Bodiam Castle.

We spent Bank Holiday Monday at Bodiam Castle on the Kent/ Sussex border. It was built by Sir Edward Dallingridge c. 1385.

Sir Edward was born into the minor gentry c. 1346. Lady Elizabeth, sir Edwards wife, was a key figure in the castle’s history. She was heiress to the land of Bodiam and considerably wealthy to boot! Upon marriage Sir Edward was entitled to her land and money, which helped him to build the castle. A castle the size of Bodiam was large enough to house up to eighty servants.

On a natural note the castle plays host to bats, particularly the largest Daubenton maternity roost in England as well as well as a maternity roost of Natterer’s bats.

The castle stands alongside the River Rother and there is a beautiful walk following the river. The Tenterden to Bodiam railway also runs alongside the Castle stretch. There is nothing nicer than walking alongside the river with the castle on one side and the steam train passing by on the other. East Sussex is diverse and beautiful.

Rural villages. Northiam, East Sussex.

Today we did a rural village walk. Our route around the village of Northiam was taken from East Sussex Walks. In and around the rural villages by Sandy Hernu (ISBN 1857700597)

Our three and a half mile walk was quintessentially English on this late summer day.

An unexpected point of interest was Queen Elizabeth’s Oak. The remains of this huge oak tree is where Queen Elizabeth I chose to sit beneath and rest on her journey to the nearby town of Rye on August 11th 1573. She was served a meal under its branches brought from a nearby house. She then changed her shoes , leaving behind the original green damask ones as a momento of her visit. Apparently they still exist.

English Country Garden.

Chartwell Kent

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart’s ease and flox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentain, lupine and tall hollihocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, blue forget-me-nots
In an English country garden…

English Country Garden Song by Jimmie Rodgers

Battle of Bosworth.

‘Early in the morning men prepare their souls and their equipment for the forthcoming battle. Sounds of stone on blades and murmured Latin prayers are soon drowned out by the din of the drums calling the men to muster.’

On the 22nd August 1485 Henry Tudor brought a small rebel army to face the much larger Royal army of King Richard III.

The Battle of Bosworth heralded the dawn of the Tudor Age. England would never be the same again. The Church of England was founded and the British Empire was born.

‘Why, our battalion trebles that account:
Besides, the king’s name is a tower of strength,
Which they upon the adverse party want.
Up with my tent there! Valiant gentlemen,
Let us survey the vantage of the field
Call for some men of sound direction
Let’s want no discipline, make no delay,
For, lords, to-morrow is a busy day.

William Shakespeare. Richard III Act V, Scene 3 Bosworth Field.

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Brushed up on my Battle of Bosworth today at: https://www.bosworthbattlefield.org.uk/

Clementine and Winston Churchill

Winston and Clementine Churchill. Bronze statue in the gardens of their home Chartwell, Kent.

By Winston Churchill’s own admission, his wife Clementine was a driving force in his becoming British Prime Minister and helping him steer the country through the second world war.

The above statue of The Churchills can be found in the gardens of Chartwell, their home for over forty years from September 1922 until shortly before his death in 1965.

I love this statue and like to imagine them both taking a quiet moment beside the lakes in the grounds of Chartwell, perhaps discussing the way forward for the country. ‘Behind every great man…’

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell

H

Batemans and Rudyard Kipling.

“We had seen an advertisement of her, and we reached her down an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane. At very first sight the Committee of Ways and Means [Mrs Kipling and himself]said ‘That’s her! The only She! Make an honest woman of her – quick!’. We entered and felt her Spirit – her Feng Shui – to be good. We went through every room and found no shadow of ancient regrets, stifled miseries, nor any menace though the ‘new’ end of her was three hundred years old…”

Rudyard Kipling on discovering Batemans, his future home.

Rudyard Kipling’s Jacobean Batemans.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans/features/house-at-batemans

On this day in history

Three hundred and one years ago today, 25 April 1719, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe- the novel about a man stranded on a tropical desert island-was published.

Desert island risks: Robinson Crusoe at 300

The Fisherman.

Eastbourne, East Sussex January 2020.

The Fisherman

By W. B. Yeats

Although I can see him still.
The freckled man who goes
To a grey place on a hill
In grey Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies,
It’s long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I’d looked in the face
What I had hoped ‘twould be
To write for my own race
And the reality;
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved,
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer,
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch-cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelvemonth since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face,
And grey Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark under froth,
And the down-turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream;
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, ‘Before I am old
I shall have written him one
poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.’

“The Fisherman”, published in 1916, depicts Yeats’ considerations into the loss of Irish tradition through the persona of a fisherman.

This image, caught on my Eastbourne seafront run last Sunday morning, made me think of The Fisherman by W. B Yeats.

Burns Night.

Dust off your tartan for a Scottish Burns Night Supper, a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796).

Tonight (25 January) is Burns night and prior to my celebrations this evening I did an internet search for a few Robert Burns facts:

J.D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ based its title on the Robert

Burns poem, ‘Comin’ Thro’ the Rye’.

Bob Dylan said that Burns’ A Red Red Rose was his greatest ever inspiration

Astronaut Nick Patrick took a book of Burns poetry with him on his 2020 space mission.

‘Auld Lang Syne’ is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the top three most popular songs in the entire English language.

Tommy Hilfiger claims to be a direct descendant if Burns.

In 2009 Burns became the first person to appear on a commemorative bottle of Coca Cola.

Abraham Lincoln was a huge fan of the poets work.

The work of Robert Burns has appeared in hundreds of films and TV programmes, including Holly ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946), ‘When Harry Met Sally’ (1989) and ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994).

https://www.scotland.org/events/burns-night/20-facts-about-robert-burns

So for those celebrating with a Burns supper tonight, enjoy a Haggis and a glass or two of good single malt 🥃 . It’s obligatory!

#Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King. Inspirational Baptist minister and political activist, he played a key role in ending legal segregation of African-American citizens and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

In 2017 I toured America’s Deep South and was moved beyond words to retrace Martin Luther King’s history.

‘You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say’ Martin Luther King’.