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‘She’s gone dotty’ they said,
the silly old bat.
She talks to her plants and sings to her cat.
‘Her mind’s feeble’ they said,
she’ll have to have help,
with cooking, cleaning and washing herself.
‘Goodbye Fluffy” they said,
As they closed up the cage.
Looking after a cat was too much at her age.
‘You can’t stay here’ they said,
and moved her away,
‘Sunny meadows – a happier place to stay’.
‘You should join in’ they said,
It was bingo night,
The numbers were hard, account of her sight.
‘Eat it up now’ they said,
It didn’t look nice,
All sticky, yellow and covered in rice.
‘Be a good girl’ they said,
If she dared to complain,
And passed her another pill for the pain.
‘Let us help you’ they said,
As they pulled at her tights,
A shower in the morning, a bath at night.
‘You’re untidy’ they said,
And messed with her things.
Her photos, her books, George’s medals, her rings.
‘She’s gone quiet’ they said,
As she sat in her chair,
Day after day, watching ‘free to air’.
‘They go downhill’ they said,
It’s old age you see.
Better you don’t visit, just let her be.
‘See you soon George’ she said,
As she swallowed the lot,
Closed her eyes, smiled and quickly forgot.
© Kate Toon 2011
(This poem was written by Kate Toon, who is a member of the Hamsterley Website Team. See more of Kate’s poems and stories on the Sparkaloosa website.)
The Path to Hamsterley Church
How pleasant is the gentle breeze
Blowing from the tall pine trees,
As we walk through fields of corn,
This path to church on Sabbath morn.
We leave grand oaks, great and strong,
Where the throstle sings his clarion song,
The clear cool well, holly trees,
That shelter merry picnic teas.
A blackthorn and a juniper
And mulberry trees, stripped not quite bare
Where caterpillars squirm and race,
Dangle by a silken lace.
There’s meadow-sweet by the stream
Brightest flowers and tall ferns green.
Foxgloves growing, oh so tall
Peeping over the bramble wall.
Hark! woodland songsters, how they sing
Flowery mead and woodlands ring
With piping, fluting, trilling notes,
Sung by slender, feathered throats.
Through Carr Wood onward we go,
Green hazel nuts in clusters grow.
Blue winged jay gives a warning call
Chattering magpies tell all.
Brown squirrels to hide away
Where cushats croon in larches sway,
A whirr of wings, a startled cry,
Mother partridge forced to fly,
Leaving her young brood in the grass
Hiding quite still as we pass.
We climb the stile where woodbine clings,
Sweet fragrance around us flings
Of the sweetest blooms beware
A hornet’s nest is hidden there.
Through gorse and ling now winds the way,
Where black faced lambs race and play,
We clap our hands, and think it fun
To see the rabbits bolt and run.
The peaceful cattle cease to graze
Watch us tread the whinny maze.
The cuckoo calls, peewits cry,
And larks swing sweetly, soaring high.
Grasshoppers chirp, airy springs
Butterflies flutter painted wings,
Shining beetles, brilliant hues,
Lovely greens and azure blues,
We see them all, and busy bees
Sipping honey from the trees.
From the flowers and clover sweet,
And bell heather at our feet.
With a bracken branch swing our arms
Warding off flies that buzz in swarms
Through a grove of silver birch,
The path now gone, the way we search.
Down mossy steps over green bog
Leaps the green and yellow frog
Dragonflies with gauzy wings
Are flitting past the spa-well springs.
Sandmartins dart and twitter past
Wagtails curtsey as we pass
By the spa-well we pause to rest
Water cool we drink with zest.
Over the bridge slowly pace
In crystal water grayling race
Splash! There leaps a speckled trout,
Yon glimmering ring points him out.
Kingfishers in this charming scene
Mirror blue with rowans green
Through this lovely field we turn
Encircled by trees and the burn.
Cornflowers blue, and poppies red
Above green corn, lift their heads
By the path wild roses sweet
And pretty pansies at our feet.
Leaving Snape gate as we pass
With thousands of ants in the grass –
Tiny creatures wondrous wise
Built those ant hills, huge in size.
Through the thicket, by the farm
The sheep dogs bark a quick alarm.
We climb the hill with many a lurch
Reach at last the ancient church.
How charming this landscape scene
A quaint old village now is seen
Red tiled homes with rosy bowe
Ivied church and Witton Towers.
Yonder bridge and river spans
How majestic the castle stands
The Wear with a murmuring flow
Ever winding to and fro.
By pastures green, where cattle browse
Fertile fields the farmer ploughs
Past fleecy flocks on sunny hills
Mossy glens and rippling hills.
There’s beauty where the eye doth search
Beauty in this old, old, church.
In the ancient pew we take our place
Our heads we bow and ask for grace.
The church bell has ceased to ring
With reverence we stand and sing
Say the prayers and chant the creed
Sing the psalms and the sermon heed
With a closing hymn of praise.
Homeward we go our various ways.
(This poem was written by Mrs. Bellerby (nee Angus), who once resided at High Shipley Farm, Hamsterley. It was kindly provided by Sue Routledge, editor of the Parish Magazine. The spelling and punctuation are as the original.)