A Summer Collection

Posted on 06/08/2022 By

A Summer Collection – Virginia’s Poem: The GA’s Walk: The Stick: From the Train Window

Summer Collection: Virginia and Bertie.

Virginia’s Poem

Virginia: “I thought a silly poem might bring the hint of a smile. I wrote it to try to cheer people up as the news continues to be so downbeat and generally depressing.”

Bertie: “Cheered us up, Virginia!”

Frustrations we know are all part of life But why oh why do they cause us such strife? The forecasters promised the day would stay fine You come home to yards of wet clothes on the line. You’ve just cleaned the car and heaved a great sigh When an incontinent bird comes flying by. The traffic is grim; you risk the back roads Only to find the last one is closed. You’re late for work, there’s no parking space That Range Rover in front has just nicked the last space! The cake that you baked and was meant as a treat Is flat as a pancake and not fit to eat While the shorts that fitted so nicely last year Now make you look like a well rounded pear. You get home from work; you’re really done in; There’s no milk in the fridge; no cake in the tin* You’ve had such a day; you’re as tired as can be But can’t get to sleep ‘til a quarter to three. Frustrations I know can make our lives tough And sometimes we feel we’ve had quite enough But then the sun shines, someone gives us a smile And we decide once again that life is worthwhile.

The Gentle Author’s Walk

As we know, the GA is Bobby’s mentor. He may not know it, but he most definitely is. A new venture for him is his walking tours. Disenchanted by the prevalence of “Jack the Ripper” tours in Spitalfields, he now puts his amazing knowledge of Spitalfields to good purpose. For it’s people and it’s history. We went on one and really enjoyed it.

Historic map of Spitalfields.

Book your Gentle Author's Tour. Click on the image to view the website.

Bobby with Eamonn (left) with the Gentle Author.

Start of the walk outside Christ Church Spitalfields. One stick.

The Stick

Bobby walking (with his walking pole) and his friend Alan.

Alan and Bobby in Brock’s Drive… One stick.

The stick has transformed Bobby into a more acceptable old person. With it, he walks slower. Scanning the floor ahead.

He has established “respect”. Is offered seats on buses and trains, and time and space to get on and off them. Space on escalators. It is a symbol of old age acceptability but has been mistaken as evidence of an adventurer. Especially with that hat. Even an explorer. For this is no ordinary “stick”.

Officially, it is a walking pole. Bought some years ago as a pair, his Pacer Poles have been everywhere and still do as walking aids out in the countryside and by the sea. Not Nordic walking, which is more challenging, but a considerable aid to traditional walking.

Bobby, with Bertie in his rucksack, walking with his pacer poles on Skomer Island.

Walking Pacer Poles on Skomer Island.

Close up of one of Bobby's Pacer Poles.

Pacer Poles. Recommended.

Andrew (Bobby’s son): “So why do you only take one for everyday life, especially in London?”

Bpbby: “As you know, Andrew, I have had a number of falls. All caused by tripping hazards. The last, in Islington, through a broken paving slab left me bruised but nothing broken. More than anything I experienced an awful loss of confidence.”

Two poles indicate to Joe Public that the person is a serious walker. One is seen as a walking stick, and commands respect accordingly. And you need one hand free for all the handrails you encounter. Psychologically he wouldn’t be seen dead with an old person’s walking stick. Too short, anyway!

From the Train Window

Bobby travels to London every week by train. Relaxes. Turns his phone off. Practices mindfulness by switching off completely and watching the world go by. At this time of year, the railway embankments become covered with wild flowers. A narrow strip of nature reserve in essence. One flower brought back memories.

Rosebay Willowherb.

Rosebay Willowherb.


We think it’s beautiful, and a great attraction to many insects. Moths in particular, including the spectacular Elephant Hawk-moth. We know this, because this moth also loves Fuschias. (More in a moment).

Rosebay Willowherb is very successful at colonising waste ground. In America, it is known as Fireweed, in recognition of its ability to colonise areas destroyed by forest fire. Over here, it was known for a while as “Bombweed” – forming colonies on the bomb sites of London. It is not suitable for most gardens, and is at its best when viewed en-masse on railway embankments and such like.

From the train window. Rosebay Willowherb.

From the train window. Rosebay Willowherb.

Elephant Hawk-moth

Elephant Hawk-moth.

Bobby once grew Fuschias in a greenhouse. One day, he saw a beautiful moth resting on the inside frame. So beautiful to him that he shut the windows and door to stop it flying away before he could show his entomologist friend. And then let it fly away.

Weeks later, he went into the greenhouse to check his Fuschia cuttings and was dismayed to find them destroyed. Replaced by giant caterpillars. His entomologist friend came and took them away. They mimicked their life style by burying themselves in the soil inside a butterfly jar.

He looked after them for nearly a year, until they emerged as beautiful Elephant Hawk-moths and were set free. The name coming from the caterpillar’s defence mechanism of retracting its elephant trunk like nose to make eye spots on its body more prominent and frighten predators away.

Two Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillars eating Fuschia. ("Swingtime", the Fuchsia variety).

Two Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillars eating Fuschia.

Elephant nose retracts into the body when threatened, to leave the big eye spots prominent.

Elephant nose retracts into the body when threatened, to leave the big eye spots prominent. Big caterpillar.

Rosebay Willowherb from the train window.

Whenever we see Rosebay Willowherb, we think of its association with insects and particularly the Elephant Hawk-moth.


“From the Train Window” could become a regular item.

Lighting a Candle for Diddley

Bewick Bear and a candle (in a potato) lit for Didley, alongside a vase of Fuschias.


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