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Thank goodness for the hat -see gravatar.  That Aussie sun is fierce.

Two weeks into this holiday and I have lost my fashionable byojaku

face, though I wouldn’t say that I was a fully-formed Sheila just


I see that there is an outcry regarding development in Lower

Bockhampton (Hardy’s Melstock).  Professor Rosemarie Morgan

of Yale has joined forces with Julian Fellowes (not Thomas Hardy)

and others opposed to the building of seventy homes under the

greenwood trees by an agricultural college.  That blasted madding

crowd encroaches everywhere.

Anyway, in case urbanisation obliterates an even greater area,

here’s an old tribute to Higher Bockhampton:


Where bright goldcrests dip over Rushy Pond,

speckled fawns lie, peaceful, in swallet holes,

cushioned on russet-needled floor.  Beyond

lies Puddletown Heath, but here thick beech boles,

sweet chestnut, laurel and hazel copses

shelter grass snakes, which coil in leafy shade,

where Hardy coppiced verse; plot synopses.

Witches’ broom fungus found on some decayed

branches illustrated family trees:

supernatural blight in Paradise,

which brought his fruitless marriage to its knees.

Through opened casements he would watch fireflies,

straining to see some glimmer in the pitch

dark of the cottage garden.  Then he wrote

of class difference between poor and rich;

his real words of complaint choking his throat.