seasons

Dance in the Rain!

The summer in Jersey so far has been a bit disappointing, to say the least.

We had some days of warmth and sunshine, but the past few weeks have, to be honest, been very 'un-summerlike'.

For someone who loves long weeks of beach, and swimming, and warm nights and enjoying the feel of the sun on her skin, this summer hasn't really come good.

Not yet, anyway.

Glass half full - it's still only early July and we could still enjoy weeks and months of lovely weather well into the autumn, if we're fortunate.

We can hope, anyway.

When I saw this quote on a big wooden canvas in a local charity shop recently (yes, I did take a picture of it - it was too large to bring home) it reminded me, however, that if I wait for the 'perfect conditions' in life, I risk missing out on so much!

If I wait for the sunshine to come out, so to speak, I might not experience wonderful things while the rain is falling.

And, of course, I'm not just talking about the weather.

So - metaphorically and literally speaking - maybe I need to start dancing in the rain!

 

Dance in the rain

 


First of the Month

'Pinch Punch ... first of the month!'

Ever heard that saying?

When I was at school we used to say that to each other on the first day of the month ... and today of course is July 1st ... so appropriate to share this greeting with you I think?

But where does it come from?

Well, some stories say that it has its origins with George Washington, one of the founding fathers and the first president of the United States of America.

Apparently, during his time as president, on the first day of each month Washington would meet with Indian tribes and supply fruit punch with an added pinch of salt.

This became known as ‘pinch punch on the first of the month’.

How this developed to the childish tradition of actually punching and pinching someone while chanting that little ditty is beyond me ... but hey... it's interesting. Well I think it is.

And appropriate to share it this month in particular because in a couple of days - July 4th - the USA will celebrate Independence Day, after which Washington took up his presidency.

SO ... a new month lies ahead ... and here's something inspiring to set us on our way!

Have a great July everyone!

 

First day of July

 


Summer Prayer

About this time of the year in the northern hemisphere of our planet, it's the longest day of the year.

Between about June 20 and 22nd there is more daylight than darkness, more days of sunshine hopefully because it's the moment when the path of the sun is farthest north. For those of us north of equator, it's the beginning of what is called 'astronomical summer'! Otherwise known as 'Summer Solstice'.

And this year the beginning of that season ... midsummer ... is today -  June 21 - when give or take the UK will enjoy around 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight, with the sun rising before 5am and setting around 9.30pm.

Summer Solstice (and actually Winter Solstice which here falls on or around December 21st) has always had cultural,  spiritual and even religious significance for humankind. Many cultures assign importance to the elements and the seasons and so this is a time for celebration, holidays, festivals and rituals. In many countries and regions this is associated with religion and even fertility as the Summer Solstice marks the time when crops are growing, nature is thriving and people are enjoying the goodness of life and are optimistic for the future. 

At places like Stonehenge - the circle of prehistoric Standing Stones on Salisbury Plain in the county of Wiltshire in England - ceremonies to mark the rising of the sun on this day have been held for thousands of years, as people recognised the religious significance of the mysticism of creation.

The Summer Solstice was and still is a marker for the year and the rolling out of the seasons. Neolithic humans may initially have started to observe the summer solstice as a way to figure out when to plant and harvest crops. We know that in Ancient Egypt, the summer solstice corresponded with the rise of the Nile River so it helped people to predict the annual flooding, and that was obviously related to the viability of their crops along the banks of the river, and the potential harvests later in the year. If you fancy reading more about this time of year there is loads online, including a great website hosted by the History Channel.

But the significance of days like today transcends nature. Before humans understood how the earth interacts with our sun and why the days of light and darkness differ according to the seasons, this period of long days of daylight would have been connected with mysticism and powerful messages about the universe. The word Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (Sun) and sistere (to stand still) ... this day it would have felt as if the sun was motionless in the heavens and so it would have had some spiritual significance and traditions and behaviours developed around the day.

According to pagan folklore, evil spirits would appear on the Summer Solstice so in order to ward these off, people would wear protective garlands of herbs and flowers. Some midsummer traditions involve dancing around the 'maypole'. Bonfires were lit, also to help banish those demons and evil spirits. Ancient 'magic' was thought to be strongest at this time of year and those bonfires were also thought to lead girls to their future husbands - again linked to that sign of fertility. 

The Summer Solstice is often associated with the ancient religions which pre-date Christianity and were closely aligned to nature and the seasons. And regardless of whether we are people of 'faith' or not, the Summer Solstice is a time when we can appreciate the warmth of the sun and the potential in our world, and be inspired for the future.

I could have given you all kinds of quotes about Summer Solstice today ... there are masses online ... but I found this prayer which, as a person of faith, says it all for me.

Enjoy this long day everyone!

And if you're in the southern hemisphere ... be assured that as you are now halfway through your 'winter', summer is on its way!

Summer Prayer

 

 

 

 


Ouaisné Waves

It feels like summer is here in Jersey - at last.

The sun has managed to stay out for a while, temperatures are rising, the sea is gradually warming up a little and I've been swimming a few times already and loving it!

Ouaisne Jersey June 2021
Recently I headed down to the beach at Ouaisné Bay on the west coast - at the far end of the popular St Brelade's Bay - for a late afternoon 'dip'. It was glorious!! A little bit chilly for a moment or two but once I was in, so relaxing. 

Being near the sea and listening to the sounds of the ocean, as well as immersing myself in the water, is really helpful to my mental health and wellbeing.

I'm still perfecting my movie making so please bear with me ... but after my swim I recorded some of the sounds of the waves, the wind and the distant sounds of people including those enjoying the ocean, playing in the sand nearby. 

What a wonderful world we live in! 

Have a great day everyone!

 

 


Brighter Colours

It's the start of a new month.

Can you believe it?

For us here in the northern hemisphere, we're moving into the summer season and here in Jersey in the Channel Islands the weather is warming up.

I'm one of those people who loves the warm weather. It might come from my spending a lot of my childhood and teenage years living in Africa, but I just think it's because ... well I love the warm weather!

I love the feel of the sun on my skin, I love swimming in the sea and summer IS the best time for that. I love that I feel lighter in my head and my heart when there's less darkness and the days are longer.

The colours seem brighter - the new leaves on the trees are greener, the colours of the flowers in parks, gardens and in the hedgerows appear more vibrant, the sky bluer! It's at this time that I feel especially blessed to live in a lovely island like Jersey.

So today, as we enter the month of May, I'm just going to share a photograph I took a week ago, in the Parade Gardens in St Helier, just a short walk from where I live.

Have a lovely Saturday everyone!

Spring flowers 1

 

 


Celebrating Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.

Every year since 1970 this has been annual event designed for us all to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It's grown over the decades and lots of important environmental events have happened on Earth Day.

This year on Earth Day, today, there will be a Global Climate Summit, convened by the US President Joe Biden and held virtually I'm guessing because of coronavirus. Among other things it is designed to be a 'critical stepping stone for the U.S. to re-join the world in combating the climate crisis', having agreed to re-sign the Paris Agreement.  It's just one of the events being planned today and just one example of how Earth Day continues to be a momentous and unifying day every year.  These days it's reckoned that 1 billion people in more than 193 countries will mark Earth Day in some way.

And so to MY contribution.

A couple of years ago, I recorded a series for BBC Radio Jersey with the Jersey artist and iconographer Karen Blampied.

She has created something called The Earthday Icon ... inspired by the ancient nature embedded in the Eastern Orthodox Church Calendar, which each September celebrates Creation and which has a three year cycle, ending every year with the feast of St Francis of Assisi and the Blessing of the Animals. During this liturgical time of Creation, each Sunday is dedicated to a specific aspect of creation and the Earthday icons depicts forests, land, wilderness, rivers, skies, mountains, the universe, animals, storms, oceans and more, all with spiritual significance.

Karen's inspiration is to 'highlight the need of all people to be stewards of the Earth' and this really inspires ME.

I loved working with Karen on this series and the audio we produced is still on the BBC Radio Jersey website.

So today, to mark Earth Day, I'm including the links to the programme features.

You will have to click on each link to listen ... hope you don't mind doing that. But it's really interesting!

Enjoy! And be inspired and blessed!


Earthday icon KBlampiedEarthday Icon #1 - Ocean - Karen chats to me about the role of the sea in the Creation story

Earthday Icon #2 - Flora & Fauna - Karen in conversation with me about her icon

Earthday Icon #3 Storm - Karen chats to me about depicting weather & climate in her icon

Earthday Icon #4 Cosmos - Karen talks to me about depicting God and the heavens in her icon

Earthday Icon #5 Blessing of the Animals - Discovering Karen's inspiration for the animals in her icon

 

*Earthday icon image copyright - Karen Blampied


Laughing Out Loud

Have you ever had one of those moments when life feels so great that you just want to smile, and laugh out loud?

I had one of those moments last week when walking on St Catherine's Breakwater in Jersey. After a stressful few weeks it felt great to just be in the fresh air and walking. I could see the French coastline in the distance ... it was Glorious! 

I've always loved St Catherine's, not just because it's also my name, but because when you walk the breakwater, it feels like you're stepping into the ocean. The breakwater is about half a mile (700metres) long so a stroll to the end and back is about a mile and it's an easy walk. Even if it's busy you feel like you're getting away from it all and it always fills me with joy, whatever the weather.

The other day spring was in the air, the sea was calm in the bay, the sun was shining and there was a bit of of breeze on the coast. As I walked to the end of the breakwater, it felt a little more windy, but I was bundled up against the chill and it was exhilarating. When I reached the end of the breakwater, looking out to sea across to the French coast, I breathed in the clean air and my heart began to soar. I found myself laughing out loud.

Now, I don't often film myself, let alone when I doing something like smiling and laughing, but I did switch on the phone-camera the other day. It's nearly a month ago that I finished work with the BBC and started a New Adventure as a freelance writer/broadcaster/PR and communications expert, and lots of my friends and family members have been so kind to check on me from time to time, to see how I'm doing. So I sort of wanted to show them not just the beauty of St Catherine's, share some sounds of the ocean, which I find so relaxing, but also that I'm doing ok in my New Adventure!

There's a quote which sums up the benefits of laughter for me and which is attributed to the English poet, satirist and politician Lord Byron, who died on this day in 1824. I'm not going to talk much about him today ... I may do that another time ... just to say he was a bit of a character, to say the least. I remember studying his poetry at school as part of our exploration of the Romantic poets of the late 18th/early 19th century, and learning about some of his physical and romantic antics! 

And from what I discovered he was a bit of a 'lad' and certainly enjoyed life.

So I can imagine him saying something like this ...

Byron laughter
There's loads of science which indicates that smiling and laughing is good not just for our physical but also our mental health. So today I hope YOU find something which makes you Laugh Out Loud!

And if you want to smile with me ... here's my moment at St Catherine's ...

Have a great day everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thankful for Spring

Early April can be a funny old time of year.

First it's a bit warm, then we're plunged into winter conditions again. Light breezes give way to gales. One day the sun is bright, the next the sky is laden with clouds and those 'spring showers' feel a bit more like winter downpours.

It's like the weather can't make up it's mind what to do.

The daffodils and primroses are around and then disappear. The trees have buds but are not yet green. 

It's like nature is about to surprise us, but we just need to wait a little while longer.

But yet in the midst of all the confusion, there's hope on the horizon.

Spring IS a lovely, optimistic season and I for one, am ready for spring this year and hopeful for a new beginning ... 

Thankful for spring
 

 


Daffodils

Today I'm thinking about Spring and that wonderfully cheerful flower - the daffodil.

Over the past few weeks Jersey has been festooned with the bright yellow trumpet shaped blooms  - in gardens, in fields and on hedgerows. It's been glorious!

I think daffodils have the ability to raise our spirits, make us smile and even get the creative juices flowing.

Daffodils poem april 7Back in April 1802 a poet called William Wordsworth was taking a walk with his sister Dorothy around Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater, in the Lake District, when they came across a "long belt" of daffodils. A couple of years later that memory led to the creation of one of the world's most popular poems ... called 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' or 'Daffodils'.

Years ago I visited Wordsworth's Lake District home in Northwest England - Dove Cottage - and one day I might chat about that as well. It's a place I had always wanted to visit, ever since I read Wordsworth as a teenager, including this fantastic poem. In fact, his sister Dorothy also wrote about seeing the daffodils in all their glory in her Journals ... again another brilliant read, if ever you fancy it.

So today, to mark the birthday of William Wordsworth - born on this day April 7 1770 - I bring you his immortal lines...

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not be but gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth


Makes me want to smile!

Today is the start of the Easter season ... yes I know we think Easter was yesterday - and it was. Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But actually, it's the start of a Christian season - sometimes also called 'Eastertide' - which runs now for 50 days right through to Pentecost Sunday!

Easter coincides with a beautiful time of year. Spring is a time of such hope, optimism and new life, isn't it?

It makes me want to smile and laugh out loud.

Last year we got a bunch of flowers for Easter, and this little chap was in the arrangement!

Hope it makes you smile too!

Have a great day!

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