October Celebration

OctoberMy dear friend at Leaping Tracks advised me that today the United Kingdom celebrated National Poetry Day.  In 1996, Canada set aside April as the month to appreciate poetry.  Most of us would agree, however, that poetry cannot be limited to a day, a month, even a year.  Poetry allows us to exchange complex thoughts and ideas that may escape the straightforward nature of prose.   The theme for the UK 2015 Poetry Day is “light” which is fitting for this time of the year when the days grow shorter and the warmth of winter fires come to mind.

Autumn is my favourite season; Robert Frost’s poem October is my tribute to UK Poetry Day 2015.


by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Lady Almina & the Real Downton Abbey

Lady Almina

I confess that I have never watched Downton Abbey.   I know this may come as a surprise to Downton Abbey followers, which includes most of my family.  It was not a planned oversight; it just happened.  Every season, I thought that I would begin and then a project or event would intervene.  It is a brilliant period drama television series that depicts the society of the post-Edwardian era during a time of enormous upheaval, especially for those who were accustomed to an unsustainable aristocratic lifestyle.  The series covered, amongst other great events, the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the First World War, and the Spanish influenza pandemic.   2015 marks the final season of Downton Abbey, which will end in a marvelous Christmas celebration.  Autumn is here, the days are shorter. This will be my Downton Abbey moment.

I always wondered about the genuine history behind Downton Abbey.  Who were the “real” people who lived in that stately mansion?  Dear reader (I do like those two words), I found the family and the marvellously intricate narratives that still breathe drama within the ornate rooms of Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey.

“Lady Almina and The Real Downton Abbey” chronicles the life of Lady Carnarvon, who married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon.  They lived at Highclere Castle in the age portrayed by Downton Abbey’s aristocratic Crawley family.   Written by the current Lady Carnarvon (Fiona), the legacy of Highclere Castle during this era, comes alive with meticulous detail.  With access to unlimited financial resources, Lady Almina used her creativity and organization abilities to turn Highclere Castle into a hospital to care for wounded soldiers returning from WWI.  Her financial support of her husband’s archaeology expeditions in Egypt brought about the discovery of Tutankhamun in 1922.  As with all families, there are times of great joy and celebration intertwined with grief and loss.

Lady Almina was an elegant read from beginning to end.

Happy Birthday, Sherlock Holmes

“My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four
The Hat & Pipe

According to several sources, Sherlock Holmes was born on January 6, 1854.  He has endured many iterations and will, no doubt, continue to do so as times goes on.  Happy Birthday, Sherlock Holmes.

I visited 221b Baker Street in September of 2009 and met Sherlock Holmes.  The gentleman, who was sitting in Sherlock Holmes’ chair confided that he came to visit one day and received an open invitation to return because he looked like Sherlock Holmes. His presence gave an authentic ambiance.  I like to think that he still visits.

Sherlock is looking out the window.

Sherlock is looking out the window.