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Exmoor humps and bumps delight

Beneath blue skies and golden light,

She bathes while ocean currents rise

In dreams that wash in with the tides.

 

 

 

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October Dawn

Living at the foot of Grabbist in the beautiful medieval village of Dunster is a blessing.  There have been many hours spent enjoying walks exploring woodland, moor, beaches and coastal paths and whilst I am finding it easier to be up in time for dawn, this was the first time I have ventured up through Grabbist’s woods to watch day break over the Quantocks.

Inspiration was at my side.  Images caught, words flowed to become the poem below.  I trust you enjoy and that you may catch a glimpse of how it felt and more …

Happy October everyone!

As new day dawns and wonder breaks

Grabbist’s woodland whispers wake,

Sun, frisky, round – his smile bold

Now risen shining dressed in gold.

Tis rosy pink and misty too

This quiet dawn October view.

The rabbits, blackbirds and the deer

They’re all awake and with me here.

A stag stands guarding peaceful doe

With quiet grace and strong repose

His presence proud, inspiring poise

Live well today and feel Life’s joys.

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Beauty in the Beast

DSC08621For the sharp eyed amongst you, yes the photograph above is of the notorious Sparrowhawk.  I’d been watching her for some time from the kitchen window, camera at the ready when I saw the yellow-eyed fiend lean forwards.  Anticipating take off, I took the picture only to discover that she was in fact bending over to go to the loo.  Not quite what I was expecting!

It’s April and since Spring’s welcome arrival, the air has been alive with trills, tweets and warbles of birdsong.   I didn’t see her fly in.  

Pausing at the kitchen window I breathed in the view.  Beyond the birdfeeders grow daffodils and primroses.  Pockets full of sunshine, they are scattered lovingly between the papal purple of crocuses and sweet heady hyacinth. I love this garden.

It was then that I noticed the unusual shape at the same time as the outburst of alarm calls before … silence.   I focus on the top of the arbour, something’s different.  Peering closer, the upright shape comes into view and I realise what I’m looking at is the creamy soft barred underside of quite a large bird.   

Everything’s gone quiet.  Smaller feathered friends have scarpered.  I look closer.  Her upperside feathers are a subtle brown, the colour of woodland undergrowth.  She’s quite a bird – not one of our usual bright eyed, chirpy visitors, this one is a killer. 

It’s the yellow that catches my attention.  Not the soft pale yellow of Easter primroses, no these are the scaly yellow of long spindly legs shaped at the end with hooked sharp talons.  I looked up – over the lethal looking curved beak and into her eyes.  Wide yellow eyes with dark piercing pupils, they stare unmoving over the medieval stone wall and up the Avill Valley.

I back away from the window slowly before dashing into the study to collect my camera.  Breathing heavily, my heart pounding she was still there when I got back.  Steady and unblinking.  She’s got a mean look in those eyes.

A bird of prey, the sparrowhawk masters the sky with speed, surprise and agility.  Combined with the attitude of a stealth killer, I often see her waiting patiently watching the smaller birds on the feeders until the time is right.   Occasionally the last thing I may see is her long, square-ended tail and broad wings, tearing through the air like a low flying fighter jet. 

At other times it’s all over in seconds, a few downy feathers are left floating in the air, or intermittent piles of fluff, a deadly reminder of this beautiful hawk’s power and precision. 

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Dunster Beach

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With smiles on their faces

And a waggle through their tails

The friends and folk of Dunster Beach

Today left sandy trails.

 

Twixt stormy seas and hailstones

Wild passion and raw grief

It’s good to feel the sun again

And with her light, relief.

 

The sea, she is a mile away

Beyond the scattered stones

Her breath so soft and gentle

Licking gently over bones

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While sky above is bright and blue

Large puddles shine below

For giant waves broke through these shores

As if you didn’t know!

 

And while the shadows lengthen

Stretching all the way to Wales

The friends and folk of Dunster Beach

Need no longer think of gales.

 

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Letters from Thurlestone

What a moment.  What a place.  What a time!

 

ThurlRockThe morning dawned clear, pink and bright .. time to walk, to stretch and remember the path to Hope Cove.  The westerly gales are back and sand blasts across the beach, stinging eyes and cheeks.

This was not the Cove of quiet cream teas or dreamy loganberry ice cream.  The sea was churning and even seagulls took their time, coming into land on gusty blasts.

Walking back along the sea-cliffs, our faces into the fierce wind made for quirky walking. Staying on the path now a game of balance and direction – with the wind winning for the most part, I swayed and sailed all the way back to the Cottage.

Rosy cheeks and shining eyes were my morning’s souvenirs … And I’ll close these letters with some poetry summing up the beauty of my experience in recent days.

Sunshine pours

Cascading love-light

Into sweet embrace

 

While Ocean

Pounds and paws the shore

Like a dog

 

Crested waves

Rush to greet old friends

Back again.

 

Eternal

Time turns in circles

True to Now

 

And shadows

Run from sunny thoughts

To dark caves

 

While giants

Wait in soft repose

For smugglers

 

And I sit

Bathed in warmth and glory

Allowing

 

Receiving

Senses alive as

Fire crackles.

 

Letters from the Cottage

What a moment.  What a place.  What a time!

LGCView2My second morning and I’m loving it!  I wonder why I’d tucked away the thought of coming here to write?  Now that I sit here tapping away however, with bright blue sea and sunshine pouring through the window, the clarity is total.

 

The detail makes me laugh. For what was once a bed with a view is now my chair with a view.   It is a home-coming of beautiful measure … a return to Self and childlike moments cherished.

Pausing, there’s a sudden clatter, as if many crabs race, side-stepping across the parquet floor.  Bezel lifts his head and brown eyes twinkle with curiosity.  Getting up I investigate, crossing the point between the sun-drenched cottage at the back of the room to the dark shade and sound of raindrops at the front…. another threshold and childlike footprints in the sand…..

I remember how she’d wear a gypsy scarf tying it back under her thick, curly red hair. There were long poles to carry with green nets on the end, a lined plastic bag and a pair of tough looking gloves that were rarely used.

…. Watching the dark squall head out across a sunlight sea, its black cloud heavy with grey showers, my mind turns to the beauty of contrast. How boring life would be without sunshine and showers.  Wet, glistening green leaves shiver in a stiffening wind.

I sit back and listen …. Memories come and go, carried on the breeze.  I like that where I am sitting now is where my pillow was nearly five decades ago.

I like that it’s still the room with the view.  And what a view!  Like a grey veil is drawn across the bright horizon, another shower heads out to sea.  The tide is on the turn.

Bezel comes over with ‘lunchtime’ in his eyes.  We head into what has now become a spacious, open, sunny open plan kitchen where Bezel enjoys a combination of fish and liver while I cut open a mango. Juice oozes, more memories by the sea….

“Ready?”  The tall woman with the gypsy scarf and flaming red hair is standing at the porch.  My seven year old hands grab a beach bucket and I beam a smile of rabbit teeth, we’re out the door and on our way.

It doesn’t take long to get down to the shore.  The tide is out and jagged rocks sit idle and exposed, while others wrapped in horsetail kelp, gleam in summer sun.

Mother leads the way.  Little legs run to keep up as she heads down to the eastern side of the beach.  She has a plan.  She knows where the best pools are, she’s been coming here for years.

Letters from the Beach

What a moment. What a place. What a time!

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Sitting at the kitchen table bathed in warmth, bright sunshine pours through the window and it feels good to be back at this Cottage after more than 40 years.  Gales have been battering the south coast and over fifty shades of grey envelope the soft rounded curves of the South Hams.

The ancient Celtic Fire Festival of Imbolc is upon us, and it’s fitting that what seems to have been many moons of grey skies, are now replaced by a low February sun passing over the southern sky washed sea.

I breathe out a deep sigh and it feels as though my whole being softens like butter left out on a spring day.  Thresholds hover, they are the place in-between worlds, where memories slumber and awaken to Imagination’s kiss.

*******

We’ve arrived. I can hear the distant call of seagulls above the whistling branches of the fir trees.  Two hours in the car and Bezel and I are both keen.  We head across the windswept fairway towards Yarmer Beach. Murky clouds have been replaced by fatter, friskier ones that tease and chase one another across a blue sky.

Running now, almost tumbling we head towards the grassy cliff tops and down through the steep, deep sandy dunes to the shore.

Then suddenly it’s there; the intoxicating smell of the sea.  Gulping in deep breaths of summer days and salty deliciousness, I’m transported through time and space…. into a kaleidoscope of memory which has my senses reeling.

By the time I reach the sea, my face is wet with spray carried in on the strong wind and Bezel waves his tail, suddenly halted by the crashing waves.  Large, white horses race towards us on an incoming tide and I hold onto my hat amidst the wrestling forces of nature.

Crumbling cliffs and ancient granite faces to admire, we walk – with wonder in our footprints as a pair of herring gulls watch on from a grassy outcrop and a dozen oyster catchers perch, bobbing on jagged rocks to greet the incoming tide.