Been Away … Been Around: Part the First

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Family holiday: North Devon Coast; via expected bottle necks on M6 and M5 to the National Trust property at Kingshayes. Fascinating history, the owner/builder had a successful lace making business (in Loughborough) destroyed by Luddites who moved his factory to Tiverton, Devon … and was followed by most of his employees undred employees who – mostly walked – the two hundred miles to occupy the new accommodation he had built for them. Fascinating history, beautiful grounds.

Then tripping along the southern flank of Exmoor through the rolling hills of the county; roads usually perched on one side of a valley that runs between grass-for-silage meadows and either barley or maize. Grasslands: the original solar panels: converting sunlight into energy.

A couple of days in warm-rain soaked estuary town of Bideford. What a difference a tide makes: low slack water and misleadingly lazy looking mud banks that leave whacking great spaces beneath both the old bridge and the ultra-modern “high level” road bridge appears useless and untidy. High tide brings reflections of skies, boats that float jauntily and tourists. I know of course that appearances can be deceptive. These muddy shores are powerhouses for wildfowl and anglers and in history were an industrial thoroughfare, bringing trade and prosperity.

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Been Away … Been Around: the Second Chapter.

Some friends are visiting the area. All the way from Sicily. All the way from Turkey. All the way from Cyprus. Staying at a hotel in Walsall. Close friends. Part of an international project with some work to do …

But we set out on a mission: to find the churchyard where former Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham is buried. Led Zeppelin – never my favourite band from a time where loyalties were tribal: so the Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin? Mod or rocker? And me? Loved the strutting arrogance of the Stones and I’d heard Made in Japan at a biker’s party – my loyalties were forged.

But Led Zeppelin were legendary*, among other things, for being loud. And especially Bonham: no nonsense, intimidating, aggressive, big and demanding. Born and raised in the West Midlands. Eventually we find the church (St Michael and All Angels at Rushock ); surrounded by sweeping agricultural farmland: barley, pastures … and quiet. A few martins slipping through the blue skies. Otherwise, if you stop talking the only sound you can hear is your own breathing. This provokes some interesting thoughts about life, death he nature of eternity and – once photos have been taken and tokens left … where to go next.

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Chasing …

Me,

Riding wheels

Down the long-black stripe

Between jigsaw piece landscapes:

Edges, broken greens.

Me usually on

The right-wrong side

Of the white line

Chasing changing numbers:

Broken flashing arrow

On a tiny screen.

Making the

Over-and-over mistake again?

Thinking today

Is tomorrow,

Wondering

If I will

Ever learn

Notes From a Church

One of mine –

Of ours perhaps –

Left last week;

But, on the old hill,

With sweeping views

Down to the port

Where big ships wait

To take us further,

Another – if its possible,

Drew closer.

While I’m reminded of a third

(Something special in that number,

That magic-wise company)

In a rich eastern temple

Where burn candles real

And a ghost sends me

Notes from a church.

Meanwhile our October

Becomes my November

And I watch my breaths

Quietly disappear.