June, Early Evening

I saw this photograph on a local Facebook page. The photographer Carlo Fontanarosa gave me permission to share it.


It is taken from the old cemetery in my home town of Middleton, and the church is that of St.Leonard’s. Standing on the highest part of the town, it dominates the view both spiritually and geographically.

Part of the building dates back to Norman times, and it is built on the site of a wooden Saxon church. There is even speculation that there was a pagan religious site before this.

All those layers, but its greatest historic significance is that it is where I got married!

I love this shot, it has everything: history; place; wilderness; memories. And to cap it all, it is taken at dusk, my favourite part of the day.

Welsh Odyssey #1

We’ve just got back from a few days spent in South Wales. We got the weather, and so travelled to a local beach for the kids to wile away some hours and, yes, tire themselves out for the evening wind-down.

After a while, and of course with my better half’s blessing, I went off for my customary, solitary walk. I headed up a sandy path, taking me high past a meadow and along some cliffs, where some of my old jackdaw friends were nesting. Around twenty of them were flying overhead as I rose higher along the trail which was part of the famed Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail. I had immediately identified their call, they being these days like my own totemic bird.

A single linnet moved with me, too, darting from fence post to fence post alongside me on my right. To my left there was no fence, in fact there was a sheer drop onto rocks below, a sign warning me Beware Cliffs Kill – Stick To Paths. It made me more amused than anxious, thinking about this serial killer named Cliff and what his body count was. There wasn’t a cloud in sight. My eye was foundering in a vista of blue sky and sea.

Jackdaws, linnets, there were other birds too, some of which I didn’t recognise. It is man’s nature to name everything he sees, in order to claim some kind of ownership. I have heard it said that there is a certain power in a name.

I used to walk in my local woods wondering about the trees I couldn’t name, picking out unfamiliar shapes among the many oak and beech, until I came to the realisation that I didn’t need to know what they were in order to appreciate them. In fact, the mental discourse often obstructed the experience.

The same with birds. I don’t need to be able to name them in order to take delight in their sudden appearance and song. Unless I’m writing about them, for readers such as yourself, for then it serves to create a more precise mental image for you.

Pembrokeshire Coast

After a while I picked a descending route that led me down to a secluded bay, not a soul in sight. There was just I, and the cacophony of waves, and birds, and insects. The sun beat down on me, sheltered from the sea breeze.

I sat upon a rock, now viewing the the incoming tide at eye-level. The expanse of ocean swells something inside you. It’s as though your perspective suddenly heightens, but at the same time your sense of self diminishes. You realise how tiny you are in this great, wild, uninhibited context.

Below the towering cliff I found a large cave, water dripping onto gleaming pebbles within its dark maw, almost like a linear breadcrumb trail, beckoning me in. But I only ventured in for a few metres. Caves make me nervous – I was acutely aware of all that weight that was above my head.

I reckon Cave hadn’t killed as many as Cliff, but still. I wanted to stay in control.

Coming back out of the cave and skirting the edge of the beach, I spotted a small fish lying motionless on the sand. Again, I couldn’t tell you the species, but suffice to say it was small and silver, about the size of my little finger. I bent to pick it up and was startled to find it was still alive – its sudden wriggle prompted me to snatch my hand away. Then, in full rescue mode, I scooped it up with a handful of sand and lowered into a nearby shallow pool. It flitted away, burying itself away on the sandy bottom.

Immediately I found another such fish, prone upon the sand. And yes, this was alive too. Perhaps they had some kind of survival strategy that I wasn’t aware of. Maybe  I had fortuitously stumbled upon their last gasps. Either way, I deposited this second fish in a similar pool, giving it another chance until the sea moved in and liberated it.

I made my way to a sharp but navigational incline and headed high again, leaving the private beach behind me. Once more I was at the highest point of the landscape again, looking out to a hazy horizon.

“Hello. Taking it in?”

I turned to discover a woman who must have been in her seventies, her attire and vigorous face giving all the impression of a professional walker.

“Yes,” I said, “but I’m thinking it is about time I got back to my wife and kids!”

She smiled, conspiratorially. “Worth it though, wasn’t it?”

“Absolutely. It’s beautiful.” 

She nodded, like we were sharing a private, intimate understanding, then I bid her farewell. We left each other, she heading in one direction, agile, fleet of foot, and I in the other direction, now weary-legged and beginning to puff.

I returned to the familiar beach, finding my wife and friend sat on a spread blanket, chatting away while keeping careful eyes on the kids who were jumping incoming waves in the distance. I fell heavily upon the ground beside them, and promptly relived my journey with them both, taking them along the route I had taken and recounting all that I had seen. I spoke of birds and fish, of sea and sky, of caves and cliffs, and then, somewhat grandiosely I waved my hand in the air and informed my well-travelled friend:

“This is my Ibiza. This is my Tenerife.”

Poem, Early Draft

I haven’t featured any new poetry for a while. This is an early draft of a work in progress, in effect just its beginning. I expect the poem to be considerably longer when completed.


She is painted blue and proud,
shining bright
in night fires;
igniting dawns.

Sitting by the river,
rounded aesthetics
down a verdigris valley,

herons rising
in glacial drifts
over wooden hives.


When The Winds Gust, The Leaves Turn

Today is the Autumn Equinox. From now on, the days become shorter, the nights grow longer.

But I don’t lament: Winter is my favourite season, and Autumn heralds the beginning of my favourite half of the year. I stock up on my books as we turn inwards, batten down the hatches, light the fire. Begin to revel in the dark and the storms.

This year, please, let there be snow.


Shamanic September

I can’t believe it is September already. How soon the time passes. This was from the 1st of September last year. It’s a little wetter this time around, but the rest applies.

City Jackdaw

September already. How soon the seasons pass.

Harvest time, fruits of the earth. Our spirits warm with the russet colours outside. I took the dog for a run over the fields this morning. Wind-frenzied trees could not dislodge raucous crows, shy jays, and their more cocksure magpie cousins. Though these are the early days, there is definitely a sense of being on the cusp of autumn.

Soon we will see the squirrels working overtime among the toadstools and wild flowers, the martins, swallows and other migrants gathering to make the long journey back to African shores.

Much to my wife’s distress, daddy long legs seem to be everywhere. One got in as I went out with the dog (again) last night, as my better half was busy preparing a meal for the next day. I said “Don’t harm it, I will catch it when I get back in”. 


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The Sun Was Out Early On Good Behaviour

This post contains no deep insights or meaningful message. It was just that for the first time this year we had nice weather, so I decided to cut short my Jackdaw weekend sabbatical to document an afternoon with Mrs Jackdaw and my two youngest fledglings in Alkrington Woods.

The car doors were opened, the seat belts unfastened, and they were off……


House on the hill- Alkrington Hall.


The signs were good.


Enticing the swans.


“Come back!” Fickle fowl.


Under a watchful eye


Niagara on a small scale


Look at that long lamented blue hue.


“No fishing” say the fish.


Everyone needs a helping hand. A tree split down the middle gets some support.


Well this is the time to see buds on trees, but cans of Bud?


Christmas survivor. The tree that was decorated by children at Christmas, featuring in my December post ‘When Is Holy Wholly Holy?’ Some of the decorations have made it through the winter storms, and look especially good when you are lay beneath them.


Lever Bridge-scene of earlier competitive twig racing.