Experiencing Hong Kong

Subtle hills fade behind
Towering, concrete skyline
At night, a myriad of lights,
And colourful reflections
By day, a sea of moving
People rushing to efficient
Transport, crowded MTR,
Speeding buses racing by
Only the old tram provides
A more leisurely view.

Welcome to year of the Dog
Eleventh in the zodiac.
Music on an endless loop
Reminds of New Year cheer
While Lion Dances in the street
Amuse old and young alike
Good luck, good fortune
Shared in bright, red packets
Or the throwing of oranges
At the old Wishing Tree.

Summed up in one word, ‘food’
You need never go hungry here
Providing you have money in
Your purse, more for high end
Shopping malls, mini cities
Sating consumer desires, go
Off track for local dishes in
Myriad bowls, while feasting
The eye at corner bakeries full
Of craft, and every type of bun.

So many people in one city,
Haven sought in local parks
Where early morning finds
Elders gathered for Tai Chi
Or later share some karaoke.
Peace and calm found in the
Beautiful landscaped Nan Lian
Full of soothing rocks and trees
A harmony of elements, another
Feast behind the waterfall!

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Photos and words by HB

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Greetings

Dear Fellow bloggers,

For various reasons have not been able to keep up to date with my wordpress site recently.

Now off to Hong Kong to enjoy the sights and experience the celebrations of the Chinese New Year, so will be out of touch for a while longer. On my return I hope to pick up the threads.

All good wishes,

Helen

Festive Greetings!

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The three spires in the background are part of Lichfield Cathedral, and when the Minster Pool isn’t frozen over, they can usually be seen reflected in the water. It’s a very ancient building, first being founded around 670 CE, and houses the St Chad Gospels, an illuminated manuscript from the 8th century, similar in style to the Lindisfarne Gospels. There is a wonderful medieval library on the upper floor of the Chapter House, full of ancient manuscripts and early printed books. Well worth a tour if you are ever in the vicinity.

Also displayed around Lichfield as a Christmas event, are twelve giant Nutcrackers, each with a different style of moustache, representing twelve countries from around the world.

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The Nutcracker featured here represents India.

To see some delightful paintings of Nutcrackers, please visit the blog of Andrew Henderson, in particular   1976  and Preserved Nutcracker . He is a talented artist!

And this is me, wishing you peace, contentment and a relaxing break over the Christmas holiday.

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Catch you in the New Year,
Helen

Photos: Lichfield Cathedral & Indian Nutcracker HB
              Bottom photo courtesy of RHB

Hope

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In times of struggle
When your world closes in
Remember, everything has
A season, change will come.

Hold fast, draw nurture
Minding that which gives
Joy, and creates thanks
In the wait for Light.

Photo: gorse under snow,
Chasewater Dec ’17  HB 

Transition to Winter

It’s hard to believe that just over three weeks ago, we set off for a hike on a pleasant, late autumnal day. As we drove to the start point, the trees on the hillside were ablaze in the morning sunshine. A vista of russet and gold, quite a spectacle! Today, with a morning temperature of minus five degrees Celsius, I imagine a beauty of a different kind; of black and white silhouettes, the leaves dropped and branches weighed down by snow.

Yesterday, we donned our boots and tramped through the snow to Chasewater country park. It was worth the trip, the surrounding woodland reflecting lots of light from the snow, and looking very picturesque! There is a reservoir there, originally designed as a feeder for Birmingham canals, but also home to a variety of waterbirds. In the freezing temperatures, the canal (Anglesey branch of the Wyrley & Essington) on the other side of the reservoir had frozen over!

Last month I took some photos of the area, and yesterday decided to try and replicate some of the shots, to capture the changing seasons. You can see the difference a few weeks makes!

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With the canal frozen over, some of the swans were resting on the snow encrusted bank. The first one, almost camouflaged!

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We are fortunate to live close by to such a beautiful space!

Photos: Chasewater country park 11/12/17 HB

Late Autumn Colour

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Mini Chrysanthemum

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Hypericum

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Deciduous shrub, not sure of it’s name. Can anyone identify it?

Further experimentation with the camera! I took these photos in our garden about 3 weeks ago. Flowers now faded & leaves falling, but a nice reminder of the colour that was there!

 

Inspiring Visit

Yesterday afternoon we attended a fund-raising event for Rainbows Children’s Hospice, based in the East Midlands. It was organised by Karen, of ‘Bramble Garden’ blogging fame!

We were given a moving synopsis of Karen’s own recent history, and how she came to be involved with Rainbows. There was also a short talk by Pat and John Stanley, owners of Blackbrook Longhorns, where we met for the occasion. Karen has worked as the garden designer there, hence the link. It was interesting to hear about the history of the Longhorn cattle, an ancient breed going back to medieval times. On the verge of becoming extinct, the breed is now surviving well, thanks in part to this couple who have worked with a passion to promote not only their survival, but enable farmers around the world to have access to the genetics needed for breeding this animal.

The main purpose of course was to raise money for Rainbows, and we were given a clear and helpful presentation of the hospice’s work, by Gareth, one of the fund-raisers there. They provide, along with family and sibling support, respite care, short residential breaks, symptom control and end of life care for children from birth up to young people of the age of 30. We watched a short, but powerful and moving video telling the story of a couple who had lost two children to a rare, degenerative condition. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose one child, yet alone two; absolutely heart-breaking! However, the parents spoke courageously about the help and support given by Rainbows hospice and the excellent facilities there. It seems a very happy place to be, despite the accompanying sadness, where staff help the children continue to enjoy life as much as possible, right up to the end. There is a lot of support given to families during this time, and continuing on through the bereavement process.

We also had a guest speaker, the author Barbara Segall, who gave a very entertaining presentation on selected gardens in East Anglia. This was based on her recent book, ‘Secret Gardens of East Anglia’, the sale of which contributed to Rainbows. It’s a beautiful book, with lovely photographs by Marcus Harpur (who sadly died last year), bringing these amazing gardens to life in a part of the country renowned for it’s light and big, open skies.

This was followed by an afternoon tea, with an impressive array of donated sandwiches and cakes. With a ‘goody bag’ to take home as well, what’s not to like! Overall, a stimulating, enjoyable, yet poignant event, for a very worthwhile cause.

For further information:

Rainbow’s Children’s Hospice: https://www.rainbows.co.uk/

Bramble Garden: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/73240772

 

Autumn Berries

Our lovely variegated holly has recently had a trim and shape, as it was growing through the telegraph wires. There is still plenty of room for the birds to shelter, and the blackbirds have been enjoying the berries; I don’t think there will be any left by Christmas!

This piece of land lies below our retaining wall. As it’s on a slope it’s difficult to know quite what to do with it; though I love the variety of trees and shrubs that border it. We have planted a small plum tree to the left of the holly, and earlier in the season, we enjoyed a variety of veg from the small plot my partner has been cultivating. I’ve planted some yellow rattle seed to try and keep down some of the coarse grass, and in the spring hope to dig out an area and plant meadow flower seeds. We have a mound of large stones and a log pile towards the bottom, to encourage wildlife. There’s also a hedgehog house, but no sign of any this year!

This post is a bit of an experiment, as I’ve taken my own photo instead of drawing on my partner’s collection!

Jazz Evening

Bodies relax on sprawling sofas, or across small tables; mellowed by red wine and the taste of smoky tapas. Flickering candles cast a rosy glow, reflecting off small vases. While tasselled lampshades throw a soft light, to the Picasso-like prints on walls edged by crumbling brickwork. The sound of clinking glasses and happy laughter, as anticipation builds for the feast of live jazz ahead. First one then another, set out their stands, some with beer in hand. A few notes ring to check the key, and play is underway, following the lead of the saxophonist singing out liquid, clear blues. Upright pianist, with hands that flow uninhibited across the keyboard, improvising to the background of enthusiastic drumming. While the earthy throb of the double bass is played by a Legolas look-alike, gentle face and long hair flowing. Feet tap and bodies sway, caught up in the rhythm of clever play and counter melody. Smiles exchanged and mood elevated in the vibrant atmosphere. Troubles laid aside for a while, before tumbling into the night, with lingering memories.

 

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Photo courtesy of RHB