Friday, 5 October 2007

Didsbury, Manchester.

The Parsonage Gates.

Part of the Old Parsonage.

Old Parsonage front door.

Major Raffles' Swiss Garden.

A Beehive he designed.

Dog grave!

Formal Gardens at Fletcher Moss.

Formal Gardens.

The Poplar Grove.

Over the Meadows.

St James' Didsbury.

The Botanical Gardens.

As last friday I found myself with an hour to spare in Eccles, to the West of the city, today I found myself with an hour to spend in Didsbury, in the South. I took a walk in the Botanical Gardens, had the inestimable pleasure of a saunter down the Poplar Grove and I hold a particular affection for poplar groves, one of mankinds most perfect plantings, where today the heavy scent of the snapdragons formed a sweet, slightly sickly mug over the proceedings which mixed with the morning mist was a delight. I walked past St James' Church and into the Old Parsonage Gardens, where one time owner Major Raffles tried to turn the Parsonage into a copy of the Colonial Villas he had known in the Empire. He also buried his pets in the garden, as you will see, with proper headstones and pioneered a miniature indoor hot house garden as well as building a staggering entrance to his grounds. Where are the eccentric philanthropists now?

It was such a lovely, pastoral couple of hours that I feel quite refreshed, and up to another busy weekend. Some of you have asked me to put a post on about my College, and I promised to do so this week, but alas, the building works are still going on, and at their final stage where it has seemed necessary to cover much of the interesting parts of the building with plastic sheeting. Hopefully next week it will look better, and more suitable for your viewing.

I hope some of you are indolent sometimes, it's the best way to see the beauty of creation, so here to inspire you to great feats of indolence is John Keats, and the Ode To Indolence.......

'They toil not, neither do they spin.'

One morn before me were three figures seen,

With bowed necks, and joined hands, side-faced;

And one behind the other stepp'd serene,

In placid sandals, and in white robes graced:

They pass'd, like figures on a marble urn,

When shifted round to see the other side;

They came again; as when the urn once more

Is shifted round, the first seen shades return;

And they were strange to me, as may betide

With vases, to one deep in Phidian lore.

How is it, shadows, that I knew ye not?

How came ye muffled in so hush a masque?

Was it a silent deep-disguised plot

To steal away, and leave without a task My idle days?

Ripe was the drowsy hour;

The blissful cloud of summer-indolence

Benumb'd my eyes; my pulse grew less and less;

Pain had no sting, and pleasure's wreath no flower.

O, why did ye not melt, and leave my sense

Unhaunted quite of all but - nothingness?

A third time pass'd they by, and, passing, turn'd

Each one the face a moment whiles to me;

Then faded, and to follow them I burn'd

And ached for wings, because I knew the three:

The first was a fair maid, and Love her name;

The second was Ambition, pale of cheek,

And ever watchful with fatigued eye;

The last, whom I love more, the more of blame

Is heap'd upon her, maiden most unmeek, -

I knew to be my demon Poesy.

They faded, and, forsooth! I wanted wings:

O folly! What is Love? and where is it?

And for that poor Ambition - it springs

From a man's little heart's short fever-fit;

For Poesy! - no, - she has not a joy, -

At least for me, - so sweet as drowsy noons,

And evenings steep'd in honied indolence;

O, for an age so shelter'd from annoy,

That I may never know how change the moons,

Or hear the voice of busy common-sense!

A third time came they by: - alas! wherefore?

My sleep had been embroider'd with dim dreams;

My soul had been a lawn besprinkled o'er

With flowers, and stirring shades, and baffled beams:

The morn was clouded, but no shower fell,

Though in her lids hung the sweet tears of May;

The open casement press'd a new-leaved vine,

Let in the budding warmth and throstle's lay;

O shadows! 'twas a time to bid farewell!

Upon your skirts had fallen no tears of mine.

So, ye three ghosts, adieu! Ye cannot raise

My head cool-bedded in the flowery grass;

For I would not be dieted with praise,

A pet-lamb in a sentimental farce!

Fade softly from my eyes, and be once more

In masque-like figures on the dreary urn;

Farewell! I yet have visions for the night,

And for the day faint visions there is store;

Vanish, ye phantoms, from my idle spright,

Into the clouds, and never more return!