Sunday 26 June 2011

Membury Services M4

Wing walker above the Membury Services in West Berkshire.

Yesterday, Saturday 25th June, Marilyn, Alice, Abigail and myself drove west along the M4 across England to Wales.We needed to go to Newport where Alice is at university doing fashion design. She is very good. I know, that's her dad talking!!!!!

Alice is moving out of her halls of residence this year and moving to a small Victorian terraced house in Newport with three friends for next year. She needed help in moving. Her mum, dad and youngest sister were roped in to help.

The M4 is an iconic motorway slicing across England from London, in a virtually straight line, over the Severn Estuary Bridge and into South Wales and it keeps going as far as Camarthen in the western tip of Wales. It is a 300 mile cross section of the country.

I must admit at my age, I need motorway stops,often, to use the loo and dose up on strong coffee, to keep me going.

It was a lovely day yesterday and our first stop was at the Membury Service Station in West Berkshire, the beginning of the Cotswolds, about 80 miles west of London. It is situated amongst a miriad of villages and historic sites. The White Horse at Uffington is just north of it. Straight Soley, Chilton Foliat, Whittonditch, Crooked Soley, Great Shefford, Froxfield, Ramsbury and Knighton are all villages nearby. As we parked, there was a roar overhead. We looked up and caught sight of a yellow biplane zooming past, low above us with a,"wing walker," standing erect, arms out in cruciform style atop the uppermost wing. The plane and man swooped, circled, climbed and dived around a circular course, all about us. I whipped out my camera and took as many pictures as I could.

All the best.

Sunday 12 June 2011

William Cowper

William Cowper was the favourite poet of both Jane Austen and her father the Reverend George Austen. Cowper wrote about highly religious themes and was sermonising in his tone. I can imagine The Reverend George Austen quoting from Cowper in his sermons in his little church at Steventon.

Here is a short poem by Cowper. I wonder if Jane used sentiments from this poem when she invented the character of Elinor in Sense and Sensibilty?

A Comparison. Addressed To A Young Lady
Sweet stream that winds through yonder glade,
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid
Silent and chaste she steals along,
Far from the world's gay busy throng:
With gentle yet prevailing force,
Intent upon her destined course;
Graceful and useful all she does,
Blessing and blest where'er she goes;
Pure-bosom'd as that watery glass,
And Heaven reflected in her face.
William Cowper

He also wrote poems about nature which would appeal to a country girl like Jane. Jane would feel empathy for this goldfinch caged and out of it's natural environment. The same thing was to happn to her when her father suddenly removed them all to Bath.

William Cowper

On a Goldfinch, Starved to Death in His Cage

In a letter to the Rev. William Urwin, Nov. 9., 1780, William Cowper explains
"I wrote the following last summer.
The tragical occasion of it really happened at the house next to ours." (82)
Time was when I was free as air,
The thistle's downy seed my fare,
My drink the morning dew;
I perch'd at will on every spray,
My form genteel, my plumage gay,
My strains forever new.
But gaudy plumage, sprightly strain,
And form genteel were all in vain,
And of a transient date;
For, caught and caged, and starved to death,
In dying sighs my little breath
Soon pass'd the wiry grate.
Thanks, gentle swain, for all my woes,
And thanks for this effectual close
And cure of every ill!
More cruelty could none express;
And I, if you had shown me less,
Had been your prisoner still. (632)