The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, Tra La..

I have just returned from an unexpected trip to England and blearily reviewing it a day after my return the images that remain have been those of the flowers that bloom in the spring.

When I left, the trees were blossoming here.

The llama del bosque

flamboyant tree llama del bosque

The roble


The cortez Amarillo

cortez amarillo

On arrival in England the roadsides were covered in gorse in full flower – though its coconut scent was dulled by the chill – while  swathes of Spanish bluebells were taking over  from  tulips in the suburban gardens. Trees displayed that freshness of leaf undulled by the summer heat to come, the structure of their branches still visible under the sheen of green and, to my surprise, the horse chestnuts were coming into flower in the London parks where clouds of blossom were cast into relief against the Cambridge blue skies.


hyde park in spring

I remembered then Browning’s ‘Home Thoughts from Abroad’..

OH, to be in England now that April ’s there
And whoever wakes in England sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough         5
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows

And the white-throat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom’d pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover         10
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That ’s the wise thrush: he sings each song twice over
Lest you should think he never could re-capture
The first fine careless rapture!
And, though the fields look rough with hoary dew,         15
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower,
Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

There spoke the exile in his Florentine retreat – though goodness only knows what he found to be gaudy in the flower of the melon, that most unpromising  harbinger of sweet delight.

I was happy to see England in the springtime again, but cannot feel the regrets of an exile. I was privileged to have grown up with it, to have known it, shall never forget it, but cannot say that I hanker for it, any more than I hanker for England itself.

There were other flowers in evidence during my trip: those laid by people in memory of the policeman murdered at the gates to the Houses of Parliament.

Poor devil: he died, as have so many of his colleagues before, at the hands of a deranged person while doing his duty – in his case, guarding an entrance whose gates had to be left open to permit ministers to be driven to the Commons in time to cast their votes in a division.

Perish the thought that a minister should wait for an instant at a gate closed in the interests of the security of all those working in the Palace of Westminster.

They might be shot at if kept waiting? Good. The world would be a safer place if ministers were forbidden to have protection. Might give them pause for thought before putting the rest of us in peril and I suspect that – to paraphrase another song from ‘The Mikado’ – they’d none of them be missed.

In the aftermath of P.C. Palmer’s death we had the politicians braying that ‘terrorism’ had not succeeded in bringing down British democracy….

Of course terrorism hadn’t brought it down: the same politicians and their ilk had already done for it with their slavish adherence to the dogma of ‘public bad, private good’ when it came to principles of government, with the gerrymanderings of the Boundaries Commission, with their interests (paying) outside the House.

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.

Currently, like Ko-Ko in the second verse, there are plenty of people whose attitude to the flowers that bloom in the spring is to say that they have nothing to do with the case.

The Prime Minister has called a snap election, putting her trust in the British media to depict her as a female Moses who will bring her country to the promised land…..the land promised to private enterprise, where access to health care and education will depend on the ability to pay for it; where those thrown out of work will be demonised; where those too ill to seek work will be driven to suicide.

Given her proven ability to change tack while at the Home Office I imagine that once she has gained victory the new Moses will reveal herself to be Aaron, presenting the golden calf  for public worship.

I cannot fathom people….more and more of them are living with the effects of unemployment and the resulting lack of tax revenues to fund proper services and yet the turkeys still vote for Christmas at the bidding of the butcher.

Flowers in France too, for the policeman killed on the Champs Elysees as the country goes to the polls in round one of the Presidential election.

The outgoing President Penguin congratulates himself on his record…yes, well done, thou good and faithful servant of thyself. As first secretary of the Socialist Party you sabotaged the campaign of that party’s candidate (and the mother of four of your kids), Segolene Royale, to gain the presidency and now as President you have sabotaged your entire party and given your support to the bankers’ candidate, Macron, whose chief claim to expertise in economic management seems to lie in having transformed the millions he made while working at Rothschilds bank into wallpaper for his flat.

Panic in the dovecotes at the thought of Marine Le Pen gaining power or, probably worse for the powers that be, Jean-Luc Melenchon  who said of the press reaction to his growing presence in the polls:

“Once again, they are announcing that my election win will set off a nuclear winter, a plague of frogs, Red Army tanks and a landing of Venezuelans,”

Roughly the sort of thing that the British press says about Jeremy Corbyn.

One thing is sure…if the British vote for May and the French for Macron then both countries can forget the years of social justice…..the golden calf will be a full sized Minotaur before they can blink and the hopes of themselves and their children will feed its maw.

Thoroughly depressed I set off on my return….U.K. to Costa Rica via the Netherlands and Canada. Yes, I know….but Scots blood will out: the fare was less than half that of the direct flight.

A change of flight time at the last minute left me with an overnight at Amsterdam Schipol, guarding my luggage like a broody hen its egg as the check in would not open until morning.

It was a salutary reminder of how nice people are: a young woman offered me one of her biscuits and accepted a cucumber sandwich in return; an armed policeman looked after our bags while we went to the loo and the gentleman at the coffee stall brought our drinks over to us to save us  from moving our mound of cases.

And then the flowers that bloom in the spring reappeared. As the dawn broke, the tulips in the tubs outside the Departure area began to glow with what looked like an internal light…strange, other worldly and utterly beautiful.

A good note on which to leave Europe….a reminder that while all seems dark there is yet hope.

And to greet me on my return….sitting on my desk….this little orchid. A true welcome home.












37 thoughts on “The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, Tra La..”

  1. “ear! ‘ear!” Is the closest I can come to saying that many of the downtrodden will be echoing your sentiments.
    We have a visit from VP Pence (mit wife and chilluns) and bugger-all from national mouth pieces on the Science March.

    Nice Phalaenopsis, by the way.

  2. I wish that a few of those who are downtrodden would accept the fact rather than pretend that all is well in order to remain ‘respectable’ and vote accordingly.
    I nearly wrote act accordingly but that would involve rope and lamp posts.

    The colour is not too accurate on the orchid…took it on my little ‘phone.

  3. Skillfully written as ever. You might be amused that my daughter send me a quiz that purported to tell me how I alight politically. The answer – I am 100% Scottish which translated in their blurb as someone who stands for fairness and is not prepared to put up with any more political scallywagging. Sadly, of course, residing in France, having a vote in England and foot in the US I am probably best just drowning my sorrows in Scotch.

  4. Your comments re the Westminster Palace gates are well taken Helen. It’s either that or arm the policeman at that point which could be handy if we ever decide a few less Ministers would be good.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    1. Ministers take the pay…they can take the risks.
      I feel dreadfully for the bodyguards security troops and their families…I remember the Carabinieri bodyguards protesting to Italian ministers at the funerals of the Sicilian judges murdered – together with their bodyguards – by the Mafia…’We are dead meat and no one cares’.

  5. The trouble with politicians is that the only people who are attracted to politics are those who are least suited to being politicians. Look at the motley crew the French are voting for today. It’s got to the point where many people have no idea who to vote for because the list goes from bad to awful. I fear it’s an ongoing process to disgust voters with the democratic process, leading towards EU dictatorship.

    1. I think the chap who put up the Mister Men posters in Montpellier had the right idea…especially Mr. Incroyable!

      I would like to see the two round system abolished for the Presidentials…let’s have a first past the post first time round – that would concentrate a few minds!

  6. The flowers indeed add something to the Spring. This is the best time of the year – that is when the clouds disperse and the chill eases up.
    Your opinion of May and her flock is correct. I fail to understand why people vote for a party that offers tax cuts while increasing all other charges. Can they not see this?
    If only Corbyn had been less fluffy he might have changed the world, instead he will throw this chance away. The SNP will keep Scotland so offer some opposition however.
    Love the purple flower.

    1. Corbyn has always been too nice, too eager to be fair to people who would like nothing more than to ruin him and who certainly don’t play fair themselves.
      But I do wish that people would read his policies for themselves rather than through the filter of the press.

      A lovely surprise to have this little orchid on my desk on my return – just the cheer up I needed.

  7. So glad you’re back home and back to blogging…Enjoying Spring here, too. As for politics, May and Trump are cut of the same cloth although he and his henchman may be worse ultimately.

    1. It is always difficult to be online when visiting mother so I have a lot of catching up to do.
      I hadn’t been in England at springtime for years, and it was lovely – just as I remembered it, including the grey chilly weather at Easter.

      These days the political parties seem to throw up puppets for business interests…time to try to restore contact with out neighbours and try to find our own candidates.

  8. Your thoughts about being an exile from Britain pretty much sum up mine on being an exile from the US. I feel ever so fortunate to have grown up there, but when I look at the mess the country is in now I have no desire to move back. It’s so important to try and remember that most people are good, in spite of all the rot that seems to be happening around us. I’m glad you experienced all those kindnesses while you were in Amsterdam.

    1. The majority of people are good and well intentioned…..but feel helpless in the face of the crooks our political systems throw up….
      Costa Rica is no paradise, but at least its people elected one President who was not a crook and who has made a real difference. Unfortunately he won’t stand again so let’s hope that the people will find and support another candidate for the next elections who will follow up his work.

  9. I love the flowers around at the moment, great time of the year North of the equator.
    Sad though that so many of the beautiful blooms are being used for wreaths in memory, how come there is so many mentally deranged people in the world in this day and age!!
    We are heading you way in December, but not quite close enough to meet for a drink 🙂 We have friends who have bought in Nevis so we have a two week stay before a chilly winter in the UK.
    Hope you are both well, take care Diane

    1. You are right, spring in the Northern Hemisphere is absolutely lovely!
      You will love Nevis.. we had friends who lived there in the eighties and they could not praise it enough.

  10. I loved the UK, all of it. Beautiful nation. Increasingly shit system. Easier to cope with a shit system somewhere else sometimes.

    May, Corbyn, what’s the choice? All rubbish. People are going to vote for May because they want to see Brexit. What she will deliver is another matter. I’m actually glad I don’t have a vote in that. But I have been surprised to read that staunch Labour voters *say* they will vote Tory.

    You can’t even say that Labour looked after the welfare state either. Look at the privatisation of hospitals introduced under the Labour government. They’re all made from the same faulty cloth.

    Personally I would resurrect Tony Benn, but that’s hardly viable.

    1. I would too….and I’d resurrect the people who voted for him. Might have a chance of success that way.
      How people can think that May will produce a sensible Brexit is beyond me….just look at her record of total incompetence…..and when you couple that with tax rises, breaking the triple lock on the pensions and privatising the NHS by stealth the mind boggles that she could get a vote from any but the real welfare recipients, those who run the companies that leach from the public purse.
      Nice to be out of it, I agree…but those buggers have my pension….

  11. A good summary of the UK situation. Re ministers voting in the Commons, I don’t understand why they haven’t introduced an electronic voting system so ministers could vote from wherever they happen to be.

    You’re so right about turkeys voting for Christmas. Theresa May will win a huge majority and will be able to push through one regressive policy after another with little resistance. Those who voted for her will then blame everyone except her for their problems – immigrants, Remainers, socialists, Muslims etc etc.

  12. It makes you wonder how people let it happen…the breakdown of the post war settlement which gave more people more of a fair chance in life.
    Browning may bemoan his lost leader…the handful of silver doled out by those with gold in plenty…..but in the U.K. it seems that a whole swathe of the population became motivated by pelf and sold itself down the river.

  13. Well, here in always sunny Southern California I, for one, look forward to a televised mud wrestling match up between May and Le Pen. As to that elusive spring season upon which you wax poetically, I can only report it was 93 degrees according to our meteorologists and 34 degrees according to the rest of the world. Nevertheless, welcome home traveler.

  14. I would take a bet that the turnout for the mud wrestling would exceed the turnout for voting in the election….
    The traveller has returned to a rainy season stuttering into life, a surplus of something like sixty duck eggs to use – no demonstrations in the offing unfortunately – despite the dogs valiantly scoffing a dozen a day and a husband complaining that the shorts I bought him in Spain make him look like a 1930s footballer. Any more of this and I’ll get him the hobnail boots to match.

  15. History will look back at the first 20 years on the 21st century and ask aghast ‘ How did they allow it to happen?’ I hope history is kind to Corbyn – I read what he says and can’t believe anyone could prefer May.

  16. Neither can I…what has happened to people?
    And as for electing Macron….the mind boggles that given the state of the country under Hollande you would vote to make matters worse.

  17. Beautiful trees. I think an occasion for ‘joyous song and merry laugh’. Have you ever seen the Jonathan Miller Mikado – stunning!
    I can hardly bear to read anything about politics at the moment which is why I keep resorting to Nature with a capital N. Today has turned very cold (1 degree C this morning) and the wind is picking up and the sky is grey. I am watching many of my friends on Facebook sharing tactical voting charts and finding solace in supporting the non-Tory candidate most likely to support making the best of Brexit (and if we are lucky perhaps even a 2nd referendum – we can dream).
    I really like Schiphol. I lived and worked in the Netherlands for a while and it feels like an old familiar friend, even though in fact it keeps on changing. But they always have colour and freshness and flowers. Glad you’re home safely.

    1. So am I! It was a long roundabout trip…but so much cheaper!
      Current political developments worry me very much: if people don’t vote for Corbyn this time round then they will have only themselves to blame when the category of poor and disadvantaged starts creeping up the social ladder to engulf the middle class. Not that I expect any sense of reality to hit people whose minds are bludgeoned by the U.K. press. There is a great deal of condemnation of ‘popularism’…perhaps the commentators should take a look at what is causing it.
      I too take solace in nature….the
      min of ag here gives native tree saplings free for reforestation. We picked up seventy yesterday and, as the rains have started, they are going in. We have picked species which attract birds and also some of the hardwoods which have become so rare now….we’ll never see them in their maturity – but at least someone else will.

  18. I understand your desire to remain an exile. Many of my early years were spent in California, but I’m content with the occasional visit to see my parents. Once they’re gone, it seems unlikely that I will go back again. It is a place that left an indelible influence on me, but I could not live there today, between its wacky politics, absurd cost of living, dismal congestion and byzantine regulatory environment. In many ways I feel bad for my parents, who grew up in San Jose (California), when it possessed thousands of acres of fruit orchards: today that same land holds thousands of business, spread among strip malls, office buildings and look-alike business parks, and more tract housing that you could shake a stick at. And, California is a one-party state, meaning that there is no meaningful opposition (hedge) to the party in power. That almost never works out well, no matter what party is in power.

        1. And people tell me we live in one such…. Experience of living in France showed me what a banana Republic really was. Costa Rica hardly qualifies alongside France.

          1. As a kid, around the ages of 10-12, I lived in the state of Louisiana, in the deep Southern US. Louisiana has long had a reputation for being corrupt. My dad, being an engineer, had lived in many states and seen many different political environments. When I was older and asked him what it was like in Louisiana, he said the only difference between supposedly “super-corrupt” Louisiana and other states was that the politicians and other folks in positions of power were simply open about it. He didn’t approve of it, but he had more respect for individuals who didn’t try to hide behind a façade of regulation or sanctimony. I’ve certainly come to see the wisdom of that view.

            The French, UK and US governments will pontificate all day long about how wrong banana republics are, but they do the same exact thing to their people; they just disguise it much better and have more legitimacy to back up their actions.

  19. I have been eligible to vote for over 40 years and have always been interested in politics. Now for the first time in my life I have lost interest in politics and do not think that any of the options in our forthcoming General Election are worth voting for. However, I shall vote as I am very aware of the fight that women had to get the vote. Then at least I can feel justified in complaining if I do not like what we end up with.

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