Dinos and Dogs

On the Jurassic coast,
Where once ammonites swam,
canines are king.
On collar and lead
They strut and they sniff.
Pugs, pulis, poodles,
A labradoodle and shih tzu
but very few mutts.
King of the dog walk,
with white tipped tail wagging,
pad spaniel-like paws.
A unique species
is Bramblesaurus.

Isle of Wight 2020 – dinosaur footprints and dog walks.


Foundations remain firm as the ground shifts.

The ground has shifted and what I thought was firm and solid has turned to sand. Trust in the news, the government and in the experts has been washed away and what is left is uncertainty and fear.

When the ground shifted, I was jolted and the confidence in who I am, was picked off, leaving me feeling exposed and lost. What I thought was important and defining, I now consider a burden that drags me down. It is too heavy, huge, overwhelming so my only thoughts are how and when can I let go and find peace and purpose again.

The ground shifted when “zoom” replaced face to face encounters. How can I sit and see myself, exposed and vulnerable, scrabbling around for words and seeing all along that I have been an imposter. Face to face, pen to paper, speaking and listening were lost as the ground shifted.

Is it any wonder then that I have returned to solid ground, the assurance of being accepted by my family who expect nothing but love. The comfort of knowing I am loved for who I am, not for what I do, is the firm ground under the shifting sands of this year.

And that brings me to the matter of my faith which for a year has been battered and bruised by bereavement, exhaustion, fear, pandemic and mistrust. Under it all is the firm solid ground laid down in my infancy. The familiar words of hymns and prayers, the comforting sacrament of forgiveness and the mystery of communion with God through bread and wine.

I am standing on the solid ground of faith and of being loved and it would be easy to stay on this island I have rediscovered; stay and retreat from the world of shifting certainties and believeable lies.

But God, who is my firm foundation calls me to love him and others, as I have learnt to love myself. He never said life with him would be easy, but rather take up a cross and follow him.

So I stand on His piece of solid ground, looking into an uncertain future, poised and ready to step where ever he calls.


She waits, alert and patient,
Waiting for she knows not what.
But when it comes, she's up...
Eager for food, a walk, recognition.
Her head low, her body long,
She rests and waits until...
Ears twitch, head lifts and 
She peers under long eyebrows.
She waits.
Does she ruminate on yesterday?
Is she considering tomorrow?
She is waiting; waiting for the day.
I reach across and stroke her silky fur.
I nuzzle her neck and caress her ears.
She pleads me with her eyes,
Then lowers her head and waits.

Psalm 121 – a reflection

Another day and my eyes are drawn to the mountains, rugged, Alpine peaks, rock exposed and permanent. I search among the forest of evergreens and then to the mountain again where the path disappears into mist.

I lay still, shallow breaths and stare at the painting hung on the wall…a window on another place and probably another time when everything was perfect and I was managing.

Why are my eyes drawn to the mountains? Is my help found there? If I search among the rocks and crevices will I get the answer to the puzzle that has become my life? When my eyes follow the pathway that disappears into the trees, will I get back to how I was?

No! Laying inert and searching among the hills will not help. My help comes from getting up and putting back the curtain to reveal a beautiful, if somewhat unruly garden where I feel, inhale and see again the divine, the explainable wonder of creation, growth and abundance. It is where I look forward to the changing seasons, the die-back and decay of leaves and my favourite, the perennials, that appear each year, fresh and hopeful.

So when I sit at my desk and find my eyes drawn to the view outside the window and sit with pen poised and ready, my thoughts invariably turn to God who has been my rock, my permanence, my sure foundation.

Why look to the hills when he is with me all the time? He listens and when he speaks it is always what I need to hear, whether it be words of comfort or reproach. When did I stop looking to him and stare into the hills instead?

My resilience comes from the Lord
Who made heaven and earth. 
He will not make me stumble or fall
Instead he will lift me and carry me
Through the valleys and climb with me
To the mountain top.
I can live freely with Him who lays no burden 
That is too heavy to carry.

For His grace is unforced; given not earned.
He calls, we respond, 
And when the load is too much,
He whispers, "Come to me."

The Longest Day

Early on the longest day, we run past
Waist high green wheat and yellow barley,
While lambs to slaughter, gone, and 
Wild grasses, mowed and baled.
A skylark's song and sparrowhawk's cry
The only sounds in the early morning heat.
Peacock, Red Admiral and Gate-keeper,
Iridescent mayfly and black winged dragonfly
Arise and dance ahead of us,
And all the while the river
Meanders on.

It's seen it all;
Farms, meadows, mill races and lakes,
Solar panels flashing in the sunlight,
An abandoned prison with razor wire fence
And over it all, the immense blue sky
And around it all, the seasons change.

Spring in the valley

Creation called me to worship
this fine April morning with the clouds scudding
And the sky patched and sun-spotted.
This valley still surprises me and lifts my soul;
For the blackthorn is white with fine blossom
And the black-legged, black-eared ewes,
long suffering and nervous,
As my two mutts mooch then tug on their leads.
Nettles and hogweed, dock leaves and fireweed
Prepare to impede the path.
This valley, with its river and mill rushes,
Man-made lakes and commuter highway,
Is bursting with life.

(April run, Wellingborough to Earls Barton, along the Nene Way. 2015)

I Spy…

an alphabet in the Nene Valley

Buzzards soar, cuckoos call
Egret, geese and goslings.
Herons stand, kites search
Swifts, swans and signets
While over all the skylarks sing.
Bridges span, canoes drift,
Cycles, ramblers and dogs.
Gravel taken, lakes filled
Locks, mill race and weirs
While through it all the river meanders.
Badby rises, Barnwell mill
Cogenhoe, Everdon and Flore.
Islip's spire, Oundle's school
Woodford, Weedon and Yarwell
While in each place, a church proclaims.

Scratching the Surface

Beneath the soles of trainers and boots,
Under the rubber tyres and padded paws,
The sand and gravel, stone and dust
Is pressed and beaten, levelled flat.
A walker's highway, a circuit for runners
Where the beeps of fitbits join the mix
Of blue tits and warblers and LBJs,
And a returning cuckoo announces Spring.
Beneath the path, lie coal dust and cinder,
Long rusted nails and chunks of wood,
Where the iron rails lay and engines steamed
East to West on the valley floor. 
The rhythm of the wheels over the track
Approaching, deafening then receding from sight
Combine with skylarks, thrushes and rooks,
And a cuckoo returns to announce Spring.
Beneath the tracks, lie lost and forgotten,
Signs of invaders become home makers,
The Normans, Danes, Romans and Brits.
Broken pots, coins and fragments of bone
Litter the valley with its gentle slopes
While standing tall as sentinels on watch
Ancient monuments to the eternal Divine,
And in the heavens a skylark sings
Under the pots and fragments of bone
Lie the valley's wealth, its rich bedrock
of sand, gravel, ironstone and lime
Jurassic in time, sedimentary in nature,
Layer upon layer
Bivalves and tusks,  
Ditritus and "toe nails"
Sank and 
Under the melt water
Before the first Spring.

A Garden of Memories

I remember, I remember
The garden at my grandma's house,
Where honesty and nettles grew
With ferns, rhubarb and the odd mouse!
I remember, I remember
Goldenrod and Solomon seal;
The nettles where my brother fell
Then smeared with calamine, to heal.
My mum remembers the garden
As a pleasant place to play
Fish, newts and frogs swam in the pond,
Her dad's shed as a hideaway.
She remembers, she remembers
Rabbits and chickens roaming free,
'Til the potatoes were lifted
Then skinned and eaten for tea!
She remembers, I remember
London Pride, and a rambling rose;
Marguerites with large white petals
But no place set aside to doze.
I remember, I remember
Kinloch's bakery was next door.
The tall trees and meadow remain,
But the shop and house are no more. 
I took some plants, dug up some fern
When the house granddad built was sold.
They took root and each Spring emerge
With treasured memories, like gold.