River Thames Sunsets

A selection of my photographs, taken on different occasions between 2004 and 2010, of sunsets – looking westwards from the south bank of the River Thames along the four mile stretch of the River in Surrey, England, between Chertsey and Walton-on-Thames . . .

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Il Dolce Far Niente

‘Il Dolce Far Niente’ translates as ‘Sweet Idleness’, ‘The sweetness of doing nothing’, or perhaps the feeling that doing nothing can be a positive rather than a negative ‘activity’.  The concept is Italian and appears to derive its meaning from the languor of life in those countries which enjoy a Mediterranean climate.

In view of the demands made upon us all in our modern world of hectic activity, where, for many, Facebook and Twitter command more attention than making face-to-face conversation, it seems appropriate for us all on occasion to take time out, to halt life’s frantic pace, to pause every now and again to enjoy our surroundings and our fellow human beings.

The concept matches well with the thoughts of W.H.Davies expressed in his famous poem   ‘Leisure’  (q.v.).   The idea has also long been a favourite subject of both poets and pictorial artists, particularly during the 19th Century.

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‘Dolce Far Niente’ by John Singer Sargent – 1907 (Brooklyn Museum, New York)

IL DOLCE FAR NIENTE

how mellow is the stillness
of a moment’s rest
the tranquility of a pause
to catch one’s breath

 merely to sit
and let life’s gladness in
to squander time
bask in the quietude
embrace serenity
and savour solitude

such dulcet times
are gifted to us
as blessings
to counter
life’s feverish pace
how pleasant to give in
let the world go 
without a fight
relax and let time pass
submit to lethargy
such rest is
cathartic
curative

in the moment
seek stillness
let life lapse
take time out from caring
to sit and look
relax and watch
unbend
allow the strain
to become becalmed

be still
in the silence of the day
give thoughts
the space to bloom
and eyes the time
to gaze

empower the present
and let it be enjoyed
for what it is
not for what will follow
for in the present
the past is severed
and be sure
the future
will have its day

look to the now
the sun, the moon
the stars, the sea
the wind, the rain
the warmth, the chill
ponder upon them
and upon life

or ponder not
just accept them
be glad
and be still

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 ‘Dolce Far Niente’ by John William Waterhouse – … 1880  (Kirkcaldy Galleries)

The Lake District

[ Photo Blog #48 ]

England, Cumbria, The Lake District

Never far from water in the Lake District

My photographs, taken several years ago on what would now be considered to be an old camera

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Ambleside Pierhead on Lake Windermere

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Evening at Ambleside Pierhead on Lake Windermere

3Borrowdale

Bridge crossing the River Derwent in Borrowdale

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The Landing Jetty and Coniston Launch at Brantwood on Coniston Water

5Buttermere

On Buttermere

6Buttermere

The ‘Sentinels’ on Buttermere, the Lake District’s most photographed trees.

7ConistonGondola

The Steam Yacht on Coniston Water

8Derwenwater@Keswick

Derwentwater at Keswick

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Thirlmere

10SkelwithForce

Skelwith Force

11FromNannyBrow

Autumn colours near Skelwith Bridge, Ambleside

Nature’s Evensong

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©  Photograph … ‘Sunset’ – courtesy of Canadian artist, Alma Kerr

 

Sunset

and the soulful sound

of the sea

seduce my senses

in the calm

of this still summer’s eve

ripples roll gently towards me

from the red sun-kissed sea

silhouette sails

hug the horizon

purposeful gulls

tread the foreshore

forever watchful

while I

a silent spectator

scan the scene

evening’s tableau

serene

and yet wholly alive

entranced and awed

mesmerised

beyond beauty

by Nature’s evensong

its benediction

on a desperate world

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Three Essex Villages, England

[ Photo Blog #47 ]

Just a few of my photographs taken in three beautiful villages in Essex in South East England – to the north and East of London.

Greensted Church, in the small village of Greensted-juxta-Ongar, near Chipping Ongar, is the oldest wooden church in the world, and probably the oldest wooden building in Europe still standing, albeit only in part, since few sections of its original wooden structure remain. The oak walls are often classified as remnants of a palisade church or a kind of early stave church, dated either to the mid-9th or mid-11th century.

Ingatestone is a village in Essex, England, with a population of about 4,500.

Ingatestone Hall is a Grade I listed 16th-century manor house in Essex, some 5 miles (8 km) south west of Chelmsford. It was built by Sir William Petre, and his descendants live in the house to this day.  William Petre bought Ingatestone manor soon after the Dissolution of the Monasteries for some £850 and commissioned the building of the house. Queen Elizabeth I of England spent several nights there on her royal progress of 1561.

The hall represented the exterior of Bleak House in the 2005 television adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel and also appeared in an episode of the TV series Lovejoy. Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s novel Lady Audley’s Secret is set at Ingatestone Hall and was inspired by a stay there.

Orsett is a village and ecclesiastical parish located within Thurrock unitary district in Essex

( Information based on entries in Wikipedia )

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A timbered and thatched cottage in Orsett

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Greensted Church

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Greensted Church –  Wooden South Entrance

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Ingatestone Hall

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Ingatestone Hall – Clock Tower & Weather Vane

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Ingatestone Hall

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Ingatestone Hall – Roadside slogan – ‘Never Underestimate A Minority’

Say ‘Good Morning’ to the Sun

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‘Good Morning Ross’ … Wash – WHB – 2001

Say ‘Good Morning’ to the Sun

 

Say ‘Good morning’ to the sun
‘Good evening’ to the moon

The stars deserve more than a glance
Give them a nod
Say ‘How do you do’

And what of the clouds scurrying by?
Wave and send a greeting

Bless the rain that follows
Cries and wets your cheek
Bless its cooling frankness
Salute its welcome return
Say ‘Call again soon please
And whet my appetite’

And what of the wind?
It deserves a bow
Bluster and puffery
Merit some deference
If only to accompany
That boisterous demeanour
Which presage storm and tempest

Give resounding
reverberating thunder
Its rightful stature
And bless its presence
Not with terror
But with bold acceptance
As a welcome component
Of Nature’s benison.

Blessings too
to all four seasons
each in turn
bringing its delights
enthralling us
with its unique personality

In summary
Let us be glad
Let us respect
Let us prize and revere
All the moods
All the humours
Of creation

For Nature
Rules our lives
And deserves
All the credit
For our successes

Our failures are man-made.

 

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A Lifetime Away

A Lifetime Away

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Photo … Priory East Window – © WHB

 

Three hundred miles
and a lifetime away
from the place where I was born 
the memories are vivid
burned into my soul
heightened by distance
by time past

Ghosts of my past
inhabit my dreams
chances gone begging
opportunities missed
loving and leaving
a heritage of hope
bringing certitude
where doubt once held sway.

I loved and love
those dark purple hills
outcrops and the Nab
towering over the town
Cass Rock
where Sisyphus finally capitulated

Beyond these,
just rolling
heather clad moor
soft dales 
grey-green heathland,
burnt golden yellow gorse
and swaying bracken

And on the scarp slope
the detritus of iron mines
defunct air shafts
ancient workings
the ruins of hard labour
and alongside these
pyramids of shale and slag
creating their own foothills
bracken spores now binding
their surfaces
reconstructing life
nature reclaiming its own

And the view which nurtured me
from my school room
of graveyard and priory
its arched east window
tracery shattered
configuring my sky

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‘Priory and Applegarth . . . Pen & Wash – WHB

The ancient stone dovecote
now sheltering jackdaws
ravens, blackbirds.
the Norman arched gateway
still standing adrift
isolated from the remnants
of its dismantled
castellated walls
whose dispersed masonry
now furnishes
so many of the town’s dwellings

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Norman Arch &Dovecote … Photo ©WHB

The mill pond stocked still
by the descendants of those
pre-dissolution carp
the Augustinians first introduced
fed and nurtured

The monk’s walk
cloistered
by beech and birch
sheltering silent contemplation
which
even now
as I tread in their footsteps
I replicate
in awe and reverence

And in the Apple Garth
where now the wheat
is harvested
still a silent windswept
arbour
now lovers
not penitents
linger
embrace
exchange kisses
and vows.

Thus am I now
beholden to the past
nurturer of my present
promise of my future

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Hills on the north scarp of the North Yorkshire Moors

 

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One evening in July

One evening in July

swift-swallows

High in the sky
crescent wings spread
swallows swoop in the setting sun
sweeping the sky in graceful bursts
of focussed energy

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squirrels scamper back to hide
in the broad bold arms of the copper beech
massively dominant
heart-fulcrum of this garden’s universe
dark and russet red
against the pure blue of the dying sky

all movement
matching mood
the random respite in the dreamy breeze
the occasional breath of the wind’s touch
and sporadically
 complete stillness

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greens, so many greens
each tree, shrub, plant
varied in their shades
proving their uniqueness
setting themselves apart
by shape and colour
claiming their own personality

offshoots of dandelion down
breeze-drift ever upwards
losing themselves in the beech’s canopy
awaiting an eventual
descent to earth
and re-birth
to live and breed again

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a low-key insect hum
a buzz about the borders
and the beds
those ‘I-must-be-about-my-business’ bees
bustling flower to flower
seeking out colour
honey essence
on the move
feasting
surviving

other minutiae fuss and flurry
in their chosen domains
butterflies, beetles,
hoverflies
nature’s drones
engaged with their own agendas

the collared dove cooing on the rooftop
the chirrup, twitter, chatter of
evening’s bedtime birds

the whole garden sings softly to me
showcasing summer’s sustenance
the season’s splendour
acknowledging the diurnal cycle
preparing for the sun’s departure
and the oncoming darkness
bringing languor and tranquility
paving the way for the
life of the night
to commence

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Sharing the Glow

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Sunset over Loch Earn, Scotland – Photograph  © . . .  WHB 

 

Sharing the Glow

 

I remember that evening –
The sun sinking low,
When you stood beside me
Sharing the glow.

We bathed in that splendour –
That golden sunset,
Drenched in that promise
I’ll never forget.

I held your hand tightly,
Placed a kiss on your lips
In youth, in the gloaming,
The lie was eclipsed.

For then we were young,
Life had not bitten hard.
Our futures seemed certain
But we let down our guard.

I left with a pledge,
But never returned;
Dissolved into dreams
Your derision I earned.

But now we are older,
Life has taken its toll.
Is it too much to ask,
Can I recapture your soul?

Now that same sun is sinking
Setting fire to the sea;
Can this Phoenix bring hope
To you and to me?

Let me hold your hand now,
Place a kiss on your lips,
For bliss in old age
Does all else eclipse.

 

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SIDMOUTH and John Betjeman

[ Photo Blog #43 ]

SIDMOUTH and John Betjeman

 I supplement my photographic gallery post of Sidmouth a week ago with a further collection of photographs of this’ jewel of England’s Jurassic Coast’.  The town was beloved of our 20th Century poet laureate (1972-84), John Betjeman.  He wrote a poem as the sound track to a 1962 television film on the town.  In the poem, called ‘Still Sidmouth’, he says of the town :

‘Gothic or Classic, terrace or hotel,
Here does the backbone of old England dwell.’

On my own recent visit there I made a point of looking for what Betjeman describes in his poem as the ‘bright and outsize Devon  flowers’ in Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens.

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The Betjeman Plaque in Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth

‘Pause on Peak Hill, look eastward to the town,
Then to the Connaught Gardens wander down
And in the shelter of its tropic bowers,
I see its bright and outsize Devon flowers.’

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As befits the Jungle theme of just one part of these gardens, most plants here originate from the Far East.  There is a fascinating bamboo collection, but what, in particular, caught my eye was this exotic plant which reached up tall into the sky and leant at an angle over the pathway.  So far I have been unable to pin down it’s name.  There is a lot of information about these gardens on the internet and on the plants it contains, but nothing I can find which matches the description of this tall, broad-stemmed creature. It has a myriad of small blue and mauve periwinkle-like flowers encircling the massive central stems, which, at the time I photographed them, were covered in honey bees.

The following four photographs give a better idea of its exotic character . . .

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Below I include 4 more of my photographs of Sidmouth flowers, wild ones this time, which John Betjeman would have seen and loved . . .

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Seashore Foxglove

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River Sid Daisies

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