Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Heal me with flowers, birds and butterflies.

Dear Monty,

I sense that you are keenly aware of the healing power of the natural world. I suffer from bouts of melancholy, and when I get to a point where I no longer understand myself or my fellow human beings and our tiresome evil actions in the name of some higher good, I find that I cry out to God who is not unknown to me and ask for an answer, some peace in this turmoil. Now I know that sounds like a contradiction, perhaps it is, it certainly is a conundrum.

As I sat despairing at my own anger and the futility of killing one another, an answer came in the form of a green-veined white butterfly feeding off a cuckoo flower. The sight of it was so beautiful, the powdery green veins on the underside of the butterfly, and the delicacy of the cuckoo flower itself, normally not given a second glance.

The cuckoo flower or lady's smock arrived of its own volition in the damp end of the garden where I made a small pond and allowed the grass and 'weeds' to do their own thing. Having read up about cuckoo flower, I learn that it is favoured by the Caterpillar of the green veined white, and is also a food plant for the adult. While I was wondering if the name cuckoo flower was given to this plant because of the time of year it flowers, I heard a cuckoo call !

Tristan Gregory has written more eloquently than I ever could about his kind of encounter at thinkinGardens.co.uk 

It came to me in this moment, how delicately and intricately balanced this lung called earth is. I will now definitely allow this weed to grow, and will continue to hear the voice that speaks to us from nature to be reconciled to God.  I do not blame (nor is it in my power to do so) those who have dismissed God as dead, because our sad history shows such hatred and distrust between 'faith groups' Our own Catholic and Protestant history plainly shows us that through the centuries. Organised and rigid religion rather than organic living faith in God shutters and closes God down into our own smallness. I sense the freedom to be gained in Christ who gave up life to bring the essence of what life truly is; in such diverse places as St David's Cathedral, on a mountain or just sitting in the sanctuary of my garden.

Peace to you.


Monday, 20 May 2013

Voices in Pembrokeshire

Dear Monty,

18/5/13  The top of Carn Ingli was cold, and a sea mist drifted in obliterating the landscape I was attempting to sketch, but this is how this place becomes so beautiful.

The hills came and went fading into grey-blue then white.
The burnt hill - umber and ochre with sudden lit up greens.
Acid yellow gorse and the common land spotted with tumps of heather and sheep manure.

I sat feet in the direction of the chapel and its graveyard, head in the heavens - communing with angels when a group of posh people broke into the silence like oafs - cursing the ways of the Welsh !


Is God here ? I am not in church
I  am here on the slopes below the hill of angels.

Skylark song and the breeze - that is all I hear, no voice of God - or is this His voice ?
It is so powerful in its bubbling intensity.
For me it speaks,
so does this stone and the sculpted hill.

 I am an oaf too sometimes.


Is now the summer of my discontent ?

Dear Monty,

17/5/13  The darling buds break and my mind swirls in a strange fog.

The trees are theatrically lit - silver, lime green, yellow, gold and red - wine red - a wine gum luminescence.

There is blue reflecting off the path stones - I am content.

To me this garden is as good as Allt-y-Bela, but I am no Arne Maynard.

I watch as it develops - like a slow motion film.

I realise that discontent breeds unhappiness - it is a spiralling path to a place of shadows where living becomes just functioning.
The more I am discontent - the more miserable I become - I look for what I believe I deserve but cannot find it.

When I saw the garden this morning it reminded me why I started writing letters to you, I too have the privilege of having a space where I can breathe. My jewels are scattered but they radiate to a level that pleases my eye.

The more content we are with whatever we have the happier we are.


Sunday, 12 May 2013

In memorium


What will we leave behind ?

Gardens change, paintings fade, words remain.

I have discovered that apart from Sir Harry Secombe, the recently retired Archbishop of Canterbury - poet, philosopher and intellectual - Rowan Williams went to my old school. Perhaps I should wear the old school tie?

I have continued to be subversive, and am painting more native orchids and butterflies as miniature fresco's.

I am thinking of applying to enter the Monmouth Show  www.monmouthshow.co.uk and to put up a stall there with these and other paintings. My son-in-- law will be there with his Longhorns, which I have also painted.

I so want to gain some time back for painting, and would like to retire from the nursing profession ...It is a fantasy of mine to be able to earn enough from painting to get us by.

So I came out of the rain and the cold garden to paint a Comma which I saw fleetingly in the sun and warmth of last week !


Saturday, 11 May 2013

More soup

Dear Monty,

'Doing something different was important to me' said L.S. Lowry of his paintings of industrial landscapes, but even he regretted that he continued on the same theme for so long. He was described by the critics as a 'sunday painter' but had a degree.

What could be said of this painter of butterflies and flowers ? - Hardly challenging or a comment on the madness of our times.

Our sickness is manifested in a kind of meaninglessness - a soup of everything which turns out to be nothing.

I have just laughed and cried with 'The History Boys' the film version of Allan Bennett's play with the superb Richard Griffiths. The classroom was much like my classroom of the 70's. I saw Richard Griffiths in 'Comedy of Errors' in Stratford - what a heart, mind and soul experience for a backward boy from Swansea. What an inspired teacher of English Literature we had. David Taylor used to sit cross legged on his desk, always wore his gown and called us gentlemen!

I got lost somewhere along the journey, because at first I followed with passion - then it drained away. Creativity leeched - ebbed.

The job I do now is as dead as my soul. I suppose there is no room for creativity and passion in a world where (as a friend recently pointed out) efficiency is mistaken for compassion - or rather has been twisted into meaning compassion.

Efficiency is measured to within an inch of its life - in fact it strangles the life out of life.

Risk assessment



Creativity is dangerous is risky so cannot be tolerated.

Art is dangerous.


Monday, 6 May 2013

Five days in May

Dear Monty,



Warm sunny day. Grass growing fast now.

I am amazed by my capacity to fool myself into thinking I know the truth about myself.

I find it hard to love.

Life is so short - do we pursue passion or commitment ?

Love without passion is dead as far as I can tell.

Oh God - out of this soup can you bring clarity ?


I am still waiting for the soup to clear.

The wind blows around the band hall

Sleep heavies my eyes

Then a voice suddenly breaks in -

Remember the orphanage in Latvia

The old people in the home

The forest and potato fields

The poverty and generosity ?

I have so much here that I no longer see what I have.


There are some things we have to leave behind
Like the fishing nets on the shore.

I am following

To follow can be difficult,

He leads me to places full of joy

Other times to places of sorrow and confusion.



We stood around a font

The priest the water and the word

For me the word is powerful still -

'As we forgive them that trespass against us'

If we could do that - live that -

How different our lives would be

And there is my answer.

The church was of another kind - but even in its difference it was similar -  comfort found in words, ritual and communion.

It gives meaning to our otherwise meaningless lives, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The world moves according to the word

Israel bombs Syria

Men argue over planting styles

We tie ourselves in knots

While the word travels through history like Dr Who in his fictional T.A.R.D.I.S

But this is no fiction.


I cannot negotiate with the sun
Make it go back ten steps
Or even stop the sea

I pour rusty water from the parasol stand

It stains the concrete orange

'I should clean that up' - is my first thought

But it is the same rusty orange as the streams leaching out of the disused coal mines

So I leave it.

We are all about style

Lives conform to it

What is wrong with doing your own thing - even if it is deemed wrong or old fashioned or fusty ?

What is wrong with having a patch and potching and pottering ?

Finding a way where there is no way.

I know that once I am gone, this garden will no longer look like this.

The garden is intimately tied to the gardener.

And this one is a bit mad