melting Autumn sun
soft against the silver sky
nips at Summer’s heels
melting Autumn sun
soft against the silver sky
nips at Summer’s heels
“Your crocuses are out,” I was informed. I resisted the temptation to reply, “Actually, it’s ‘croci’,” and instead looked out of the window to see a dozen or so violet flowers just beginning to show themselves. It’s been a topsy-turvy sort of a winter. One day quite warm, the next sleeting down and covering cars, roofs and gardens with a sprinkling of ice. One night cold, crisp and clear – and another night chucking it down with gale force winds to boot. I would not be at all surprised if the croci (crocuses) decided to go back down again into the lawn! At least the days are getting longer and there is more daylight.
As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ was executed unjustly but that after he was dead and buried, he was raised to new life by God’s Spirit. We celebrate this every year – do we realise what a big deal this is? Sometimes, I suppose, it all seems a long time ago and the excitement we might have once felt has faded. But it is worth taking time to remember. It is worth taking time to remind ourselves that Easter gives us hope for the future – and hope for the present: the same Spirit that brought new life to Jesus is one that God gives to us his Church.
I know it does not always feel like that. Sometimes it must feel a bit like those crocuses (croci): we look forward to summer and yet we get ice dropped on us. Perhaps we wish we could go back and hide in the lawn. The weather might not seem too good but that does not mean that the days are not getting longer. Life might be hard sometimes, but that does not have to mean that we give up the promise of new life that Easter stands for.
May we all have a blessed Easter when it finally arrives, whatever the weather.
Sunlight dripping through the summer haze
Bright fingers drift through branches
Honey-like running off the comb
Dripping golden light from leaf to twig to bough to ground
Summer and autumn mingle there
On leaves not yet dry, nor truly green.
Heat has had its crescendo
Rain will reign again soon enough
Today’s muggy warmth will not last
but its sort-of-peace will do for now
John Keats, 1795-1821 from “Sonnet: Oh! How I love, on a fair summer’s eve”
It was a mixed bag of weather – rainy most days – when we visited the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. We stayed five nights in a holiday flat. As accommodation went it was OK but it was very much a Summer holiday flat – not the best place for a cold and wet November. So we fed the hungry gas and electric meters while making sure we had enough layers on; two or three pairs of socks, for instance.However, there were some interesting places to see in the forest and in the rest of Gloucestershire. Here are some photos of some of them.
Puzzlewood was OK but the gloomy weather did not help. I reckon that more sunshine would have improved things; ironically by making the shadowy places seem darker. It is supposed to be “atmospheric” and has been the location for some sci-fi/fantasy TV shows and films. Having said that, the first thing that caught my attention was the car park sign which is clearly quantum:
This might give you an idea of what it was like
Westonbirt Arboretum, across on the other side of the river Severn, really deserves an entry all to itself. This is just a small selection of the photos I took. A number of people mentioned that the colours of the autumn trees were not as good as most years. The weather this year has been unseasonable: much, much wetter than usual. Also, the frosts seem to be later in arriving this year which may seem like a nice idea except that much of nature uses them as a trigger to go into Winter-mode – leaves falling, hibernation etc.
We paid a visit to the city of Gloucester itself. One new thing I learnt is where it got its name from. I already worked out that there was a Roman connection from the suffix “-cester”; what I did not know was that the place was named after the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus.Loosely translated, Gloucester means “Gus’s Barracks”.
Once we worked out where to park the car we visited the Cathedral and the city docks including the canal museum.
The first two photos were taken inside the Cathedral.
These two are of the docks.
We would visit Gloucestershire and the Forest of Dean again – but in warmer weather.
Just some photos when the sun shone, gliders flew and the bees buzzed. Oh, and the sky was blue.
… containing not a mix of fruity tropical parrots but a variety of seeds.
Meanwhile, in a high street shop not so far away from the market stall where I saw that ambiguous notice, I wandered round with a voucher looking for a t-shirt or jumper I could buy. I needed both – the one for the warmer climate for our holiday, the other to replace one of the several jumpers that are now rather the worse for wear. I didn’t stay long. I wasn’t just that I couldn’t find any that I liked, but that they all seemed to be various shades of dull. Yes, there were red, green and purple as well as black and grey but they all seemed to be lacklustre. Now, it might have been the lighting, I don’ think it was my eyes (I did check later to see if I could see bright colours!) so I’m left with thinking that muted, pastel (or dull) is in this season.
Perhaps I was being a little unrealistic in expecting summer colours at a clothes shop in the middle of autumn. I know, Jesus told his disciples that they should not worry “what should we wear” so I’ll make do with what I’ve got a little while longer – and keep an eye out for fruity parrots.
OK so this post may be a bit twee but we did pass a couple of pleasant hours of a summer afternoon at or on the local steam railway. It is run by a charitable trust and much of the site reflects its mid-twentieth century hey-day. The photographs below include the train we went on.
Apart from the possibility of a leisurely train ride in the countyside (on a rather short stretch of track, it has to be said) it is possible to walk alongside the track on a local cycle/foot path. There you can see the signals change and even see the wires move that pull the mechanism – if you are alert enough and know where to look.
So I don’t have any photos of either. I don’t know if it is unusual to have both snowdrops and bluebells in a garden at the same time but this year we did. After a harder than usual winter – colder, duller, gloomier – the snowdrops had to combat frost and snow. By the time they appeared the weather had turned round and we had an unseasonably warm Spring – temperatures and sunshine that would have done any English Summer proud. Although we have had more cloud of late I think it has only rained here twice since the beginning of the month (admitting that we might have slept through night-time rainfall) when typically it rains about half the week.
It has been reported that English strawberries are early this year. That is good news as far as I am concerned as I like them more than apples, for instance. Apparently, the early arrival of the English strawberry might be a concern for the traditional dish at Wimbledon if the season not only arrives a month early but finishes too early as well.
In the meantime our red poppies have flowered. I think they are a bit early too. A couple of photos are included here.