Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Beauty of a Tree

The Beauty of a Tree, originally uploaded by robinintheuk.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I have not lived. ~Hennry David Thoreau

Not Walden Pond. I don't care. I'm still one of the luckiest people alive because my dog and I step outside our door, walk fifteen minutes and we get to wander through this. Sometimes I wonder if what Dixie and I do is the tiniest bit boring. We do follow the same path several times a week.

But what we see is never exactly the same as the time before. The light changes everything. The seasons gradually move through the year and everything looks just a bit different. The green colours are a different shade every day.

These trees are one of my favourites. They remind me of Louisiana. No spanish moss and not even the same trees, but the symmetry is very similar. I take a photograph of them every time I see them and am never quite satisfied with it. I think it is because I'm looking for the spanish moss... But today, I found myself amazed by their beauty.

I love that I can still surprise myself.

I love that regardless of my mood I can still be moved by the beauty of a tree.

There is pleasure in the pathless woods. ~ Lord Byron

Friday, 23 July 2010

Monday, 19 July 2010

Dixie Has Her Day

Dixie Has Her Day, originally uploaded by robinintheuk.

Every dog has his day.
-- Miguel de Cervantes

I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren't certain we knew better.
-- George Bird Evans

Today is Dixie's favourite day of the year: The Brighton RSCPCA Open Day. Not only is it where we found her, but every year she gets to meet the man that rescued her in Waterford, Ireland. And every year, she remembers him and wriggles and whines like a pupply when she spots him. Three years and she still hasn't forgotten him.

Besides the outstanding opportunity to run around with all the other dogs, they have dog show competitions. Nothing too competitive, just a bunch of dogs standing in a circle waiting for their tummy rubs. This year we entered Dixie in the best Irish Rescue Dog, as we did last year. Waterford Animal Welfare
rescue a lot of dogs every year and bring them to the Brighton RSCPCA for homing, so the competition was pretty stiff: a lot of cuties out there. She's never won but it's a lot of fun!! Obviously, we know and tell her daily that she really is the best dog in the world...

This year she won THIRD PLACE!!!

This is a photo of her with her rosette pinned to her collar. As you can see, she wasn't sure about the whole wearing of the rosette thing but she was very still and polite for the photo taking (a true star).

She has learned that it is best just to stay still and wait out the whole picture taking thing because that woman with the camera just won't give up and she's the one who feeds her.

So today is Dixie's Day!! Lift your glasses...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Rose in July

A Rose in July, originally uploaded by robinintheuk.

How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew! ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Summer looks out from her brazen tower, Through the flashing bars of July.
Francis Thompson
A Corymbus for Autumn (st. 3)

A rose spotted on a walk with Dixie. As it is July, so many flowers have begun to fade but there are roses still. I love the velvety lushness of this one.

I love that regardless of what kind of mood I'm in, a rose can still make me smile.

I have felt a little blah today and a tad under the weather. While trying to find something interesting to say about this gorgeous rose, I have just been told that a very dear friend has just given birth to an 11 pound bouncing baby boy!! The world is officially a better place than it was before!

...compared to a grownup person, every baby is a genius.
-- May Sarton

Friday, 16 July 2010

Green Leaves of Summer

Green Leaves of Summer, originally uploaded by robinintheuk.

If I keep a green bough in my heart, then the singing bird will come
Chinese Proverb

I have somehow managed to displace any semblance of a daily routine.

This was taken on Wednesday while it was still only slightly breezy. I took a photo of this plant a few weeks ago before it had started to bear fruit. And although it doesn't belong to me, as I merely pass it on my walks with Dixie, I find myself quite proud of its progress.

The weather has been very rainy and squally the last few days... The sun is flirting with us down on the Sussex Coast (now you see her, now you don't) while the wind is beating us to death.

My strange New Zealand palm is leaving palm fronds everywhere in the back garden and I suppose all my lovely flowers will be wind damaged now. The dog is not sure what to think at the sound of the wind whistling through the windows.

I find myself just wanting to read... or ponder the book I have yet to write.

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Pablo Neruda & Remembering the Forgotten

Earlier this week it was Pablo Neruda’s birthday.
To celebrate I pulled out my Neruda books and rediscovered this, possibly my favorite, poem:
Tonight I Can Write
by Pablo Neruda
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example, ‘The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tries to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.
Which has caused me to think of lost loves, both human and ideological. “Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”
I wonder if what we have known and forgotten plays a role in forming who we are, perhaps the development of our personality, our soul should you choose to believe we possess one? Do we forget prior passions because they no longer instill a feeling of passion, or merely because emotion is sometimes too great to bear?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Here... With the Sea

Here... With the Sea, originally uploaded by robinintheuk.
By Pablo Neruda

I came here to tell of the bells
that live in the sea
that dream of the sea ---
Within the sea.

Thus I live here.

This was taken on the beach at Shoreham Fort. Behind me are the ruins of a Victorian Fort. In 1913 a Film Company was formed by FL Lyndhurst called Sunny South Film Company. Little Dorrit was apparently filmed there.

But on this day, the Daltons just wandered through the pebbles looking for the occasional seashell which would cause us to ooh and ahh like children who have retained their innocence. Dixie chased her ball.

The sky changed from sunny to stormy to a sort of odd mixture of light and shadow much like an impressionistic painting.

So another blip of the sea...

I am constantly amazed by the sea and its changing face...

... Thus I live here...

Steyning, W.B Yeats, Doors, Dreams

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven
by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

This day was glorious!! Mr. D has been on the search for bottles of Velocity Ale and thought perhaps he would be able to find some here, but no.

Although, we have driven through Steyning many times as it is only ten minutes away, we have never stopped.

Today, we parked the car and wandered through the village.

I did not, however, realize that the poet, Yeats, spent his last years in Steyning living with Edith Shackleton Heald and her sister.

Or that Parnell was married here or that John Launder was burned at the stake for refusing to renounce his protestant beliefs during the reign of Queen Mary.

Nor did I know I would find a lovely little bookstore where I would buy a Virago Classic Edition of 84 Charing Cross Road...

But the first thing that caught my eye was this cottage: Rosemary Cottage.

Yet another English cottage I have decided was meant to belong to me.

But it is the door, I think... I am drawn to doors... Always seeking a way in, or sometimes out...

So a spontaneous trip to a local village on a sunny afternoon has led to thoughts of doors, english cottages, the forgotten poetry of Yeats, dreams, moments suspended in time...

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Watching a Petal Unfurl

Watching a Petal Unfurl, originally uploaded by robinintheuk.
Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
Carl Sagan

I have been waiting

Unconsciously holding my breath

Waiting for the rain to come

Waiting for night to fall

Waiting for the dawn

Waiting for the world

To catch up with me

I have seen miracles in every petal

Rainbows in every sky

But now I am waiting

Waiting for magic

To feel magical again

Geraniums Make Me Smile

Geraniums Make Me Smile, originally uploaded by robinintheuk.

By the sea, lying
blue as a mackerel,
our boarding house was streaked
as though it had been crying.

Extraordinary geraniums
crowded the front windows,
the floors glittered with
assorted linoleums.

from A Summer's Dream by Elizabeth Bishop

I have fallen greatly behind on the submission of blips... This was taken several days ago late in the evening: red and pink geraniums in a window box outside my kitchen window. My eye is continually drawn to them.

Almost twenty years ago I made my first visit to Europe. It was a feast for all the senses.

However, to this day one of my clearest memories is of lovely window boxes and planters filled with bright red geraniums. The mere memory makes me want to sit outside, write bad poetry, drink cold wine and occasionally meditate on the meaning of life and why geraniums make me smile...

Monday, 5 July 2010

Tales of Lavender

Tales of Lavender, originally uploaded by robinintheuk.

Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.
Julia Cameron

This photo was actually another failed attempt to capture a photo of a bee pollinating one of my favorite lavender plants.

The heat has taken a toll on most of us here in England, as we are just not used to it. Lethargy is abundant. In case you haven't already figured it out, that is really just another way of saying this is the only photo I took that day. I didn't manage to take even one photo on Sunday, as my 4th of July was spent clearing out a clogged external drain. A day filled with unbelievably smelly gunk!!

However, what a surprise to discover that a photo taken very quickly in an attempt to catch a very quickly moving bee turned out to be a lovely photo of a pot of lavender.

Even more suprising is the miracle of survival that pot of lavender represents.

Last year was difficult in so many ways.

I didn't manage to put any of my lavender plants up until after the snow arrived and some never even made it out of the garden at all. I did not expect any of them to survive the winter. I did, in fact, lose a couple. One (which is a dutch variety I purchased at the grocery store, I believe), I thought for sure would be gone, is struggling to return to it's former beauty.

The one in the photo is a hardy English lavender purchased from the Norfolk Lavender Farm. I love it. The bees love it. We are both truly blessed.

...and slightly intoxicated by the perfume of English lavender.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Madame Alfred Carrière Rose in Full Bloom

by George Eliot

You love the roses - so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!

Ah, yes, my Madame Alfred Carrière climbing rose in full bloom..

So far I have only had this one bloom this year... but isn't it just gorgeous?

I have now cut it and have it sitting in a vase where I can sigh over it's beauty while I work on the computer, thanking the generosity of mother nature all the while.

For those that wonder about these things, this is straight from my very inexpensive camera. So, yes, it is indeed this lovely blush pink colour.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Lemon Drizzle Cake & Summer Memories

Life is a big canvas, throw all the paint on it you can.
-- Danny Kaye

To be absolutely honest, I didn't plan today's photo journal entry at all.

Instead I baked a cake... a Lemon Drizzle Cake.

This photo is not a very good representation of it... it actually looks a lot better than this. I think either the camera or the photographer is not so good at food shots.

However, the cake is well, really quite good.

I used a 2 lb loaf pan instead of the one described in the recipe and in future endeavors I might use just the tiniest bit less icing.

So I have no poetic observances about life today, as today life has been purely about cake.

So... and I know you knew this was coming:

I say let them eat cake...

Sadly, the truth of the matter is that although, Marie Antoinette is reported to have said this, it was in all probability an anecdote invented by Rousseau first published when Marie Antoinette was only 13 and, in fact, probably no one ever said, "Let them eat cake".

And to complicate matters further, the actual quote is: Qu'ils mangent de la brioche. Translated from the french means: Let them eat brioche.

I say, however, that closing my eyes around a bite of sticky lemon drizzle cake reminds me of running around barefoot on hot summer days...

I think I might just have another piece.



A lovely lemon cake with a crunchy icing top. The recipe came from Good Food Magazine in the spring of 2002 I think. It's really easy and travels well, so if you're currying favour with the boss, it's a good one to take into the office! Incredibly easy and quick to make, as the cake is mixed all together in one go... and yes it does work!!

Recipe posted by


Cake ingredients:
  • 4oz softened butter (make sure it's really soft)
  • 6oz self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 6oz golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • finely grated rind of a large unwaxed lemon

  • for the Icing:
  • juice of a large lemon
  • 4oz golden caster sugar


Serves: 0
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4.
  2. I use an oblong tin which measures 9" x 8", lined with baking parchment. could also be made in a round tin, but size of which, I'm not sure!!
  3. Tip all cake ingredients into large mixing bowl and beat for 2-3 minutes; mixture will drop easily off spoon. Spoon mixture into tin and smooth with back of spoon.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden & firm to the touch.
  5. Beat together icing ingredients and pour over the cake while it is still HOT.
  6. Cool in tin & cut into squares. YUM YUM!!!!