere and saw it shine
E'en as the eye of God on mine
As one that riseth in his tomb
I rose and wept in soul's distress
I had not feared his wrath and gloom
But now I feared his loveliness
I craved for peace from God and then
Crept back and made my peace with men

                           Robert Williams Buchanan (1841-1901)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

One Small Step

    I can remember when I was a kid watching the first person, Neil Armstrong, step onto the moon. Sitting, glued to the black and white TV, I could hardly believe my eyes. Someone, was actually walking on that big shiny ball that visited my night sky.

    I peered at the grainy picture wondering if the man in the moon would appear from the shadows and either greet the astronaut, or tell him he wasn't welcome there. Yes, I had a wild imagination even back then. However, there was no man there other than Neil Armstrong who took one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, on July 21 1969.   

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Memory of Burns

Burns Monument and Gardens, Alloway
     I couldn't let this week pass without mentioning Scotland's great poet Robert Burns, as it will be the anniversary of his death on July 21. Therefore in my classic poet spot I'm featuring today not a poem by Robert Burns but a poem written as a tribute to him.

    The poem  was written by American poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier who was inspired by Burns as many others have.

The Memory of Burns   

Alloway Parish Church

How sweetly come the holy psalms
From saints and martyrs down
The waving of triumphal palms
Above the thorny crown

The choral praise, the chanted prayers
From harps by angels strung
The hunted Cameron's mountain airs
The hymns that Luther sung

Yet, jarring not the heavenly notes
The sounds of earth are heard
As through the open minster floats
The song of breeze and bird
Not less the wonder of the sky
That daisies bloom below
The brook sings on, though loud and high
The cloudy organs blow

And, if the tender ear be jarred
That, haply, hears by turns
The saintly harp of Olney's bard
The pastoral pipe of Burns,
No discord mars His perfect plan
Who gave them both a tongue
For he who sings the love of man
The love of God hath sung

To-day be every fault forgiven
Of him in whom we joy
We take, with thanks, the gold of Heaven
And leave the earth's alloy.
Be ours his music as of spring,
His sweetness as of flowers,
The songs the bard himself might sing
In holier ears than ours

Sweet airs of love and home, the hum
Of household melodies
Come singing, as the robins come
To sing in door-yard trees
And, heart to heart, two nations lean,
No rival wreaths to twine
But blending in eternal green
The holly and the pine

             John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Looking Through the Window

    There are times we just want to be alone, it's necessary for us to have some solitude. But, that I hope is a choice you are able to make, I know I can. For many though, they have no choice, day after day there is little, or no interaction with the outside world.

    Sitting by the window, watching the outside world as though it were a TV programme. The only sound in the house coming from the radio, or TV. No visits from friends and family, no laughing, no remembering the good times. Days and nights passing by, mingling into each other.

    Sometimes we need a gentle reminder that there are many people suffering from loneliness and this week BBC Radio featured the subject. The feature in loneliness amongst the older generation, particularly caught my attention. It focused on those who may find themselves alone after losing a long-term partner and I could  to relate to that. No not because I have lost a partner, thank God, but because I witnessed what my mother and aunt both went through after losing their husbands.

    Both couples were equally inseparable and it was difficult for the women to adjust their lives.They both did have contact with the outside world and still struggled. So what would it have been like for them if they hadn't had family calling, the friendly neighbour taking a minute to just ask how they were.

    If we know someone who lives alone, we need to make the time to call them. If we have a neighbour who lives alone, even just giving them a smile and a wave when when we see them, may make a huge difference to their day and life.

    Remember that person sitting at the window could be you, or me some day.


Monday, 10 July 2017

An Exiles Farewell


    I love poetry, especially classic poems and over the next couple of weeks I'm planning to feature a classic poem once a week. I hope you enjoy my choice of poems as much as I do.
    In my opinion they are vivid and sometimes haunting. The one I'm featuring today by Australian, Adam Lindsay Gordon, stirred some personal emotions when I first read it and like any good piece of writing the author took me into his world. I've added some of my photographs, in order to share some of my world.

An Exiles Farewell
The ocean heaves around us still
With long and measured swell
The autumn gales our canvas fill
Our ship rides smooth and well
The broad Atlantic's bed of foam
Still breaks against our prow
I shed no tears at quitting home
Nor will I shed them now

Against the bulwarks on the poop
I lean, and watch the sun
Behind the red horizon stoop
His race is nearly run
Those waves will never quench his light
O'er which they seem to close
To-morrow he will rise as bright
As he this morning rose

How brightly gleams the orb of day
Across the trackless sea
How lightly dance the waves that play
Like dolphins in our lee
The restless waters seem to say
In smothered tones to me
How many thousand miles away
My native land must be

Speak, Ocean. Is my home the same?
Now all is new to me
The tropic sky's resplendent flame
The vast expanse of sea
Does all around her, yet unchanged
The well-known aspect wear
Oh! Can the leagues that I have ranged
Have made no difference there?

How vivid Recollection's hand
Recalls the scene once more
I see the same tall poplars stand
Beside the garden door
I see the bird-cage hanging still
And where my sister set
The flowers in the window-sill
Can they be living yet?

Let woman's nature cherish grief
I rarely heave a sigh
Before emotion takes relief
In listless apathy
While from my pipe the vapours curl
Towards the evening sky
And 'neath my feet the billows whirl
In dull monotony

The sky still wears the crimson streak
Of Sol's departing ray
Some briny drops are on my cheek
'Tis but the salt sea spray
Then let our barque the ocean roam
Our keel the billows plough
I shed no tears at quitting home
Nor will I shed them now

Adam Lindsay Gordon  (19 October 1833 – 24 June 1870)          

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Meet Dan Pierce


    Today I'd like to introduce my main character in the Salvation series, Dan Pierce. Dan and I go way back and I know everything there is to know about him. You could even say I know more about him than he knows about himself.
    However, seventeen-year-old Dan, has kindly agreed to do an exclusive interview for my blog, because he wants his voice to be heard and make new friends amongst readers. 

Me:  Hi Dan, thanks for this exclusive interview today.

DP:  Hey Christina, it's a pleasure as always, for us both to get together again and have a chat. We've
known each other for eight, or nine years now. Although you didn't introduce me to your friends until four years ago. I don't know why you waited so long. Maybe you were ashamed of me!

Me:  Blame the publishing industry. Dan you were enlisted to help in the fight against Satan's dark forces who have been spreading misery and destruction on Earth, in return for your salvation. Would you like to tell everyone which towns you've visited so far, as a probationary angel?

DP:  My adventure started in Phoenix, Arizona and once my work was finished there, I moved onto
Tuktoyaktuk in the Northern Territories of Canada. The Devil's disciples were hard at work in both those places.

Me:  So, where are you living now and what are you up to?

DP:  Oh, I'm living here and there. Having some chill time at present. It's not easy being a devil slayer
at times and after my trip to Canada I needed some downtime. Which I've been kindly allowed to

Me: What do you do when you're not tackling evil?

DP:  I love soccer, white water rafting, listening to rock music and reading.

Me: You say reading is an interest, any books that have had an impact on you?

DP: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway for sure. While I was at Wingate High, I was chosen for
the lead role in an end of term performance based on the book. All I'm willing to say is that the performance uncovered a few devilish surprises. At present I'm re-reading Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost. Although, I did need a bit of persuasion to read it again. Mikey, I mean Archangel Michael told me it was a particular favourite of his and relevant to our line of work. Hey-ho, each to their own.

Me:You didn't mention the bible. Aren't you a religious guy?

DP: Of course, I am. I've enlisted in God's army, not only because I want my salvation. But, because I
believe that good must conquer evil.

Me:Who has greatly influenced you since coming to Earth?

DP:Like lots of other teenagers I need a little guidance and that's where my guardian, Sylvia Angell stepped in. She keeps me up to the mark. I can't hide anything from her.

Me:Who is your best friend?

DP:It's impossible for me to have lasting relationships with humans, because I'm a spirit. But, while on
Earth one of my closest friends, was a guy called Paul Mitchum. I miss him. I believe your readers had the chance to read part of his story previously on your blog.

Me:Yes, they did and can still do so by checking the archives. What about girls Dan?

DP: What about them?

Me: Any romance in your life?

DP: Romance kind of gets in the way of what I'm trying to achieve. But, I've had my moments, as readers will find out. Right now, I do have  a special place in my heart for another spirit. However, we need to take it, 'despacito.'

Me:Is there anything that particularly makes you angry?

DP:Nothing makes me fly into a rage. But, I do have it in my power to help people who find themselves
in what seems impossible situations. I have zero tolerance for people who want to harm others in any shape or form. Bullies for example and predators, which includes sexual who prey on the vulnerable.

Me:Are you scared of anything?

DP:Lots of things. But, having goals in my angelic life help push me on. I have two important goals, the
first one being that I will be granted my salvation and be able to call myself an angel one day. Secondly, that a page on God's data base will be found with my real name on it. My page in the, Book of Life.

Me: Hopefully, one day Dan, one day. Is there anything else you would like to say to the reader?

Dan:Yes, Christina. I would only ask that you lovely readers check out my adventures. The good news you don't have to be a teenager to become my friend. Whatever age you are, let's all become good friends.

Please note this work is purely fictional and names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living, or dead is entirely coincidental.

Monday, 3 July 2017

A Ball Boy or Girl?


     Wimbledon starts today, Scotland and the UK are crossing their fingers that Andy Murray will collect that trophy once again.

Dunblane Cathedral
    When he married in 2015 in the cathedral there, I went to his home city to take some photographs and wrote a post about my visit, the link you can find below.

Local public house

    Two years on, the happy couple have announced that they are expecting their second child. To celebrate, the pending arrival, I thought I would share some more photographs of the city of Dunblane with you.

The city celebrated the big day
     I think that the word, city, projects the image of a large town, similar to Edinburgh, New York, or Rome and if that's what you're expecting on a visit there, you may be disappointed.

River Allan
    However, I know that this small city and surrrounding countryside doesn't fail expectations.

    Come on Andy!