Joyous laughter watching old Pingu films, and many a nugget of wisdom has come Poppa’s way today – away on sleepover with young grandchildren. But the best counsel of the day, in the family bathroom of their new home: ‘wash your worries away’

Update: I’ve been trying to recall the name of the song evoked by ‘wash your worries away’ – and it’s come to me: the lovely Dick Van Dyke rendition of Hushabye Mountain. Alice Fredenham’s cover of the song is here – hauntingly beautiful, I think …


Swallows and Amazons

Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons with two of our grandchildren and their parents tonight, followed by supper out (a cracking pizza for me) – summer treat before the little ones are back to school at the end of the week. The girls loved the film well enough. But parents and grandparents thought it absolutely the bees knees – the book having been first read and loved 20+ and 40+ years ago! Wonderful young actors. Beloved and glorious scenery. No further need to recount the well-sailed story here – the book and the film do that better than I could. I just wanted to record satisfaction that a story published in 1930 was tonight roundly enjoyed by three generations. And I rather hope that I may be taken to see a new version twenty years or so from now!


When you realize how perfect everything is you will
tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.


I loved coming across this quote attributed to the Buddha on Twitter today. I always smile when I see images of a laughing Buddha, rotund tum and joy-filled face. And from time to time a lovely line drawing of a laughing Jesus holding a child aloft does the rounds. I think too of the smilingly peace-filled face of the Benedictine David Steindl-Rast, and the joy that emanates from Thich Nhat Hanh. And images of my grandchildren laughing joyfully on a garden swing … and Syrian grandchildren smiling and laughing in the very heart of shattered cities.

They know something about hope that runs so deep it can and does change worlds – until more and more and more people realize …

The Other Kingdoms

Consider the other kingdoms. The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals. Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze. Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be. Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

Mary Oliver
The Other Kingdoms
The Truro Bear and Other Adventures

A blogging friend I admire shares my delight in the works of Mary Oliver and – on different continents – we’ve both been pondering her The Other Kingdoms, each especially attracted, apparently, by the same lines: Their / infallible sense of what their lives / are meant to be. Ivon’s piece is here. I wonder how many others have carried this poem with them through the hours of this past day alone? Poetry breathes a life of its own and is, in a sense, one of The Other Kingdoms.

Life is ineffably rich. Yesterday I contemplated the farthest reaches of the universe. Today, early, I meditated long upon the agility of the tiniest of wrens – fleet of foot, not just upon the wing; and later on the slant of the sunlight through the window at the gym; still later upon the bravery of snowdrops nodding cheerfully above frost-covered earth; later again upon a vase of Cornish daffodils come North! And upon the miraculous and perpetual developments taking place every day in the lives of my loved ones near and far, scattered family, and dear, dear friends.

And of course I pray for a healing touch upon the innumerable tragedies of the world – but, by poetry’s insistence perhaps, from a space within that holds on to what I can only describe as “love’s perspective” – an indefatigable faith that, ultimately, as Mother Julian has it, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and yea, all manner of things shall be well.” My baby grand-daughter is developing a fondness for little animals – “lambie”, and her family’s dog, and teddy bears. I hope she’ll come to know poetry’s other kingdoms, and

creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze. Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be.

And I reach out, hoping daily that such a sense might ever grow, and grow, in me.

A budding writer

Our latest grandchild was born in October 2014 so was a tiny babe in arms last Christmas. Now, at fourteen months, she’s crawling around her home as though it were a racetrack, shouts out for Mum, Dad, or anyone else on hand to stagger behind her – supporting – so that she can stay upright on tiny – though fast-moving feet. She’s a wonder and a delight in every way, of course, but what I’m surprised about most of all is her early fascination with – and frequent calling out for – a notebook and a pen! Already.

Perhaps she’ll follow in her agronomist / journalist daddy’s footsteps? My memory is doubtless that of a grandfather – not as sharp as it was, if it ever was, but I’m as certain as can be that, at the same age, I didn’t bypass other toys in pursuit of a pad of paper and a pen. What might have happened, how might life have turned out differently, had I done so, then?

Rudolph with bumps

It used to be just the song: familiar tune and words that could be sung sitting down. But it’s much more fun now – even if fairly exhausting – and the old-fashioned way just so, well, passé, I guess, and grandfatherly.

Today I learned that it’s supposed to go something like this:

Rudolph the re …

(grandchildren fall to the ground shouting “bump”, laughing)

d nosed reind …

(grandchildren fall to the ground shouting “bump”, laughing)

eer had a very shiny no …

(grandchildren fall to the ground shouting “bump”, laughing)

se. And if you ever saw it, you would ev …

(pattern repeated, forte, until the end of the song, followed by further repetitions of the entire piece until parents and grandparents are without voice and / or energy and the little ones are still shouting for more)

There’s never a day, not even the “shortest day”, when there isn’t something new to be learned. Wonder of wonders.