Mud, glorious mud.

In the middle of August we went to a family celebration in Bristol.  It finished about five so we drove to have a look round the center of the city but could not find anywhere to park!  Driving back to the hotel we spotted a sign to Sea Mills.  Intrigued we parked by what looked like a boring patch of grass and got out to stretch our legs.  What a surprise it proved to be!  As we climbed up a wonderful view through an old stone bridge appeared; you can see this in the featured image above and below.

RIver Trym running towards the AVON

What we were looking at is the river Trym just before it joins the Avon and where once a commercial dock was, an area now used only for leisure craft, according to the web site though not sure where the craft are!

Clean Seagull

Stuck in the Mud

Looking the other way the river looks as a river should:


River Trym

until it hits the concrete weir which must stop the tidal waters surging up stream.  It amused us to see a flock of female ducks and one seagull seeming to be watching for the tidal waters.

Ducks and one seagull

Of course a poem started scratching in my head.  The boat I mention, Mignonette, had a center plate which meant it only drew 18″ (45 cm) and could thus sail up river without grounding, an ideal vessel for estuary sailing. I found an advertisement for one almost the same!  It gave me quite a jolt to view the images.  Though once the pin holding the center plate sheared in Pin Mill and my father and uncle had to dig a deep pit under it so as to replace the broken part.  It had to be done between tides; it was an exciting rush to which I was just an observer. Wild Rose, a Whitstable oyster yawl, was my favourite of my father’s boats.  He sold it to William Golding and the photo shows the author sitting on the tiller that I once grasped as I stood on the after deck in front of the mizzen mast.

The poem.

Sea Mills Bristol

There is a song, a favourite of my father’s
“Mud, mud, glorious mud
nothing quite like it to cool the blood”
I thought of it as I looked at shining, sculpted mud
lining the river Trym, a tributary of the Avon.
The sun reflected as clearly as from a mirror,
a seagull, its white untouched, swooping for scraps.
The Nile must have been like this after the inundation.

There was that time 60 years ago I watched a naked girl
slide down the slick-black bank of the Blackwater.
I remember her shrieks and shouts as the mud coated her
and her two nude, silent, male companions.
My father and uncle had left me in the cockpit of the Mignonette
anchored in the middle of the river and rowed to the yacht club.
Sound in a river at night is so clear; it was as if I were with them.
The mud and their bodies joined with the night air as it darkened,
and they disappeared leaving me listening to the the hiss of the Tilley lamp.

© Anthony Fisher September 2018

To my surprise, Tilley lamps are still available.  Ours was a storm lamp and I loved its brightness after the glow of a hurricane lamp.

Before we went to Bristol we stayed with some old friends in Bideford.  I love to look at the old bridge with its arches of different sizes

Biddeford Bridge


and think of the merchants who financed it arch by arch.  The bigger the arch the richer the merchant.  This time it was the clouds that caught my attention and the reflected sun in the windows of houses in the delightfully named East the Water.


Biddeford East of the Water



Biddeford rain clouds


Biddeford Clouds and Spire

And there were the scullers.

Biddeford sculling


Ogmore Stepping Stones; photos and poem

We often visit Ogmore Castle, in South Wales,  on the south bank of the Ewenni, – Welsh spelling as it is in Wales – east of where it joins the river Ogmore just before it runs into the sea.

Ogmore the Castle




Castle viewed from Merthyr Mawr



Ogmore Castle watching the ponies




Looking the other way from the castle. There are ponies and horses everywhere.




The castle was built by the Normans in about 1100 but I feel that there must have been something there before as our pendulums indicate that King Arthur is buried in one corner.  Though bones of the great were often moved around as were King Harold’s now in Waltham Abbey.

Ogmore Arthur's Grave




This is where our pendulums say King Arthur is buried.





A great attraction are the stepping stones that were created soon after the castle was built.  Legend has it that they were installed so a castle princess could visit her lover in Merthyr Mawr.  It does not tell why he could not visit her.  I didn’t count them when we were there and I have found varying counts on different web sites but, looking at the photographs I took, there seem to be about 40.

Ogmore Stepping Stones

Some more Images

The stones lead to Merthyr Mawr which is a delightful Hamlet with a church and a few houses but a short walk takes you to a most wonderful nature reserve with the second highest sand dunes in Europe. We have not walked there yet so there are no images of the dunes but the hot link takes you to a good site.

So a few photos of the hamlet

Merthyr Mawr Thatch


Church and cemetery


Walking back to the castle and pub, The Pelican in Piety.

Merthyr Mawr walking back


The legend of the stepping stones and the mere strength and skill of those that built them inspired a poem; here it is.

Stepping Stones Ogmore Castle

It is said, they were created
so a castle princess
could visit her lover.

They say the congregation
would tumble from
Merthyr Mawr church,
leap across to the pub
behind the castle.


With chisel and maul,
plumb bob and square,
Norman masons
set 40 massive stones,
each with a level cap,
each deep into Ewenni’s bed.

Once runnelled
with many-toothed chisels
the steps are worn smooth
by a thousand years;
still level,
still steady,
still used.

© Anthony Fisher September 2018


Zwartbles in Somerset

Early August we spent the weekend with friends on their farm in Somerset.  It was David’s 80th birthday.  They had bought the farm after spending the first ten to eleven years, sailing the English winters away, around the Caribbean and the northeast coast of South America; quite an achievement.  We only saw them during the warmer months in England.  As well as Lin’s magnificent, lush garden they have a flock of sheep made up of just over half  Zwartbles  pedigrees the rest being Zwartbles/Charolais crosses and, now, an additional pedigree  which was a birthday present from his daughters.

Pedegree Zwartbles

The farm was once a park in the grounds of a rich man’s house and the fields have single trees laid out in a most attractive manner; chestnut, oak and even an elm.

Trees dusk

It was very hot when we were there and the sheep gathered under the shade of a wonderful chestnut.

Chestnut shade





Shade 2









Who are you




Looking at this image I noticed something in the ewe’s eye.






It was the reflection of the Discovery I was taking the picture from.



Post Parturition







Having lambs is exhausting and this ewe is recovering.









We arrived on Saturday for a barbeque, delicious desserts and champagne!  In my case sparkling elderflower.  Instead of bunting, pennants hung in the air:

Post Party

 I liked the sun shining through this one.



Final thought and a poem which is after the photo of the shepherd (it is only the third draft and will change).

Another friend, Becky, obtained  a black fleece from the farm, spun some yarn and knitted me a wonderful tea cosy which she then felted.  I like my tea to mash and a Zwartbles tea cosy keeps it hot, hot!

Tea Cosy

David communing with a Zwartbles cross.




Grey-grizzled, the shepherd walks ancient footsteps,
to the lambing shed, he wears nightshirt, wellingtons
and carries the shades of lanthorn and crook.
It is 2am.
Stars hidden by clouds, the air breathes on his cheeks.
The sound of night is silence, the rustling of a turning ewe.

He leans on the cold neat lines of a steel hurdle,
inhales the fecund odour of sheep, the smell of lanolin.
A heavy-bellied ewe hoists herself on to her forelegs,
reproaches him with beautiful, impenetrable eyes,
black fleece striped with last year’s sweet hay.

On the way back, he plans circuitry and positions
for cameras, lights and perhaps a microphone.
But from the screen of a tablet in his warm bed
he could not savour the odours of hay and sheep
nor feel the gaze of a sitting ewe as he gains her trust,
or exchange sounds and thoughts in the intimacy of night.

© Anthony Fisher August 2018

Henry VIII and Elizabeth I in Enfield

Elsyng Palace was a family home for Henry VIII and his children, probably as large as Hampton Court.  Each summer the Enfield Archaeological Society excavate a bit more and then cover it up to prevent weather damage.  The patience and skill of those who trowel and brush are just amazing.


Forty Hall Elsynge roots edit


It is lovely to see how roots spread.  Trees connect to each other by their roots using their own internet , Mycorrhiza.  You can read about it in a superbe book “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben.


Forty Hall Elsynge roots 2 edit

One of the local oral histories is that Sir Walter Raleigh laid down his cloak for Queen, Elizabeth I to prevent her getting her feet wet at Maiden’s Bridge. Elizabeth lived in Elsyng Manor from time to time and Raleigh lived in nearby Chase Side so I feel it is a credible story.

Forty Hall Maiden's Bridge 2 edit




This image is of what is probably a Victorian bridge but I like it and,  it is called Maiden’s Bridge.



Some more images; it is a delightful spot.


and one of a tree:

Forty Hall tree edit

All the above are in the Forty Hall Estate which, for a while, was owned by the Parker-Bowles family.  Thinking about it all a poem came to me.

Maiden’s Bridge
Here, five hundred years ago,
Raleigh laid down a cloak for his queen.
It was rich-velvet, patterned with fine jewels.

Half a millennium later,
A son of the family who came to own around here,
Laid down his willing wife for a prince.

Raleigh was beheaded,
The man divorced.

© Anthony Fisher July 2018

About five miles from Forty Hall, just over the boundary in Essex,  is Waltham Abbey.  It has a connection with Elsyng through Henry VIII.  It was the last Abbey to be taken over by Henry during the Reformation which he had planned whilst staying at Elsyng.  The abbot was  a very learned man and Henry enjoyed conversation with him.  I have a tenuous connection too.  The last Saxon king, Harald, was buried there some time after he was killed by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. One of the Knights that fought with William was Robert-with-a-beard. and of the 850,000 ancestors I have of that time, he is the only one I know!  The U of my initials is for Umfreville which is derived from the village in Normandy he came from.

Enough of that! Waltahm abbey is delightful and we had in interesting visit.  There are faces carved into the exterior stone and this is one most venal:

The ducks are more beautiful on the river near the mill race.  They arranged their pose and waited for me to take the photograph quacking their impatience.

Waltham Abbey Ducks edit

Inside the ceiling is beautiful with Victorian paintings of the zodiac.  The magnificent organ is being restored so there is bright shiny scaffolding as you enter.


Waltham Abbey scaffoldng edit






Waltham Abbey scaffoldng 2 edit










My sign is Capricorn the sea or mergoat. I feel that it is older than Greek mythology and it has its origins in Oannes.  Perhaps, but here is the Capricorn panel.

Waltham Abbey Seagoatc edit

There is a lovely freeze behind the alter and a mediaeval wall painting in the Lady Chapel (I did not photograph the painting).

Waltham Abbey instruction edit

All in all, two good places to visit.


Amsterdam – bikes and trams

The first night of our holiday in Europe was in Amsterdam where we had dinner with our niece who is now officially recognised as a Dutch speaker and has Dutch nationality.  She showed us around the university where she works.  What a fabulous place it is!  The Dutch take education seriously – her 14 year old daughter is learning 6 languages -and they treat students extremely well.  During the day we took a tram to Grand Central Station and I was amazed at the barrier reef of bikes!  How can anyone find theirs?

Bikes and Grand Cenrtral Station


I find walking in Amsterdam dangerous and scary.  The trams, fabulous to use, are silent, potential assassins of unwary tourists and marauding bikes whiz from every direction!  Amsterdam authorities are considering banning foreign cars as it is so dangerous.  I was glad when we drove away.



Grand Central Station


The poem below came to me as I watched a sexy tram draw away from the station.



Amsterdam – Grand Central Station

 The tram shakes her hips at me
as she snakes away
from Grand Central Station.

I decide to walk,
cross the small bridge,
past bicycles high tech,
bicycles simple, ancient,
chained to iron railings,
in democratic abandon.

Looking down I see
brightly painted boats
laden with tourists fleeing
the marauding cyclists who,
on their tactically silenced bikes,
attack from behind, the side –
all around.

Next day at the station,
I see bicycles locked
in steel mesh cages.
These are the most murderous
that need to be restrained,
until the tourists have gone.

© Anthony Fisher June 2001


Amsterdam is not all bikes and trams, the canals are lovely.


We started to walk back to the hotel as we had spotted an interesting group of bronze statues and wanted to have a closer look.  We found them placed in front of a statue of Rembrandt . It proved to be a representation of Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” ; what an inspired idea!

It is in the featured image above but here is again:

Rembrandts watchmen

and some more shots:

We caught a tram back to the hotel and changed before walking across the park to meet our niece.

The Next night we stayed in Dinant, Southwest Belgium, the home of Aldolphe Sax inventor of the saxophone.  The cathedral there is a magnificent brooding edifice.



The Belgium owner of the hotel we stayed in knew Enfield as he was a Tottenham Hotspur fan.  He also published illustrated books on football which were displayed in the foyer.  It was a lovely quiet hotel.

The next day we set off for Epron stopping the night in a delightful small hotel near Orleans on the way.


Easter Sunday Floating Market

‘Til now, the children have come to us for feasts and gatherings but Easter Sunday we went to daughter Megan’s for lunch and next weekend it is with son Iwan.  She laid on a lovely meal, smoked, salmon, quails eggs, asparagus starters and roast lamb with five vegetables  followed by apple crumble. As well as Ryan and young Jake we were joined by Snuggles and Sparkles the school rabbits who, for rabbits, were well behaved.




After lunch we went to Cassiobury Park and farm











to visit the floating market.




The Grand Union Canal runs through Watford and Cassiobury Park straddles it with a small diesel train circuit for rides, a farm and water cress beds as well as wet lands.  Ryan spent his teens cycling the network of paths and hours sitting fishing so I new we would not get lost.

Start of the floating market


This is the beginning of the market.  It was great seeing the narrow boats with the different wares, the boat folk and, of course opportunities for photographs.



You can just see the  vinyl records on the side of this boat.  All manner of images had been cut out of the discs with a hand fret-saw.  It was an unusual and impressive display

Floating Market

I bought a stone with  orthoceras  fossils, something I have been looking for some time.  It had to be the right shape and, of course, price, and it is both!



Searching orthoceras on the web I found this interesting article about scientists using its fossilised ink.  I find it fascinating.






A couple of images

Bow to bow









For sale








and two swans

Two Swans

We decided to have our walk amongst the paths and wet lands.   First we had to walk along the canal.

On the way, Valerie and Jake tried to rescue a balloon which was on the other bank.



Passing by


I Like boats and being on the water.  Quite a few years ago I rented a narrow boat for a long weekend from the boat hire centre in  Broxbourne.  It was November and pouring with rain.  I decided to go up the River Stort rather than the River Lee to Hertford. We managed to pass under the first bridge but by the time we reached the second, the river level was so high we could not pass under the second so I had to turn about.  This was hairy, the river was in full spate due to the heavy rain.  The technique is to turn the bow into the river bank and, turning the tiller in the appropriate direction cause the boat to swing round.  We managed it but got stuck under the bridge we had first passed under as the river had risen even more!  Passers by gazed down fro the bridge in wonder and amusement!  My brain leapt into action and I raced through the cabin to the fore deck and, laying on my back,  walked the boat through the arch by pushing and walking on the underside of the bridge.  We then took the River Lee which was less turbulent.  By Saturday the rain had stopped and we had a good time.

It was lovely seeing the boats.

Narrow boats moored


Water cress beds



On the way we discovered watercress beds, apparently this was big business at one time.  My father liked watercress, something I inherited from him.



And then found pelicans.










The wet lands were not photogenic but I was able to view some bull rushes from a hide we came across.

Bull Rushes from the hide

We had an enjoyable walk and chat and set off back to the car, home and tea.  As we were leaving the park I looked back.  There was an interesting bridge that once had a small house on it.

Remains and willows

The willows in the feature image above were from here too.


It was a wonderful Easter Sunday, family afternoon.


The Philosophy Café at the Dugdale, Enfield


Enfield is very fortunate to have a Philosophy Café which is based in the Dugdale Centre.  It is the brainchild of Dr Alan Murray who is a gifted poet as well as an excellent teacher of both poetry and philosophy.  It is proving very popular with about 30 people attending each time.


Philosophers on the way to the café!



I must admit to being a little apprehensive before my first attendance.  Our twin granddaughters live in France and, along with there fellow students, burnt their philosophy books when they left school.  An extreme deed but they had been having eight hours a week of philosophy lessons.  President Macron, a philosopher himself, says he wants to reduce or ban such lessons as it is having an adverse effect on the French psyche.  Philosophy is powerful stuff!  Still, I believe it teaches us to think, be precise and to debate issues without resorting to shouted abuse or violence and I love ideas and discussion so I was looking forward to my first session.

French philosopher



French philosopher meditating.  Didn’t one live in a bath of milk?






Alan chooses a topic and introduces it in a short lecture using the work of René Girard to illustrate and structure the lesson.

The topic for my first attendance was the concept that desire is mimetic and much must be or how else would advertising work?  Some desire, I feel, is hardwired into our brain as a consequence of evolution and natural selection but it was a fascinating concept and the debate was reasoned and disciplined thanks to Alan’s guidance and it has provoked me to a new way of regarding desire; to contemplate the implications of the concept.

I soon realised that a common agreement on the precise meaning of words was needed and I was reminded of someone in the 17th century, whose name I cannot recall, declaring “we need more words”.  More new words were added in this century than any other due to an avalanche of new ideas and discoveries.



The average native English speaker has a vocabulary of about 20,000 to 35,000 words.  It is estimated that there are 750,000 words in the English language.



Whether or not there is a word for it, things exist and a word can only express a part of something.  Light is just a small segment of an infinite range of electromagnetic radiation of varying frequency and wavelength and we only need a word for it as we can “see” it.

Prism and rainbow

A prism will split white light in to different colours. Some people can see more blues than most but there is only one word “blue”  Dogs see a limited range of colours and can see UV light which is invisible to us.  Apparently their urine fluoresces UV light.


Now a philosopher



I am getting lost in my argument and thinking and need more visits to the Philosophy Café.

March Miscellany

By now I was beginning to get back to normal and wondered if an icon would help my site and here it is just 512 pixels square.  It is one of a short series of images I took of a Peregrine Falcon that was being displayed at Capel Manor.  I was trying out a telephoto lens. hence the black background.

The 12th we went to see Carmen at the Royal Opera House and what a disappointment.  I was expecting, colour, passion, warmth, exuberance.  It was all grey, black and white and Carmen appeared in a grey gorilla suit!  It was dreary and we were glad to leave at the interval even though the tickets had cost an arm and a leg.

Dugdale Foyer


A March success story was the project to expose the original floor of the theatre Foyer  in the Dugdale Centre.  Paul Everitt had asked if I could suggest a quick way to remove adhesive residues left when the carpet tiles were lifted.  Fortunately I was able to help using Chela’s product Eraze HD and the beautiful metal tiles were brought back to life.  What a difference!  The whole area was opened up, looks lighter, modern, edgy.  A museum shop selling goods made in Enfield will soon be installed.

Victorian Anthony



We went to a wonderful exhibition of Victorian photographs at the National Portrait Gallery.  The photos were contact printed onto sensitised paper from glass negatives.  There is a short video showing how this was done.  I can be but filled with admiration at the technical as well as artistic skills of those who produced such beautiful, evocative images.  This is a fun picture of me posing behind a pop-up Victorian photo frame.  I am doing my best to look full of deep and wonderful thoughts.



China Town


We had lunch in a Malaysian Café, C&R, in Rupert Court and it was lovely.  I had the Singapore Laska featured in the review (link above) and it was delicious.  I like chrysanthemum tea and had a mug of it.

Visiting China town is always fun  and I was able to buy a tub of Pu-Er tea


though Valerie steered me away from the delicious Dorian fruit; they have a stimulating fragrance and heavenly taste!  I had been searching for this tea and is most delicious, even though it is probably made by the modern accelerated fermentation process.  The traditional method has the tea fermenting in a cave for 10 or 12 years.  Now that I have the taste I must seek out a traditional product.



Valerie wanted to check that the headstone of her great aunt Fanny Darville, née Danvers, was OK.  Last time we visited it had fallen over.  Valerie jumped up and down on it after we had re-set it.  We found it upright and solid, no movement, which was good and Valerie planted a primrose which looked very pretty against the grey and lichen tombstone.  The Danvers’s line goes back to the Regicide John Danvers who was one of the signatories of Charles I death warrant.  Fortunately John died before Charles’s II thugs tracked him down.  His co-signatories suffered horrible deaths.  The grave is in St Nicholas Church, Great Kimble and the cemetery is  lovely.

Grave Yard

Work was being done to renovate various paths as you can see.  The yews are just magnificent and the bench and swing next to the large yew in the background above, made great pictures.









Yew Tree and Bench








Finally a walk up Bush Hill and along the Victorian path and down to Enfield Town Park, (please excuse the paucity of information on the linked website.  Best I could find).  The long narrow and steep final stretch of the path meets a little iron bridge over the New River where we fed the ducks and coots and magpies.  We enjoy this.

New River Loop 2



Holocaust Memorial Day, Dugdale Theatre, Enfield

This year, Enfield poets were asked to read poems  at the Holocaust Memorial Day  taking place in Enfield and I wrote the Haiku above for this occasion and it was translated into Hebrew by Poet Nurit Kahana.  In the feature image above you can see us in the front row. From the right; Christine Vial, me and Valerie Darville who was sitting next to Gerald Granston who spoke about his experience escaping from Germany on the SS St Louis.

HMD Programme 2018-3


It was an extraordinarily moving event that were very proud to have taken part in. The theatre was full and there was a mix of ages and backgrounds of both  those taking an active part and those in the audience.  As well as the moving account by Gerald Granston of his experiences on the SS St Louis and how he eventually came to England, there was a film of Appolinaire Kageruka  speaking of his harrowing experiences during the Genocide in Rwanda demonstrating that genocide is still happening all these years later.


I was made to think of the awfulness and horror of the Holocaust with friends, neighbours, work colleagues denouncing Jews to the Nazis; how could this happen?  I was born during the war and remember post war newsreels of the death camps but I needed to be reminded of this now. How can we keep the memories alive so that they are still real, visceral, long after any survivors of those dreadful times are no longer with us?  The Memorial Days are designed, in part, to achieve this and I hope they succeed.

Hlcaust Memorial Day_Enf_011


There was music from he Wolfson Hillel Primary school choir who sang, in Hebrew, songs full of passion and feeling.




Hlcaust Memorial Day_Enf_102



Cllr. Doug Taylor who initiated Enfield’s first Holocaust Memorial Day talking to Gerald Granston and Rabbi Emanuel Levy.




HMD 25th Jan 2018




Enfield Poet Christine Vial


Hlcaust Memorial Day_Enf_029






Enfield Poet Anthony Fisher





The poems can be seen here.

Images courtesy of the London Borough of Enfield


9th Floor – Royal Free Hospital


The 4th of February was a dramatic day for us.  Thanks to Valerie’s clear thinking and action, it started with an appointment with a duty doctor who sent me to Barnet A&E and then the Royal Free Hospital.  The experience prompted a short poem.

9th Floor night time
On arrival, the ambulance personnel pointed out the night time view

and  these are the evening and daytime views.

So here is the poem:

Ninth Floor

For me, the fourth of February
began at the duty doctor
and ended, via Barnet A&E,
on the ninth floor of the Royal Free;
the ambulance crew pointed out
the magnificent view over London.
A massive infection kept me there for six nights.

That first night I felt oddly secure
even though I was without
my instruments of support;
spectacles, hearing aids, watch
wallet with cash and cards,
my phone off as the battery was low.

I thought of how Valerie had come back
to see me leave in the ambulance,
glad that she was now safe at home.
Shrouded in a yellow-grey miasma of nausea,
time for me was distorted-
Valerie came each afternoon
and the children on separate days.

Elwyn witnessed my examination
and claimed that my right testicle
was the size of a grapefruit
though goose egg was more likely.

My daughter brought me home,
sent a laconic text to her brothers
“Grapefruit back in fruit bowl.”

© Anthony Fisher March 2108

View from the fruit bowl.