Fish – clutter – drain – banana – starling – umbrella – buttermilk – sky – walking boots – bibulous – carbuncle – brain.
Just look at that. Twelve words. I have to weave those twelve random words into a single poem.
Our U3A writing group is one of the few things that’s continued throughout lockdown. It’s a positive activity at a somewhat negative time. But what CAN you do with a list like that? This, it turns out. I’m not too displeased. And here too are a few photos to illustrate the day.
Wanting to de-clutter
my brain, I drive to
Walking boots? – Check.
Map? – Check.
Sandwich? – Check.
Banana? – Check.
Umbrella? Don’t be silly.
No starlings here, but
crest the sky –
that cobalt sky, patched
with buttermilk clouds.
A chattering brook
drains into the reservoir
where fish silently dawdle
and spongy bibulous mosses
make soft mats beneath my feet.
I drive back to town.
I pass that new carbuncle and see
a socially distanced queue
snake round the recently-opened
Coal Bank Wood
Five Ponds Wood
I walk in the woods daily.
Join me just one more time.
Light shafting downwards through the trees.
Loamy paths, wild garlic, bluebells, campion.
Silence: except for birdsong, purling streams.
The tang of sap, earth, flowers.
We were due to walk part of the coastal section of the Cleveland Way this week. We looked forward to taking over from where we’d left off last year, and to having a windswept, scenic and invigorating walk along the cliffs edging the North Sea. Covid-19 put a stop to that. So – you can either read here about last year’s walk, or – as we did – admire these herring gulls on their lofty look-out posts in Staithes. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to read about the postponed walk later this year.
The other day we got this postcard in the post. It’s from a friend, deciding against constant Social Media communication in favour of something a little more personal. It’s a lovely idea which I plan on copying. There’s just one problem. We can’t read the signature, and we don’t recognise the handwriting – who does any more in these days of emails?
Who is our Mystery Friend?*
* Clue. We don’t think it’s Jonah. Or the whale.
…. if you turn this corner?
William needed to explore.
This sentence is a a quotation from Virginia Woolf’s novel Jacob’s Room: ‘What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?’
An entry for Six Word Saturday.
We had to go to Middlesbrough for an appointment the other day, so we thought we’d stay and explore.
Middlesbrough is what’s known as a ‘post-industrial town’. Once, its steel and other heavy industry and its port brought wealth (to some), employment, and attendant grime and looming industrial architecture. Now, it’s reliant on newer technologies, engineering and the presence of the university developed in the 1990s from the older Polytechnic.
But its landscape is still an industrial one, as is that of the surrounding towns: Billingham, Stockton, Redcar. Could it be true that the RSPB had developed a Nature Reserve here, on its outskirts?
It could. RSPB Saltholme. Though it was hard to believe, as we navigated along roads edged by towering chimneys, great metal hangars, clattering unseen machinery.
But in the end, there it was, among the industrial flatlands – wetlands actually, punctuated by shallow lakes and pools. We’d arrived.
But the birds had left. How silly of us not to remember. At our local nature reserve, Nosterfield, the birds regularly knock off at lunchtime, only reappearing towards dusk. Who knows where they go?
Never mind. We enjoyed a peaceful walk. We got a moment of drama when flocks of birds DID appear, swirling and swooping above the lake. It was quite likely that they were taking evasive action from a resident peregrine falcon hunting for a meal. Drama over, they disappeared once more.
We enjoyed our time in this peaceful oasis. We explored trails that ended in well-equipped hides.
We studied noticeboards with information about what better-informed visitors had spotted that very day. We passed fields with the inevitable large numbers of greylag geese. And towards the end, we were rewarded with just a few sightings: some shelducks feeding; a shoveler or two; a few swans and a very distant heron.
But we enjoyed our afternoon. A near-empty wetland, with its unusual backdrop of an industrial past and present, and the never-out-of-sight Tees Transporter Bridge made for a fine afternoon’s walking … and there was even a café.
We love a walk along the South Bank in London. It reminds us of happier times, when during the 2012 Olympic Games, London was for a time the capital of the world: inclusive, happy, welcoming, proud. The South Bank was full of festivity, fun, food, friendliness and foreigners – all welcome.
For a bleaker view of the legacy of that time, turn to Stuart Heritage in Boxing Day’s Guardian:‘ … a moment of optimism that destroyed the decade’.
But it’s still Christmas-tide. Let’s stay happy.
We’ll begin our ‘walk’ on the train into town. Now then. Baffled by the window, it’s hard to pick out which are the city-centre monoliths, and which their reflections.
We arrive at London Bridge. Here’s street art under the bridge by Nathan Bowen.
Long-established buildings reflected on new facades.
Borough Market. Is it too early for lunch? Sadly, yes. Just looking, then.
And all those buildings, new and old juxtaposed, on the opposite side of the Thames.
Ah! This is fun. This is Zoë’s moment. A Bubble Man, providing unalloyed joy to dozens of children. And to Zoë.
Time for a coffee-stop (no cake, Jo). We dive into a narrow alley, which opens up to this: we’re not so far from Shakespeare’s Globe here.
But just as we’re getting a little tired of walking, the rain starts. The team divides. The younger members head off for a spot of retail therapy at South Bank’s Winter Market. The oldest and the youngest join forces and return to London Bridge on the river bus. For us, our winter walk of sights is at an end.
Not quite. Back at Hither Green, this is what awaited us just outside the station.