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Wednesday, 30 November 2005



Riding today was wonderful. It was slower than usual - and slow cantering, especially in the mud, isn’t too comfortable - but it meant that we did a lot of trotting on the road, which I enjoy, and that most of the time we were in the forest we cantered. Today Clyde and I were behind Roxy…but that, perhaps, is a story for tomorrow!

We took a different route today, with lots of tall trees (always a good thing!), and leaves carpeting the ground. In places it was quite muddy, but there was also a lot of hard ground. Despite the heavy exercising, Clyde was in a pretty good mood; I’m pleased, because he was in a complete huff when I left last week, and had his ears flat against his head when I arrived today! He made one whopper of a wee today while we were standing still in the forest! It was so disgusting.

bigblue arrived back from Dubai tonight. It sounds like he had a really great time, but now he has to go back to work! I’m looking forward to hearing more tomorrow.

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Tuesday, 29 November 2005



“Exeat” is the name for the one weekend per half term where we have a two day weekend; i.e. no Saturday school.

This exeat, I was at the British Museum doing a pre-event for Circles of Influence. I am one of the three MYPs in the Inner Circle for Citizenship and Education. It was actually a really good day, albeit long, and I got to have a chance to look a bit at the museum. Part of the reason we are holding it there is because of the Throne of Weapons, which the UKYP is very interested in, and which will be displayed at the event on the 14th December. In true UKYP style, the day began with an ice-breaker which involved building an as-large-as-you-can phallic object. Unlike above, where the structure was made with balloons, this one involved newspaper. The group of boys built the highest free-standing tower. Typical, eh?

After the day at the museum, I met a Japanese reporter who interviewed me about politics and the UK, and took some photos for the magazine. Apparently I am a typical British young person, and this is why I am the face of young Britain for Japan. I did mention that I am South African!

bigblue arrives back in the UK tomorrow evening from Dubai. It sounds like he has had an amazing time; it’ll be good to have him back here though.

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Thursday, 24 November 2005

At the theatre


When this entry is posted, I will have just arrived back from seeing Amato Saltone at the Shunt Vaults. I’m really looking forward to it - it’s supposed to be amazing. I’m going (went) to the 9.30pm performance, so it’s a late night for me!

I heard from bigblue this morning at 06.30 my time (10.30 his) when he was on the way to the beach!

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Wednesday, 23 November 2005

At the back of the ride


The reason I wanted to take pictures of Autumn with bigblue is that each Tuesday I go riding in these pictures. Today, Clyde (my ride) was a little more reluctant than last week, although he was keen enough to gallop when he wanted to overtake Bonnie, who was in front of us!

Since we’ve been back from our half term break, the rides have been very autumny, with much more galloping (we only really trotted and cantered before) through the spindly forest paths - watch out for that branch! And those, over there! And that o—ouch! But I’ve remained on the saddle, and scratch-free *touches wood*. It is getting much colder and darker now, as we ride from about 14.30-16.00, so my ski jacket and riding gloves are out; although my jacket got very muddy today from all the splashing!

It’s getting dark early now. On the way home from school at about 16.45, we got a beautiful sunset from the bus.

I phoned bigblue tonight to say bon voyage. I’m sure he’ll have a great time in Dubai, although we’ll miss him here.

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Monday, 21 November 2005

Autumn Leaves


Yesterday I went for a walk in Limpsfield Chart with bigblue, and we took some autumny pictures. It was quite cool, because after I’d take a picture, it would then appear on the screen with a golden glow - very appropriate. Anyway, I had the song ‘Autumn Leaves’ in my head. I learned it on the saxaphone about four years ago (doesn’t time fly!), and with it all about II-V-I progressions, but I found out recently that the song has words:

The falling leaves
Drift by the window
The autumn leaves
Of red and gold

I see your lips
The summer kisses
The sun-burned hands
I used to hold

Since you went away
The days go long
And soon I hear
Old winter song

But I miss you most of all
My darling
When autumn leaves
Start to fall

So many musicians have played (and, indeed, I see now, sung) this song, and I didn’t realise that the words were originally French, from the poem ‘Les Feuilles Mortes’ (literally ‘the dead leaves - somehow not the same!) by Jaques Pr�vert. For those of you who are interested, the English lyrics were written in 1949.

Oh! Je voudrais tant que tu te souviennes,
Des jours heureux o� nous �tions amis,
En ce temps-l�, la vie �tait plus belle,
Et le soleil plus br�lant qu’aujourd�hui.

Les feuilles mortes se ramassent � la pelle,
Tu vois, je n’ai pas oubli�.

Les feuilles mortes se ramassent � la pelle,
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi.

Et le vent du Nord les emporte,
Dans la nuit froide de l’oubli.
Tu vois, je n’ai pas oubli�
La chanson que tu me chantais…

C’est une chanson qui nous ressemble,
Toi qui m’aimais, moi qui t’aimais.
Nous vivions tous les deux ensemble,
Toi qui m’aimais, moi qui t’aimais.

Mais la vie s�pare ceux qui s’aiment,
Tout doucement sans faire de bruit.

Et la mer efface sur le sable,
Les pas des amants d�sunis.

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Thursday, 17 November 2005

What lies outside?


Rebeckels out in the garden in July, when it was still sunny.

As it is now most definitely Autumn, with the trees half-bare, I thought I would share Ted Hughes’s thoughts on this season, as I’ve been reading a lot of his poetry recently:

The Seven Sorrows

The first sorrow of autumn
Is the slow goodbye
Of the garden who stands so long in the evening-
A brown poppy head,
The stalk of a lily,
And still cannot go.

The second sorrow
Is the empty feet
Of a pheasant who hangs from a hook with his brothers.
The woodland of gold
Is folded in feathers
With its head in a bag.

And the third sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the sun who has gathered the birds and who gathers
The minutes of evening,
The golden and holy
Ground of the picture.

The fourth sorrow
Is the pond gone black
Ruined and sunken the city of water-
The beetle’s palace,
The catacombs
Of the dragonfly.

And the fifth sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the woodland that quietly breaks up its camp.
One day it’s gone.
It has only left litter-
Firewood, tentpoles.

And the sixth sorrow
Is the fox’s sorrow
The joy of the huntsman, the joy of the hounds,
The hooves that pound
Till earth closes her ear
To the fox’s prayer.

And the seventh sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the face with its wrinkles that looks through the window
As the year packs up
Like a tatty fairground
That came for the children.

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Wednesday, 16 November 2005

et tu seras dite la verité


Well, this picture, with us all acting our parts, is from the second Murder Mystery party I held, which took place in the 1920s (well, actually, it took place in my dining room, but you know what I mean). Yesterday’s picture was of my first Murder Mystery party, which was set during WWII. As you can probably tell, they are lots of fun!

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Tuesday, 15 November 2005

pose pas de questions


Really, don’t!

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Sunday, 13 November 2005

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow


The trench.

In a Remembrance Sunday service four years ago, I wondered at the stately old men crying. When someone told me that they were remembering the war they had lived through, I thought back on how times had changed. Bush had just invaded Afghanistan.

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Saturday, 12 November 2005

Short days ago we lived


A shelter in the trench. It was small, dark, and muddy when I visited it in May.

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Friday, 11 November 2005

We are the Dead


The German cemetory, Ypres.

In contrast to the Commonwealth cemetories, this is dark, with dark gravestones and mass graves. As the defeated, the Germans were given only a small amount of space in which to bury their dead, and with the vast numbers of dead, mass graves resulted.

Antigone strove for both of her brothers to receive full burial rites.

When Hitler heard that Belgium had been conquered, he drove directly here.

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Thursday, 10 November 2005

To you from failing hands we throw/The torch


More craters near the trenches. You can also see the national flags behind, as a reminder to visitors from these countries of the legacy they have inherited.

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Wednesday, 09 November 2005

Scarce heard amid the guns below


The crater left by a shell, next to the trenches, Belgium. The trees have all grown up around the trenches, now, enclosing them to form a small, secluded space, very different from the places they must have been before.

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Tuesday, 08 November 2005

The larks, still bravely singing, fly


The Canadian War Monument, Ypres. The Canadians played a huge part in Belgium in the First World War, and as a result, Vimy Ridge belongs to Canada.

Although it was fought in Western/Central Europe, troops fighting in the First World War came from all over the world. In the Commonwealth Graveyard in Ypres there are graves with the emblem of the soldier’s country. It is rather chilling to see pictures of the marching Commonwealth troops, each batallion from a different part of the world, with the different nationalities in their traditional uniform, displaced half-way accross the world, their only interest in this conflict being whether they were controlled by George V or Kaiser Wilhelm.

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Monday, 07 November 2005

In Flanders fields the poppies blow


On a History trip to Belgium, this is the wreath I laid at the Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate. It was a very moving moment.

The title of this post, of course, is the first line of McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.

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