Friday, 18 January 2013


No photograph for this, I'm afraid, so I've used a woodcut by one of my favourite wildlife artists, Andrew Waddington. You can find out more about his work here:

A Winter Night
The crescent cradle of the new-born moon
Hangs low amongst surrounding stars
In a bell-clear, iron winter sky,
Illuminating, fitfully and with pale half-light,
The frozen, snow-clad shadowlands
Of hedge and field and tree.
Under the protection of ice-dusted ivy
That thickly masks old, crumbling walls,
A muffled blackbird sleeps alone
With feathers fluffed against the cold.
No breathe of wind disturbs the sparkling blanket
That covers every branch and twig
Of dormant willow, sycamore and oak.
Nor does man or beast disturb the stillness
Except, in passing, one indignant owl
Whose cries complain at the fruitlessness
Of foraging in a bare and icy larder.
It seems as if the earth itself is fresh and clean,
Newly-made and not yet totally complete.
This is what it would be like
If the long-forgotten pureness of spirit
And peaceful sanctuary stillness
That used to dwell in what men called their souls
Could be turned into a world.
And if the heavens were as still,
And time itself was frozen like the land,
This is what it would be like forever.

Sunday, 13 January 2013



The Broken Willow
Beware! For I am the wild East Wind,
Terrible, indeed, in the power I can wield.
Back in the icy tundra I was born
And grew in fury as I crossed the frozen wastes,
Picking up, along the way,
Innumerable whisperings and murmurings,
And learning secrets only ever spoken to the wind.
It was I who, in years before your time,
Brought to this shore the cruel dragon prows
And, with them, terror, pain and death.
But, in truth, I have no need of other agents,
For I have the power, myself, to initiate
Bitter destruction in my wake.
Those who boldly fish the sea
In boats of fragile planks of wood,
Know me and fear for their lives
For, at a whim, I summon up the waves
And send their bodies
Rolling, lifeless, to the shore.
Only The Stone can stand against me
As together we create a song
In which my icy breath
Plays upon the ancient edifice
Strange, arcane and prehistoric tunes;
A rare glissando of rising, held, and falling notes,
Bizarre, lost scales of random accidentals
And not-quite sharps and flats,
Just as I have played the stones for centuries.
Few people comprehend the sound,
But some still feel, inside, a restlessness of spirit
That, day or night, will take them out
To walk, unreconciled, on hillside, cliff
Or wave-beleaguered shore,
Where canny seabirds, free-spirits of the air,
Dance to the tune upon my prancing back.
Yet you, a fragile, shaking willow,
Think that you can stand against me.
Beware! For I will twist your limbs unmercifully
Upon the rack of your own making,
Far beyond the point you can endure.
Beware! I say, for I can break you,
And I will……


Thursday, 3 January 2013



Millington Wood in Winter

Pale winter sucks the colour from the landscape
As if the earth’s own life-blood has been drained away,
Leaving the recumbent, rolling giant of the hills
In somnolent, semi-conscious immobility.
The weak and wanly-shining sun,
Whenever it might deign to show its sullen face
From behind the lace of curtain-clouds,
Discloses secret folds and long-forgotten barrows,
Otherwise unseen when lit by harsher rays.

But in the wood, a new and startling sight prevails,
For leafless trees allow the light to permeate unchecked,
Disclosing an exuberant display of tantalising tones.
Here colours that seemed subdued in summer
Stand out in sudden contrast to the subtler shades.
Bright-green socks of moss adorn the feet of ash and beech,
And from a living trunk, rich chestnut-coloured fungi sprout,
Nourished in the furrowed bark.
Then, over all, a solitary blackbird’s call
Spreads a thinly-beaten, shining silver sheet of sound,
Unmuffled, now, by dampening leaves.