House martins have built a nest later than
usual and perhaps a second this season at the
front of our house and the last day of July
dawns to the comforting softness of their
at-home just-woken clucking and feather
fussing punctuated by long silences … and

shuffling about before soaring and circling
darting and diving – early morning routine
beneath pale blue sky – too early yet for tyres on
tarmac save for a single tractor at first light so I
breathe shallow and grateful as dressed stone in the
mullion window is warming gently in the still
silence of 5am Sunday


see housemartins

Silence and story

Remember on this one thing, said Badger. The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other’s memories. This is how people care for themselves.

Barry López
Crow and Weasel

A prayer I love speaks of echoing the silent music of God’s praise.

I came to love the prayer because I loved silent music first. In the ‘spaces between the notes’ I train my ear to appreciate an entire orchestra of story. Silence teaches me to live as a social being. I am not, we are not, here alone.

Time travel

We had tea this afternoon in a Quaker Meeting House built by its own tiny hamlet community three hundred and fourteen years ago. Pretty much unchanged, and the distraction of coffee and an enormous slice of chocolate cake notwithstanding, it’s the kind of place where one is quickly lost in daydreaming reverie. Who were these people? What did they look like, sound like, work at? What did they wear and how did they conduct themselves? And not for the first time in this place I wished for the transport convenience of Dr Who’s Tardis to rocket me there and back between this afternoon and July of 1702. In the real world we heard wind in our wheels again as we cycled back up the hill and home. But I shall dream on …

I woke up


Author Kathleen Jones invited our group to take up a pen and in the briefest of exercises dive right into ‘I woke up …’ so,

I woke up to a warm, gray and rainy day. Ahead of me lay another morning’s company exploring voice in poetry and prose. Amid furrowed brows and life and laughter appreciation for my fellow writers grows. Perhaps today my pen can bring to paper last week’s delight in beautiful Croatia. Shared prose and poetry sharpens clarity and recall. Distilled recollection probes the point of life in all.

Oh how the joy of taking up a pen makes for re-sounding consequences! Awakening of course is what we authors of life, each listening carefully for the voice of our great Muse, are all aspiring to. To be able to say ‘I woke up’ is, precisely, what we all want to do.

Torrents of words sometimes send me to sleep. Pared, shared words, suspended in reflective silence and open-armed anticipation, vivify and energise.

This afternoon, still gray and rainy, I came across an anonymous well-wisher’s memorable benediction:

May you live all the days of your life

I’m thankful for all whose companionship enables me to say ‘I woke up’ – even whilst I yet aspire to deeper, fuller awakening.


We grow dreams in our fields

A small spring-suspended
doll flew with us to England from
Croatia with a scented sack of
lavender in her tiny wooden hand

In purple-flowered frock
twinned with perfect straw hat –
traditionally clothed – she is as
pretty as a picture

Half a century has passed since
first I pressed Lime Bank
lavender into the palm of my
seven year old hand

And less than a week since
we adopted the small doll –
but olfactory sense is powerful
and in unexpected commixture


I am today in both Croatia and
my beloved childhood home


See also Lavender

What a society promulgates

We have indeed come a long way since slaves built the White House. Michelle Obama celebrated great human achievements last evening. Society thrives best where there’s calming of irrational fears. “Winning” rhetoric always costs someone, somewhere, dear. And there’s been too much talk of that kind, the world over, already this year.

Keep your candle burning. Blow out the light and darkness wins. The tragedy of terrorism – in all its forms – must be set against a backdrop of greater, wider good. Wherever we can celebrate that good, hard though it be to find, we should. What a society promulgates multiplies.

Inquisitive and tentative

A hedgehog’s spiny presence
belies the truth it’s shy – and
inquisitive though tentative with
bright watchful eye

Intent on bird seed windfall
beneath our open aviary
it curls up tight into a ball
when we step out to see

And it is a wonder of
which we never tire when tiny
wild creatures come
close enough to inspire

with gratitude and awe –
for life and breath in many
forms quite near us and
beyond us countless more

And the shy curiosity and the
tentativeness too, and the
inquisitive and watchful eye
suggest hedgehogs share some

with me and you



Computers, fountain pens and paintbrushes, garden, library, notebooks, table, watercolour painting papers – seat of the visions of the beginning, the is now, and the shall be; seat of the aspirations, contemplations, creations, learning, loving, meditations, prayers, reflective reminiscences, rest, recreation and thanksgivings.

Six coloured sable-washed swishes carefreely left to right on a journal page over which words might be drawn later. In this case about six months after the paint dried – for the connection with it, or you; for the joy of it, the peace of it; for the friendship in it …

Fence posts to lean on
first pale green then
darker and beyond
browner above which are
yellow hues and
golds and oranges and
above and overarching
these a deep cerulean blue

I wonder as I think of you
at your fence posts
what’s in front of this
horizon and inward
and imagine you could
tell me clear where and
what this view is today
or in memory’s light –
to and for you


Sunset fleet

Gathering at harbour
towards evening
the heat of the day
still intense
a chattering assembly
clambered up the plank
to the scrubbed deck all
grateful for breeze
at that altitude
even before the little
ship set sail

Tihana, Alessandro, Goran,
Mauro, Sara, Luka, Maria,
Javier, Assunta, Stefano,
Mia, Gio

talk was inconsequential
of yesterday, today, tomorrow
of weather, wine and water
of this wondrous fleet and
of who, what, why and where and
had I been in an olive grove
instead of aboard I’d
have thought of cicadas
until homeward reflection
on sunset dolphins leaping
sounded like silently
thankful prayer


Quivering, swirling, tapping

Festal pyrotechnics
cotton dress swirling
his foot tapping
boy on guitar girl on violin
busking to intensely alive
international appreciation
just before midnight
still thirty degrees
but it’s their warmth and
ease everybody’s
noticed and slowed to
semi-circle standing for
shyly humming along
to the tune

A mildly drunk admirer
steps a touch too close but
feeling the little crowd’s
protective bristle sobering
swiftly allowing neck hairs
to settle only to rise
again in happier response
to now plaintive now playful
violin voice quivering
ducking and diving
laughing and thriving
delightfully playing
wide eyed celebration
beneath the full moon


Ancient of Days

It’s fiercely hot. Cool sanctuary in the basilica appeals. With fourth century mosaic pavements and a palace built by Bishop Euphrasius in the sixth, endless wooden stairs ascend to a busy scene in a cool belfry. A dozen or more out-of-breath pilgrims are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views over Poreč and the comings and goings of tourist boats and water taxis, before easier descent, first to a hot lavender-scented lapidiary complete with happy bees and striped butterflies, and on to grateful moments in the church awed by the thought of millions here before us. Ancient of Days!


Divine whispers of life-promise
were once delivered via
bell tower’s call – religiously
apparently – or not at all

This morning seagull’s
soaring is transient white light
aloft – and liberating
borderless and glorious it seems

Today the Voice is heard
soughing in trees and
rattling red roof tiles or
cast off feather’s fall

And blown through rusty
fanlight direct to dreams – or
satellite dish reception
delivering beams

Where are the edges beneath
this blue dome and whence the
soul-knowing recognising
home away from home?

There’s greater wider
gyre around the Tower
and the transient light
immutably knows – that all

is in all


see travelpad

Fully, really, alive

Cruising in the turquoise Adriatic, the shimmering of heat haze on the wide horizon, there’s similarity with pictures of paradise I loved in childhood. There’s a difference in the point of view though, for I’m still alive on earth to see these wonders, greeted in seven languages.

Actually, everyone looks fully, really alive – glowing, growing and happy. We sail past Vrsar into harbour in colourful Rovinj at noon. Angelus bells in the tower, spectacular fruit market, and stunning architecture in “Croatian Venice” sports family laundry lines, and seagull cries sound like someone told them a hilarious joke. Alive. Here. Now!

Gentle evening

Coffee coloured stucco. Ancient
shutters bleached silver
dishevelled on rusty hinges
rendering their apparent
permanence miraculous. Battered
blue bicycle leant against the
wall no longer going places – adventurous
travel having given way years ago to sunlit
evenings making embroidered
shawls on the doorstep, geraniums
glowing like the buttercup effect
at the chin beneath deeply
wrinkled concentration. There’s a
small glass of something or other
beside a basket of chocolate
brown bread and olive oil
on the little outdoor table, and
needles in her orange pin cushion.
In tonight’s gentle evening
breeze this quiet sometime cyclist is
mistress of her universe


Watermelon way

Cycling along twenty-five miles of spectacular coastline we celebrated the ease with which it’s possible to enjoy blissful days in Croatia. Great food, coffee and ice cream, warm sun and sea, international mix and ready friendliness. Gorgeous natural beauty – and roadside fruit stalls that sell huge bunches of fabulous grapes and thirst quenching slices of fresh-cut watermelon. What a way to spend a day!