In mourning

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            This arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

The New Forest in sun and storm

It can be beautiful in the New Forest –  a landscape preserved over centuries for hunting then wild grazing of ponies and swine by the commoners looking after their own and verderers with ever an eye to the generations to come.  Here amongst the woods and heaths time stops.  The sun rises on a place of wonder, of gentle hills and chalk streams and pinewoods reaching for heaven.

It can also be cruel.  The rain off the Channel sweeps inland and refills the streams and those caught with no cover are drenched in a moment.  The tiny threads of ancient rivulets coursing unseen beneath the ground fill, swell and rise and turn a dry plain into claggy mud, with flints tumbling across it.

That gives me all the more reason to applaud the teams who were walking their DoE training in the New Forest at the weekend, in sun and storm.  Smile and know you have shown you are of better stuff.

Congratulations to last weekend’s DofE teams!

Congratulation to all the teams of youngsters who have completed their expeditions for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award this weekend in the scorching heat: it’s a fine achievement.  Good luck too to those teams about to set off.

(All the usual advice goes with that:  get some rest, keep cool, drink lots of water, eat crisps.  Crisps? Definitely: the salt helps the body to absorb water.)