Favourite place


Probably my favourite place in all of Antwerp, where we went for a tranquil hour early in the morning after tea and birthday cake. Built for an order of women who’d withdrawn from the world but supported themselves by seeing or spinning, each cell is still occupied by secular inhabitants now, and the cobbled streets, lawn and hollyhocks reminded me of Oxford colleges.


photos August 2017.

A bright field

I have seen the sun break through

to illuminate a small field

for a while, and gone on my way

and forgotten it. But that was the

pearl of great price, the one field that had

treasure in it. I realise now

that I must give all I have

to possess it. Life is not hurrying


on to a receding future, nor hankering after

an imagined path. It is the turning

aside like Moses to the miracle

of the lit bush, to a brightness,

that seemed as transitory as your youth

once, but is the eternity that awaits you.


A Bright Field, by R S Thomas. I won’t add too much about this beautiful poem, except how much I admire his use of enjambament. Each line’s sense and rhythm runs on naturally to the next, but if you took each line chopped on its own with the words, you would also find something beautiful and provoking. Thomas also achieves Wordsworth’s ideal of emotion recollected in tranquillity.¬†





Another composer I’ve only started taking to recently – I don’t find him very interesting to play, but listening, either to The Carmelites or to a recent performance of the Stabat Mater at this year’s Proms, is a staggering experience.

Here is part of the Mass in G for a serene start to the day.