We are the lucky few are we
To live in such a place
Where rolling hills and gentle folk
Gives life an easy pace

There's nothing more that we could need
'Cos we have got it all
Our shop, our school, our pub
Our fluid Manor Hall

Folk are wont to gather there
They truly are sharp skilled
Wiff waffers, spinners, artists
Where wine glasses are filled

There's badders and upholstery
With knit and natter too
Choice is in abundance
There's so much that we can do

Community is at our heart
We thank those who take the lead
And their teams of volunteers
They are a special breed

There's Wendy with her bloomers(!)
To the challenge they will rise
Until their hard work triumphs
And wins that golden prize

To our shop we should be thankful
They're open every day
Through snow and flood and pestilence
Whatever comes their way

Their team is led by Karen
You're welcomed with a smile
With help from Sue and Jackie
They'll go the extra mile

And proudly stands our village church
With a faithful band of ringers
Its bells call out on Sunday morn
The choir and all its singers

The Globe has had its issues
Food's good, as is the wine
But when will it be open?
Your guess is as good as mine

There's Judie and her journal
Bringing news from all around
We thank her for the pages filled
And the stories she has found

The children like to go and play
There's football and the swings
Climbing frames, different games
They have so many things

The weather can be 'changeable'
Sometimes it can't get wetter
But when the sun shines down on us
There's nowhere, nowhere better

The visitors turn up in scores
In summer it's so busy
Their driving down our narrow lanes
Can kinda make you dizzy

But we smile and say you're welcome
And they envy us our life
As they go home and back to drudge
To face their daily strife

We are the lucky few are we
To live in such a place
Where rolling hills and gentle folk
Give life a gentle pace

Anon. 2021

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes & Peter Rothwell



Here's to a Christmas with families and friends,
Enjoying old traditions, snubbing fancy new trends.
Christmas cards on the mantelpiece, no e-cards for me.
Nativity on the window-sill and carols around the tree.
Forget rubbish TV, films on repeat
Traditional games, time together with lots of special treats.
Christmas is a time, when we appreciate what's gone before.
Family traditions, who could want for more?
It's the simple things that make this time a truly special one.
Time altogether having good old family fun.
But if you're feeling low, or on your own for any particular reason.
Reach out and talk to someone during, what maybe, a particularly challenging season.
Don't sit alone at home, there may be others that feel the same.
Make your feelings known, together let's ease the pain.
Here's to a special Christmas for all,
enjoying whatever you like to do
A warm and happy celebration is what I wish for you.

Pam Robinson

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


We reached the top of the Torrs
on a grey and windy day
the sea near black the sky clouded
dark over Ilfracombe
We looked west to Lundy
and the sky cracked open
a pale line of light
lightening the sea in patches
And as we watched
the line of light thickened
and brightened
And as we watched
second by second
the colour of the sea mutated
near black to thick dark blue to
clear green blue
We looked up
and the strip of light was wide and shiny bright above
a line of clouds and
the sun was warm and
the wind subsided
We turned
and saw Ilfracombe bathed
in golden sunlight

Virginia Evans, Lee Copse

Illustrated by:Paul Swailes



Mid-August and the summer flowers are fading
Replaced by seed heads hard and brown
Or floating fluffy shafts of down
Bees, butterflies and other insects
busy now after spring's late start
find other flowers
In the hedgerows dancing fuchsias dangle
and soft pink hemp agrimony
stands strong and tall
dreamy flaxen headed meadowsweet floats;
lacy hogweed and red campion linger...
In the meadows
knapweed and vetches still flourish
bunches of ragwort glow
and on the walls
stalwart Mexican daisies never stop
geraniums, some roses and the glorious
hanging baskets bloom on
high and mighty buddleia boasts its big
purple spears above banks of
fiery glowing montbretia
hydrangea's multi flowered heads have
suddenly dramatically opened
in beautiful bright
changing colours: from greenish white to
creamy yellow;
from shades of palest pink to lilac, purple,
deepest red and blue
Late August - summer's flowers are fading fast
early morning mists are creeping in
the scent of autumn's in the air

Virginia Evans, Lee Copse



As October nights draw in,
Reach for the firelighters; seek warmth from within.
Close the curtains; snuggle in for the night
As the owls hoot and the merlins take flight.
The trees undress each and every day.
Ever-changing colours, their limbs bow and sway.
Until a colourful carpet lies on the lawn.
Rich golden hues our gardens adorn.
The hedgehogs adore it, the squirrels too
Foraging around, so much to do.
There's food to be stored, time cannot wait
Now is the time to prepare to hibernate.
Stay warm and safe in each of your homes
Villagers of Berrynarbor, you are never alone.
Outside nature is slowly changing its face
Enhancing our enjoyment of this very special place.

Pam Robinson

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



The Manor Hall in Berrynarbor is used by young and old
It stands proud in the heart of the village, a special sight to behold.
It's the place that hosts many activities, each and every day.
The place to learn new skills, socialise or simply come to play.

The children at Pre-school enjoy their regular sessions.
Learning through play is the key to all their lessons.
Teenagers and adults enjoy table tennis on a Friday night.
The Wine Club enjoy their tastings; wines, bold and heavy, others fruity and light.
Committees meet regularly in the Manor Hall
Planning events like 'Soup and Pud' and even a special ball.
The Upholstery Club, Spinners and Artists too,
Photographers and Berry in Bloom to name but a few.

Badminton Club use it, their fitness to maintain.
And Beaford Arts sometimes come to entertain.
The men's institute play snooker and enjoy meeting upstairs.
It's the place the village host fashion shows and Christmas fayres.

Here's hoping that things return to normal soon
And all the exciting activities will be able to fully resume.
The Manor Hall is special I am sure you will agree.
A place to support the whole community - that means you and me.

The 22nd August is the Manor Halls Summer Fete
Put it in your diary; mark it a special date.
We hope you will join us, come and see the stalls,
Buy raffle tickets, drink some Pimm's, there's something there for all.

Pam Robinson

Peter Rothwell



Here Here Here Here Here
Singit singit singit singit
Chup chup chup chup chup
Me an you me an you me an you
Furlough furlough furlough furlough
Do-y-doo do-y-doo do-y-doo
wheelie wheelie wheelie wheelie
Churrily churrily churrily churrily
see see see see see see
Piu piu piu piu piu
do it do it do it do it
Whee whee whee whee
Choo it Choo it Choo it choo it
Tu tu tu tu tu tu
Meeuu meeuu meeuu meeuu
Ooeeooo ooeeeoo ooeeoo ooeeoo
singit singit singit singit!

Interpreted by Virginia Evans

Paul Swailes



What makes a village a special place?
Is it simply pretty houses that we call our base?
Is it the gardens that come to life each and every spring,
With the beautiful flowers and colours they bring?
Is it the church at the centre of it all?
The community shop, pub, or the manor hall?
Or is it the people, like you and me
Who ensure it's special for all to see?

A real mix of folk, young and old;
True Devonians and 'Blow-ins,' or so I am told.
Wherever we hail from Berrynarbor is now our home.
Around it's pretty roads we all like to roam.

We may be a mixture, who've come from lots of different places
Different backgrounds, different races.
But we all love this village, this very special place,
And are really very proud to call it our base.
Pam R





Illustrations: Paul Swailes



me think about her when sun rises
me think about her when sun sets
me say to her how much me love her
she tell me love invent not yet

me make cave all warm and cosy
me lie bearskin on cave floor
me play song of love on bone flute
she choose cave of Tim next door

me no more go out hunt mammoth
me throw spear too short or long
me sit in cave me paint her picture
she say me got perspective wrong

me cook meal to show me love her -
diplodocus with fried beans -
she say food anachronistic
but me not know what this means

stone age mighty hard for lovers
yet rub two flints look what you get
small sparks lead to big inferno
but she say love invent not yet

Remembering Chris
This delightful poem, read at the Celebration of her Life on the 16th March, was a poem Chris cut out of the newspaper. She felt it summed up her beloved husband, Phil, which says much about her cheeky sense of humour!

Chris lived life to the full and encouraged others to do the same. She is much missed, not only by her family, but by her many friends here in the village.

It is said that the Caveman's Lament was written about 1.5 million years ago and is considered to be the world's oldest surviving poem about love.

Debbie Rigler Cook




Illustrations: Paul Swailes

We arrived in September
Warm autumn days full of colour
Before October rain and wind set in
And November locked us in
There's lot to do here
In the house and garden
We find good people to help
With trees, a plumbing problem
building improvements
And a fallen wall
Most days I walk
Greeted by
Cheerful smiling faces
And friendly [mostly] dogs
. . . And Flowerpot people
We meet kindly neighbours
And are sustained by
the friendliness of the shop
So well stocked and organised
And everywhere around the village
Water is running and rushing
Gushing from pipes
Flowing from fields
December arrives
and little painted wooden Santa faces
appear outside houses on fences and walls
Christmas comes and goes
Without the usual social events
But with amazing light displays
Winter pansies and button daisies bravely bloom
Birds crowd around the bird feeder
And in January's harsh lockdown
everyday a new flower opens
Every day a new bird song is heard
Snowdrops come at last
And the first daffodils
February opens crocuses, primroses
miniature flags and grape hyacinth
And then freezes
With a fierce easterly wind
Warm weather follows
At last as the days lengthen
More flowers - and blossom now.

We are glad to be here and wait for spring

Virginia Evans - Lee Copse





The end is in sight or so we've been told.
Soon friends and families, we can hug and hold.
As the vaccine is rolled out and we each take our turn
What are the things you look forward to, what do you yearn?
A drink in the pub without a substantial meal.
Getting together with friends- meeting for real.
Being allowed to have a party inside or out.
Holidaying again, getting out and about.

  Browsing in shops; being able to wander.
Being able to touch goods, take time and ponder.
These are my thoughts what about yours?
For some it may simply be going outdoors.

  For others it may take time to feel 'normal' again
Continued anxiety some may not feign.
Whatever your thoughts, as isolation comes to an end
Let's continue to support each other, neighbours and friends.

  Oh, there's just one last point I should like to make
Keep supporting our Village Shop for goodness' sake.
Karen, Annie and Susan have been amazing throughout.
Our ability to get supplies, thanks to them, was never in doubt.
Thank you for staying open and being there, each and every day.
Ok. Now on the subject of Covid 19, I have nothing more to say!

Pam R


Illustrations by: Paul Swailes



It stole up on us like a thief in the night.
Stealing our freedom, causing quite a fright.
Sneaking into our home; an unwelcome guest.
A horrible virus, an evil pest.

  Why had it chosen our house? Why us?
We're not the sort to make a big fuss.
But this thing was debilitating, it knocked us for six.
No medicine could cure it; nothing would fix.

  We had to let it pass, take one day at a time.
Rest and pray that soon we'd feel fine.
Trust that our exhaustion would soon pass away
That our bodies would fight it and face a new day.

  Supplies from dear friends, showing loving care
Homemade soup, bread and other great fayre.
FaceTime with family and friends from afar
No trips to the pubs or outings in the car.

  Staying inside until the torment had ended.
Fighting exhaustion, until our bodies had mended.
Slowly, slowly we started to heal
Each day a little better we started to feel.

  And now that the evil has truly past
We can go out again, enjoy walks at last.
Breathe deeply, take in fresh air
Enjoy the elements; the wind in our hair.

  This virus is deadly, a frightening force
What can we do but let it take its course
Hopefully its impact will soon start to wane
and we can enjoy life together, once again.


Pam R


Peter Rothwell



A tiny seed is planted, fed and watered
Over the months it's further nurtured
A stalk appears and climbs up high
Tall and graceful reaching for the sky
Each day it continues to grow
Until one day its flower starts to show.
The biggest thing I have ever seen
With its golden head and stalk so green.
Standing proud, golden and glowing
For a while I wonder if it'll ever stop growing.
It makes me smile each time I sit down
Laughing in the wind with its golden crown.
Neighbours smile too as they go past
How long will it grace us, how long will it last?
From a tiny seed to a giant on the hill
Even now you have gone I remember you still.

Pam R



They arrived in a steady stream
Our sense of security now a dream
One or two at first
Then a steady convoy at its worst.

Fear and anxiety come with them
Spread of the virus we wish to stem.
And yet for some this is their second home
Weeks cooped up - why shouldn't they now roam?

Our businesses need the income
Boris says it's ok, so why should we stop them?
Whilst our safety and security we wish to maintain
Things really cannot stay the same.

Life goes on in a new kind of normal
But there are rules to uphold; keep things formal.
However we feel about the grockles' arrival
Let's respect each other and support our survival.

Whilst there are many more people in the village and around
Remember the rules, stay safe and sound.
We all have our different points of view
But let's be tolerant, and continue to support each other too.




The last few weeks have challenged, communities far and wide
Causing folk to come together, put differences aside.
Our own community has been no different from all of the rest.
This COVID 19 pandemic has put us to the test.
How has Berrynarbor managed throughout these troubled times?
Let me try and sum it up by reporting it in rhyme.

Once we'd overcome the need to query who was staying where?
Concentrated on love and kindness; showing that we care.
Neighbours helping neighbours; collecting prescriptions too.
Baking cakes, showing kindness, doing whatever we needed to do.
Our pub jumped into action, providing a new service straight away.
Meals on wheels delivered to our door; roasts on each Sunday.

Our local shop has been amazing, delivering groceries to our door.
A beacon in the community, standing at the core.
A team of special people have kept things going throughout.
Their hard work and resilience was never in any doubt.
Whilst Tesco's shelves were empty, our shop had all we need.
From loo paper and flour, to fresh veg and meat to feed.

On Thursday nights we'd come together, cheering, banging pans.
Celebrating front line workers; the NHS's biggest fans.
All across the village we'd stand and make a noise.
Families on the door step; husbands and wives, girls and boys.
People standing together shouting really loud.
Showing our appreciation and making the workers feel quite proud.

Our little village has certainly shown it has a great big heart.
A community coming together, with residents playing their part.
Hopefully we will come through this: our efforts not in vain.
Survivors moving forward, but will life ever be quite the same?
When this is all over let's not forget the joy of walking the extra mile
Or the friendly greetings we offer with each and every smile.

Let's continue to buy local; appreciate our shop and pub
Visit the church and community hall; enjoy the village hub.
Try not to become too busy, rushing about in labour.
Enjoy time together. Continue to love your neighbour.
Let's have fun together again, meeting face to face
and realise, Berrynarbor, our village, is a truly special place.

Pam R



Every name is called a NOUN
As field and fountain, street and town.
In place of noun the PRONOUN stands,
As he and she can clap their hands.
The ADJECTIVE describes a thing,
As magic wand or bridal ring.
The VERB means action, something done,
As read and write and jump and run.
How things are done the ADVERBS tell,
As quickly, slowly, badly, well.
The PREPOSITION shows relation,
As in the street or at the station.
CONJUNCTIONS join, in many ways,
Sentences, words, or phrase and phrase.
The INTERJECTION cries out, "HARK!
I need an exclamation mark!"


Illustated by: Nigel Mason



Post-Christmas Positivity

When Christmas is over and the decorations cast aside
Hold onto the memories; the joy that cannot be denied.
The time spent with family sitting altogether
Partying with friends certainly brought much pleasure.
Wreath-making, the Sterridge lights, carol singing too,
Our first Christmas in Berrynarbor, a happy time with you.

There's lots to be thankful for as the festive season reaches its end.
For health and happiness and each and every friend.
Goodbye Christmas with chocolate gifts and flowers
I'm ready to welcome spring with more Devonshire showers.
Living here, in Berrynarbor, a truly wonderful place
Has certainly brought an enormous smile to my face.

I'm told that very soon, snowdrops and daffodils will appear.
Reminding us that winter will finish and spring will soon be here.
I am sure the next season, in our village, will be a very special one
A wonderful setting to continue having fun.
Our happy memories will never change or Disappear
We can just add to them from year to year.




Our landscape
Wrought here in North Devon
Hallowed be thy Ilfracombe
Thy King's Nympton come
Thy Lee and Woolacombe
This earth be it Instow, Stoke or Meddon
Give us Croyde Bay and Muddiford
And forgive us our Barnstaple
As we honour Brayford, Sheepwash and Great Torrington
Lead us through all Tarka request stations
But deliver us from Yeo Mill
for North Devon is High Bickington
The Parracombe, Week and Warleigh
for ever and ever Barum
image029 Great Torrington image030 Instow
image031 Brayford image032 Kings Nympton
image033 Ilfracombe image034 Parracombe
image035 High Bickington
Beaford Arts

contributed by Nora and Alan

Illustrations Paul Swailes



So we have really done it, we have started our new adventure in North Devon.
The boxes are unpacked, the dream cottage is ours, we feel we own a little bit of heaven.
Berrynarbor is our new home.
A village so warm and welcoming, you need never feel alone.
Everybody has been so friendly, greeting us with great support
It's a kind and caring community, as we had initially thought.
From our very first visit, admiring the flowers in the tub
Meeting friendly locals, drinking in the pub.
We knew this was a special place, a village we'd like to be
Now we are living the dream, we have our very own key!
We feel quite at home only a few weeks in.
Indeed, it seems like a wonderful lottery win.
our cottage is a white one, along Sterridge Valley.
By the little bridge where walkers stop and dally.
It's quiet and calm with a stream outside our door.
I really don't think we could want for anything more.
I have realised happiness isn't just something that we feel.
I can see it, I can touch it: it's totally real.
I confess to feeling a little nervous starting life anew
I need not have worried, if I only knew
people would welcome us right from the start
Would help us feel so comfortable, would warm my heart.
What a wonderful impression you villagers have created.
Simple smiles and 'hellos' can never be overrated.
A community so friendly, honest and true
Special for all the little things you say and do.
So this poem is my way of saying thank you to each and every one
I am looking forward to getting to know your more, in the weeks and months to come.

Pam [and Nigel] Robinson


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


The Fly

Little Fly
Thy summer's play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away.
Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?
For I dance
And drink and sing;
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.
If thought is life
And strength and breath;
And the want
Of thought is death;
Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.


William Blake 1757 - 1827

Receipt of Mike's piece about his reluctant fly and the William Blake poem coincided with the unveiling of the stone marking William Blake's grave on the 191st anniversary of the poet and painter's death in 1827. It also marked the conclusion of 14 years of detective work and campaigning for Carol and Louis Garrido, two of his admirers. Their fascination for the man who wrote The Tyger and Jerusalem, England's unofficial national anthem. as well as his art and engravings, led them to visit Bunhill Fields in London to find his grave. They discovered only a stone saying that the remains of Blake and his wife Catherine, lay nearby.

After two years of research, they pin-pointed the exact spot and after years of fundraising, the Blake Society has now been able to mark the spot with an official memorial.

Blake trained as an engraver, illustrating books and reproductions of art in churches around London, but went on to produce his own illuminated books and his prophetic works based on his own invented mythology. He was interested in the past, present and future, in ancient, pre-Christian culture and ancient history, as well as the working conditions of children and the state of Britain at that moment. He looked forward to the future and what it might look like.



This poem [or is it a lament?] was sent in by Maureen [Scott-Nash]. By John Gordon, it was first published in the Daily Telegraph in February and is reproduced with John's kind permission.

They showed me two sealed boxes and invited me to choose,
It really was so simple, how could anyone refuse?
The one was labelled Brexit, the other one Remain,
Pick one I was told, your chance may never come again.
I understand the labels, but they don't help me decide.
Before I choose I'd like some clues - what is it that's inside?
It's clear as day said Mrs. May, an idiot could figure,
Labels are too small for you? Perhaps you'd like them bigger?
Oh I can read the labels I hurry to explain,
I need to know the contents or I'm tempted to abstain.
Take Brexit for example, what does that indicate?
Oh Brexit - that mean Brexit - please try to concentrate!
OK then I try again, Remain - what's that about?
She says it's obvious to me, can there be any doubt?
Well yes there can, and rather than give meaningless replies
Give us the facts, we'd like brass tacks - evasion sounds like lies.
So in the end I gave my vote, a little box I ticked,
But as events unfolded, I wondered what I'd picked.
While politicians argue, and as confusion grows
We might begin to wonder if anybody knows.

John Gordon



Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Robert Lee Frost was an American poet.His work was initially published in england before it was published in America.He was born on the 26th March 1874 in San Francisco and died in Boston on the 29th January 1963. He was at one time the United States Poet Laureate and was a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



I halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marcs four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say,
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long,
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased to no,
Its letter perfect awl the weigh

My checker tolled me sew.


Handprints on the cupboard
and shoes in the hall.
Toilet seat's up and there's
mud on the wall.
The shelves in the kitchen
are continually bare,
There's toys on the couch
and jeans on the chair.
Wrestling and mud
and cars and noise,
I'm sure you guessed . . .
I'm the mother of boys!



Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook



Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You'd better slow down. Don't dance so fast.
Time is short. The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask, "How are you?" Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,

With the next hundred chores running through your head?
You'd better slow down Don't dance so fast.
Time is short The music won't last.

Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, not seen his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die 
Cause you never had time to call and say 'Hi'.
You'd better slow down. Don't dance so fast.
Time is short. The music won't last..

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift . . . thrown away.
Life is not a race. Do take it slower
Hear the music before the song is over.


This poem was written by a terminally ill young girl whose only wish was to tell everyone to live their life to the fullest, since she never will.



Harry W - Aged 9



Robert Browning

Oh, to be in England
Now that April 's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops - at the bent spray's edge -
That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!




Friday night and naught to do,
We'd hoped for a sell-out, but were only a few.
Beaford you say! Must be 'culture today',
With its' Poet and his Poems, old and new.
He read us some rhymes which covered the times
Of men's beards - old, middle and new,
Beat drums of all sorts, with Samurai swords
And first read his Cliff Richard too.
He sang us some songs of Cornish men's wrongs,
First heard on the real BBC; On Saturday morn
You'll hear more of his corn,
But in Berry we really did see
The lights in his face and a lap top in place,
For his failings of memory - dear me!
'T'was a terrific good night,
And we'll remember the sight
Of the food as provided for free:-
Quiches and chocks,
Some just out of a box, all
For only £8 at the Hall.


Watch out in your Newsletter and posters for the 2013 Season of Beaford Culture coming to you here in Berrynarbor. If you don't come along, you'll never catch up on what you've missed.




Trev's Twitters in the December issue reminded me that Drake's Drum was the most famous of Sir Henry Newbolt's works but a lesser known poem was a song of Exmoor which was set to music and adopted by the Devon and Somerset Staghounds who renamed it From Bratton to Porlock Bay.

I know that hunting is not PC in some people's books but it is never-the-less a large part of rural North Devon's past.

The lyrics below tell a story of a long point [distance] from Bratton to Porlock Bay and there are some words, like tufters, that are lost on most folk now. Whether for or against hunting, the terms still exist and I think should be remembered.


The Forest above and the Combe below,
On a bright September morn!
He's the soul of a clod who thanks not God
That ever his body was born!
So hurry along, the stag's afoot,
The Master's up and away!
Halloo! Halloo! we'll follow it through
From Bratton to Porlock Bay!

So hurry along, the stag's afoot,
The Master's up and away!
Halloo! Halloo! we'll follow it through
From Bratton to Porlock Bay!

Hark to the tufters' challenge true,
'Tis a note that the red-deer knows!
His courage awakes, his covert he breaks,
And up for the moor he goes!
He's all his rights and seven on top,
His eye's the eye of a king,
And he'll beggar the pride of some that ride
Before he leaves the ling!

Here comes Antony bringing the pack,
Steady! he's laying them on!
By the sound of their chime you may tell that it's time
To harden your heart and be gone.
Nightacott, Narracott, Hunnacott's passed,
Right for the North they race:
He's leading them straight for Blackmoor Gate,
And he's setting a pounding pace!

We're running him now on a breast-high scent,
But he leaves us standing still;
When we swing round by Westland Pound
He's far up Challacombe Hill.
The pack are a string of struggling ants,
The quarry's a dancing midge,
They're trying their reins on the edge of the Chains
While he's on Cheriton Ridge.

He's gone by Kittuck and Lucott Moor,
He's gone by Woodcock's Ley;
By the little white town he's turned him down,
And he's soiling in open sea.
So hurry along, we'll both be in,
The crowd are a parish away!
We're a field of two, and we've followed it through
From Bratton to Porlock Bay!

So hurry along, we'll both be in,
The crowd are a parish away!
We're a field of two, and we've followed it through
From Bratton to Porlock Bay!

Illustrated by: Nigel Mason


A Trip to North Devon

Mike Hancock - August 2012

We just bin down to Devon with some very good friends of ours;
We came from south and west and so we came in different cars.
We stayed with Mike and Wendy, the Amos-Yeo two,
In Berrynarbor Devonshire, paradise to me and you.
Now some of us done swimming, and some of us done chat,
And others simply hung about and talked of this and that.
And sometimes we played snooker, and sometimes we played pool
But all the time the most of us had drink and played the fool!
We visited the village, took snaps and walked about,
And ate our lunch in an empty pub - now what's that all about?
We saw the village shop you know - such an enterprising thing,
For when the owners shut it down, the village opened it again.
So now when I think of Devon as somewhere nice to go,
I think of Mike and Wendy's place and then I really know -
The welcome there is legend, full of heart and love and soul -
That's not just Mike and Wendy's place - but Berrynarbor as a whole!



C. Fox Smith

On a recent visit to Rosemoor, this poem by Cicely Fox Smith and illustrated for us by Debbie, hanging on the wall of the summerhouse made me smile - I hope it makes you too!

Cicely Fox Smith, an English poet and writer with over 600 poems to her name, was born in Lymm, Cheshire in 1882. The daughter of a barrister and granddaughter of a clergyman she was educated at Manchester Grammar School for Girls. For a short while she lived in Canada before returning to the UK shortly before the advent of World War I, settling in Hampshire where she lived until she died in the spring of 1954.

Old cob wall have fell at last;
Us knowed he might a good while past.
Great-grandad he built thicky wall
With maiden earth and oaten straw.
He built en in the good old way,
And there he've stood until to-day.
But wind and rain and frost and snow
Have all combined to lay en low.
Us propped en up with stones and 'ood,
Us done our best but t'weren't no good.
He give a bit and then a lot,
And at the finish down he squat.
And now, since barns has got to be,
Us'll build another 'stead of he.
But not the same he was afore,
'Cos no one builds cob walls no more.


Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook


Wherever you are my love will keep you safe,
My heart will build a bridge of light across both time and space.
Wherever you are, our hearts still beat as one
I hold you in my dreams each night until your task is done
Light up the darkness, my wondrous star
Our hopes and dreams, my heart and yours, forever shining far
Light up the darkness, my prince of peace.
May the stars shine all around you may your courage never cease

The Chivenor Military Wives' Choir



The shortest day is over
But bad weather yet to come.
Wrap up warm, have hot drinks
And huddle in your home.
Soon the snow will paint things white,
The children all enjoy;
Igloos, snowmen, sleigh, that's right,
Joy for girl and boy!
When that's over, the wind will blow,
The gales strong and cold!
You may not feel it now,
But wait until you're old!
Then the spring will come along;
It's what we've waited for.
The buds will show, bye, bye to snow,
It's simple, jut God's law.
Now summer's here, we love this time -
Long days, with lots of fun.
Holidays spent by the sea
Enjoying the lovely sun!
With autumn here, trees start to change
To colours, with their glory.
Four seasons gone, and I'm off home,
That finishes my story.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket



Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook

When your dog does its 'business' out walking
And you don't want the neighbourhood talking
Just pick up a stick
And with one little flick
It's away from the footpath - how corking!
When in the hedge bottom they're laid
They soon start to biodegrade
But it seems a bit drastic
To wrap them in plastic
And put them on poo-bag parade!
People fling them in hedges and trees
Where they flutter about in the breeze
They just hang where you toss 'em
Among the spring blossom
Shrink-wrapped, and a cause of unease!
So please, simply flick poos aside
Or bag them and BIN them with pride
For we doggies feel harassed
Ashamed and embarrassed
With our 'doings' displayed far and wide!

DC of C Cottage



I have to get rid of this weight!
But I do like lots on my plate!
I'm sure that its all the fattening things
That round my middle a tyre brings!
What shall I do to drop it?
I love sweet things, I can't stop it!
I've seen the stars try to get thin
And get fat again - oh, what a sin.
Lots of people have good advice
They think they are being nice. [Huh!]
I'll think while I gobble this bun
Just how to tackle the problem, head on.
But eating gives so much pleasure,
The more, the better the measure.
I really must give this some thought
Yes, I must, I really ought!
Some say, 'T'is will power, you know.'
So, I think I had better give it a go.
For breakfast it's down to one slice,
And eat it real slow.
For dinner, don't eat like a horse,
Try having just one course.
For tea, a sandwich lace thin,
Will begin to help me win.
Now the fat's dropping off,
And I am losing that nasty cough,
And no more a great double chin.
Now the weight's off I feel so good,
I'm even resisting that very last pud!
For a shadow I stand in the same place twice,
And quite enjoy that small bowl of rice! [I wish!]


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowupland



[We've got 'em, have you?]

Once in my garden I dug a deep hole
And what did I find but a dear little mole.
It was ever so sweet, rather like a fat mouse
But nurse wouldn't let it come into the house.
I hunted and called for it all the next day,
But it must have decided to go far away.
Phyl W. - Cherry Tree



Edward Lear

Choice of Trev

The owl and the pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat.
They took some honey
And plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The owl looked up to the stars above
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh let us be married;
Too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?"

They sailed away, for a year and a day
To the land where the bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood, a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing, to sell for one shilling,
Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The 20th child of Jeremiah Lear, a London Stockbroker, and his wife Ann, Lear grew up to be a prolific writer as well as a talented artist of landscapes and birds and gave drawing lessons to Queen Victoria. He was particularly enchanted with nonsense rhymes and devoted a number of his books to collections of these poems.

Just prior to his death and left incomplete, he began to pen the sequel to The Owl and the Pussy Cat - The Children of the Owl and the Pussycat:

Our mother was the pussycat,
Our father was the owl,
And so we're partly little beastsAnd partly little fowl.
The brothers of our family, have
Feathers and they hoot,
While all the sisters dress in fur
And have long tails to boot.

Illustrated by Debbie Cook



from a Child's Garden of Verses

Robert Louis Stevenson [1850-1894]

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Illustrated by: Debbie Cook



The Blackbird sings enviously
As you hang
Oh, so casually
From the little basket
Of green plastic
That holds
A few delectable kernels.

This upside-down
Tit-like agility is,
Beyond the wit
Or skill
Of a mere Blackbird
All it can do
Is whistle in admiration.

Peter Rothwell - Treetops

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



[A guide to festive drinking]

Here's to good old ale,
Drink it down, drink it down.
Here's to good old ale,
Drink it down.
Here's to good old ale,
It will never fail,
Drink it down, drink it down,
Drink it down.

Here's to good old beer,
It fills you with good cheer.

Here's to good old brandy,
It keeps you fine and dandy.

Here's to good old cider,
It warms you up inside yer.

Here's to good old gin,
Not to drink it is a sin.

Here's to good old mead,
It's very good indeed.

Here's to good old perry
It keeps you feeling merry.

Here's to good old rum,
It stops you feeling glum.

Here to good old sherry
[see perry] It keeps you feeling merry.

Here's to good old whiskey,
It makes you feel quite frisky.

Here's to good old wine,
It makes you feel just fine.

[With acknowledgements to the original]

Anyone brave a good rhyme for vodka? Trev



Tick tock goes the Clock

Tick tock goes the clock that sits beside my bed.
Tick tock goes the clock that echoes in my head.
Tick tock goes the clock which puts my head in a lock.
Tick tock goes the clock which makes my body want to rock.

On and on goes the clock 'til I give it a knock with my sock!

"zzz" snore "zzz"
Now it starts to chime and it's nearly half past nine!

Tick tock goes the clock ... .

Thank-you Sun

Dear Sun,

Just a line to say 'thanks' for this and every day.
Your dawns and sunsets are just great,
bang on time,
never late!

Thank you Sun.

Sarah Prentice [9]

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



Don't like shopping - it's a bore
Rushed to my car to open the door
Now what's happened, the key is stuck
Today I'm really out of luck

Turn it, twist it - all but kick it
My temper's rising by the minute
Through the window what do I see
Things inside don't belong to me

And now I do begin to whine
Because of course this car's not mine
Humble, furtive, I retreat
My own red I must seek,
Suspicious looks do come my way
Oh what a truly awful day.


Parked in Lane C by trolley shed
L registration, colour red
So out I trot with smile so smug
To enter car with elegant shrug

I don't believe it - what's with my head
A reg L Micra and its red!
It should be mine - it's by the shed
It's where I put it - like I said

Now what I see makes my face red
Lane D has a MicraL, and red
It's mine - it's been there all along
The one I'm breaking up is wrong

One senior moment is enough
But two of them is rather tough
Suspicion spreads and people speak
My case, I think, comes up next week!

Lisa Shelley



It wasn't hard to find, amongst Peter Rothwell's work, an aptly suitable illustration for the evocative words of the quotation given for the Local Walk in the last issue. The quotation came from a poem by the Rev. R.S. Thomas entitled

The Other

There are nights that are so still
That I can hear the small owl calling
far off and the fox barking
miles away. It is then that I lie
in the lean hours awake and listening
to the swell born somewhere in the Atlantic
rising and falling, rising and falling
wave on wave on the long shore
by the village, that is without light
and companionless. And the thought comes
of that other being who is awake, too,
letting our prayers break on him,
not like this for a few hours,
but for days, years, for eternity.


A staunch Welshman and advocator of the Welsh language - although he wrote his poems in English - Ronald Stuart Thomas was born in 1913. He was ordained as a clergyman in the Church of Wales in 1936, a position he held until his retirement in 1978.

Writing some of the finest religious poetry of his generation and writing over 1500 poems, Thomas was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1964 and in 1996 nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 2000 at the age of 87 and is buried close to the door of St. John's Church, Porthmadog, North Wales.

In the year Thomas died, this prayer was written by 13 year old Anna Crompton and selected as The Celebration 2000 Millennium Prayer

Prayer for the Third Millennium

Dear Lord, our heavenly Father,
At the dawn of a new millennium,
in a world of darkness, give us your light;
in lands of war and prejudice, grant us peace;
in a world of despair, give us hope;
in a world of sadness and tears, show us your joy;
in a world of hatred, show us your love;
in a world of arrogance, give us humanity;
in a world of disbelief, give us faith.
Give us courage to face challenges of feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked,
housing the homeless and healing the sick.
Give us the power to make a difference in your world, and to protect your creation.
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen



Hartley Coleridge [1796-1849]

Yes, punctual to the time, thou'rt here again,
As still thou art: though frost or rain may vary
And icicles blockade the rockbirds' aery,
Or sluggish snow lie heavy on the plain,
Yet thou, sweet child of hoary January,
Art here to harbinger the laggard train
Of vernal flowers, a duteous missionary,
Nor cold can blight, nor fog thy pureness stain.
Beneath the dripping eaves, or on the slope
Of cottage garden, whether mark'd or no,
Thy meek head bends in undistinguishe'd row.
Blessings upon thee, gentle bud of hope!
And Nature bless the spot where thou dost grow -
Young life emerging from thy kindred snow!

Paul Swailes



[A Campfire Song]

In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-one
The American Railway was begun.
The American Railway was begun.
The great American Railway.
Patsy ooh-reeah-reeay
Patsy ooh-reeah-reeay
Patsy ooh-reeah-reeay
The great American Railway.
In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-two
I found myself with nowt to do.
I found myself with nowt to do.
Beside the American Railway.
Patsy, etc.
In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-three
The overseer accepted me.
The overseer accepted me.
To work upon the Railway.
Patsy, etc.
In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-four
My hands were tired and my feet were sore.
My hands were tired and my feet were sore.
Through working on the railway.
Patsy, etc.
In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-five
I found myself more dead than alive.
I found myself more dead than alive.
Through working on the railway.
Patsy, etc.
In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-six
I went and trod on some dynamite sticks.
I went and trod on some dynamite sticks.
While working on the railway.
Patsy, etc.
In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-seven
I found myself on t'way to Heaven.
I found myself on t'way to Heaven.
Through working on the railway.
Patsy, etc
In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-eight
I found myself at the Golden Gate.
I found myself at the Golden Gate.
Through working on the railway.
Patsy, etc.
In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-nine
An angel's harp and wings were mine.
An angel's harp and wings were mine.
Through working on the railway.
Patsy, etc.
In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-ten
If you want any more you can sing it yoursen.
If you want any more you can sing it yoursen.
About the American Railway.
Patsy ooh-reeah-reeay
Patsy ooh-reeah-reeay
Patsy ooh-reeah-reeay
The great American Railway.

The last chorus should be sung with increasing tempo and volume to give a rousing finale.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song;
And if you find it wondrous short,
It cannot hold you long.

In Islington there lived a man,
Of whom the world might say,
That still a godly race he ran,
he went to pray.

A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad,
When he put on his clothes.

And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel
, puppy, whelp and hound
And curs of low degree.

This dog and man at first were friends;
But when a pique began,
dog, to gain some private ends,
Went mad and bit the man.

Around from all the neighbouring streets
The wondering neighbours ran,
And swore the dog had lost his wits
To bite so good a man.

The wound it seemed both sore and sad
To every Christian eye;
And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.

But soon a wonder came to light,
That showed the rogues they
The man recovered of the bite,
The dog it was that died.

Oliver Goldsmith

A favourite Poem - Trev



I'm giving up smoking, again!
And I'm sure I'll suffer the pain.
You can't smoke inside,
So outside you hide,
Though it may be pouring with rain.

I'm giving up smoking, again!
But I'm sure it won't be a joke.
This craving is bad,
For I've smoked since a lad
I'll go mad if I can't have a smoke.

This time I'll do it, I've said this before,
And I'll say it again and again.
When others have tried,
I'd just deride
And then I would laugh like a drain!

Six months later - I've succeeded at last!
The habit is done now, I know.
When I go for beer,
The air is so clear
And my pocket is more full of dough.

So come on you people, try to give up!
Give it, please give it a chance.
They say it is dangerous, dirty and death.
I've run out of rhyme, so I'll finish this time
With good health, wealth and good breath!

NB Our way, which was over forty years ago, was only to light up after the time of the previous day. For example, Monday: first one 9.00 a.m. Tuesday: first one after 9.00 a.m. - it might be 9.30 a.m., but it could be 10.00 a.m. Thursday: don't light up until after 10.00 a.m. and so on.

Eventually, we 'forgot' to smoke. Once you give up, don't be tempted again for if you have just one or two, you will all the old difficulties to overcome again.

Tony Beauclerk



Heard on the radio many years ago, this poignantly beautiful tribute lay buried in some deep recess of memory to surface recently, without prompting, complete with its simple, plaintive melody. I can't reproduce the latter but here the words, attributed to that great poet Anon and translated by another of the same name [not myself].

How can I leave thee?
How can I bear to part?
That thou hast all my heart,
Dearest believe.

Thou hast this soul of mine,
So wholly is it
That I can love no-one
But thee alone.

Were I a bird love,
Soon would I fly to thee.
Falcon nor
hawk tone
Would terror bring.

If slain by huntsman's hand
I at thy feet lay dead,
If thou one tear didst shed
Gladly I'd die.

Blue is the flow'ret
Called the forget-me-not.
Oh lay it on the heart
And think of me.

Should fate be too unkind,
Hope gone faith out of mind,
Love shall remain with us,
Dearest, believe.




Author Anon - Submitted by Laurie Harvey

When I say . . . "I'm a Christian", I'm not shouting 'I'm clean-livin''.
I'm whisp'ring "I was lost, now I'm found and forgiven."
When I say . . . "I'm a Christian", I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.
When I say . . . "I'm a Christian", I'm not trying to be strong,
I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.
When I say . . . "I'm a Christian", I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting that I've failed and need God to clean my mess.
When I say . . . "I'm a Christian", I'm not claiming to be perfect.
My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I'm worth it.
When I say . . . "I'm a Christian", I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.
When I say . . . "I'm a Christian", I'm not holier than thou.
I'm just a simple sinner who received God's grace somehow.



R.S. Thomas

Leaves adding their decoration
To the trees' shoulders, braiding the cuffs
Of the boughs with gold; a bird preening
In the lawn's mirror, Having looked up
From the day's chores, pause a minute.
Let the mind take its photograph
Of the bright scene, something to wear
Against the heart in the long cold.

Illustrated by : Paul Swailes



Ronald Stuart Thomas was born in Cardiff in 1913 and educated at St. Michael's College, Llandaff and University College Bangor.

Ordained in 1936, he was a Vicar in the Church of Wales until his retirement in 1978.

Born to non-Welsh speaking parents, his passion was the Welsh language. He did not, however, learn to speak it himself until he was 30, although his poetry - more than 1500 poems - were written in English.

In 1964 he was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry and in 1996 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Admired by fellow poet Ted Hughes and widely regarded as the best religious poet of his time - although his work covered a wide range of themes - Thomas died in 2000 at the age of 87.



Across the fields beneath the trees
I saw something which made me freeze
There stood a figure all in black
I stared at him and he stared back!

Oh dear, oh dear, now what to do
Put glasses on for better view
If I could only see his face
But that did nothing for my case

He was in shadow and obscure
Perhaps a Hoody - I wasn't sure
I rang my neighbour - he must see
This phantom who was watching me
With back-up one feels not alone
The truth would surely soon be known

My neighbour snorted "What a farce
You're looking at a black cow's arse!
And as my face was glowing red
The cow she chose to turn her head!

Lisa Shelley and illustrated by her

Yes, to my shame it really happened!




Old memories, on demand, are painted fables,
Not history at all, but pictures in the mind
Of happenings not weeks but years apart.
For then is never now and time disables sequence.

Days silted over by long sleepless
Fearful nights are colourless as dull defiant winter
And as by winter streams are washed away
To merge with watchful endless summer.

In memory it seemed that London's villages
Had always sheltered in a fortress walled
By wire cats cradles hanging from a studded
and this must be, like other sieges, overcome.

A vision too of nights when swords of light
Swaying, swinging, dancing, flooding the low
Fat clouds with lakes of swirling pearly
Beauty trapped high sparkling gnats in bright display.

Caught, and passed on for mile on thundering flaring
Mile while distant bombs cried long in their descent
Cascading screams each shorter than the one before
Until, at last, unwarned the old familiar walls reduced to quaking silhouette.

But catch a breath of unlit gas or hear the frantic clink
Of bricks and now becomes as then and, with
Eyes closed and watering we hear the hymn our dying neighbour
Sang beneath the rubble of her home and smell the burning city.

Peter Hinchliffe

At the age of 12, I was sent to stay in London's East end with relatives because my mother was ill. We live in the country and it was the height of the blitz. I thought I had forgotten it until a realistic setting at Flambards brought it all back and I found myself shaking. The poem is the result.


Peter's poem won a First Prize in an International Poetry Competition at The Plough in Torrington. Our warmest congratulations, Peter, and thank you for sharing with us your poem and memories of wartime London.



All night time as I lie in bed the worries swirl around my head

What if I melted in my bed
What if a giant roasts me dead

What if the monster bit my head
What if a building fell on my shed

What if the sky rained pencils and pens
What if the school overflows with hens

What if people watch me drool
What if I drown in the pool

What if I'm in the house when the door locks
What if my dad wears forty pairs of socks

What if my Mum loses her tickets
What if my fish gets attacked by crickets

What if people use rules as rakes
What if my fingers turn into snakes

All night long as I lie in bed the worries swirl around my head

David Jones

[David, who is 7, is a pupil at Combe Martin Primary School and the grandson of David and Janet Steed]



Ethel Tidbury

Life is a book, of volume three,
The past, the present and the is to be.
The first is done with, and laid away.
The second we are reading, day by day.
The third and last of volume three,
Is kept from sight,
God keeps the key.



[Ode to the Channel Tunnel]

For a million years I've rested, long since past my best
By a thousand pounds of pressure, naturally compressed.
Biding my time while turning to lime I've not had much thinking to do,
Now all this is changing - through man's rearranging, upon me is something new.

It started with a quiver or two, a rattle then a constant shake,
Out to the west a monster approached with progress in its wake.
Chewing and spewing it dug close below me, my ancestors digested away,
Then it was past and going quite fast, headed for the Pas de Calais.

I thought that was the end of it, a transient - nothing more,
How wrong I was for in its tracks came humans by the score.
Through collection and seizure of the monster's excreta they emptied the dank vacant space,
Into this wound came concrete cocoons, holding the vastness in place.

Now their labours are over and I dread each troubled hour,
Four times they come with rumble and roar, each a terrible power.
I am only a shellfish but I don't think I'm selfish for the yearning my mind has in store,
For fifty years hence, when erosive events, let me rest in peace once more.

Nigel Waters, Ragstone Cottage

Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook



Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook

Our story begins, as we have been told
By Mrs. Price, a hundred and one years old,
That one hundred years before us now,
Berrynarbor, a farming village, and how
The children would walk to school, forth and back
All their belongings brought home in a sack.
The Headmaster, of course, was Mister Toms,
Who'd cross the slipper across their bums!
Unless they were good, respectful, polite
Just like these lovelies before you tonight!
To teach, back then, there were sixty to seventy.
Huxtables, Bowdens and Richards were three
Of the names that are still in our pretty place
Representing the village and its present face.
No cars back then, a charabanc would be
The only way of visiting to see
Barnstaple market, especially at Christmas
The annual highlight for a local lass.
Upon the hill in the castle beyond
Were the family of Bassetts, who were very fond
Of the locals and villagers and Rector Churchill,
Whose job, of course, was this church to fill.
The family would enter and he would meet,
Walk with them and guide them to their seat.
For the Christmas Service, always important
To celebrate the birth of Jesus, the infant
See Mary and Joseph here now alive
Just as the Nativity in nineteen o five.


I was rather sad not to get up to our church to hear this magnificent poem read and see the children, but I am still involved and Val keeps me in touch. Over Christmas I either saw or heard from many Sunday School children, past and present, which was lovely.

Love and best wishes to you all for 2006.




W.H. Davies

Come, lovely Morning, rich in frost
On iron, wood and glass;
Show all your pains to silver-gild
Each little blade of grass.

Come, rich and lovely Winter's Eve,
That seldom handles gold;
And spread your silver sunsets out,
In glittering fold on fold.

Illustrated by: Nigel Mason
Come, after sunset; come, oh come -
You clear and frosty Night:
Dig up your fields of diamonds, till
The heavens all dance in light!


The Star

The second poem, particularly for the young and young-at-heart, is attributed to both Ann Taylor [1782-1866] and her sister Jane [1783-1824]. While most of us are familiar with the first verse from the poem as a nursery rhyme, it was in fact written as a poem by the two sisters and published in 1806. Ann and Jane, who lived in Stockwell Street, Colchester towards the end of the 18th Century, were well known poem and hymn writers.

There is some debate about which sister actually wrote the poem, and therefore it is generally listed as both of them. However, a one line dedication in the original book does indicate that it was Jane who had the original idea.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.



(Illustrated by Paul Swailes)

There's a merry brown thrush sitting up in the tree,
'He's singing to me! he's singing to me!'
And what does he say, little girl, little boy?
'Oh, the world's running over with joy!
Don't you hear? Don't you see?
Hush! Look! in my tree!
I'm as happy as happy can be!'
And the brown thrush keeps singing, 'A nest do you see,
And five eggs hid by me in the juniper-tree?
Don't meddle! don't touch! little girl, little boy,
Or the world will lose some of its joy!

Now I'm glad! now I'm free!
And I always shall be,
If you never bring sorrow to me.'
So the merry brown thrush sings away in the tree,
To you and to me, to you and to me;
And he sings all the day, little girl, little boy,
'Oh, the world's running over with joy!
But long it won't be,
Don't you know? don't you see?
Unless we are as good as can be!'

Lucy Larcom 1824-1893

Lucy Larcom was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, in 1824, the ninth of ten children. Her father, a sea captain, died when he was very young and her mother supported her large family by working as superintendent of a female dormitory in the local textile mill. Lucy herself worked at the mill for ten years and her friendship with Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, began her lifelong association with the world of poetry and writing.

Lucy, who never married, devoted her life to writing and editing but also spent time teaching. She attained moderate success with her poems, declaring at one time that she would only write hymns. She died, at the age of 69, in Boston in 1893.



William Wordsworth 1770-1850

-A simple child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
-Her beauty made me glad.

"Sisters and brothers, little maid,
How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said,
And wondering looked at me.

"And where are they? I pray you tell."
She answered, "Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.

"Two of us in the churchyard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the churchyard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother."

"You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven! I pray you tell,
Sweet maid, how this may be."

Then did the little maid reply,
"Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the churchyard lie,
Beneath the churchyard tree."

"You run about, my little maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the churchyard laid,
Then ye are only five."

"Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
The little maid replied,
"Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side.

"My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

"And often after sunset, sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

"The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

"So in the churchyard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

"And when the ground was white with snow
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side."

"How many are you, then," said I,
"If they two are in heaven?"
Quick was the little maid's reply,
"O master! we are seven."

"But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little maid would have her will,
"Nay, Master, we are seven!"

The Grave, immortalised by Wordsworth's Poem, and Old Sundial, Conway Churchyard
From the Tom Bartlett's Postcard Collection



I am planning for April,
Though red leaves are
I am storing for Springtime
My secrets in earth,
I am dreaming of Spring
Of its song and its story,
Though clouds hide the
And the wind's blowing cold.
For I know beyond doubting,
The glow and the glory
Will come back to cheer us,
With blue days and gold!



This is a quiet place. The people here
Would not be happy, living in a town.
Above the trees the sky shines, wide and clear,
Our boundary is that grassy sweep of down.
We know each other well, and folks are kind
When illness comes, or sorrow, or distress,
"How can I help?" comes first to every mind.
All do their best to bring back happiness.
We have our faults, but life is calm and sweet;
Small pleasures star our days, like hedgerow flowers.
Just humble homes, no busy town or street,
But peace dwells in this quiet place of ours.


Illustrated by: Nigel Mason



On the first day of Christmas, my true love said to me,
I've bought a big fresh turkey, and a proper Christmas tree.

On the second day of Christmas, much laughter could be heard,
As we tucked into our turkey, a most delicious bird.

On the third day of Christmas, came the people from next door,
The turkey tasted just as nice as it had the day before.

On the fourth day of Christmas, came relations, young and old,
We finished up the Christmas pud, and had the turkey - cold.

On the fifth day of Christmas, outside the snowflakes scurried.
But we were nice and warm inside, and had the turkey - curried.

On the sixth day of Christmas, our Christmas spirit died.
The kids all fought and bickered, and we had the turkey - fried.

On the seventh day of Christmas, the family they did wince,
As they sat down at the table, and were offered turkey - mince.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the dog had run for shelter,
He'd seen the turkey pancakes, and the glass of Alka Seltzer.

On the ninth day of Christmas, by lunchtime dad was blotto,
He knew that bird was back again, this time - as a risotto.

On the tenth day of Christmas, we were drinking home made brew,
As if that wasn't bad enough, we were eating turkey - stew.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, our tree was sadly moulting,
But, with chilli, soy and oyster sauce, the turkey was - revolting.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, we had smiles upon our lips,
The guests had gone, that turkey too, and we dined on -
Fish and Chips!


Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook



John Keats [1795-1821]

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cells.


Illustration by: Paul Swailes



All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
Al! things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them ALL.
But what we never mention,
Though gardeners know it's true
Is when He made the goodies
He made the baddies too.
Al things spray and swattable,
Disasters great and small,
All things paraquatable,
The Lord God made them all.
The greenfly on the roses,
The maggots in the peas,
Manure that fills our noses,
He also gave us these.
The drought that kills the fuchsias,
The frost that nips the buds,
The rain that drowns the seedlings,
The blight that hits the spuds.
The midges and mosquitoes,
The nettles and the weeds,
The pigeons in the green stuff,
The sparrows on the seeds.
The fly that gets the carrots,
The wasp that eats the plums,
How black the gardener's outlook,
Though green may be his thumbs.
But still we gardeners labour,
Midst vegetables and flowers,
And pray what hits our neighbours
Will somehow bypass ours.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Illustration by : Paul Swailes


There's a picture at the bottom of my garden
And it fills my heart with joy,
As the day break dawns and the sun awakes
And the sea-gulls soar above.
Yachts sail by without a sound
And fishing boats make their way,
On a sea of turquoise blue
Bejewelled by another glorious day!
There's a picture at the bottom of my garden
And it takes my breath away,
As the twilight fades with a sinking sun
At the end of a perfect day.
A sea of midnight blue
Reflects the orange sun so bright
As it slips through the lilac hue
And dips into the night.

Janet G


Illustration by: Peter Rothwell



Illustrated by: Paul Swailes
Winter is cold-hearted,
Spring is yea and nay,
Autumn is a weather-cock
Blown every way:
Summer days for me,
When every leaf is on its tree.
When Robin's not a beggar,
And Jenny Wren's a bride,
And larks hand singing, singing, singing,
Over the wheat fields wide.
And anchored lilies ride,
And the pendulum spider
Swings from side to side.
And blue-black beetles transact business,
And gnats fly in a host,
And furry caterpillars hasten
That no time be lost,
And moths grow fat and thrive,
And ladybirds arrive.
Before green apples blush,
Before green nuts embrown,
Why, one day in the country
Is worth a month in town:
Is worth a day and a year
Of the dusty, musty, lag-last fashion
That days drone elsewhere.

Christina Rossetti [1830-1894]



[Part 2 - again with apologies to Rudyard Kipling]

If you can keep your cool when anger flares up
And not apportion blame nor blow your top
If you can put your trust in those who're working
To motivate us all to keep our village shop
Who willingly give time to rattle cages
Check grants, make plans and survey sites to choose
Then instigate a meeting for us sages [dubious, but it rhymes!]
To bring us up to date - then air our views
If our postmaster's into golf and surfing
And tired of daily chores - no blame for that
Remember Nora's care for sick and aged
And Alan's help when we have lost the cat
They've passed on news, sold tickets, survived flooding
And opened shop next day we saw no tears
Can we not make allowance for their closing
Then wish them health and many happy years?
If you can help with time, or good ideas or cash
Or think up ways to make our own shop pay
 if you will shun the supermarket's trash
And wine shops where the booze is cheap, you may
Then buy your stamps, cooked meat and luscious veggies
And other needs, like pensions, cards and pop
Come have a chat, fund raise, provide the goodies
Then what is more - we'll keep our village shop!

Although the deadline has passed, IF you've not yet filled in the survey, please, please do so without delay. To parody the words of John Kennedy: "Ask not what your village shop can do for you, but what you can do for your village shop"!

PP of DC



A ship sails up to Bideford
Upon a western breeze,
Mast by mast, sail over sail,
She rises from the seas,
And sights the hills of Devon
And the misty English trees.
She comes from Easter islands;
The sun is in her hold;
She bears the fruit of Jaffa,
Dates, oranges, and gold;
She brings the silk of China,
And bales of Persian dyes,
And birds with sparkling feathers,
And snakes with diamond eyes.
She's gliding in the sunlight
As white as an gull;
The East is gliding with her
The shadow of her hull.
A ship sails up to Bideford
Upon a western breeze,
With fruits of eastern summers
She rises from the seas,
And sights the hills of Devon
And the miosty English trees.

Herbert Asquith

Illustrated by: Peter Rothwell


Doreen Damsell, who has nine grandchildren and has just welcomed her fifth great granddaughter, Lily, has sent in this poem, dedicated to all the new grandmothers - not forgetting the grandfathers!

To My Grandchildren

Find happiness in simple things,
The joy that every sunrise brings.
View the world through different eyes,
The starry studded winter skies.
No diamond ever could replace
The smile upon a baby's face.
Try to see that every tree Is fashioned for eternity.
The hum of bees,
The butterfly,
The blueness of a summer sky,
The rainbow after April rain,
The earth has been refreshed again.
The sweetest song you'll ever hear Is when a bird sings loud and clear.
If ever you have been denied,
Some peace of mind,
Then look outside,
And you will see,
That all these things are yours
For free

Doreen Damsell - Oaklands



Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my shape to keep.
Please no wrinkles, please no bags,
And lift my butt before it sags.
Please no age spots, please no grey,
And as for my belly, please take it away.
Please keep me healthy, please keep me young,
And thank you dear Lord, for all that you've done.



William Wordsworth

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth 1770-1850

William Wordsworth was one of the most accomplished and influential of the English Romantic poets.

He was born in Cockermouth, Cumbria, on 7th April 1770 and educated at St. John's College, Cambridge. As a youth he developed a strong love of nature and in his school holidays frequently visited places noted for their scenic beauty. After receiving his degree in 1791, he went to France and became a convert to the ideals of the French Revolution. His French lover bore him a daughter in 1792, but due to the outbreak of hostilities between England and France, he did not see her until she was nine years old.

None of Wordsworth's poems were published until 1793 and his income from them did not amount to much. A bequest of E900 from a friend in 1795 allowed him, and his sister Dorothy, to move to Racedown in Dorset. He and Dorothy had a warm relationship and he relied on her a great deal for encouragement and support. Later they moved to Alfoxden in Somerset, near to his close friend Samuel Taylor Coieridge. 'l Wandered Lonely As A Cloud' [Daffodils], was written in 1807.

In 1799, Wordsworth and Dorothy moved to Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Westmorland. Also living nearby were Coleridge and Robert Southey, and the three became known as the Lake Poets'.

In 1802, Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson, a childhood friend. Some years later, he and his family, including Dorothy, moved nearby to Rydal Mount, where, except for travels, he spent the rest of his life.

Wordsworth lived to see his work universally acclaimed and in 1843 he succeeded Southey as Poet Laureate. He died at Rydal Mount on the 23rd April 1850, and was buried in Grasmere churchyard.



Come, sweetheart, listen, for I have a thing
Most wonderful to tell you - news of Spring.
Albeit Winter still is in the air
And the Earth troubled, and the branches bare,
Yet down the fields today I saw her pass -
her feet went shining through the grass,
She touched the ragged hedgerows -
I have seen Her fingerprints, most delicately green;
And she has whispered to the crocus leaves,
And to the garrulous sparrows in the eaves.
Swiftly she passed and shyly, and her fair
Young face was hidden in her cloudy hair.
She would not stay, her season is not yet
But she has reawakened, and has set
The sap of all the world astir, and rent
Once more the shadows of our discontent.
Triumphant news - a miracle I sing -
The everlasting miracle of Spring.

John Drinkwater


Illustrations by: Paul Swailes



Harbingers of Spring

For Snowdrops are the harbingers of Spring,
A sort of link between dumb life and light,
Freshness preserved amid all withering,
Bloom in the midst of grey and frosty blight,
Pale Stars that gladden Nature's dreary night!

Caroline Elizabeth Norton [1808-18771


Could you understand
One who was wild as if he found a mine
Of golden guineas, when he noticed first
The soft green streaks in a Snowdrop's inner leaves?

Robert Buchanan [1811-1901]

The Snowdrop

Yes, punctual to the time, thou'rt here again,
As still thou art: though frost or rain may vary,
And icicles blockade the rockbirds' aery,
Or sluggish snow lie heavy on the plain,
Yet thou, sweet child of hoary January,
Art here to harbinger the laggard train
Of vernal flowers, a duteous missionary.
Nor cold can blight, nor fog they pureness stain.
Beneath the dripping eaves, or on the slope
Of cottage, garden, whether mark'd or no,
Thy meek head bends in undistinguish'd row.
Blessings upon thee, gentle bud of hope!
And Nature bless the spot where thou dost grow -
Young life emerging from the kindred snow!

Hartley Coleridge [1796-1849]



[A Poem by Dermot Dorgan)

Three Wise Men came to Bethlehem following a star
Their names, we're told, were Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar.
One brought a gift of frankincense, the others myrrh and gold,
They came to greet the newborn king, the Gospel story told.

  They gave their gifts to Jesus in the manger where he lay,
His mother offered coffee but they said they couldn't stay.
They got back on their camels - near the stable they'd been tied
And as they headed off back east, Mary softly sighed:

  'I really don't need perfume - though myrrh of course is tops,
And gold is always useful, but we're nowhere near the shops.
And frankincense is lovely, but a stable's not the place .
I hope they're not the wisest men in all the human race.

  'It was very good of them to come from such a far off land,
After all that time on camels, it's a wonder they could stand.
But bringing Jesus gifts of myrrh and frankincense and gold
. it's not very practical - he's only ten days old.'

  Next afternoon a man appeared outside the stable gate,
He said he was the fourth wise man - and sorry he was late.
"I've brought some things i thought you'd need - it's just a little gift."
A quick inspection of his bag gave Mary's heart a lift.

  A frozen casserole was there and a stuffed and fluffy toy,
Some baby clothes in pastel blue - he'd guessed it was a boy!
"The thought of washing nappies", Mary cried, "need not unnerve us
For here's a six-month voucher for a nappy washing service!"

  She turned to thank the stranger but the stranger wasn't there.
He'd slipped away and vanished in the chilly winter air.
But on the gate he'd left a note, quite simple but profound
'Don't write this in the Gospel, please - I'd never live it down!'

  So don't forget the Fourth Wise Man - the wisest of the lot,
He brought the really useful gifts the other three forgot.

Illustrated by: Debbie Cook



It was Christmas, up in Heaven
Many distant years ago,
A time of reminiscences
Of lifetimes spent below.
And in that special corner
Set aside for creature-kind,
A cow and sheep were chatting
Of the roles they'd been assigned.
'Oh, I was master's favourite,'
The cow proclaimed its worth, 
'My yield of milk was next to none
Throughout my time on Earth.'
'My master, too, was grateful,'
The sheep declared its case,
'My fleecy wool was valued more
Than fine Damascus lace.'
They turned towards a donkey,
Stood, slowly munching hay,
'And what of you? the sheep enquired,
'You've nothing much to say.'
'He's just a beast of burden:
The cow exuded scorn,
'His life has been a dull routine
 Of drudge since he was born!'
They laughed at this reflection,
Each sharing in the joke
Until, at last, the laughter died
And then the donkey spoke.
He said, 'You've pride in your achievements
And this i understand
But why, I wonder, must you mock
My talents, out of hand?'
'We have our different uses,
No two are quite the same
Yet pans of God's good purpose
Akin in all but name.'
'l, too, have tasted glory
Among the world of men,
It was I who carried Mary
On her way to Bethlehem.
You had the trust of masters
For tasks and duties done
But mine, the King of Heaven and Earth
Entrusted me his son.'

David Prowse



Once there was a foolish hare
Who kissed a princess for a dare.
He knew he really didn't ought,
So it served him right when he was caught.
They brought him up before the King,
Who was as mad as anything.
He sent off for the court magician,
And when he'd told him the position,
He said, "Tomorrow afternoon,
Turn this hare into a goon!"
Before the hare was led away,
The King asked, "What have you to say?"
The hare replied, in tones of sorrow,
"Hare today and goon tomorrow!"

Jack Doughty [1957]
Sent in by Inga R.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



Charles Causley

Illustrated by: Nigel Mason

They are waiting for me somewhere beyond Eden Rock;
My father, twenty-five, in the same suit
Of Genuine Irish Tweed, his terrier Jack
Still two years old and trembling at his feet.
My mother, twenty-three, in a sprigged dress
Drawn at the waist, ribbon in her straw hat,
Has spread the stiff white cloth over the grass.
Her hair, the colour of wheat, takes on the light.
She pours tea from a Thermos, the milk straight
From an old H.P. sauce bottle, a screw
Of paper for a cork; slowly sets out
The same three plates, the tin cups painted blue.
The sky whitens as if lit by three suns.
My mother shades her eyes and looks my way
Over the drifted stream. My father spins
A stone along the water. Leisurely,
They beckon to me from the other bank.
I hear them call, "See where the stream-path is!
Crossing is not as hard as you might think."
I had not thought that it would be like this.

A typical, old-fashioned Cornishman, Charles Causley was born on the 24th August 1917 at Launceston, where he was brought up in the shadow of a Norman Castle overlooking the Tamar. An only child, his father -a groom and gardener - died in 1924, when Charles was only just seven.

He was educated at Launceston College. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Navy and on his release from the service, trained as a teacher at Peterborough Training College, returning to Launceston to teach children, something he did for most of his life. His retirement, too, was spent in the town of his birth.

Charles Causley began writing in the 1930's, first plays and later poetry, becoming one of the most important British poets of his generation.

He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1958 and a CBE in 1986. He had honorary degrees from Oxford and Exeter, where he was also Honorary Fellow in Poetry.

"As an only child, he was the sole witness left to his parents' lives and to their traditional goodness. He never married, and his private life remained private. He refused to write an autobiography, since he said the truth about his life was available in his poems. "

Charles Causley, some of whose works have appeared in the Newsletter, died on the 4th November 2003, at the age of 86.



Charlie Disbrey

Old Fred he stands with downcast eye,
He shakes his head and wonders why,
'This empty meadow for my home,
And I stand sadly here, alone'.
He calls to mind a summer day,
And folk who walked the bridleway,
Who stayed awhile and had a chat,
And gave old Fred a friendly pat.
He wonders if it's true that when,
A donkey went to Bethlehem,
That Mary on his back did ride,
With Joseph walking at her side.
And now the stars are shining bright,
And darkness falls, once more 'tis night.
Now all is quiet and donkey Fred,
Walks slowly to his humble shed.
And underneath the starlit beams,
Old Fred the donkey sleeps and dreams,
With shepherds poor and the Wise Men,
He walks the road to Bethlehem.
And one bright star looked down and led,
Old donkey Fred to Jesu's bed.
He lowly kneels and with a bray,
Greets Jesus Christ on Christmas Day.
And Mary said, 'We thank you, Fred,
For coming to our manger bed.
Tell folk who walk the bridleway,
You came to us on Christmas Day.'

Illustration by: Debbie Rigler Cook



David Prowse

Illustrated by: Helen Armsted
His shoes were spotless, shining-black,
His hair close-trimmed and pasted back,
He stooped and shuffled, pale of face
And strived to match the martial pace
Of others, holding banners high
Against the grey November sky.
But, medals gleaming on his chest,
He laid his wreath with all the rest
And, iron-willed, so briefly then
Was ramrod-straight and young again,
His eyelids closed, his pain concealed.
Another day. Another field.
His duty done, he turned his head.
'Your poppy, sir,' a young man said,
Retrieving from the ground beneath
The crumpled token stem and leaf,
So, as the clock proclaimed the hour,
Their hands entwined upon the flower.
The one forever robbed of youth,
The other reaching out for truth,
Two halves of duty's willing heart
By generations placed apart,
The veteran and the young cadet
And each our own . . . lest we forget.

"David Prowse is as master poet with that rare talent of reaching right to the heart of a subject, never wasting words, yet retaining the beauty of languagefor which English, in the right hands is renowned."

Graham Danton

* Reproduced by kind permission of David Prowse.



James Reeve

They rise like sudden fiery flowers
That burst upon the night,
Then fall to earth in burning showers
Of crimson, blue, and white.
Like buds too wonderful to name,
Each miracle unfolds,
And catherine-wheels begin to flame
Like whirling marigolds.
Rockets and Roman candles make
An orchard of the-sky,
Whence magic trees their petals shake
Upon each gazing eye.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



Boston, Boston, you are Number One,
If anyone is busy, you'll be the one.
You sit in the sun, your coat like silk,
Are you the one who gulped down the milk?
Bostie, sweetie, you're only a cat
So why do you walk about like you're an actor from Sister Act?
You are the boss,
Even when you're drowned in moss.
Oh Bostie Boston you cute thing,
Are you the one who coughed up that wing?
It might be a spider or maybe a mouse,
But go home now, or mummy'll be cross,
After all, we all know really she is the boss!

Sophie Mummery [Age 12], Holmleigh



Patricia Beer

Twilight is brown and the ghost wind makes itself a body out of deod leaves, flaps the seamy side of winter at us, takes our breath away.

Over the hedge, straight across our path comes a broomstick fast as wickedness. The witch and the cat have been blow off. It cannot harm us, only fellow humans throw accurately.

The leaves were slow yesterday and incomprehensible, now like a chess game speeded up they make sense.

The wind's passion is more conniving than the law of where it should prevail.

Six months ago beginners, the leaves are old hands now. They deceive. Is it a leaf or a field mouse that scampers out of the grass and dodges back?

The stars look brilliant and useful. That lough would work.

No one in these lanes sweeps up leaves but they will go in time, and perhaps bequeath the radiance of a Roman floor where once a mosaic sparkled.

Perhaps the sky will be smooth at dawn and two or three white tough clouds Armada across it.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes



Thomas Hood 1799-1845

Our old cat has kittens three -
What do you think their names should be?
One is tabby with emerald eyes,
And a tail that's long and slender,
And into a temper she quickly flies
If you ever by chance offend her.
I think we shall call her this -
I think we shall call her that -
Now, don't you think that Pepperpot
Is a nice name for a cat?
One is black with a frill of white,
And her feet are all white fur,
If you stroke her she carries her tail upright
And quickly begins to purr.
I think we shall call her this -
I think we shall call her that -
Now, don't you think that Sootikin
Is a nice name for a cat?
One is a tortoiseshell yellow and black,
With plenty of white about him;
If you tease him, at once he sets up his back,
He's a quarrelsome one, ne'er doubt him.
I think we shall call him this -
I think we shall call him that -
Now, don't you think that Scratchaway
Is a nice name for a cat?
Our old cat has kittens three
And I fancy these their names will be:
Pepperpot, Sootikin, Scratchaway - there!
Were ever kittens with these to compare?
And we call the old mother Now, what do you think? -
Tabitha Longclaws Tiddley Wink.

Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook



The Peacock was sure that his beautiful tail
Would captivate every drab little female
He spread and preened it
Admired and cleaned it
He dreamed of soon having his very own harem
What fun it could be to pick them and choose them
Just look at my tail
My own holy grail
Those poor little Peahens so brown and so boring
Are surely all longing to do some adoring
To gaze at my tail
My beautiful tail
Arrayed in his glory he strutted his stuff
No thought in his head of any rebuff
With feathers like this
I'm guaranteed bliss
Now here she is coming my first little wifelet
Perhaps I'll be kind, give her nought to regret
I'll show her my plumes
She'll come to my rooms
He checked on his tail, his wonderful tail
Then gazed at the sky to let her grow pale
To fall at his feet
As was only meet
But oh what a turn off these show offs can be
Too pretty by half for you or for me
Oh dear what an ego
I just have to say...

Jenny, Middle Lee Farm

"What do you mean, no?"

Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook



Christopher Isherwood 1904-1986

The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag
The reason you will see no doubt
It is to keep the lightning out.
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes



John Masefield 1878-1967

 I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long day's over.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes



Charles Causley

I saw a jolly hunter
With a jolly gun
Walking in the country
in the jolly sun.

In the jolly meadow
Sat a jolly hare.
Saw the jolly hunter.
Took jolly care.

Hunter jolly eager-
Sight of jolly prey.
Forgot gun pointing
Wrong jolly way.

Jolly hunter jolly
head Over heels gone.
Jolly old safety catch
Not jolly on.

Bang went the jolly gun.
Hunter jolly dead.
Jolly hare got clean away.
Jolly good, I said.


Illustrations by: Paul Swailes



Kenneth Graham 1858-1932 

From The Wind in the Willows

All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!

Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!

Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim -
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.

Every one for what he likes!
We like to be
Heads down, tails up,
Dabbling free!

High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call -
We are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



Little pill here in my hand
I wonder how you understand
Just what to do or where to go
To stop the ache that hurts me so.
Within your content lies relief,
You work alone in disbelief.
You sink in regions there below
As down my throat you quickly go!
But what I wonder, little pill,
Is how you know where I am ill
And just how do you really know
Exactly where you have to go?
I have a headache, that is true,
My broken ribs need attention too!
So how can anything so small
End my aches in no time at all!
Do you work alone or hire a crew
To do the good things that you do?
I'm counting on you mighty strong
To get to there, where you belong.
Don't let me down, please do not shirk
To do your undercover work.
So down my throat, be on your way And
end my aches for another day.
Don't take a wrong turn is my plea ..
I can't take another till after three.


This poem has come via a circuitous route from Australia to one of a 'caring' reader's 'Ladies' in lfracombe!





Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Now fades the last long streak of snow,
Now burgeons every maze of quick
About the flowering squares, and thick
By ashen roots the violets blow.
Now rings the woodland loud and long,
The distance takes a lovelier hue,
And drowned in yonder living blue
The lark becomes a sightless song.
Now dance the lights on lawn and lea,
The flocks are whiter down the vale,
And milkier every milky sail
On winding stream or distant sea;
Where now the seamew pipes, or dives
In yonder greening gleam, and fly
The happy birds, that change their sky
To build and brood; that live their lives
From land to land; and in my breast
Spring wakens too; and my regret
Becomes an April violet,
And buds and blossoms like the rest.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Alfred Tennyson was born in August 1 809 in Somersby, Lincolnshire. His early education was carried out by his father, a clergyman, Dr. George Clayton Tennyson. Alfred showed an interest and talent in poetic composition and by the time he was 15 had produced several blank-verse plays and an epic poem.

In 1830, with his friend Arthur Hallam, he joined a Spanish revolutionary army but participated in no military action.

Following the death of his father in 1831, Tennyson left Cambridge before completing his degree. His second volume of poems, including the Lady of Shalott, received bad criticism and after the sudden death of Hallam in 1833 and on the discovery that three of his brothers suffered mental illness, Tennyson became profoundly depressed and vowed to issue no verse for ten years. Druing this time he devoted himself to reading and meditation. At the end of this period, in 1842, he won wide acclaim with a Collection, amongst which were 'Morte d'Arthur' and 'Locksley Hall'.

In 1850 he married Emily Sarah Sellwood, whom he had been waiting to marry since 1836! He and Sarah settled first in Twickenham but later moved to Freshwater on the Isle of Wight.

In 1836 he succeeded William Wordsworth as Poet Laureate and as one of his duties of laureateship, he wrote 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' in 1854 to celebrate action in the Crimean War.

Tennyson was made a peer in 1884 and took his seat in the House of Lords as Baron Tennyson of Freshwater and Aldworth.

He died at Aldworth House, Haslemere in Surrey in October 1892.



When you took your first steps
I was there in case you fell
When you said your first words
There was no-one left to tell
Photos of my baby
Have never left my side
Showing other people
Always made me glow inside
You weren't born with a handbook
I haven't always got it right
The teen years were a struggle
Almost one long fight
We persevered, and later
You came to me one night
You told me you were sorry
And had realised I was right
Twenty-one years later
I'm so proud of who you've become
Your confidence and beauty
Make me glad to be your mum
I know I can't hold onto you
You have to spread your wings
But there's so much I have to share with you
And teach so many things
So when I try to show you
The error of your ways
Don't dismiss this as interference
By sending me away
I will always try to help you
I can't always make amends
But I consider this my job
As your MOTHER and your FRIEND

From an Anonymous Reader



It's not just
That she rides to school on a horse
And carries a Colt 45 in her bag.
It's not just
the way she walks;
hands hanging over her hips.
It's not just
the way she dresses;
Stetson hat and spurs on her boots.
It's not just the way she talks;
calling the playground the corral,
the Head's office the Sheriff's office,
the school canteen the chuck wagon,
the school bus the stagecoach,
the bike sheds the livery stable.
What gives her away
Is when the hometime bells go.
She slaps her thigh
And cries, "Yee ha!"

John Coldwell



"What are you doing? Why is it so?"
Like the learned professor, he just has to know.
"Come sit in the sun and look at this book."
My answer is always, "There are meals I must cook."
My shopping's becoming a hassle these days,
I'll push the trolley - his eyes start to g!aze,
Hands flying out and grabbing with glee
All sorts of goodies which I never see.
The telephone rings, he pulls up a chair,
Immediately hisses, "Tell me, who's there?"
I'm under surveillance from morning to night,
 Feeling quite desperate and looking a fright.
"Come watch the telly, you've got to see this."
 A few hours of silence would be perfect bliss!
My routine has gone, I'm constantly tired,
No, I don't have a toddler - my husband's retired!


First Verse of


Samuel Taylor Coleridge


The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Carne loud - and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes mediation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its rotation in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, everywhere
Echol or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

Illustrated by: Nigel Mason


Three Verses from


John Clare 1793-1864

The snow has left the cottage top;
The thatch moss grows in brighter green;
And caves in quick succession drop,
Where grinning icicles have been,
Pit-patting with a pleasant noise
In tubs set by the cottage-door;
While ducks and geese, with happy joys,
Plunge in the yard-pond brimming o'er.
The sun peeps through the window-pane;
Which children mark with laughing eye,
And in the wet street steal again
To tell each other spring is nigh:
Then, as young hope the past recalls,
In playing groups they often draw,
To build beside the sunny walls
Their spring-time huts of stick or straw.
And oft in pleasure's dreams they hie
Round homesteads by the village side,
Scratching the hedgerow mosses by,
Where painted pooty shells abide,
Mistaking oft the ivy spray
For leaves that come with budding spring,
And wondering, in their search for play,
Why birds delay to build and sing.

John Clare

Artwork by: Paul Swailes

Known as a 'nature' poet, John Clare was deeply attached to the place of his birth, Helpstone in Northamptonshire, where he worked as an agricultural labourer. Writing his poetry mainly between 1821 and 1835, he suffered from fits of melancholy and was pronounced insane in 1837, spending most of the rest of his fife in an asylum.

Today John Clare is recognised as a poet of truth and power and is appreciated for his highly personal evocations of landscape and place. His work, characterised by the use of dialect and idiosyncratic grammar laments lost love and talent, vanished innocence and the death of an earlier rural England.



The first day after Christmas,
My true love and I had a fight.
And so I chopped the pear tree down
And burnt it, just for spite.
Then with a single cartridge
I shot that blasted partridge
My true love gave to me.
The second day after Christmas
I pulled on the old rubber gloves,
And very gently wrung the necks
Of both the turtle doves.
On the third day after Christmas
My mother got the croup,
I had to use the three French hens
To make some chicken soup.
The four calling birds were a big mistake
For their language was obscene.
The five golden rings were completely fake
And turned my fingers green.
The sixth day after Christmas
The six laying geese wouldn't lay,
So I sent the whole darn gaggle to the R.S.P.C.A.
The seventh day after Christmas
What a mess I found,
The seven swans-a-swimming,
All had drowned!
The eighth day after Christmas,
Before they could suspect,
I bundled up the
Eight maids-a-milking,
Nine ladies dancing,
Ten lords-a-leaping,
Eleven pipers piping,
Twelve drummers drumming
[Well, actually I kept one of the drummers]
And sent them back 'collect'.
I wrote to my true love,
"We are through, love!"
And I said in so many words
Your Christmas gifts were for the ... birds!


With thanks to Steve and Cindy

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



The days are short,
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor.
Milk bottles burst
Outside the door.
The river is
A frozen space
Heldt still beneacth
The tree of lace.
They sky is low,
The wind is gray.
The radiator
Purrs all day.
John Updike

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes




Coventry Patmore

The crocus, while the days are dark,
Unfolds its saffron sheen;
At April's touch the crudest bark
Discovers gems of green.
Then sleep the seasons, full of might;
While slowly swells the pod
And rounds the peach, and in the night
The mushroom bursts the sod.
The winter falls; the frozen rut
Is bound with silver bars;
The snowdrift heaps against the hut,
And night is pierced with stars.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes



George Mackay Brown

Monday I found a boot -
Rust and salt leather.
I gave it back to the sea, to dance in.
Tuesday a spar of timber worth thirty bob.
Next winter
It will be a chair, a coffin, a bed.
Wednesday a half can of Swedish spirits.
I tilted my head.
The shore was cold with mermaids and angels.
Thursday I got nothing, seaweed,
A whale bone,
Wet feet and a loud cough.
Friday I held a seaman's skull,
Sand spilling from it
The way time is told on kirkyard stones.
Saturday a barrel of sodden oranges.
A Spanish ship
Was wrecked last month at The Kame.
Sunday, for fear of the elders,
I sit on my bum.
What's heaven? A sea chest with a thousand gold coins.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


If I Knew

If I knew it would be the last time
That I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly
and pray the Iord, your soul to keep.
If I knew it would be the last time
 that I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss
and call you back for one more.
If I knew it would be the last time
I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play them back day after day.
If I knew it would be the last time
I could spare an extra minute
to stop and say, "l love you",
instead of assuming you would KNOW I do.
If I knew it would be the last time
I would be there to share your day,
Well I'm sure you'll have so many more,
so I can let just this one slip away.
For surely there's always tomorrow
to make up for an oversight,
and we always get a second chance
to make everything just right.
There will always be another day
to say "l love you",
And certainly there's another chance
 to say our "Anything I can do?"
But just in case I might be wrong
and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you
and I hope we never forget
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance
you get to hold your loved one tight.
So, if you're waiting for tomorrow,
Why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes,
you'll surely regret the day,
That you didn't take that extra time
for a smile, a hug, or a kiss,
you were too busy to grant someone
what in fact was their one last wish.
So hold your loved ones close today,
and whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them
and that you'll always hold them dear.
Take time to say, "I'm sorry",
"Please forgive me", "thank you" or "It's okay".
And if tomorrow never comes,
you'll have no regrets about today.



Thomas Hood

Summer is gone on swallow's wings,
And Earth has buried all her flowers:
No more the lark, the linnet sings,
But Silence sits in faded bowers.
There is a shadow on the plain
Of Winter ere he comes again, -
There is in woods a solemn sound
Of hollow warnings whispered round,
As Echo in her deep recess
For once had turned a prophetess.
Shuddering Autumn stops to list,
And breathes his fear in sudden sighs,
With clouded face, and hazel eyes
That quench themselves, and hide in mist.

Thomas Hood [1799-1845] was born in London, the son of a bookseller. From 1821 to 1823 he was Assistant Editor of the London Magazine, and he also edited various periodicals.

Hood wrote a lot of humorous and satirical verse, making use of his talent with puns, although his satire lacked bite.

Amongst his serious poems are the very successfui 'Song of the Shirt' and the 'Plea of the Mid-summer Fairies', which includes the lines:

I remember, I remember,
The house where ! was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes



For Philip Hobsbaum

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfield and potato drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur, A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That ali the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.
Seamus Heaney


Loves Beginnings


Some say love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go round,
And some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn't ever there;
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air,
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all its time at the races,
Or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning,
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

Illustrated by: Debbie Riger Cook

January 1938

W.H. Auden 1907-1973



William Brighty Rands

The sunflowers and hollyhocks stood up like towers.
There were dark turncap lillies and jessimine rare,
And sweet thyme and marjoram scented the air.
The moon made the sundial tell the time wrong,
'Twas too late in the year for the nightingale's song.
The box trees were clipped and the alleys were straight
Till you came to the shrubbery hard by the gate.
The fairies stepped out of the lavender beds,
With mob-caps or wigs on their quaint little heads.
My lord had a sword, and my lady a fan,
The music struck up and the dancing began.
I watched them go through with a gay minuet,
Wherever they footed the dew was not wet.
They bowed and they curtsied - the brave and the fair,
And laughter - like chirping of crickets was there.
Then all of a sudden a church clock struck loud,
flutter, a shiver was seen in the crowd.
The cock crew, the wind awoke, the trees tossed their
And the fairy folk hid in the lavender beds.

Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook

William Brighty Rands - 1823-1882

William Brighty Rands, who sometimes wrote under the pseudonyms Henry Holbeach and Matthew Browne, was known as the 'laureate of the nursery'. His best known work, written in 1864, was Lilliput Levee, a book of verse for children with illustrations by Millais and Pinwell. This was followed by Lilliput Lectures [1871] and Lilliput Legends [1872]. All three were published anonymously.

Rands also wrote a lot of miscellaneous journalism and he was a reporter in the House of Commons.



Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin,
When he smiled, I realised I'd pass it on to him.
I thought about that smile, then realised its worth,
A single smile just like mine, could travel 'round the earth.
So if you feel a smile begin, don't leave it
Let's start an epidemic quick and get the world infected!

Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook



Dorothy Yellowlees

They said ...
That I would find no peace of Mind
In the country of my birth;
They said ...
That there would be no comfort here for me,
Nothing of any worth.
They said ...
That times had changed -
That now no longer would I see
The things that in the past were dear to me.
So they said.
And so, in fear lest they be right,
I came again to England,
And breathed the sweetness of her summer night.
I saw the daisies on the lawn again,
And heard the song of birds at dawn again
All summer long.
I walked in fields where the white clover lies,
And trod the moors where the lone curlew cries,
I touched the mossy stones of centuries,
And knew
That they were wrong.



Dame [Jean] Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin in 1919, and educated at the University of Oxford, where in 1948 she was appointed a Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy.

Her first non-fiction work was published in 1953 and then followed a successful career as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Her style of writing is complex, combining naturalism and the macabre, the familiar and the magical. Certainly not a writer to suit everyone's taste!

Iris Murdoch died in 1999, after suffering, in her latter years,from Alzheimers.

Her struggle with the disease, supported caringly and devotedly by her husband, John Bayley, has recently been portrayed in the film 'Iris'.

I had doubts about going to see this film but was glad I did. It was a moving experience, not as harrowing as I had perhaps expected, and acted and filmed with great sympathy and sensitivity.

Loss - A Journey Through Alzheimers

Illustration: Peter Rothwell
He lost the ability to discuss and converse -
I lost a companion.
He lost the ability to manage simple daily tasks -
I lost a helpmate.
He thought I was his deceased sister -
I lost a husband.
He could not understand my anguish -
I lost a lover and comforter.
He lost time: days and nights became muddled -
I lost my diurnal rhythm
He wanted to be elsewhere; at work, with a long lost parent -
I lost an anchor.
He does not know his own home; our past, our present -
I lost the continuity of our marriage.
He stares at me blankly as I hold his hand.
I cannot understand his mumbling.
I am lost.



Written by an Aboriginal in his English for us Whites

Dear white fellow, couple things you should know:

When I born, I black.
When I grow up, I black.
When I go in the sun, I black.
When I cold, I black.
When I sick, I black.
And when I die, I still black.

You white fellow, when you born, you pink.

When you grow up, you white.
When you go in sun, you red.
When you cold, you blue.
When you scared, you yellow.
When you sick, you green.
And when you die, you grey,

And you have the cheek to call me coloured.


Alex's reference to 'coincidence' in the February issue brought the following to light:


Lincoln was elected President in 1860,
Kennedy was elected in 1960
Lincoln's Secretary was called Kennedy,
Kennedy's Secretary was called Lincoln
Both Secretaries advised their superiors against going to the places where they were assassinated
Both Presidents were shot in the presence of their wives
Their successors were both named Johnson -
Andrew Johnson born 1808, Lyndon Johnson born 1908
As for the two assassins,
Booth was born in 1839,
Oswald was born in 1939
Both were slain before they could be brought to trial

Both Presidents were deeply concerned with the Civil Rights issue



Rudyard Kipling - 1865 - 1936

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.


Illustrated by: Nigel Mason



Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon:
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attained his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the evensong;
And, having prayed together, we
Will go with you along.
We have as short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick to growth to meet decay,
As you, or anything.
We die,
As your hours do, and dry
Like to the summer's rain;
Or as the pearls of morning's dew
Ne'er to be found again.

Illustration: Paul Swailes

Robert Herrick


VACHEL LINDSAY - 1879-1931

The Moon's the North Wind's Cooky

[what the little girl said]

The Moon's the North Wind's cooky.
He bites it, day by day,
Until there's but a rim of scraps
That crumble all away.
The South Wind is a baker.
He kneads clouds in his den,
And bakes a crisp new moon that ... greedy
North ... Wind ... eats ... again!

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


The Little Turtle

[A recitation for Martha Wakefield, three years old]

There was a little turtle.
He lived in a box.
He swam in a puddle.
He climbed on the rocks.
He snapped at a mosquito.
He snapped at a flea.
He snapped at a minnow.
And he snapped at me.
He caught the mosquito.
He caught the flea.
He caught the minnow.
But he didn't catch me.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes



by Charles Causley

Illustration: Debbie Rigler Cook
Don't you love my baby, mam,
Lying in his little pram,
Polished all with water clean,
The finest baby ever seen?
Daughter, daughter, if I could
I'd love your baby as I should,
But why the suit of signal red,
The horns that grow out of his head,
Why does he burn with brimstone heat,
Have cloven hooves instead of feet,
Fishing hooks upon each hand,
The keenest tail that's in the land,
Pointed ears and teeth so stark
And eyes that flicker in the dark?
Don't you love my baby, mam?
Dearest, I do not think I can.
I do not, do not think I can.



A.A. Milne [1882-1956]

John had
Great Big
Boots on;
John had a
Great Big
John had a
Great Big
Mackintosh -
And that
(Said John)

Illustration: Debbie Rigler Cook



Further Verse in Devonshire Dialect


Did I ever tell ee bout the time
The missus ed a jackdaw, tame?
Ur found this zoaked bedreggled chick-
I should'a ringed iz ruddy neck.
Ur dried un off an saut un up
An ed'n drinkin out a cup.
The dug wuz ordered out the ouze
An I wuz told t'shut me face.
Ur though the worlds of thic there burd
Sich silly talk y' never yered.
"An oo's iz Mummy's darlin Jack."
Yuk - twere anough t'make ee sick!
With thic there ruddy burd out loose
I couldn't sup a jar in peace.
Ee'd keep on swearin, gitt'n louder
An so l'd ev t 'share me cider.
The missus used to let un op
All up and down the table top.
Ee'd cock iz aid one side an wait
Fer aff a chance t' rob me plate.
Ur made a master fool of ee
Like what ur never makes o'me
An if I ast fer jackdaw roast
Ur'd say ur's married to a beast!
Th'ol thing, ee used to squawk like ell-
Jus like a fire engine bell.
One time I sellotaped iz beak
So's I could yer me own sulf spaik.
Ee used t' perch right on me shoulder
An then ee'd drop a gurt big bolder.
An when I jus cleaned up me jacket
Ee'd cetch me wiv another packet!
One day the missus sez ur's gwain
T' shop fer vittles in the town.
Ur id the sellotape out back
An lef me babysitt'n Jack.
No sooner ed ur left the ouze
When Jack starts kickin up a fuss.
There's me all set t'watch the match,
An ee all set t 'make a spaich!
"You evil little burd!" I sez,
"A nasty piece o' wurk you is."
I upped and fetched a jar o' juice
Cuz shout 'n weren't no ruddy use!
Twuz like I'd turned the wireless off -
Ole Jack went quiet sure anough.
Ee sidles up an climbs me jar
An ulps izulf t'cider there.
Y' never seed a burd s' daft
I feels mesulf all gitt'n soft.
An so I let 'n bide - why not.
An fills mesulf another pot.
The match wuz good - our lads wuz game 
An then I yers the missus ome ...
Next thing ur starts t' rant an rave,
An screams fer me t' pack an leave!
Twuz then me 'eart felt proper bad ...
Cuz there wuz Jack stood on iz aid
Wiv tail stuck up frum out the jar
Ee'd leaned in just that bit too far!
Now, cuz I want to keep me wife
I gives th'ol thing the kiss o' life.
First time y' seed a farmer yet
What takes daid birds t' see the vet.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Lynda Waller

Lynda Waller is just completing and publishing her third Farmer Uggett of Verse in Devonshite Dialect - the first was Farmer Uggett, the second Famer Uggett and Plumber Sloath. These booklets, beautifully illustrated by the author, are available at £3.00 each from Kelly Publications, 6 Redlands, Tiverton, EX16 4DH, or telephone Lynda on 01884 259526.



We know of "Hamlin Town by famous Brunswick City"
But there's a little more beyond this ancient ditty
"For folks who put him in a passion
Pied Piper piped in another fashion".
Now one young rat survived that hike
And Pied Piper taught him to play the pipe
My great-grandpa was a gay young frisker
And taught me all in the twitch of a whisker.
This secret charm is what I've got
To draw behind me men of pot
A lovely village lies in Devon
By ill repute a flower pot heaven.
Painters and builders you've done your job
Now join in Ratty's frivolous mob
Of course, like me, there's one exception
The Fuchsia Miss evades attention.
I know it may not suit this ditty
You must agree though she's so pretty.
They've all done well as I am told
But then, you know, one year is old
If they stay here they'll crack and break
So comes the promise I can make
Of happiness as in a dream
They'll all go on the Ground Force Team.

Lisa Shelley



Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the wisest of them all? This week.
Quiz Night for local brains, a chance to shine [or not]. This week.
The pens picked up, the chatter stilled, the teams chalked up. This week.
The pictures might not all look like the Adams Family. This week.
Perhaps we'll recognise a song, a group or two or three. This week.
A favourite hobby, novel, film could be the difference. This week.
Last hope [no hope], Lynne's adding up could fail! This week.
Look out, Phil winked! Who is 'The Weakest Link'? This week.




Feather soft and quiet the snow;
It covers the road
and the walk
and the rooftops
and whispers to the world:

Margaret k. Moore



It was an old, old, old, old lady and a boy who was half-past three,
And the way that they played together was beautiful to see.
She couldn't go running and jumping, and the boy, no more could he,
For he was a thin little fellow with a thin little twisted knee.
They sat in the yellow sunlight, out under the maple tree;
And the game that they played I'll tell you just as it was told to me.
It was like hide and seek they were playing, though you'd never have thought it to be,
With an old, old, old, old lady and a boy with a twisted knee.
The boy would bend his face down on his one little sound right knee,
And he'd guest where she was hiding in guesses one, two, three.
"You're in the china close," he would cry and laugh with glee.
It was not the china closet, but still he had two and three.
"You're up in Papa's big bedroom in the chest with queer old key."
And she said "you are warm and warmer but you're not quite right" said she.
"It can't be the little cupboard where mama's things used to be,
So it must be the clothes press, grandma," and he found her with his three.
Then she covered her face with her fingers that were wrinkled and white and wee,
And she guessed where the boy was hiding with a one, and a two and a three.
And they never had stirred from their place right under the maple tree,
The old, old, old, old lady and the boy with the lame little knee.
The dear, dear, dear old lady and the boy who was half past three.

Author Unknown

Illustration by: Nigel Mason


The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name:
'Now, basher! now, Dancer!, now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid!, on bonder and B!itzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!'
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane flay,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up o the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I hear on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes - how they twinkled, his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eyes and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled al! the stockings, then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
'Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.'

Clement Clarke Moore 1779-1863 [b. USA]


Illustrations by: Debbie Rigler Cook



Give me a good digestion Lord,
And also something to digest.
Give me a healthy body Lord,
With sense to keep it at its best.
Give me a healthy mind good Lord,
To keep the good and pure in sight.
That seeing sin is not appalled,
But finds a way to put it right.
Give me a mind that is not bored,
That does not whimper, whine or sigh.
Don't let me worry overmuch
About the fussy thing called 'I'.
Give me a sense of humour Lord,
Give me the grace to see a joke.
To get some happiness from life,
and pass it on to other folk.

Found in Chester Cathedral



I thought I would miss music here
No symphony, no opera,
No easy access to the Albert Hall
But rhythms change
Fast running water always here
Voices slowed but loud
Birds more raucous than I ever knew
Jackdaws invade my space,
My roof, my life
Won't go away
But do I want them to?

Illustration by:
Paul Swailes
The only lark I ever heard was in a concert hall
Vaughan Williams bird
Its song man's genius not its own
But now I've heard a real life Devon bird
Ascending over Exmoor wild and free
Notes falling earthwards
Like a day of rain, now soft and sweet
Then wild and windswept and exuberant
Another sound - not music to the ear
Sheep shout
I never knew they could!

Illustration by: Peter Rothwell



Night night, Mum, See You Later

At seven o'clock every evening
My mum tucks me up in bed
And I'm nice and snug in my 'jamas,
Beside me my lovely old ted.
I always nod off very quickly
Before mum has turned off the light.
But when it's her bedtime much later,
Well then I wake up for the night.
For there's no time of day I like better
Than the hours between midnight and three
For mum hasn't got any housework
And can give her attention to me.
And when I start yelling and shouting,
Mum knows she has to be quick -
For the night that she leaves me to grizzle
Is the night I decide to be sick.
But mummy can't mind in the slightest
At still being my playmate at two -
She normally spends this time sleeping,
For she's nothing much better to do.
Some nights she mixes a cocktail
From the bottles she keeps on the shelf,
Which sometimes she gives me to swallow
And sometimes she gulps down herself!
And if in the morning I'm sleepy
And feel in need of a perk,
I can have forty winks in my buggie
While mum gets on with her work.
But nothing's as nice as the night time,
And nothing can equal the joy
Of finding it's four in the morning
And being a wide awake boy.


Contributed by an Ilfracombe Reader

Acknowledgements to a Leeds Toddler Group



I wonder whether it matters
That there are people like me
Who wander aimlessly.
Or is it with purpose,
About the earth.
What makes the difference?
Is it the thought process
Or is it just a matter of chance
That goals are achieved.
Do they effect change
Or is change affected by them,
And does the end justify the means
Or is this yet another excuse to do as we please?

Peter Knight, Mill Park House


Where Do All the Teachers Go?

Where do all the teachers go
When it's four o'clock?
Do they live in houses
And do they wash their socks?
Do they wear pyjamas
And do they watch TV?
And do they pick their noses
The same as you and me?
Do they live with other people
Have they mums and dads?
And were they ever children
And were they ever bad?
Did they ever, never spell right
Did they ever make mistakes?
Were they punished in the corner
If they pinched the chocolate flakes?
Did they ever lose their hymn books
Did they ever leave their greens?
Did they scribble on the desk tops
Did they wear old dirty jeans?
I'Il follow one back home today
I'll find out what they do
Then I'll put it in a poem
That they can read to you.

Peter Dixon


The Painting Lesson

'What's THAT, dear?' asked the new teacher.
It's mummy,' I replied.
But mums aren't green and orange!
You really haven't TRIED.
You don't just paint in SPLODGES
- You're old enough to know
You need to THINK before you work
Now - have another go.'
She helped me draw two arms and legs,
A face with sickly smile,
A rounded body, dark brown hair,
A hat - and, in a while,
She stood back [with her face bright pink]:
'That's SO much better - don't you think?'
But she turned white
At ten to three When an orange-green blob Collected me.
I Hi, Mum!'

Trevor Harvey


The New Computerised Timetable

Science will be in the Art Room.
Art in the History.
History in Maths.
And Maths in the swimming pool.
The lunch hour is from one o'clock to half-past,
Afternoon break has been moved to the morning.
Friday's timetable will operate On alternate Thursdays.
Wednesday afternoon will be on Tuesday
Straight after Thursday's assembly.
From now on
We sit on desks
Write on chairs
And only wear hymn books when it's raining.
The new fire drill.

John Coldwell



Percy Bysshe Shelley

The sun is set, the swallows are asleep;
The bats arc flitting fast in the gray air;
The slow soft toads out of damp corners creep,
And evening's breath, wandering here and there
Over the quivering surface of the stream,
Wakes not one ripple from its summer dream.
There is no dew on the dry grass to-night,
Nor damp within the shadow of the trees;
The wind is intermitting, dry, and light;
And in the inconstant motion of the breeze
The dust and straws are driven up and down,
And whirled about the pavement of the town.
Within the surface of the fleeting river
The wrinkled image of the city lay,
Immovably unquiet, and forever
It trembles, but it never fades away.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792-1822

Shelley was born at Field Place, near Horsham, Sussex, on the 4th August 1792. He was educated at Eton and then at Oxford, but was excluded after writing and circulating a leaflet on atheism, of which the university authorities disapproved.

Shortly after, at the age of 19, he married Harriet Westbrook and moved to the Lake District to study and write, publishing his first serious work, 'Queen Mab', two years later in 1813.

His friendship with the philosopher, William Godwin, led to his friendship with Godwin's daughter, Mary, and after separating from Harriet, he and Mary toured Europe in 1814.

Shelley returned to England and continued writing. On a further trip to Europe, in the summer of 1816, he and Mary met and became friendly with Lord Byron. In December of that year, just three weeks after the body of his wife, llarriet, was recovered from a London park lake, an apparent suicide, he and Mary were married.

In 1881, Shelley and Mary left England, travelling and living in various Italian cities, a time during which he wrote all his major works. Shortly before his 30th birthday, attempting to sail from Leghorn to La Spezia, he drowned when his yacht, Ariel, foundered in a storm. His body, washed ashore ten days later, was cremated in the presence of Byron and Leigh Hunt.

Many critics regard Shelley as one of the greatest of all English poets, but others object to the 'prettiness and sentimentality' of much of his work, maintaining that he was not as influential as the other British romantic poets, Byron, Keats or Wordsworth.




Thank you, my friendly daemon, close to me as my shadow
For thc mealy buttercup days in the ancient meadow,
For the days of my teens, the sluice of hearing and seeing,
The days of topspin drives and physical well-being.
Thank you, my friend, shorter by a head, more placid
Than me your protege whose ways are not so lucid,
My animal angel sure of touch and humour
With face still tanned from some primeval summer.
Thank you for your sensual poise, your gay assurance,
Who skating on the lovely wafers of appearance
Have held my hand, put vetoes upon my reason,
Sent me to look for berries in the proper season.
Some day you will leave me or, at best less often
I shall sense your presence when eyes and nostrils open,
Less often find your burgling fingers ready
To pick the locks when mine are too unsteady.
Thank you for the times of contact, for the glamour
Of pleasure sold by the clock and under the hammer,
Thank you for bidding for me, for breaking the cordon
Of spies and sentries round the unravished garden.
And thank you for the abandon of your giving,
For seeing in the dark, for making this life worth living.



Further Verse in Devonshire Dialect

I loves me wife
An tells ur ow
I loves ur more'n
Me fav'rit cow.

It mus be said
Tis an art ee've mastered -
To wallow in mud
An come out plastered.

Thievin Rats
I ates them arvest rats
I ates em grievously
An most of all I ates their guts
Cuz they eats me corn fer free.

Written and Illustrated by Lynda Waller