I have long been an admirer of Richard Burton (no, not that one!) - Sir Richard Burton, who for most of his life struggled to find the source of the river Nile - and did eventually reach Lake Tanganyika.
You may wonder what this has to do with today's meme. Well, I looked up "inspiration" in the dictionary - "someone, or something that inspires" OR "drawing breath into the lungs." In other words, I see it as someone who influences one so much that one breathes in that influence and makes it almost part of oneself.
Then I began listing my passions and where I got the inspiration from. I have always loved Geography and travel -Freya Stark and Wilfred Thesiger fuelled that line of thinking. Then there is nature and wildlife. Right back from the days of Romany on the BBC Home Service Childrens' Hour, through Keble Martin's wonderful Concise British Flora in Colour (what a life's work!) I have been constantly inspired. Ronald Blythe's books still give me that inspiration to keep exploring that interest. Gardening used to be a passion before I got too decrepit to do the heavy work. Vita Sackville West (Her Garden Book) was the gardener I aspired to be like.
Then I took up Textile Art and gobbled up the books of Valerie Campbell-Harding, Maggie Grey and the like. Oh how I would love to create pieces like theirs.
I am never bored and I always have a mental list of things i want to look into, or create, or read, or play on the piano. And this is where Sir Richard Burton comes in.
I wondered why I have always had such an inquiring mind, why I have always wanted to find out things. And then it came to me in a flash. Go back to the SOURCE!
So here is my nomination for Inspiration. His name was John Henry Smithson. He was born in 1891 and died in 1972.
"Jack", as he was always called, obtained a Scholarship to attend Grammar School at the age of 11 but his parents were too poor to allow him to go. So he left school at 14 and worked for 50 years in the machine shop on a lathe at Ruston and Hornsby in Lincoln. But that sort of setback does not stop the intelligent enquiring mind.
He always had an Atlas to hand and if anywhere was mentioned on the news or in the papers, out would come the Atlas and together we would look for the place. Or sometimes we would plan a journey round the world. I would make a notebook and we would plot the places we would call at. I would do a bit of research in one of his encyclopaedias and we would complete the journey in our minds.
Every Summer we would walk the lanes looking for wildflowers which I could put into my wild flower notebook with a little drawing for reference. Or we would search the banks and hedgerows for birds' nests - he was fantastic at finding them and peeping in without disturbing anything.
It was he who gave me my first little plot of land to grow radishes, lettuce, marigolds, candytuft
and encouraged me to keep a garden diary.
Then in the winter's evenings we would play "pencil and paper" games. Who can list the most wild flowers beginning with D? Who can find a river somewhere in the world beginning with each letter of the alphabet?
Poetry was his passion - he had a shelf of poetry books and he knew many of the poems off my heart and would quote little snippets to fit the situation. Tennyson was a favourite, and WH Davies - but he knew them all. His poetry books were really an extension of his right arm.
And so you see, dear readers, there was finally no contest.
I nominate as my life time's Inspiration my father John Henry, who's influence is with me every single day of my life.