Showing posts from 2015

July (1) - Morning

It was almost a year to the day since I had last stood under a Norfolk sky.   As I stepped out of the farmhouse it was not yet mid-summer, though the day was forecast to be hot.   The night before I had been lulled into sleep by the sound of Swallows twittering in the long dusk.   This morning, despite the early hour, they were up before me.   They sat on power lines and fence posts, and darted in and out of the buildings that surrounded the farmhouse.   In a straw topped yard black and white cows – White Park Cattle   – rustled and pushed their slick wet noses through the fence. In the trees down across the lawn, Wood Pigeons looped through their repeating call, over and over, again and again.   Beyond the trees a faint vapour of mist rose from the river.   A Black Bird sang from the chimney pot, and off to the side a Tawny Owl watched from the top of a five bar gate before it flew from sight.   In the distance I could hear the caw of Rooks and the chack of Jackdaws.   It seem


Walk. Pause. Walk. Pause.   Sand or sometimes stones; sand much easier, stone offering a greater promise of variety. The depth grows beyond ankles and knees; the walk becomes a wade. The involuntary tiptoe as the water reaches that height; the sharp intake of breath no matter the temperature; the final lunge plunge to flotation. The hard conformity of concrete floors and the Star Trek whoosh of automatic doors.   A heady chemical brew is replaced by a fresh air; cool and light. Familiar faces on the pool deck and in the lanes.   The single step over the poolside edge; under water in a single stride.   The routine of a double leg lift that lets the water reach over my head. Spit and wash the glass of the mask.   Sit or float to pull on the fins.   Swim fast to warm up. Blow hard from the second water shock, pushing choking splashes from the snorkel. Dunk the goggles in water and shake off the excess drops.  Pull the elastic high on my head; float and push from the wall

Outside the Wall

I’m not sure when or where I first learnt the word ‘archipelago’, but it was probably in Geography at school.   And those wonderful to say syllables would have tumbled from the lips of one of my teachers in a way that made me know that there were no archipelagos in Somerset, and that the chances of me ever seeing one were slim. Geography was an introduction to a world more exotic than the one I knew of, and one more distant than any I ever expected to explore.   I only really remember three geography teachers.   Mr Goldsmith, who was just a wee bit too young and fashionable for the rest of the staff at the former Grammar School.   A female teacher whose name escapes me, but I suspected was really a PE teacher masquerading as a geographer; her tendency to wear track suits to class and her unfailing habit of reading her notes to us from an old black A4 clip file, reinforced my opinion that she was an imposter. And finally there was Mr. George Rodgers, who within the school