Friday, 16 February 2018

The Coming Of Spring

Can you hear the impatient whisper of Spring
now the long Winter draws to a welcome end.
She begins quietly and timidly to tip toe into view
leaving her footprints as testimony in the ground.
Bulbs have pushed tentatively through the soil,
crocus now flowering in all their glorious colours
competing with the golden primroses and primulas,
their appearance bringing such cheer to us.
Cherry trees adorned with baby pink blossom,
trees and shrubs beginning to bud into life,
earth is awakening from it’s long deep slumber
and brings us the hope of renewal and rebirth.
Now the days are slowly growing longer,
warmer air blows in on a gentle breeze,
with it come the sounds of birds’ sweet song
who sense the coming of the long awaited Spring.
Jacqueline C Nash
Art Kevin Mortimer

Thursday, 15 February 2018


In the Western world, the New Year falls consistently on the same date, and December 31st is the day on which we celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one. However, when it comes to Chinese New Year celebrations, the date is never a fixed one, and this year one of the most colourful and buoyant global celebrations takes place on Friday, February 16th.
The celebrations often take place over a two-week period, and are based on the lunar rather than solar calendar, meaning the Chinese New Year can take place anywhere between January 21st and February 20th.
According to Chinese astrology, each Chinese New Year is related to a zodiac animal bestowed to the twelve-year cycle; and the dog lovers among us will be pleased to know that 2018 marks the year of everyone’s favourite four-legged friend, the Dog!
Our canine companions take the place of the eleventh zodiac sign, coming in before the Pig and just after the Rooster and previous years of the Dog have occurred in 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, meaning if any of those birth years belong to you, your Chinese Zodiac sign is the dog.
With the Chinese New Year comes much superstition and, if you’re born in the Year of the Dog, your lucky numbers are deemed to be 3, 4 and 9; your lucky colours are red, green and purple, your lucky months are the 6th, 10th, and 12th Chinese lunar months, and both roses and cymbidium orchids are said to be your lucky flowers. In addition, there are even a set of directions considered lucky for those born in the Year of the Dog – east, south, and northeast; perhaps something to bear in mind when taking your faithful friend Fido for a walk.
As well as there being notably lucky things for Dogs, there too are things to avoid, and numbers 1, 6 and 7 are all said to be unlucky for those born in the Year of the Dog, as are the colours blue, white and gold, while a south-easterly direction should be avoided where possible.
If you want to look even further into Chinese astrology, each zodiac sign is associated with one of the five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth, meaning, for example, that a Wood Dog comes once in a 60-year cycle.
And much like our faithful friends, those who are born in the Year of the Dog are said to embody a number of canine-like characteristics including loyalty, reliability, patience, a hard working and brave nature and an eagerness to help others.
There are many famous Dogs, whose traits certainly align with that of their Chinese Zodiac sign, and include the likes of Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa and Steven Spielberg.
And so, in celebration of the Chinese New Year this Friday, why not treat your loyal companion to a new collar in red, green or purple, or take them on a north-easterly walk to thank them for their loyalty, reliability and steadfast hard work?

Wednesday, 14 February 2018


Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art
BRIGHT star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart, 
Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
John Keats
Art Kinuko Craft

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Monday, 12 February 2018


As the dusk of a still
And a silent eve,
Descends to the arms 
Of the waiting night.
A rustle does sound
Through the lying leaves,
And the brittle twigs
Of the dying wood.
The cautious eyes
And a wary stare,
Emerge from the dark
Of the hidden sett.
As the badger roams
In the quest for food,
Through the bones
Of the tracks he wore.
Andrew Blakemore
Art Jemima Jameson

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Coffee and walnut cake

Coffee and walnut cake

Oak of the Witches


Oak of the Witches

This enchanting 600-year-old tree is so magical it inspired the beloved tale of Pinocchio. 

An enchanting oak tree thrives within a Tuscan forest. Its thick, mossy branches stretch horizontally, giving it a strangely squashed appearance. The old tree goes by many names, and has inspired its fair share of legends and lore.
According to one local legend, witches once gathered at the 600-year-old oak. They danced wildly atop its gnarled branches, transforming the plant into a stage for their chants and ceremonies. Supposedly, their rituals stunted the tree’s growth and warped its shape, causing it to reach outward rather than upward.
The old oak inspired another story, too, this one more familiar to children around the world. Carlo Collodionce sat beneath its behemoth branches while penning several chapters of The Adventures of Pinocchio. It inspired the scenes where the famous puppet meets the Cat and the Fox and where he is later rescued by the Blue Fairy after being hung. As such, one of the tree’s other names is Quercia di Pinocchio (Pinocchio’s Oak). The tree towers within an area that celebrates its Pinocchio connections with other sites related to the story.
Italy’s government officially recognizes the legendary tree as a National Monument. Because of its large size and distinct shape, it also appears as a reference on NATO maps.