Thursday, 12 August 2010

Faster then Fairies

'All through the meadows the horses and cattle.........'

'Faster than Fairies,
Faster than Witches,
Bridges and Houses,
Hedges and Ditches,'

We traversed the dales, through winding lanes up and down hills and valleys more steep than those on Paradise, and we saw the twirling steam from the 'champing at the bit' Esk Valley Steam train stationary at Glaisdale station, where it seemed as if it was pawing the ground to get going again!

'And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:'

We spent a nostalgic couple of hours at Danby Country Show, where the sheep were being herded by lean and eager collies, and the tiny little Thelwell pony riders were competing for trophies as if their lives depended on it, then, just on cue we sheltered under the bandstand tent when the heavens opened - Oh the rich memories of childhood, the smells of being a 10 year old on the Swinging Boats.

'All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Robert Louis Stevenson's famous poem 'From a Railway Carriage' kept leaping into my head at every hour of the day. It is set to music by Alec Rowley, and is in the Grade 5 syllabus. I often use use it with a young singer who can spit words out like machine gun bullets. It is marked Presto and the whole song lasts about 1 minute or less! It is redolent of the majestic days of steam, and the rhythm of the train is caught perfectly in the wheel turning piano accompaniment.

'Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road
Lumping along with man and load;

The heavy horses were greatly in evidence, but most incongruous at the country show were the rows of sparklingly clean and docile Highland Cattle! I was back in my own garden in a second, where my neighbour's HC eat my hedge with a slow and satisfying relish, mooing at a pace which would be marked Lento!

We arrived back home which is an old mill house, just in time to finish this perfect poem with,

'And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!'

The river I hear from my open bedroom window, the mill is all around us, now peacefully still.

What a perfect day.

Thanks to the double act that is:
Stevenson and Rowley!

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