Not The Same Farmyard

This is not the same farmyard I knew as a child, where (usually) cheerful men toiled with sacks, with welding gear, with drums of diesel, bales of hay, a tractor that wouldn’t start (again),: the machine shed and the patient cattle steaming in the misty, morning light. The yard that was organised chaos, that dogs, chickens and Adam, the Hereford bull, bossed in turns. The sound of Guinea fowl, the gentle lowing demands of calves and the moody exuberance of pigs.

The humming of the chaff cutter, the mechanical-but-hypnotic clanking of the baler in a distant field, the repetitive vacuum pump, pomp, pump of the milking machine. Swallows planning through the top half of stable doors in the cow-shed, spiders webs with litters of chaff entwined, the sickly sweet smell of the brewers yeast stack, the prowling, near-feral cats. No people here today, where my grandfather thatched ricks atop giant ladders. Indeed no ricks either, not even the staddle stones that they sat upon.

The place where I learned names like Alfa- Laval, Fordson Major, Friesian, BOCM and David Brown. Where fly-papers gathered insects on an industrial scale and a barn owl raised young on rats.

A single, immensely imposing tractor, yellow, somehow more like a Lego toy than an agricultural powerhouse. No trailers, no stock cattle in the barn, no combine harvester proud in the wooden shed complete with Hansel and Gretel trail of spilled grain and scarf of work-dusted hessian.

Gone to ghosthood, I hope they are happy, satisfied; for as I stand in what was the dairy yard, across which I manfully struggled as a boy with pails of body-warm milk I feel both a pride and an emptiness.

No cattle have been milked here for a decade, though swallows still balance elegantly on the same wires and twitter the same going-away messages. There is order and clean lines where there were families and humour and a pile of empty blue drums wait where the itinerant’s warm caravan used to settle each harvest time.

It still , thankfully,functions as part of a farming concern, looks cruelly efficient, the JCB is parked straight and protected from rain, the ground is level and ruthlessly weed free, the hedges neat, though flailed, not cut and  without pheasant and songbird friendly batter. Because agriculture has changed, often, in adapting becoming monoculture. It’s not wrong: business is business naturally (or not) and development happens, the weakest go to the wall or having no support are taken over.

This is not the farmyard I wandered as a child, where I learned to make some sense of life’s tapestries, where I began my journey into society and, indeed, adulthood. It is not and why would it be? Why should it be? Change is the nature of things, it’s evolution, process and progress.

But, for the few evening-sun gilded moments I am there I ask myself whether, as a child I misread the farmyard. There must have been a sense of business then. Was it that I didn’t notice it? Or was the farm, somehow, run with a more human, caring face? There are still foxes on the land, buzzards, rare then, now nest in the Lady Wood and nature turns on and on under the early evening Harvest moon: a time for thinking of those that have gone before, bless them.




To Union

Long is long,

Straight is straight,

‘N’ this ain’t over yet.


Bitter blues,

Frozen-mist locks,

Apathy shocks;

Which way to

The junction?


Long is lonely,

Straight is strange

‘N’ this ain’t over yet.


Smoking bridges,

Missed chords,

Lost keys:

On the way to union.



101, Not Out! Really?

Driving to work one on a day I chose a talk radio station instead of CD I remember part of a discussion about how to stay healthy:

“… balance in what you eat is important, exercise is vital (those who make no time for exercise, a note posted on my gym wall said, must make time in later life for illness) and it is important to try something on a regular basis that scares you” … it raises the heart rate (apparently) and this is a healthy thing to do (again apparently).

It is one of the reasons I started to blog, that and, some conviction that others (that’ll be you, reading this by the way) might show some interest in what I write …

… and then suddenly, before I was aware that such a time had passed, or that my fumbling fingers had bashed (my technique is in no way brilliant, as my spelling mistakes and occassional lack of spaceing will tell you)so many keys and buttons ….

… there’s a side bar thingummybob that just blinked at me, telling me that was my hundred and first post.

I am amazed! Quietly amazed.

I did not realise; I tend to ignore the button thing that comes on – until, of course, I don’t ignore it (like just).

But I don’t count, just, so far have enjoyed the challenge … and the feedback and contacts I have been making. I was wary of what I call the

Planet Blog, but am beginning to enjoy the aspects of it that are enjoyable. I have discovered, or been introduced to some fine writings and writers, characters

and talent; been stirred, humbled and inspired, been given new thoughts and reminded of things I was forgetting: this world is enjoyable.

I still find it genuinely frightening to launch my words and some of my innermost thinking out on the sea of the ether with no idea of the many places they might sail, what response they may generate, what interest they might meet. I For me this is part o f the thrill. If little seems to be happening, I tell myself, it i sbecause the words are still sialing, people are still pondering how to react, whether to react – and so I am not discouraged.

I make another entry, believing continuity to be important.

Thanks to all who have been part of this “journey” so far, let’s see what happens next eh?

On my way toget some exercise now.

28th September, 2012


The lady at the coffee bar table

Is a sniper.

“Don’t act like

You’ve just swallowed a stick!”

She pouts.

“You asked;

I only replied.

Don’t be shy now:

But, fact is,

You either like

What’s on offer –

And we can

Do business …

Or you don’t …

And, sugar, I don’t

Have all day.”


Without Reflection.

“Fire,” I said,


Without reflection,

“It’s about the spaces

Between the flames;

What was there before,

What is left

When it’s passed.”

“It’s not always pretty,

Not always better …

… and sometimes

You have to borrow

The eyes of your friends.”


The High, Distant Places.

Orchard-fresh apples

Golden in the tree crown;

Set-aside chess pieces.

Learning to walk with crutches

So I can be without them.

Never wanted to be old;

It was always something that could

Wait until tomorrow,

Never did the counting thing,

The adding-up calculator game …


But the green bleeds

Insidiously into the grey.

So late we go, into

The high, distant places.



The Shop of Winds

I am seeking

Adventure, mystery

In the shop of winds;

Using the door that

Can only be used only once –

Inspired by the majesty,

Attitude and power of

A rainbow in

Full flight.

Time’s blurred line,

Chocolate bubbles in

Rose-pink wine;

Tight-flame curls

And long-hot kisses.

Bells will ring

And angels sing

Before the year is done.


For Cornelia

Roads can be blue,

Trees can be purple;

Your light need not be my light,

Even though our watches match.


On my way to


I rest my travel-warm feet

On a ragged-corner case

Away from the

Confusing offers of help.


A friend-in-the-making

Knows that I am

At the wrong airport …

And I don’t feel alone.




So I am standing in Piazza San Marco – yeah that’s the one: Venice, Italy. Maybe you were there too? Maybe on the same day?

I am part of a group, we’re on a meeting, come tour, come educational partnership (rearrange those activities depending on the time of day and you’ll be close to the truth).

And, Angel, the man from Bulgaria, asks me to take his photo. he wants to stand, with some of the pigeons on his arm and hand and have his photo taken. Digital camera. I take his, he takes mine. OK, kind of a cliched tourist thing to do I know … but hey, the Venetians for some reason I still haven’t figured out had put hangings in the corner of the piazza with the Houses of Parliament Clock Tower (now to be known as the Elizabeth Tower) in full technicolour view. yeah the one in London.

“Angel…” I told him as we walked on, the place a circus of nationalities, tour parties, cruise ship refugees (“Which place is this honey? I’m sure that the clock in London hnh?”) waiters, performers setting up for the evening cabaret, locals who drift in on the marvellously punctual local train services just to sit by the canal, first-time lovers, souvenir vendors, school parties, honeymooners, backpackers and – who knows/ – visitors from another world?

“Angel, by eight o’clock this evening our photos will be all over the world!”

Because I had suddenly realised, There were others trapped in the images I took of him/he took of me and we would also be appearing in the background of so many other snaps – heading for … Japan, California, London, Cape Town, the infinite otherspace we call the internet.

I am writing this blog to share some of the excitement I feel about this world, the ups and downs and in betweens, the faces, the spaces and the thoughts …

… and to apologise to anyone who has me in the background of any photos; sorry I always look like this.

I would appreciate any comments or feedback on my work. It’s one of the reasons I’m here.

I hope you enjoy what is here and feel able to come back and visit now and then.

Maybe one day we will stand next to each other (the Great Wall of China,Everest base Camp, the Alamo, Bescot Stadium) each without knowing we shared something on Blogworld, then go our separate ways.

Here’s to those do not recognise in our photographs, thanks for being there.