A peach of a day today.
Chilled champagne in the sunshine
with old friends one, two,  three
surprising us with visits,
my home-made coffee walnut cake for tea.
coffee walnut cake







A prompt a day gave us “Today” to write about, in fewer than 33 words and we’ve had a lovely day.

Posted in food, free verse, life writing, short poetry | Tagged | 10 Comments

Let’s Get Started

Content to have finished the train crash quilt, I started a new project last night – having spotted a photo of a Japanese folded patchwork bag in an old copy of Fabrications Quilting For You  I thought I’d have a go,  so far without the foggiest idea of how to put it together!

Japanese folded bag designLast night I made four of the folded blocks, and am raring to go to make some more:

Let's get started
ready to go

In case you’re not familiar with Japanese folded patchwork, here’s how it works.  Cut
circles of background fabric – I drew round a tea plate, but have in the past used a dinner plate. Turn in a narrow hem with tiny running stitches to keep it in place.  Cut squares of batting and feature fabric slightly smaller than your hemmed circle, and place one of each  in the centre of the wrong side of a background circle.  Turn in the background circle around each side of the centre square, pin in place and then slipstitch the edges down.   An all in one operation, no need for backing, single block

The next step is to arrange your blocks to whatever shape you want and stitch them together using  a whip stitch with right sides together. You can join blocks into a table runner, place mats or a cushion and  quilt or decorate it as you wish.  I like this kind of cushionsimple hand-sewn project which I can do while watching tv – I do hate to have idle hands!






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OBSESSION – wordle 206

Barbara’s back with an eclectic mix of wordle words, which I couldn’t assemble in one poem, so here are two which hardly merit being called poems.

Quilts galore cover the beds,
escaping onto walls
and out by the open door
to warm the hearts and bones
of friends and relations
near and far across the ocean.


Splintered spine
cracks, collapses,
the body crawls
aching for clay
to cover it

Posted in free verse, life writing, quilts, really bad poetry, wordles | Tagged | 17 Comments


A train-crash of a quilt finished

randomicity uncroppedI call this quilt Randomicity, because everything about it was freehand and at random, made from strips fished out of the scrap box at my local quilt shop, assembled in random order then cut into slices and re-assembled any old how. My machine quilting is pretty bad, so it seemed appropriate to quilt it by machine, in roughly placed all-over triangles.  It was finished  at 11pm last night, so  the photograph was taken when it was almost dark, which is probably a good thing!

I can’t believe it, but the ‘new’ laptop now refuses to accept the password that I have been using for years, so this post comes to you from the old one which is full of bugs, doesn’t have Word and is slower than a constipated tortoise!  My Splendid Young Man doesn’t come back from holiday until the day before I go to UK, and in any case I daren’t subject Jock yet again to hanging around for hours in the computer shop while the other man ‘tries’ to fix it.  So lappy will go to England with me and be taken  back to PC World where it was bought just over a year ago.

Have a happy Saturday, and don’t forget to look for more 6-worders over at Cate’s place.

Posted in life writing, prose, quilts and pictures | Tagged | 18 Comments

The Yeomen of the Guard

picture taken by my son, Robin J Smith

picture taken by my son, Robin J Smith

In summer frocks and soppy socks,
wearing ludicrous panama hats,
we convent girls trooped round in awe
of portentous birds and beefeaters
with  pikes guarding royal regalia.

Enough grizzly history,
weird instruments of torture,
tales of imprisonment and despair
in the dungeons of the Tower
to frighten schoolgirls into silence.

The visit was but a prelude
to sending the whole thing up
in Gilbert’s satirical words
and Sullivan’s lovely music.

Phoenix Rising’s PAD continues the travelogue theme with a prompt on the Tower of London, which I visited with my school in 1950 or thereabouts in preparation for a production of the Yeomen of the Guard.

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Osprey Haiga

Today at Kielder Water in Northumberland, the osprey chicks from nest one were ringed,  and Joanna Dailey kindly allowed me to use her lovely photograph of the father, named YA. waiting for the return of the young to the nest. You can read all about it here



Photograph of Osprey YA © Joanna Dailey

Posted in found poetry, haiga, pictures | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Two Hikes

The prompt at Phoenix Rising today is to write about hiking.  At my age and decrepitude I walk, but no longer hike, so here is a brief resumé of someone else’s hikes.

In 2010, poet Simon Armstrong walked the Pennine Way – 268 miles of rugged upland territory in the north of England.  Giving readings at his night stops to pay  for his bed and breakfast,  the hike is recorded in Simon’s book Walking Home.

He followed this in 2014 with another marathon, walking the South West Coastal Path – which by coincidence is the same distance as the Pennine Way, and I am enjoying the experience vicariously by reading of the latest journey in Walking Away.  The Coastal Path is an unrelenting up and down through wooded combes and moorland heights, resulting in a  gait like a Scottish Haggis with two short legs and two long legs to accommodate the slopes.  How he managed to give coherent poetry readings night after night after such gruelling days remains a mystery.

When he got to the end of Cornwall he continued by ferry and foot until he had walked the Scilly Isles right to the end of English territory.

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Last Day of June and #30days wild

meadow ecosystem for haiga


I wake at dawn to the sound of lapping water,
the pungent scent of river mud,
stick my head out of the tent flap
to watch the peaceful Thames.

A hatch of midges dances erratically,
catches the first rays of the sun.
Eyelevel grasses glisten with dew
as silvered cobwebs join green blades in lethal network.

Lazily I roll over, yawn and stretch.
A cacophony of birdsong separates into distinct sounds:
trills, squeaks, coos of wood pigeons, chattering chaffinches,
melodies in harmony and à capella airs.

The siren song of the river beats at my will
until I squirm out of my sleeping bag and pull on yesterday’s clothes.
Bare feet cringe in cold, wet grass,
mud squidges between my toes.

I push the dinghy with a rasping rattle until it floats,
clamber in as the current takes hold,
drift peacefully
past pollarded willows.

Stubby trunks support an effusion of shaving brush fronds.
A pair of swans glides past – four cygnets in line astern.
I spy a gaggle of fluffy baby moorhens under the bank,
the triangles of their parents’ upturned tails nearby.

A silent shadow swoops above, neck tucked in,
as the heron searches intently for breakfast
in murky green water.
I am content.

 from A Prompt Each Dag   



This morning the sun said yes to the fog
and the river said thank you
for the chance to sparkle and glisten.

From the valley a blue updraft
of dust and seeds and wings
carries music and optimism.
Birds on a wire add sweet voices
to the refrain.

A grey bird turns yellow
in the sun, as a small miracle
of light bathes the field in gold.
Fold me up and leave me
to gather dust in that clover patch
of euphoria outside infinity.

Today is just such a day, and I couldn’t choose between these two poems for the last day of #30dayswild, so I give you both.

Posted in free verse, pictures, re-blogs | Tagged | 17 Comments

The Train to Cornwall

Miz Quickly has given us a superb exercise in editing an old poem.  I’ve printed her instructions to stick on my wall.

This was  almost the first poem posted on my blog, in 2010,  a mash-up from my Unfinished Poems file, including some lines written on a train, the start of an unrelated sestina, some more  written on waking from a very vivid dream and a very corny attempt to be an old-fashioned poet instead of just old!  I leave you to work out which is which! Much  drivel was banished to the recycle bin, and these few lines are all that remains.


The Train to Cornwall


Alchemy turns green to gold in temperate zones.
The cold that follows bares the bones
of trees  in austere dignity.

Almost imperceptibly
buds erupt to haze of green
dotted with palest primrose.

Folded fields and wooded combes
thin to crouching tortured trunks
as Cornwall calls me home.

Posted in free verse, nature poems, song lyric | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Break Fast

Image by Tim Ellis via Flickr

 Break Fast

Up through a heap of sugared beech leaves,
I poke my nose, whiffle the air.
No.  It’s not yet time.

I wake to hungry rumbling
but no scent of juicy mollusc greets me
and I cannot stand the cold.

Back to sleep until Spring.

It’s the end of a perfect dream
of moistened, creeping worms,
and willing females.

I snuffle again and honeyed air
meets my cautious nose.
Hmm, I think.  That’s better.

Ah yes, the time has come
to leave my winter bed of fleas,
to feast and make love,

… carefully.

For the penultimate day of #30dayswild I wanted something a bit special – for the rest of the month, the poems have been a bit rushed and instant, so today’s poem is an old one of which I am rather fond. 

Posted in free verse, nature poems, Poems | Tagged | 3 Comments

Dragonfly Days


A beautiful creature haunted
my childhood
by in and on the Thames
with glistening blue and green
hovering among  willow fronds.

 Faraway West in Canada a friend photographed a different coloured dragonfly.

for Sally’s wild challenge

Posted in free verse, nature poems, short poetry | Tagged | 11 Comments

Tempus Fugit

Tempus Fugit

It is a glorious June day
breeze enough in warm sun
to comfort my skin
yet my mind turns
back to a younger time.

We were happy then
sprawled on towels on the lawn,
nurturing a golden tan.
We giggled and chitchatted,
whispered and what if-ed ,
somehow found the impetus
to run and dive into the pool,
untroubled: our world was perfect
We flirted and canoodled,
idled whole days away.

Years pass with the speed of light
and abruptly I am gazing at
a future without distance,
with memories instead of dreams.


This somewhat sad effusion came about thanks to Bjorn’s prompt to play with tenses and flashbacks.  It didn’t help that as I write, I am listening to The Very Best of Nat King Cole, which dates from those salad days.

Posted in free verse, life writing | Tagged | 12 Comments


The dreaded computer lurgy returns AGAIN

I seem to spend a lot of my time combating  problems with my computer, and this time it is the monolithic Microsoft that I am fighting.   Having very nearly finished working on a 32 page collection, the terrifying window came up “your subscription has expired. If you have bought Office, enter your product key.  Otherwise go to xyz to buy” or words to that effect.  I could read my files, but not edit.  DISASTER PANIC BLUE LANGUAGE.

As I have bought and paid for Office on several occasions, I was able to find  two different product keys – twenty plus digits each – and entered the arena.  No good.  Retreat to Town to find Splendid Young Man – on holiday.  His charming colleague spent hours fiddling and faffing, only to discover that my so-called purchase of the software for the new laptop last year was for ONLY TWELVE MONTHS.  Did you ever hear anything so daft.  Microsoft expects us to pay and pay and pay.   

OK, the sum wouldn’t bankrupt us, so I got out my debit card and prepared to pay, resigned to being fleeced.  NOT SO SIMPLE  The Microsoft website refused to let me buy, saying I was outside the region of my Microsoft account.  The instant messaging help facility enabled us to state the problem to a human being who took the details and prepared to deal with it.  Then what?  He disappeared – it was going home time on a Friday at Microsoft, so he went home, leaving us floundering.  

Kind colleague installed an old version of Office as a temporary measure, with a promise that SYM Roland would sort it out when he came back from holiday (which is the day I go to UK!).   Poor patient  Jock – who had been sitting in the car for about 2 hours –  drove us home.

Posted in prose, rants | Tagged | 4 Comments

Courting Stalk-eyed Fly

image from here

For a successful female hunt,
length is everything.
Two flies with equal stalks
will brawl.
Winner takes all.

Male stalk-eyed flies with long eyestalks gain mating advantages both because of female choice and because they are better able to compete with rival males.  

For Sally’s wild challenge

Posted in nature poems, Poems, short poems | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Duet of the Grebes

duet of the grebesimage courtesy of Google and there’s a video here

Necks a-stretch,  beaks
meet in heart-shaped song.
Their exultant dance
raises diamond drops
from the river.



Leaves flickering in the breeze
filter the light to moving speckles
in summer’s enchanted wood.

for Sally’s wild challenge

Posted in nature poems, short poetry | Tagged | 5 Comments