Penelope Bourdillon

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Posted on April 28, 2015

Like everyone I have spoken to, I am devastated by the dreadful situation in Nepal, especially as I was there earlier this month, so I have been in touch with some of the people I met over there.

There is so much to say that I have decided to publish a rather lengthy poem that I wrote as it tries to tell of the celebrations of the Second Gurkha Regiment, in which I was privileged to attend.


Off we set, upon a jet, to join the Ashleys’ group;
It took much preparation, and they kept us in the loop.
2 GR’s Celebrations we had gone out to attend:
Two hundred years of faithful service – and they are loyal to the end.
We learned to say Namaste – that is their way of greeting;
And bowed our heads with prayerful hands to all whom we were meeting.
I love the colours; the atmosphere; the religious toleration –
(‘twould be good if the affluent West would learn things from this Nation.)

For the first Durbar – hoorah! hoorah! we donned our finest clothes;
There was hot sun in the morning, then heav’n turned on its hose.
Wondrous things had been prepared with bands, parades and staging.
Alas it had to be abandoned - a mighty storm was raging.
But it dampened not our ardour, though we were soaked through,
Happily we’d just begun, and there was much left to do….
Next day we made the journey – seven hours on a minibus
Through the beauty of the foothills of the great Himalayas(s).

There was a Luncheon function when they fed three thousand people;
the unveiling of (the) Memorial Arch by Field Marshall Sir John Chapple.
Sirmoori Medals were presented, and we listened to the Band;
the Queen’s Truncheon* was marched in – for which everyone would stand.


     *The Truncheon is the equivalent of a Regiment’s Colour; hence it’s huge importance

Sirmoori Club Nepal, at Pokhara Exhibition Ground
Was where the next event and excitement could be found!
It was a most important day and nothing was delayed
at the Second Goorkhas’ Two Hundredth Anniversary Parade.


But the icing on the cake and a veritable treat
was when we gathered in the dusk to watch them Sound Retreat.
The Brigade of Gurkhas Band and Pipes marched and played beside
The Nepalese Army Band – they all took it in their *stride.

*The unique double quick march adopted from the 60th Rifles after 1857.


Huge and fascinating photographs along one end of the (Parade) Ground
Showed their exploits in far countries where their reputation does abound.
Depicting the history of the Regiment in vast pictorial form;
It was beautifully presented, and way beyond the norm.
There were dancing girls, whose skirts did swirl, with each graceful movement;
then some sang, and the mountains rang with music and emotion.
It was poignant and nostalgic, in a magnificent location,
For the great family of Goorkas to host this last and great occasion.


We met signalmen and riflemen and several Gurkha Majors;
I tried to learn the Regiments and all their different stages:
i.e. the joining of Two,  Six,  Ten  and  Seven,
and now there are eight Regiments instead of the eleven.
They fought in Singapore and Brunei, Borneo and Burma;
Afghanistan, the Falklands, Tobruk, and even further.
Prince Harry said: “The safest place is at a Gurkha’s side
in warfare”.  In peacetime too I’m sure ’tis true – this cannot be denied.
For five whole days, in a blissful haze, we enjoyed the celebrations
Of K.E.O Goorkha Rifles, who are drawn from several regions.
All the Gurkha Regiments are held in high renown*
But I sense the “Second Goorkhas” is the jewel in the crown. 


*Having been witness to this historic and unique occasion, the words with which I would describe the Gurkhas are: camaraderie; commitment; courage in battle; discipline;  grace; loyalty; true humility without arrogance; and, last but by no means least: mutual respect and friendship.


The Golfing Day at Ghandrung: ‘twas great fun, but sad no sun…
The teeming rain had come again, before they’d e’en begun.
Poor Ches looked glum and very wet, and Cees was a little better!
But Gerrie’s birdie and her trophies helped defeat the weather.
The Course is picturesque and challenging: one of ten outstanding in the world.
The only pity that day was that umbrellas had to be unfurled.
It was the inspiration of one, Major Rambahadur,
involving sev’ral river crossings, just to make it even harder!



Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, run so ably by Marcus Cotton

Surely we took a voyage nearer heaven when we reached TMLP*
and as I sit here by the pool, there’s NOWHERE I’d rather be.
It’s like a private party, each one doing their own thing,
With Marcus, our most gracious host: attentive and charming.
The only trouble here is that it ’s so difficult to tell
Whether ’tis a Brigadier – or Lieutenant Gener-al
sitting there beside you, quietly drinking in the scene –
Or even a Field Marshal it could so easily have been!
The Chapples and the Duffells, and the Thomases of course –
They’d all been inspirational in gath’ring the Sirmoors –
And yet it was so kind of them to include us in their midst
within the Gurkha family, and make us feel at ease.
The staff were grand, right there at hand, always ready with a smile;
They all seemed absolutely willing to go the extra mile.
I say Hooray to be away from the U.K, pre-election,
especially in this glorious place, which to me is near perfection.
We saw some Himalayan haystacks, and woodpiles two a penny,
and some very simple homesteads, but there were not very many;
It was terraces, not palaces, that we did there espy
and the tilling of the land in true tranquility.


MOUNTAIN MAGIC (Still at Tiger Mountain Lodge)
We had sneak peaks of the mountain peaks when the sun dispersed the cloud,
But you had to be quick to catch these chinks, not always readily allowed.
I gazed around at the awesome sight and basked in Nature’s glory:
How could one wonder or have doubts about Creation’s story?
The mountains and the clouds took turns to fill our view,
Like actors’ entrances and exeunts – when it was their cue.
Suddenly a shaft of light shone down from the sky:
it almost seemed that it was beamed – like torchlight from on high.
Cees went on a three hour trek and saw a cloud of vultures;
Some folk tried to read a bit to learn of other cultures.
Marcia did her painting with impressive dedication
While the rest of us did *‘Hawa Khane’ as if ’twere our vocation!!
We did go on a mini trek, though it wasn’t very long.
Oh! the beauty in these foothills and melodious birdsong.
Who needs quadrophonic sound with all those birds around?
It surely does one’s soul some good to hear those clear, sweet sounds.
Its going to be so difficult to tear ourselves away
From your ever changing mountains – and their dazzle-ing display.
To Machhapuchre the Magnificent, a.k.a. Mount Fishtail,
To Annapurna and Lamjung, soon we have to say Farewell;
To the bulbuls and great barbets, and the white crested laughing thrush.
We heard them all, but to hear them call we had to hush, not rush.
The long-beaked Crimson Sunbird; the minivet with yellow breast
and the green-billed Malcoha were among the rest.
Then Geoffrey went with Hari – to find Picus quamatus: 
That’s the onomatopoaeic name: scaly bellied woodpecker to us!
Of Hari’s orn’thologic(al) knowledge one would simply never tire.
But now you’ll have to be content with the Rhayader Male Voice Choir!!


The importance of Words

Posted on March 11, 2015

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can also hurt me……..

Pain from words has left its scar on mind and heart that’s tender.

Cuts and bruises now have healed. Its words that I remember. 

Do we realise the power that our words have?  I do not think so.  We are told to be careful of what we wish for which is more or less the same thing.

I have written before about how one can bring blessings on oneself and others, and in the same vein one can invoke curses.  Call it the power of positive thinking or whatever you like. The important thing is not to make it complicated.

I keep thinking of my favourite acronym: KISS (Keep it simple sweetheart) and wonder why things have to become ever more complicated and sensational to make any sort of impact.

I started writing this a few weeks ago but could not get into my Blog for some reason, and have been too busy to try and get it sorted. It is now a bit old, but I shall still write about when I went to Blenheim Palace with some friends…..

We were disappointed to find that the Palace itself was shut until next week, but happily it was a beautiful day so we had a glorious walk in the winter sunshine.  We were amazed to see a galaxy of huge lorries, vans, lighting systems with so many wires going for what appeared to be a long way; endless cars and people buzzing around all over the place.  We were not allowed anywhere near the entrance because whatever was going on seemed to be happening near there, and we were diverted by a poor man who had to stand in the intense cold just to steer people away.  We finally talked to a technician because it all looked rather exciting and terribly important: a blockbuster at least, and of course we would go and see it when it comes out.  Perhaps Eddy Redmayne or Judy Dench would suddenly appear!

On asking what it was all about, to our surprise we were told that it was just an advertisement for a film.  What I suppose I would call a trailer. Has the world gone utterly mad, I ask myself? or am I just an old fashioned, narrow-minded fuddy duddy?  Yes I expect I am, but did they really need all that excessive and expensive to make an advertisement?

Perhaps they don’t know the acronym KISS.  Or even the importance of words rather than endless images that seem to fill our waking moments.
Ah well!

A Blessed New Year

Posted on January 5, 2015

I have had a glorious two weeks and have so many good things to lock away in the memory bank.  Some wonderful Welsh Carol Services of varying tastes and talents: my favourite always is in a very small church in the garden of some dear friends.  Somehow it, the church, seems to expand, adorned in its Christmas finery to seat a good number of people, and I am sure that that the Service is just what God likes, as they always manage to blend simplicity with a certain sophistication – truth and beauty.  When the door opened in the middle of the Service I wondered whether Jesus was going to come in, but He was certainly there in the Spirit, and I felt truly blessed and I am sure that others did too.
Then we had four very happy days of family Yuletide, orchestrated serenely by my daughter-in-law who coped with us all including five teenaged grandchildren, and never a cross word.  A great deal of food and laughter and fresh air and fun, including a trip to see the film Paddington; what joy to have something that all ages thoroughly enjoyed.

Then a long drive to Devon where I spent an equally happy couple of days with more family, including four other grandchildren, so it has been a very special time. I am now back in my winter home, picking up the threads and rather enjoying a few days peace and quiet, giving in to a cough and cold, which has allowed me to go through my Christmas card list which normally gets sidelined.  Much as I have enjoyed the past fortnight, it is a relief to get back into some kind of routine, and dare I say it, a step back into things spiritual. In spite of the wonder of the Yuletide message it seems that the parties and festivities crowd out any spiritual routine I try to follow which I hasten to add is never adequate.
At supper with a friend last evening she gave me the excellent article by Austen Ivereigh about Pope Francis which has given me enormous hope and encouragement.  I hope I shall not be in breach of copyright if I quote some of the things he says, because I do feel that it is worthy of note.  Personally I am of the opinion that we are incredibly blessed in these times to have a remarkable Monarch who walks with the Lord, an Archbishop of Canterbury who has a real grasp of worldly matters but is such a truly spiritual man, and not least this amazing Pope in Rome.

Surely anyone who listened to the Queen’s Christmas broadcast must have been struck by her plea for reconciliation; Ivereigh speaks of the Pope’s yearning for the separation of Christians to end, how a “miracle of unity” – the work of the Holy Spirit – had begun …. When we try to create unity through our own human designs, he warns, we end up with uniformity and homogenisation….which leads to schism … yet if we let ourselves by led by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity will never create conflict, because the Spirit spurs us to experience variety in the communion of the Church.  Later he says that building bridges of trust and reciprocity that open up new spaces for God to act, and that their shared baptism, and openness to the Holy Spirit, are enough; that they shouldn’t wait for theologians to agree before acting and witnessing. 

I hope we can hear the people say Amen. Surely reconciliation and unity are the best of bedfellows.
The Pope told an audience in St. Peter’s Square in May that Peace is not mass produced, but handcrafted by individual artisans.  “That is Pope Francis’ own genius”, suggests Ivereigh: “building relationships of trust that create spaces for the Holy Spirit to break through what seems humanly impossible”.

If anyone can think of a better New Year message, please let me know.


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