Writing

Jo’s Monday walk : Bristol Blues!

The last time I was in Bristol was to see the highly spectacular Balloon Festival.  It had been my first visit to the city and I was quite keen to take an introductory walking tour.  Due to the volume of people in Bristol for the festival, in glorious August weather, the tour had been cancelled.  Little did I know then that I would have another opportunity.  But this time was very different.  The sky was an unrelenting grey, rather matching my disconsolate mood, and my weekend seemed to be unravelling around me.

You see, I had made a surprise visit for an 80th birthday party.  I flew into Bristol at 8 in the morning, and had the whole day ahead of me.  I had planned to spend it with my lovely friend, Gilly.  Not only was Gilly sadly unable to meet me, but I had neglected to bring with me a vital contact number.  I had no means of getting to the party.

Leaving Bristol bus station, I wandered into the city, trying to formulate a plan.  As so often, my camera came to my rescue and I started to observe my surroundings.  Bristol is well known as the birth place of Banksy and the wave of street art that took Bristol by storm in the 1980s.

I’m always ambivalent about street art.  Some, I hate.  Some, I love.  In this case it was a welcome distraction, highlighting good and bad in the city.  I especially felt for the semi-derelict St. John on the Wall church, on Broad Street.  Posters on the rusted grills covering the windows advertised for volunteers to enable the church to continue to be opened to visitors.  600 years of history hidden from view.

I was hopeful that the Tourist Information office might come to my rescue.  The battery on my ancient cell phone was fading fast and I needed somewhere that I might connect to the Internet. The phone number I needed was on Messenger.  At 9.30 on a Saturday morning the TI was still closed, but I had a map from my previous trip.  The Central Library appeared to be just behind the Watershed, where I now stood.   A spark of hope propelled me in that direction.

The sky maintained a dreary grey as I bypassed Millennium Square with its lofty wheel.  Bristol Science Centre held promise of an interesting haven from the cold, which I might need later. Crossing over the road I headed uphill towards the Cathedral spires.  The Abbey Gatehouse provided a welcoming entrance to the Cathedral grounds and the adjoining library.

10am was opening time for the library.  I turned my gaze upon the grand countenance of the City Hall buildings on College Green.

City Hall is a grade II listed building, the seat of local government in Bristol since 1956.  I had paid it scant attention on my last visit, when rain had driven me to the bosom of the Cathedral. I still had time in hand for a swift return to the lovely cloisters.

At 10 o’ clock precisely, the doors to the Central Library admitted me.  I was totally astounded at what I found inside.

Opened in 1906, the grade 1 listed Central Library was built on land adjacent to the gatehouse of St. Augustine’s Abbey, or Bristol Cathedral. Charles Holden, the architect, has created an Edwardian building that filled me with reverence.  Quietly I mounted the sweeping stairs, from the marbled entrance to the reference library.  Chandeliers dangled from the vaulted glass ceiling, between 2 tiers of galleries crammed with books. The history of Bristol was all around me.

To my enormous relief, there was an alcove where I could plug in my phone, and in a little while had found the number I needed.  There was a temptation to stay cocooned in the library, but it was time to set forth.  I had thought I might visit the botanic gardens at the University of Bristol, but the weather was still unsettled.  The TI was now open, of course, and there were leaflets outside proposing a number of walks.  Banksy perhaps? Just as I was contemplating coffee, I realised that the 11 o’clock walk that I had missed on my previous visit was all set to go. It was meant to be…

The funny thing was that my historic walking tour retraced many of my steps.  Back to Millennium Square, where we discussed Bristol and shipping, overlooked by the globe-shaped Planetarium.  Up to the Cathedral and College Green, this time with highly informative Ken, who covered the slave trade, imports of tea and Fry’s Chocolate factory.  Dates were affixed to the many beautiful architectural details.  While I very much enjoyed having company, one thing of significance did happen.  I had seen an illustration of a Banksy entitled ‘Well Hung Lover’, about which I was curious, but had no idea where to find it.  Would you believe that it was barely two steps from where I had been previously, that morning?

At the junction of College Green with Park Street.  You might have noticed that a watery sunshine was beginning to brighten the skies, and my spirits lifted like the prancing unicorn on the top of City Hall.

The tour continued past the huge old warehouses where Bristol Sherry used to be stored, down to St. Augustine’s Parade and the art deco Hippodrome Theatre, beloved of Cary Grant.  Back to the Floating Harbour and the incredible story of how the river was diverted to ensure that Bristol’s life force, trade and shipping, could continue to prosper.

Huge Queen Square next, and it’s grand Georgian houses.  The Bristol Riots took place here in 1831 and almost 100 of the buildings were burned to the ground.  They’re a feisty lot, Bristolians.  As we looked towards the Bristol Old Vic theatre, currently undergoing renovation, a tribe of Norsemen and their ladies stomped past.

Past the Welsh Backs, and a wonderful jazz pub, ‘The Old Duke’, honky tonk music tripping off the keys.  Our tour ended at St. Nicholas Market, where you can purchase almost anything your heart desires in the lovely old Exchange building, or outside on the busy street.

It was definitely time to take the weight off my feet and I found the perfect venue,  The Cosy Club.  Yet another grade II listed building, and a former bank, the ceilings romped with art and the music had my toes tapping.  A comfortable banquette was my resting place for the next couple of hours. And then it was time to head for the party!

I hope you enjoyed my wanderings in Bristol.  So did I, after a bad start.  If you saw my Six word Saturday you’ll know how the party went.

Definitely time for a cuppa, isn’t it?  I have some wonderful walks to share with you, again. Many thanks to all of you who take part, and to you comfy armchair types too.  If you’d like to join me, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  I’d love it if you could.

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What a privilege to be joined by Tish AND a gardening legend from our past!

Tulips’ Last Hurrah And A Gardening Legend

And if anyone can put a beautiful post together, it’s Debbie :

A Flowering Island

Wander back in time with Drake :

Historical flashback

Nice to see old traditions still observed, but with a modern twist.  Thanks, Lady Lee!

Maypole- raising

What’s Jackie up to this week?

Day 5- So Cal- Solvang 

And where would we be without Woolly?  Still serious this week :

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Enjoy the gentlest of ‘potter arounds’, with Susan :

Walking Small 

And a sequence of reminiscences and beautiful wistfulness, with Meg :

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Eurobodalla beaches : One Tree Beach (the north end)

Delighted to be tiptoeing through the bluebells with Elaine.  Today I’ll be bluebell-ing in Durham, weather permitting :

Bluebell time

While Eunice shows us England’s green and pleasant land in all its beauty :

A woodland walk

My lovely friend, Cathy, is walking marathons around Japan, making the most of her time there :

From Tokyo station to the Imperial Palace Outer Gardens, topped off by a beer garden in Hibiya

That’s all for now, folks!  Hopefully I’m off to count bluebells this morning.  Have yourselves a great week!

Lazy Poet’s Thursday Haiku

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An old, fisherman’s table

Rusted now and all forlorn

‘Gainst the shimmering

Stealing my title from Gilly this morning, but I know she won’t mind.  I’m just sharing a last few soothing Algarve images before I return to the real world.  If you’ve never met Gilly, you’re in for a treat.  Go and say hello!

24 hours in… Florence

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Yes, I’m dreaming again but I do have able assistance.  Take a look at Paula on Lost in Translation.  The lady has a supreme talent in photography. These are all her images, which I’ve stolen in a good cause.  I hope I’ll be forgiven.

It’s ages since I’ve entered a competition but this one by Accor Hotels is too good to resist, even though I’m pushing the deadline.  24 Hours In…   Just name your city, and off you go.  My initial reaction- ’24 hours in Florence?’ Impossible!!!  But then resourcefulness kicks in.  I’m a huge fan of free walking tours.  Nothing I like better than a good ramble and to just follow my nose, but my nose has a terrible habit of getting me lost.  With time at a premium I’ll opt to follow ‘one who knows’.  And afterwards pick their brains for good places to eat and whatever else I can pack in.

Florence Free Tour has 2 options.  One at 11.00 and one at 14.00, both starting from the Santa Maria Novella church.

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I know I won’t be able to sleep for excitement so I’ll be up at the crack of dawn, grab a coffee and out on the streets to just absorb Florence.  I’ve heard tell there are secret bakeries, open very early, so if I stumble upon a waft of pastry, so much the better.  The other half is always reluctant to be prised from his bed but, if I can persuade him, I’ll have a slot booked at the Uffizi.  They open at 8.15, so not too hard to escape the crowds.

Culture tucked in my back pocket, time to join the morning walking tour, when I can hope to get my bearings. Afterwards I’m going to allow a substantial time for collapse and a leisurely lunch.  Somehow I have to find the energy to climb the 463 steps to get a proper look at Brunelleschi’s Cupola in the Duomo.  I’ve seen Paula’s photo and I know it will be worth it.

I always gravitate to a river, and in Florence there is the biggest incentive of all time, the Ponte Vecchio.  I might have to pinch myself when I get there.  Not since Venice have I been this excited!  A browse through the arcades and a nice little cafe for a restoring coffee. (and I know he’ll want a cake!)  There’s one more must see on my list.  You can’t be married to a garden designer and not visit the Boboli Gardens.  Even if it rains!  It seems the perfect place to watch the sun set over this lovely city.  Maybe there will be an evening concert at the Pitti Palace, but if not it will be a leisurely meal, and then just strolling and sighing until my legs won’t walk any more.

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I haven’t been there yet, but when I do, next February, I very much hope to enjoy this vista, at Twilight.  And when I do I’ll be telling you all about it.

Meantime, do you have any tips on how to spend 24 hours in your favourite city?  Accor Hotels would very much like to hear them, and if you’re awfully quick there are super prizes!  Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin ring any bells?

Jo’s Monday walk : Barranco das Lajes

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My walk through Portugal’s Barranco das Lajes definitely comes in the category of ‘tales with a happy ending’, but for a while I wasn’t so sure.

Let me set the scene.  The skies were the clearest of blues.  I’d been in the Algarve for long enough to take this completely for granted (a week!). I’d ambled on beaches, and been out with my walker friends.  I’d even met up with a lovely blogger and her husband for coffee. (Hi Becky!)  I was in as relaxed a state as I ever achieve.  But those smoke blue hills on the horizon were calling me.  Much earlier in the year I’d been there and resolved to come back for a walk.

Out came the guide to Walking Trails in the Algarve , which you might remember from my walk on the cliff tops at Carrapateira.  This walk has a very different location.  From my eastern Algarve home in Tavira it is a lovely drive along the N270 to São Brás de Alportel. As Becky points out in her most recent walk, directions in this guide are a little vague.  Fortunately my husband has a good memory for roads.  North we went, through the villages of Alportel, Cova da Muda, Javali, Parises, and Cabeca do Velho, climbing higher and higher into the hills.  When it seemed we couldn’t go any higher, and my ears were popping, we reached the minute village of Cabanas- the start of the trail.

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A more peaceful spot you could not hope to find…. until!  Over a farm wall hopped two dogs, the leader barking ferociously and heading straight for me.  Barking dogs are a pretty common factor on any walk in the Algarve countryside.  Most farmers have an animal or two to protect their property.  Usually they are on a leash, or behind a sturdy gate.  In such an isolated spot, the farmer obviously did not expect company.  He shouted at the dogs, but not before the leader had reached me and leapt at the back of my knee. Ouch!  I have to admit I was shaken and not a little worried that it had broken the skin, but I was ‘lucky’.

The walk follows the asphalt road a very short distance through the village of Lajes, before turning down a trail.  I limped along feeling a little sorry for myself, and wishing I’d had a walking pole handy for defence.  But it was such a beautiful day, and my surroundings so serene, it really was hard to stay grumpy.

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The trail descended quite gently, but it soon became clear that I had made the wrong choice of footwear.  My grazed toes did help to take my mind off my sore leg.  Grateful for small mercies!  A pause for a little discreet padding.  Can you believe that I really was enjoying myself?  But I sincerely hope that you will learn from my bad example.  Meanwhile the trail passed through olive and fig groves, beneath numerous cork and holm oaks and down to a watercourse, with rustling bamboo.

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Climbing back out of the valley, I marveled at the early flowering fruit trees.  I couldn’t decide whether these were the famous Strawberry trees (known for their powerful liqueur, Medronho) or Loquats.  In Spring these valleys will sing with with wild flowers- the rose and white faces of Cistus, lavenders in lilac and green- but for now the predominant colour is green.

Another intriguing plant draped itself rather seductively through a Eucalyptus tree- a white variety of the bottle brush?

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Almost at the end of the 5.5km walk, there is an optional loop up to Cerro da Ursa- a bit of a climb to a panoramic view.  The good news is that having reached the summit you are then back at the level of the road.  Even better, the car was merely yards away.

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After all that trauma I’m sure you can guess what I did next?  A whizz back down the hills takes us to the lovely little cafe, Tesouros da Serra, on the outskirts of São Brás.  Fig and carob cake was exactly what I needed!  Sore bits quite forgotten.

Should you be feeling energetic, details and a map can be found on the link to the Walking Trails guide.  As estimated, the walk took around 2 hours, but we didn’t hurry.  It was too beautiful.

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I do hope you’ll read some of these great contributions, and I have to apologise for keeping some of them waiting rather a long time. I’m very grateful for your company and the lovely walks we share.  Please join us if you have a walk, long or short- I really don’t mind which.  Details can be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page, or just click on the logo above.

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Now, how did Esther know I loved John Denver?

Walk Down Country Roads

Aah, the memories!  A small boy I knew loved trains!  Thanks so much, Jackie…

Train of Thought

And this week, some beautiful gardens in Toronto :

Allan Gardens

It’s always a pleasure to accompany Drake, almost anywhere!

This way please..

An idyllic landscape next from Pauline (and a few cows) :

The Rural Heart of New Zealand

Elena took such delight in Rotterdam, it’s totally infectious!

Rotterdam in a Day (part 3)

I always love to welcome a newcomer to my walks, especially if we can meet for coffee:

New York- Coffee in Central Park

Or better yet, a beach!

Coolangatta- Classic Cars by the Beach

And if that won’t do, there’s treasure!  Please say hello to Lee Anne at ‘Just me please’ :

Eagles Nest- A abundance of treasure

Don’t you love Yvette’s new look?  And the way she looks at life too!

Walk with Jo (street photos)

Gilly took such a beautiful stroll in my absence.  Hope you didn’t miss it?

A field of brassica

And then when I got home she had this waiting :

A City Stroll at Christmas

You never know what you’re going to get with Tobias, but there’s sure to be an eye pleaser :

Uzes

Meantime, Jaspa takes us back to the days of slavery :

Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park, Florida

I can confirm what Becky says, but it was still warm.  I’m missing my Algarve already!

Not every day is a sunny day

It’s great to be able to close with another special lady.  I met Cathy, once upon a time :

A November rock scramble on Billy Goat trail

That’s all for now.  I’ll probably be on my way to Nottingham when you read this and I’m sure that you understand that time with my daughter is precious.  However, I hope to be able to reply to some of you whilst in transit and I’m an early bird so I can sneak some computer time in the mornings.  I’ll catch up with the remainder on my return on Thursday, and join you for another walk next week. Take care till then!

 

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Surprised at Skinningrove

Dedicated to Skinningrove Homing Society

Dedicated to Skinningrove Homing Society

Skinningrove used to be a bit of an ugly duckling.  Situated on the north east coast of England, midway between picturesque Staithes and Saltburn-by-the Sea, it has fierce competition in the beauty stakes.  You have to turn off the coast road to go looking for it, and many would not trouble.  The village is trying to attract it’s share of revenue from tourism and, with the help of a leaflet entitled ‘Skinningrove Valley Trail’, that’s where we’ll be walking today.

Our start point is by the jetty, built in the 1880s to serve the ironworks which is the reason for the village’s existence.  My leaflet describes it as looking forlorn, but funding has been acquired to renovate the jetty.  The process was just beginning at the time of my walk.

A straggle of houses and fishing boats decorate the shoreline.  A fisherman nods ‘good morning’ and carries on painting his tired looking boat, soon to have a new lease of life.  Crossing Skinningrove Beck into the village we come swiftly upon the tribute to the Homing Pigeon Society, which reminds us that using pigeons to carry messages dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome. Locally the birds are known for their heroic activities in World War II.

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Across the beck from Stone Row you can see man-made caves, which were carved out to shelter hospital patients when bombing raids took place during the war.  And then the first of my ‘surprises’.  On the bridge, a mosaic which illustrates the story of the village.

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A few 'tangoing' poppies, a bench and the tip of an anchor

A few ‘tango-ing’ poppies, a bench and the tip of a rusting anchor

And looking back, the man-made caves

And looking back, the man-made caves

The Square is a designated Conservation Area.  Former Timm’s Coffee House stands importantly on the corner, now converted to a guest house, ‘Moonfleet’, rather sadly.  Part of the building is Grade II listed, having started life in 1704 as Skinningrove Hall. In the 19th century it was developed as a hotel by the Maynard family, who named it Timm’s Coffee House after the coffee houses that were then popular in London.

With an 'unusual' bench, for Jude?

An ‘unusual’ enough bench, for Jude?

Another of my ‘surprises’ coming up next.  I spent many a happy minute exclaiming over the mosaics on the side of Riverside Building. It began life as a school in 1884 and remained so till the late 1990s.  Since then it has become a base for community projects and activities, and is run by a group of volunteers.  I pop back for a cuppa and a gossip with the locals at the end of my walk, but for now let’s just enjoy the mosaics.

This one looks at the floods of 2000

This one illustrates the major floods of 2000

Click on any photo to open the gallery

The building is no work of art, but the efforts of Glynis Johnson and the school children who were involved are delightful.  There are two themes- the floods and the Story of the Merman. Allegedly a ‘sea-man’ was once caught by the local fisherfolk.  He lived on raw fish for a number of days but then managed to escape.  Sometimes, when the sea is calm, a hideous groaning can be heard and the fishermen are afraid to go to sea!

The Story of the Merman

The Story of the Merman

Skinningrove was a mining village, though the evidence is harder to find these days.  The rust red water in the beck vividly testifies to the presence of iron, and the remains of an entrance to the mine can still be seen.  I had intended to visit the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum but was not convinced that I wanted to go underground.  During the war the mine was regularly used for shelter, and a school log book entry for 9th September, 1915 reads “Owing to Zeppelin raid and the children having been in the mines a good part of last night, we have been obliged to close school today”.

I later discovered that the guided tour takes an hour and a half.  At Christmas, Santa delivers his sack of toys along the miner’s track, without any necessity to go below ground.  Maybe I’ll come back then!

One more ‘surprise’ in store.  A mural on Doorstep Green portrays ‘Evolution of Life in the Sea’. It was created by Philippa Threlfall, using materials from Skinningrove beach, and with the help of children from the former Rosecroft School.

Again, click on a photo to see it in detail

The Valley Trail climbs out of the village and across the A174 (a busy road), following the beck into Whitecliff Wood.  Curiosity impelled me to take a look, but you could simply retrace your steps.  Over the road I pass by an animal sanctuary, where the animals appear quite content.  The adjoining house has lupins by the fence and I pause, remembering my mother, who always had roses and lupins in her garden.  The trail soon peters out as the beck flows through a culvert under the railway embankment.

Back in Skinningrove, I find the friendly ‘staff’ in Riverside Building in a lull between customers.  I consume the cheapest toasted teacake and mug of coffee I’ve ever had, while they tell me about life in the village.  Everything is done on a voluntary basis and they pool their expertise. Apparently a little gift shop is set to open up soon.  If you pass that way, drop in and say ‘hi’, and you can pick up a leaflet on this trail.  Here they are, on Facebook.

Heading for home now, but not before I take a look at ‘Repus’- the fishing coble which serves as a memorial to those lost at sea.

The last bench reminds me that this is the midway point along the Cleveland Way, a 110 mile walk between Helmsley and Filey.  Now there’s a challenge!  If you prefer something a little easier, why not drop in on Jude for her Bench challenge?

I’m a little further down the coast today, walking on the cliff tops at Whitby, so I may be late in answering your comments.  I suspect you’ll have plenty to keep you busy in the meantime. Thanks for reading!

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Once again I’d like to say a huge thank you to those who have contributed to making my Jo’s Monday walk a success.  If you’d like to join in, click on the logo for details.  Time to put the kettle on and settle back for a read.  I think I need some toast, too.

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A busy spot, the Gare de L’Est!  Please take your time and watch the video.  Thanks, Drake!

East- entrance to Paris

Hope you had good Canada and Independence Days, all those who celebrate it!

Cee’s Which Way Challenge

Inspirational shots from Amy!  She’s on holiday this week.  Treats in store!

The Antelope Canyon

A lighthouse, and some stunning thrift?  Cornwall, of course!  Many thanks, Jude :

Pendeen Watch

Wild thyme and Lady’s Bedstraw, from Tish, but not very much sleep, unfortunately!

Return to Windmill Hill: Of Grasshopper stalking, Lady’s Bedstraw and other random discoveries 

Meanwhile Pauline is up at the crack of dawn to capture the sunlight on the water :

Early morning walk along the beach

And Ruth has gone to the other extreme.  Both extremely beautiful!

A walk in the moonlight

Thank you for finding time to read these wonderful contributions.  I hope I haven’t ‘wittered on’ too long.  Maybe something shorter next week? (though this trail is only a mile and a half long) Grab some sun, if you can, and I’ll see you then.

 

Six word Saturday

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Do you write poetry, or prose?

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Orchids, wild and free

Waving through the longest grass

Come and play with me

Sweetest princesses

Blushing tenderly in pink

Or virginal, white

Perfect peony

Unfurling, day after day

Swirling in beauty

It’s funny how this blogging world changes you, and opens your eyes to new things.  I never used to carry a camera, except on holiday (with pretty dire results).  But, needing to liven up my dull pages, I started taking photographs.  Now I find it hard to walk past a blade of grass without wondering if it will make a good composition!  I exaggerate- but it’s not far from the truth.

It’s good to know that I have an imagination, and that with just a little persuasion from friends, I can learn to use it.  So now I’m tiptoeing into the world of Haiku, to see what I can find.

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Sultry, smiling poppy

Teasing with her flirty skirt

Stamping a tango!

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The storm clouds have descended this morning.  What better time to practise a new skill?  There’s so much inspiration out there.

I’m linking this morning to Lucile de Godoy at Bridging Lacunas.  If you don’t know her, you’re in for a treat.  And, of course, you’ll find me on Six Word Saturday.  It’s my Saturday morning home.

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Lazy Poet’s Thursday Haiku

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A double delight

Chasing away the rain and pain

With a child’s rapture

Sad cloud

You may be wondering if you’ve come to the right blog.  I don’t write poetry.  I borrowed the title from my lovely friend Gilly.  ‘Why not give it a try?’ she asked.  So here I am!

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.  Thanks, Gilly!