Sunday 28 November 2010

What a difference

What a difference a day makes! We have had our first snow fall and the garden is transformed.

The 'Scrumptious' apple is wearing a hat!

It is a good job that I had already removed the top net from the fruit cage. The heavy snow last February bent and buckled my old cage because I had been too idle to take down the net - an expensive mistake!

The countryside looks beautiful.

Garage progress report.

Whilst I was away the roof trusses arrived

and were put in place, felting in progress and the reclaimed tiles delivered.

The stone walling was rebuilt and a lovely ammonite set at shoulder height to be enjoyed whenever we open the garage door.

Can't wait to see my new greenhouse!

Friday 26 November 2010

Boot Camp.

I've come to Ilfracombe on the Devon coast
to boot camp.  I'm up in the attic.
I'm hoping to transform into a body like this Ilfracombe statue that gazes out to sea.
There is a good chance, because our (over) eating patterns are being revised.
We are up before the sun.
This is the view from my bedroom window.

I used to think that playing with a ball on a beach was fun, but that was when it involved sunshine and a bikini and not much effort. This exercise session was a killer as we had to do sort of press up thingies. Oh, the agony of trying to get fit!

Breakfast. You need muscles just to lift the water jars, obviously intended as yet another exercise.

We started a hike at the top of a hill, and our leader very kindly pointed out the hill at the other side of the valley where we were to eat our lunch!
But first we had to walk down to the valley bottom
and up the river valley
stopping for a snack and a breather at Watersmeet
before climbing up the other side, (Watersmeet is in the centre of the picture below, where the two rivers meet)
and finally reach the summit, where we had a good view of the coastal route back!
Ah, good, we return to an afternoon snack.
Another day, another hike.

One week later and I've almost got a butt to be proud of!

I went to the 'NuBeginnings' Boutique Boot Camp, which offers a holistic approach to health and well being. It was a packed week and involved a new language for me of 'abs' and 'gluts' and so forth. I was too busy trying to thump the instructors in boxercise to take any photos, (after all,they had made me run up a sand dune!) The exercise sessions were pretty punishing, making muscles ache, but they did produce results and the massages that followed were heaven! The countryside around Ilfracombe is wonderful for hiking and we walked deserted beaches, wooded valleys, hills and the coastal path. We did pilates, yoga and salsa and I fell in love with qigong. Also experienced for the first time, needles in my ear from an acupuncturist, hypnotherapy and had lectures on homoeopathy and aromatherapy and nutrition. The food that we ate was all low GI and a great detox. Managed to fit in a few saunas. Quite a busy week. I loved it! 

With thanks to Ebtihal, Ruth and Vicki for their company and support.

Thursday 18 November 2010


Tomorrow I'm driving to the seaside.

I'm going for a week. I don't expect I'll swim.

There will be no shopping.

Calories and cocktails will be counted.

There is to be no dressing for dinner.

I'm off to boot camp!

 Colour studies, paintings for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
copyright Rosemary Murphy.

Wednesday 17 November 2010



Sieved through the trees
a mis-shaped moon
lights up small pathways through the gloom
and underfoot the leaves have turned
to sullen mass
as down the ribbon path I pass.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Remembrance Sunday

 In 2003 the Imperial War Museum in London produced an exhibition, 'Anthem For Doomed Youth, twelve soldier poets of the First World War.' The exhibition included an audio programme with the voices of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and Edmund Blunden, extracts from letters and diaries and the music of Ivor Gurney. Film was shown of a young soldier, seemingly paralysed, until the word, 'bomb' caused him to leap up and try to hide beneath his bed.
It was one of the most profoundly moving exhibitions that I have seen and it prompted me to write the following poem.

The Soldier Poets. 

I read the notes today
and letters.
"My own dear mother," Wilfred Owen said.
Small sheets of yellowed paper
spider's writing, all,
and hard to read.
Edward Thomas has picked flowers
and Siegfried's statement
seems far too polite.
There is a curl of hair preserved.
Medical evidence, on screen
a soldier aged nineteen
is paralysed
and blind and deaf to everything
except one word,
and dives beneath his bed
a broken boy.

I'm pleased to hear that Rupert
had a lover warm and brown,
a Tahitian beauty,
that life, though short, was sweet and full of colour for a while
before the poison lip, the drifting into death.
There are reports from Craiglockhart
and in his sketchbook David draws dead rats.
There is the word, "Asleep",
a telegram,
letters to friends,
the longing to be home.
Here is the map stained with young Grenfell's blood
who used to shoot for fun
both hawk and dove.
And it is true they all had grace
and hopes and love of life,
could hear birds sing above the noise of battle
could make sweet music even while in hell.

We should not lose to warfare
young men such as these
but listen to their words and learn and grieve.

Feb. 2003.

In 1915 my relative, William Leishman was granted compassionate leave to return to Scotland where his mother was dying. He arrived too late to see her, the funeral was taking place and the women of the family, who at that time in Scotland did not attend funerals, washed and fed William before he returned to his company, the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, in France. He died a week later, on the 25th September on the first day of the Battle of Loos.
In the Second World War my mother's much loved older brother, Bob, was the first medical officer appointed to the First Royal Marine Commandos. Like William, he was also  given compassionate leave because his mother was dying and returned home just too late to make his farewells. There was real concern in the family that the cycle would be repeated, but Uncle Bob survived the war unscathed.
My father was a stranger to me by the time he came out of the army. It didn't help that he thought I had been left to 'run wild' and was in need of strict discipline!
But it wasn't long before he became the most loved and trusted person in my life.

The Bell Tent.

When war was over
and Dad was free 
and came back home
 to live with me
he bought a bell tent from the army.
Other people thought him barmy.
Huge and dark the space within
where we could play and make a din,
run rings around the central pole,
emerge to sunlight like a mole
from dark brown canvas, flattened grass,
odour sweet as memory has.
No thoughts from us of men at war,
boots to the pole, heads to the door.

On holidays away we went,
dogs, parents, children in the tent.
My mother could not sleep inside
unless the door was open wide,
and several times we'd start the day
with a cow's face or donkey's bray.
We'd climb up hills and gaze around,
our tent a little mole-hill mound beneath,
and way up in the sky
we saw a golden eagle fly. 
No thoughts from us of those poor men
who'd never see this land again. 

Thursday 11 November 2010

Up North.

We've had a quick trip 'oop North' to turn off electricity, drain water and generally batten down the hatches on our small bolt hole in preparation for winter. It was a still, sunny day for the six hour journey and the countryside looked beautiful, the strong, low light dramatising the landscape and the foliage still displaying rich autumn colour.

The following day was equally kind, and, because there had been so much rainfall during the week, (that had made our building project a messy, muddy affair) we knew that there would be plenty of water coming over the falls at Aysgarth.
The Ure is a beautiful river, wide, slow and innocent in dry weather, fast moving and treacherous when rain or melting snow drains from the surrounding moors. We should have been beside the river in the very early morning to catch the sunlight highlighting the water, but it was after ten by the time we had left the car and walked to the upper falls.
The river makes a tremendous noise when it is in spate, but the exposed tree roots demonstrate that the river is often far higher than this.

The upper falls lie above the road bridge and feed an old mill that is now a museum.

The middle and lower falls are in the wooded valley below, accessed by a pathway with steps down to viewing platforms. The pathways used to be dangerously narrow and muddy when I was a child, but the area is now managed by the National Park and surfaces are well made and relocated further away from the riverside . The water, coming from peat moors, is stained brown, the colour of tea or whisky.

We were not alone; many people had obviously had the same idea as us, dog walkers and a camera club from Hull, well equipped with tripods, tinted lenses and all manner of paraphernalia. There were elderly couples taking a peek over the parapet of the bridge before continuing their drive around the dale, no doubt to stop at one of the many country pubs for Sunday lunch. What a good idea!

After the downpour
good weather brings the people
waterfall gazing.

We went to the Wyvill Arms, where they know how to make an impressive Yorkshire Pudding, (a savoury batter, cooked in a very hot oven so that it swells, large and light, and is then served with gravy.)

Not to mention sticky toffee pudding and banoffee pie for afters!

The following day the weather was disgraceful, with rain, snow and gale force winds. We only stepped outside when we needed a few more logs for the stove.

Snow still lay on the hilltop as we travelled back towards home over the head of the dale . 

Cloud strata lay in thin strips above the village of Kettlewell, echoing the pattern of the field walls. Spirals of smoke drifted upwards from chimney pots. Once again I was photographing into the sun and unfortunately my camera could not pick out the cloud patterns.

It is always beautiful on the day that I leave.