wild garlic, couleuvre, snake,
The little track.

We were at our home in France for the last three days.  It was a good visit, the builder is reliable and skilled as well as becoming a friend and the final works are being finished.  We may even have a courtyard and lawn by our next visit!.  Thursday Morning we went for a walk along the little track on the other side of the river.  At one point it is quite steep where,about five years ago, a snake, a couleuvreslithered out of the hedge and wrapped itself around Valerie’s right ankle. It was so fast.  I heard a rustle and suddenly it was there it was well over a meter long, perhaps even one and a half metres.  It kept head butting her as she hopped along trying to shake it off.  Suddenly it let go and was gone. Valerie was totally unfazed and kept on walking. It was olive green, a female and according to Wikipedia the one that the Romans consider a healing snake and  a pair of them the form the caduceus which is strictly the sign of Hermes or Mercury not Aescalapius who was the god of physicians and has only one snake.  Wikipedia is wonderful isn’t it.  This time we found masses of wild garlic and the air was full of its delicious smell but no snakes. 

She Loves me.  Dandelion clock with wild garlic.
She Loves me. Dandelion clock with wild garlic.

There were lots of other wild flowers and a few sheep in the
adjoining field.

The lamb was just a few hours old.
The lamb was just a few hours old.

One little lamb had only just been born.

Wild garlic and Asparagus, l'orangerie, asparagus, wild garlic
Wild garlic and Asparagus,

That evening we went for a meal at my favourite (non-Indian) restaurant anywhere, L’Orangerie and wild garlic appeared, again, at the meal. This time the beautiful little six-petalled star, white flowers were used to decorate my hors d’oeuvre or starter.  It was beautiful and the dish which was chicken liver mousse, crispy Vendée ham and a spear of fat, white asparagus wonderful.  The other sprig was a leaf of celery.


Wild Garlic in Whitewebbs Park
Wild Garlic in Whitewebbs Park

Whilst Enfield is a suburb of London with a large industrial area, it has several farms, lots of parks and open spaces including a vineyard at Forty Hall.  Last year we acquired 2 bottles of the first wine and this year our allocation should be sparkling wine.  Yesterday we went to Whitewebbs Park for a walk through the woods and came across this patch of wild garlic.  I crushed a leaf and the smell was gorgeously and unmistakably garlic.


The Band and audience
Steve Taylor Big Band and audience

My love for big band jazz began when I was about 12 years old.  At this time it was Glen Miller and Ted Heath but soon moved to Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Ellington is my most loved both his compositions and band. Jazz at Newport is a brilliant Cd of a concert in the 50s with the audience  dancing in the aisles, a novelty in those days and Cootie Williams ending with some exciting ultra-high notes albeit bum ones. the audience was calmed with Jeeps Blues featuring Johnny Hodges and is one of my favourite tracks.  I have also always loved to listen to drums, marching bands, jazz, Indian tabla, Japanese, Peruvian, Darbuka any. So last night in Ziggy’s Jazz Club at the Dugdale Theatre, Enfield think of my joy.  Steve Taylor’s 15 piece jazz band with singer Josie Frater AND as Steve is the boss, his drumming was featured, wonderful long, inventive and satisfying drum solos.  Unlike Buddy Rich he has no aversion to beards so I was allowed in but Steve is up there with the greats. All this in Enfield; world class jazz and drums.

Steve Taylor's big band.  Josie centre at back and Steve with his formidable drum kit.
Steve Taylor’s big band. Josie centre at back and Steve with his formidable drum kit.


Enfield Poets meet once a month for an evening of poetry with guests and poets from the floor.  Originally meeting in Salisbury House and known as Salisbury House Poets, we changed to Enfield Poets when we moved to the Dugdale Centre in Enfield Town a different but great venue.

The guests for the Enfield Poets’ evening for 11th April were the three winners of our competition, Sylvia Rowbottom, Patricia McFarlane and Caroline Price. Each a different voice, each a good poet, each passionate and a good performer.

Poets from the floor in the open mic sectional are a favourite of mine.  We are fortunate to have so many good poets who are regulars at our evenings of poetry.  Guests often comment how much they have liked the quality and variety of our poets as well as being impressed with the Dugdale Centre.  Again Enfield Poets are fortunate to be able to perform in such an agreeable venue whose staff are so helpful.  As well as a good choice of rooms we can use, there is the theatre which is great for the occasional show we put on.

Next month the Guests are Hannah Lowe and Karina Vidler as well as, of course, our superb poets from the floor who will be out in good voice.


More thoughts following on from my previous blog.

I grew up in a post-war, lower middle class family.  We came to Enfield in 1947 as my father had secured employment here after being de-mobbed from the Royal Navy.  Thinking back, as I do from time-to-time, some memories glowed more strongly than others and the idea for the poem Ten Things I Learned Before I was Fourteen was born. In the first stanza I am feeling happy and proud that Bill was taking me seriously.  He features in The Collection Reek of Alchemy in Elegy to Brimsdown Plating and was patient, kind and gentle though his favoured pastime was to take up the challenge in fairground boxing booths and always win!  We moved in 1954 and my feelings changed from happiness and involvement to a stoic loneliness and finally disillusionment.  So a poem that shares my feelings and, at the same time, a family history.


A couple of days ago a friend asked me if I found it difficult to post my poems on the web as they often deal with personal experiences.  Her question reminded me of a great quote I read, from a conference or seminar on the meaning of art.  A questioner asked “what does art do that science and other disciplines don’t do?”  “Teaches us to feel” was the immediate and brilliant answer,  It was not a sound bite it has too much depth and gravitas so it is a quote.  I would add it also teaches us to share our feelings.  If you view my photo of a falcon on the images page I hope that you can share the thrill and wonder I felt when I saw the bird uttering voice.  It was magnificent.  I had to wait to get the shot but it is how I felt at the time.  It is the same with my poems, I write and post them because I want readers to share my experience and feel how I did.  They are, of course, often a family history which is important for different reasons. Poems that are imagined, not from personal experience also inevitably hold my feelings.  The poem Roses is an example. My mind roams from hearing a gardener’s diatribe about the difficulty of nurturing roses to Greek myth and the violent birth of a rose through rape. The answer to my friend’s question is that when I first starting writing I was nervous of exposing myself but soon realised that most people are kind and generous and interested in what is being written. It is also interesting to me to hear of others experiences and feelings, another worthwhile reason to do it.