A Walk On Midsummer’s Day

This morning we set out, my faithful companion and I, to wander the woods on Midsummer Day. The paths were cool and shaded green, sun glimmering through the leaves to create patterns of light and dark. In short, it was a pretty magical way to start the day.

I have a long tradition of going to the woods on Midsummer. When I was small, my grandmother used to take me there to look for fairies – whether we found any or not I can’t say, but it always seemed a magical time to me. My grandmother knew the name of every flower and taught it to me, as well as phrases of her native Welsh. We would pick snowdrops in springtime, wandering through the village with our large basket overflowing with tiny white bells and green leaves, which we then parcelled into posies for gifts.

When I lived in Australia, the summer solstice occured just before Christmas, so it was a slightly different celebration. Still, I always tried to surround myself with green leaves, whether walking by the Yarra or driving through the Mornington Peninsula hinterland, where twisted pines reached for the sky and once, magically, kangaroos bounded across the road as dusk was falling, their fur grey as shadow.

Today, however, my canine companion and I took the winding streets and backways until we reached the Little Wood, as it’s called, a small patch of wilderness leading to a green and pleasant meadow, one of doggo’s favourite places to run and play.

The grass was tall, starred with dandelions and buttercups, deep blue speedwell and pink campion, butterflies fluttering here and there. The trees were bursting with green, as though decorated to celebrate the turning of nature’s wheel, the blue sky festooned with clouds.

I threw doggo’s ball for her and she chased it, disappearing into the long grass and emerging decorated with dandelion seeds, lying down to have a rest every once in a while. We saw one of her doggy friends from puppy training and they had a play, then we wandered back past the broken tree, while ravens danced in the high branches.

We left the meadow, taking the main road back home, entering the world of men once more. But I carried a little piece of forest magic with me…

Happy solstice, everyone – may your light shine bright 🙂


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#writephoto Arch – Through The Window

It’s Thursday, and time for another #writephoto prompt, courtesy of Sue Vincent. This week’s photo brought a character to mind, and here he is:

He liked to watch the world change. Today it was snowy, the little tree purged of leaves by winter, the land beyond carpeted white.

Some days he saw green grass and flowers, butterflies dancing. At other times wind blew the little tree, bending it so he feared it might break, russet and gold leaves streaming into the air. Lightning crashed, bright across the landscape, and sometimes, if he woke at the right time, the sky was clear and full of stars, silence ringing like a bell.

Around and above him the stones wept dampness, green moss blurring what was once carved precision. The rainbow of glass was long gone, the windows wide and open to whatever the elements brought.

But he was beyond it all as he paced the old pathway, no wind coming to touch him, no water cold upon his neck. He wondered at that, standing with arms wide beneath stormy skies, staring up to where the roof had once arched.

He couldn’t remember his name, anymore. All he knew was that he was stuck there. Sometimes other people came to walk the stones with him, but he couldn’t make them hear his voice, no matter how he cried and called to them. Children seemed more aware, jumping when he touched their faces, or trailed his fingers through their hair. One little girl had cried, telling her mother over and over about ‘the man in black.’ But she had gone, just like everyone else, leaving him alone beneath the stone arches.

Watching the world change.


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Thursday Doors, Cottages, And A Wednesday Update

I haven’t done a Thursday Doors challenge in ages! I do have a few doors hanging around in my photo collection (which sounds an odd thing to say, I know), but just haven’t got to them each week. However, this week I’ve remembered in time and so, here are two rather lovely doors I found locally.

Both are from cottages, one Victorian, one rather older than that, given the listed building symbol on the side, plus the fact that the entrance is a couple of feet below current street level. For those of you who don’t know, a listed building is one that has been deemed to be of national importance in terms of architectural or historic interest and is included on a special register, called the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. To live in a listed building is to live in history – however, it comes with the slight caveat that any change or renovation is done under strict supervision, in order to maintain the original architectural integrity. One example of this would be replacing something like-for-like. If your windows need replacing, you can’t just call your local window person and get them to install a couple of double glazed units. Instead, you would have to get replicas of the original windows made, which is usually quite a bit more expensive. However, it means that we have some wonderful buildings preserved for posterity which, after the smash and burn mentality of the fifties and sixties, is not a bad thing.

One of the things I love about both doors is the flowers outside. The British do colourful floral arrangements like no-where else I’ve seen, and the basket and planter display are prime examples. By contrast, the hollyhocks next to the second door are are wonderfully wild, giving it a fairytale air.

And I have a small update to my Wednesday Wander post last week, about the Belarusian Memorial Chapel. On the day I published the post, I received a tweet from the architects – the building had just been voted as the Londoner’s Favourite in the New London Architecture Awards! So that was a nice bit of serendipity 🙂

This is my response to Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge. For more doors, or to add one of your own, head over to Norm’s blog and click the link.


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

 

The Turning Of The Season

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Spring is here, at least according to the calendar, and with it the desire to wear something new, tired of the same old boots and puffa jacket, winter’s uniform of black and grey.

It seems the earth feels the same way. Perhaps that’s why spring is so gorgeous, the world clothed in blossom and wildflowers and bright green, buds blooming wherever they get the chance, the sky washed clean clear blue, light like pale golden wine slanting through the clouds.

I realise it’s not Spring everywhere. In Australia, where I used to live, autumn is in full glow, the nights growing cool though the days are still warm, grapes ripening on the hillsides, harvest bounty to be had before winter’s chill arrives. And it does, believe it or not – it was cold enough for frost where we lived down south, the ocean icy with currents from the Antarctic, winter storms pounding the jagged coast.

And so the seasons turn. Happy Spring (or Autumn), everyone!

Sue Vincent – Writing Prompt – The Fairy Door

It’s Thursday, so I normally post a door as part of Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge (and I may yet still, it’s Thursday for a little while longer yet). But Sue Vincent over at  The Daily Echo posted a writing prompt based on this picture she took of a mysterious door in a stone wall, and it inspired me to do something a little different.

hobbit-door

Sue asked that we use a hundred words or less to describe what we think lies beyond the door. I started writing a poem, for some reason – it arrived quite quickly and so, here it is:

Beyond the door the pathway waits,

Through trees and tiny fairy gates,

Lined with velvet petals sweet

Mosses soft beneath your feet

Branches whisper as you pass

Trailing fingers through long grass

Singing sigh of leaves that fall

As you approach the elven hall

Twigs like fingers pull your hair

Vines appearing from thin air

To wrap you in a green embrace

Leaves to cover up your face

Music lulls you deeper still

Pulled into the fairy hill

There to spend your final hours

Bound amongst the scattered flowers

So take the pathway if you dare

You know not what you’ll find in there…

Hmmm. Well, it started off very sweetly but got a bit darker towards the end. Plus it is slightly over 100 words – I hope you don’t mind, Sue!

If you’re feeling inspired, head over to Sue’s blog and add your own response to her photo – the challenge is open until March 1st.