Friday 31 January 2020

We are the World Blogfest # 33: The Poetry Pharmacy …

Heart, Mind and Soul … ‘prescription poems’ for the underside of life … when anyone is feeling down for whatever the reason …

 … poems to be read by oneself … to give a sense of meaning to ‘the underbelly of life’ we maybe feeling at this time; or to read to others …

<<< for us all – to everyone in need >>>
<<< we probably know someone we can help – thoughts / poems / prose to read >>>

I heard William Sieghart talk about this book on the BBC's World Service – remembered enough to make me want to check it out … and once that was done, instantly buy the book, which I did …

… seriously such a good book to own, to peruse … there’s even a note on how to read a poem … one tip is ‘read it almost like a prayer’ …

Photo of the book:
The Poetry Pharmacy
The main headings are: Mental and Emotional Wellbeing; Motivations; Self-Image and Self-Acceptance; The World and Other People; Love and Loss …

Some of the poets (attributions) quoted: Rumi; John Donne; Seamus Heaney; Tolkien …

A few of the sub-headings within the main ones: Anxiety; Glumness; Feelings of Unreality; Loss of Zest for Life; Self-Recrimination; Fear of the Unknown; Unkindness; Infatuation …

# We Are the World
In Darkness, Be Light

I’m going to give you other aspects addressed:  Index of first lines; Index of Conditions;  then also very worthwhile  reading: the Introduction;  The History of the Poetry Pharmacy;  and ‘How to Read a Poem’

This little book is for all of us – to use, to give away, to share … please look to buy or ask your library to purchase: so well worth it …

This month … my prescription for …

We are the World Blogfest
“In Darkness, Be Light …”

… is to check out this book to help ourselves, or offer to others – you won’t regret it.
We are the World Blogfest

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Birthday feedback … part 3 – the food!

Rathfinny’s website has some fascinating history on how the estate began, and how they’re coping and developing …

I loved the logo they've created for their
Cradle Valley still wines - the boxing hares

slow, but sure for the vines: seems to be the order of the day – one cannot hurry wine growing or making … be it sparkling or otherwise!

Cold damp January looking down the valley

The estate is only three miles from the sea, nestling in Cradle Valley ...

 … this part of the South Downs, is one of England’s exceptional natural landscapes … worked since Roman, Saxon and Medieval times …

Rathfinny's Sussex Sparkling
The setting ‘is perfect’ for producing wine … a south facing slope, mild climate, chalk soils and protected from the prevailing wind.

Our band of chalk runs under the English Channel surfacing in France as the Paris Basin – where Champagne is produced … however per protected status for the Champagne method, English Rathfinny’s is marketed as Sussex Sparkling …

Pinot Blanc, Pinot
Gris - a still wine 

We started trying the Cradle Valley wines … they’re the 'still' Sussex wines … and were interesting to learn about – as is the way … I’ve learnt more … but I’ll try and not go waxing lyrical about everything!

We'd started and I see I hadn't managed to include the fig oil
here's the hummus and sourdough ... except the green fig oil
is probably in the middle of the Sussex knob!
The tasting menu lunch was delicious and certainly unique – I went off-piste, so to speak, and had vegetarian both for my starter and the main dish … while my brother and SIL chose the same dishes … we had to taste one dessert!

No idea why it's gone blue! - but
is an example of  flavours - it's
a postcard I've had for ages

Let’s just quickly ‘discuss’ taste … an exploration of the senses: the first experience of something to savour … to be remembered.   Then perhaps we add in other ingredients … do they work together … how do we know that they would work? 

Pithiviers - Place du Martroi
There are tried and tested recipes, or there are chefs who experiment to bring us new flavours, new ideas and sensations for the mouth … things most of us would never do at home … and some will tempt, some won’t … ie here – I’m a venturesome customer, and …

The pithivier made with Belted Galloway and
Brighton Blue chees
… so without further ado – I learnt the origin of another French word … pithivier: a round domed pastry pie decorated with distinctive spiral markings – from the commune of Pithiviers in the Loiret department.

Belted Galloway - a healthy looking
To go with our first glass of Sparkling we had sourdough bread, with hummus, Sussex knob butter and fig oil … it was delicious – the fig oil was just wonderful  

Allium Sativum 1793

The family had Belted Galloway pithiviers, Brighton Blue cheese, on charred alliums in an onion broth with rosemary oil … happy times …

Cubes of slow-cooked celeriac, radicchio tardivo,
clementine, savoury almond granola, smoked rapeseed
Now my starter was somewhat different – being the vegetarian option: small (I’ve kept tiny for the main course!) portions of slow cooked celeriac, radicchio tardivo, clementine (I think I could have done without that), savoury almond granola, smoked rapeseed … I did savour each item … all were delicious …

Bream with cockle butter
For our main courses – the family had tasty grilled bream, seaweed, pomme rosti, sesame, cockle butter sauce … I gather was wonderful – looked it too … I was a little jealous!!

Quite difficult for you to distinguish
as it was for me eating ... but all
components were delicious

While I had tiny! nibbles of Crisp Jerusalem artichoke, filled with cheese fondue, quince, polenta and shaved chestnut mushrooms … definitely not enough to share with others!  But the flavours were quite extraordinary …

Then we (mostly me!) shared a Sloe gin vanilla frozen parfait, with forced rhubarb … again just very delicious …

Celereac ... difficult to use - but
does have a really interesting
flavour - I have cooked with it
The idea of a tasting menu – is to taste the wines, or food, or both as here at Rathfinny’s.    The chefs can be creative and inspirational utilising seasonal produce – giving their customers a range of tastes we might not normally come across.  Personally I think it’s a great idea … and I enjoyed the birthday treat!

We’d gone by taxi so could share a bottle of their renowned Rathfinny’s Sussex Sparkling …

Radicchio Tardivo
Well that’s it … you’re lucky – I could have written a book I think!  But I got sent off in many directions … I loved the foods I’d never bother to make myself …

Quince Fruit on branch

… I looked more into flavour and taste … taste being restricted to the five experiences on the tongue and in the mouth: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness and ‘unami’ (or savouriness).

Silver bream on top, with
common bream below
Flavour, on the other hand, is detected mainly through our sense of smell, by the olfactory bulb (to be found in the brain), and, to a lesser extent orally.

Another postcard in blue again
 from years ago -
the flavours of Olive

Back to Rathfinny’s … the website is great and very informative … the whole estate is so professional … yet gave us a very warm welcome … it has ‘a unique spirit of place’ in the beautiful South Downs.

Lots of photos to explain things … but not enough … if you look at the website: there’s so much more … in other words I’m impressed with the place, their vision for the wine industry, the local area and the care of the environment …

Please enjoy and check out their site: Rathfinny's

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Birthday feedback … part 2 - oxbows, Cuckmere River and Haven...

This is going to be an easy post – photos taken from a ride on bus or taxi … going along the Seven Sisters coastline, Cuckmere River estuary, and views from my lunch venue …

River Cuckmere near its 'estuary'

 … to set the scene for the foodie post about the new vineyard that my family took me to for a birthday lunch …

The meandering river across the
flood plains - that is haven for wildlife ...
oyster catchers to be found in the water meadows;
numerous birds enjoy the different habitats ...
particularly skylarks rest in the long grass on
the rising hills, then ascending ... 
It was a wet week … with dirty bus windows … while my photography is snap and go … so no expectations … but you’ll get an idea of this part of the coast line: Eastbourne in the east to Seaford in the west 

Eastbourne in the east, Seaford on the west,
with the A259 the coast road, which connects and
is the bus route.  The Cuckmere is shown near Seaford, while
Rathfinny's vineyard marked in red is in the top left corner!

… the vineyard, Rathfinny’s, is above Seaford on the edge of Alfriston village …

It really does meander
- the road bypasses
this river twist

The meandering river is the feature here … with ox-bows forming and formed – long walks along the cliffs, fantastic views on clear days!

The Seven Sisters looking west - the Cuckmere estuary
appears at the end of the first series of chalk cliffs
Artists congregate to enjoy the light and the views at various points along our white cliffs …  

Looking south eastwards from the vineyard -
with the flood plain and haven in the distance
Personally: ox-bows have always been remembered from my school geography lessons – so now they’ve come to light and I love the journey along the coast ...

This is when we got the taxi up ... so we could all
have a drink ... but Aflriston church, with the village
mostly to the left (west) of the river and flooded area
… especially on the double decker bus – regardless of the weather – the views are exceptional.

Looking across the river from the vineyard

Titling some of the photos I hope will have filled in a bit of extra information …

Planting by GPS

The next post – will be foooood … exceptional food and the tale of the new vineyard …

Eurasian Skylark

Thanks for visiting … and as these things do ... this poem and the music by Ralph Vaughn Williams came to rest in the little grey cells ... 

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake, …

… the second verse begins:
For singing till his heaven fills, …

The Lark Ascending poem c/o

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday 18 January 2020

Birthday feedback … part 1

Just to tempt you … with three (could be four!) quick and easy posts … before I get back to the serious stuff …

Bistrot Pierre is that flat building just above the green grass - desperately
'cold' looking photo - it was dry then ... but bucketed when we left
Lunch by the sea on a gloomy Monday was a great chatty event … the bistro is obviously going to be packed out – because of the setting … we do love to be beside the sea

Taken on my way down - high tide and heavy swell

The weather the next day was very ‘full on’ … lots of rain, buffeting winds … but I’m fairly sheltered in my flat – so got lazy and stayed put.

Let’s stick by the Eastbourne seaside – and tomorrow - a sunny day it will be, I do believe – I need to get along the seafront and see the façade of the hotel that burnt down just before Christmas …I'd like to use conflagrated ... but that might be a word too far ... 

July 2014 - the pier going up ... 
… reminding many of the Eastbourne Pier fire over five years ago … which is still not restored … two major seafront fires, and the economic situation is ‘a bit much’!  But life goes on …

This is looking eastwards ... it'll be gorgeous and definitely
won't want for customers

Bistrot Pierre … is not how I remember bistros in the early days of my gadding about life … when they were small restaurants, defined by their French homely food …

I gather it tasted ok ...
… I always remember French onion soup, boeuf bourguignon and cassoulet … but here it’s quite a large restaurant … one of us had the bourguignon – with a bit of a measly portion of mashed potato …

We enjoyed ourselves … but it brought back memories of bistro days!

History comes next!  The etymology of the word ‘bistro’ is unclear … 

More what I remember ...
small more intimate ... lots of candles to light the place
... and is presumed to come from a regional word: bistingo, bistraud, bistouille, or bistrouille – as well as the two spellings mentioned: bistro or bistrot.  Who knows …


At the Bistro - by Jean Beraud
(1849 - 1935)
A popular folk etymology claims that it originated among Russian troops occupying Paris following the Napoleonic Wars (early 1800s) – where it was allegedly shouted by Cossacks who wanted to be served ‘quickly’ – from a Russian word.  {c/o Wiki (from быстро, "quickly")} … NB discredited by French linguists

The plaque - 30 March 1814
The first recorded use of the word appears in 1884 … however there’s a plaque about the legend of the origin of the word “Bistro” at 6, Place du Tertre, Paris … and just so you know – Tertre means ‘mound’

My calamari ... sorry couldn't wait!
I didn’t take photos of all the foods … we had mushrooms on toast, chicken liver parfait and I had the calamari with garlic aioli …

Thai Fishcake ... 
Then for mains we had Thai fishcake, boeuf bourguignon, while I had the Moroccan chicken … and we shared some vino … actually of the sparkling variety …

Moroccan Chicken

I can’t say I’m raving about it – but can see its situation will keep the hoards arriving … and for a pleasant meal – it was fine, especially as it’s only down the road … so no travelling!

At last we have slightly longer days … and when the sun shines it is glorious, as today and I hope tomorrow for the shot of the burnt façade wreck … so sad – but no-one was hurt …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday 13 January 2020

The Magic Steps of Life …

Another year older, a twelfth year of being ‘here’, and onto my 1005th post … seems to be good for all things …

… January gloom was upon us yesterday, today there’s a little blue … better than the unenviable reputation of St Hilary’s Day, January 13th being the coldest day of the year …

Age ... probably 4 or 5 ... playing
with lego

… and that I can confirm happening quite often in the past seven decades, or as my uncle would have said … your eighth my dear!!

Ellis Evans - his real name:
c 1910

While looking around for something slightly erudite to write … rather than Happy Birthday to me, and aren’t I clever: 11 full years and one day with 1005 posts since starting this journey …

… I came across a Welsh poet born on the same day in 1887 … who sadly died in WW1 … but I’ll leave you to read more.

The film released in 1992 -
I must try and find a copy

Hedd Wyn, his bardic name meaning blessed peace’, worked on the family farm – where, as a shepherd, he composed his Welsh language poems, dominated by themes of nature and religion.

An Englyn appearing on a
gravestone, in Christ Church, Bala
At times he wrote in the traditional Welsh and Cornish short poem form Englyn … using quantitative metres, involving the counting of syllables, and rigid patterns of rhyme and half rhyme …

A Canadian novelist, Robertson Davies, wrote this English-language englyn, which is more appropriate than the others shown:

The Old Journalist
He types his laboured column – weary drudge!
Senile, fudge and solemn;
Spare, editor, to condemn
These dry leaves of his autumn.

Bistrot Pierre ... should be good!
- newish restaurant and seems to be the in thing -
I had a society lunch there before Christmas
(150 of us!!)
So this old blogger, is walking to a lunch, with a couple of girlfriends, by the sea looking out over the white cliffs of Beachy Head and English Channel …

Happy Birthday to me and many more ahead for us all … thank you for being such a supportive community – it’s encouraging to be around …

'Hedd Wyn' … to you, your families, friends and the world …

Robertson Davies - one of Canada's most popular wordsmith ... per the information given ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories