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Tuesday 23 August 2011

Treyarnon Bay

The clifftop is one whole field away from the campsite, but at night
it sounds nearer. My granny said that once a boy playing with friends
leapt over a low wall to hide, and fell down into nothing. My mum
said, there are cliffs where you can’t see them.

© R. Rushworth
All rights reserved


When you go back

Unthink how the indifferent sea
Fingered with tidal persistence to rise by inches

Eased across helpless lowlands
Licked at villages, farmsteads and churches

Erased daisies, lime trees, bales of straw
Filled the throats of severed bridges

Stopped roads in mid-sentence
Discomfited mapmakers

As if by design

© Sophia Roberts
All rights reserved 

Coastal Path

Stinging heavy restless numb
Air thick with black thoughts
Pace fret forget
Go back to the damned bed
Once again my clogged mind travels that dark path
Along a steep cliff's edge
And where the sea is a place to drown.

© Caroline Nicholson
All rights reserved


An assumption surrounding celestial worship that is possible to extol
Arises from evidence that politicians use religion to control
From the 6th Century BC, Mithra became Iran’s God of the sun
And by 300 AD a religion to control the Roman Empire had begun
200 years earlier a new Platonic interpretation of Mithraism unfurled
For which the Emperor Diocletian gained acceptance by the Roman world
Mithraism was already a symbol of loyalty to a King
And the Emperor was aware of what benefits this would bring
Soon Mithraic sanctuaries sprang up from Ostia to Rome
With which Roman militia from the Danube to Euphrates also felt at home
Emperor Diocletian reorganized the Laws & Oath of his eastern Empire
And he used his People’s worship of their Mithra God to fulfill this strong desire
Christianity replaced Mithraism, and the bells of St Sophia were heard to ring
Whilst Roman Matriarch Helena discovered the holy cross and Christians began to 

© Kenneth Campbell 2011
All rights reserved

Coastal Path

On a sunny day, follow the beautiful Coastal Path, that wends its way along the steep cliff top, and enjoy the far reaching sea view. Long beaches at the base of the cliff are revealed at low tide, as are the outcrops of picturesque black jagged rocks, home to….


Crouching lookouts, shielded lights, crashing waves, groaning, breaking keel. Screams, death. The Wreckers’ Prize.
Crouching lookouts, shielded lights, snipers, guns. Mines, death.  The Landing Enemy.
Scared that unseen hands are drawing me to the edge. Fear of falling, spiralling, screaming, through the air. Crashing onto the beach. Dead; or worse.
I hate Coastal Paths.

© Penny Smale 2011
All rights reserved

The Coastal Path

Narrow boundary,
linking heavy dense earth
to shifting, moving grey sea. 
I always want to hurl myself
on that long journey to its
cold mouth,
my life ticking past 
as I approach that watery wall,
plunge, deep, never knowing whether
I would ever come up again.

© Valerie Taylor
All rights reserved

An Unfortunate Liking for Promontories

Nobody saw the surreptitious shove.

She would skim up stony, sea fringed paths and was there mockery in her eyes as she waited for his breathless arrival? He glimpsed the slender ankles that had once so attracted him as she fell towards the ocean’s embrace.

Then a camera’s lense glinted...

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Iron Coffin

I’ve seen them waiting in docks, nervous of eyes, like
Mothers waiting for their children at the school gate.
Gaunt, an iron fist, a gauntlet, rocking to sleep the children
In their bellies, meandering across vast oceans, laden and creaking
With secrets contained inside a iron coffin, sealed with sealing wax
Of wire and embossed like a Lord Mayor’s ceremonial chain of office
Weighted down, bow-legged on a legless sea-camel,
Interlocked like rusting Lego, numbered by once white sprayed stencil
Now, scratched like a whore's back, logo over-painted to lie or confuse
Disfigured, laying naked on top of each other, like spent lovers

Abandoned, metallic mouths now wide open waiting for rented food
Below a red and yellow Self Storage sign, signed off with an afterthought,
‘24/7 Access’ in a brazen new-speak of lazy shorthand communication
That promises the prospect renter a new key and little else.
Beside one of these iron, echo-cavern monsters I sit in my car awaiting
All my worldly goods to arrive in a rented van loaded by a dubious
Russian and two mid-European banal muscles who don’t even try to hide
The new scar, jagged on the dining table, crafted like a jealous idiot running
A screwdriver along a new car’s paintwork.

I trace my rain wet finger along the defaced table, remembering when once
This dining table was our pride, running your newly ringed finger along the veneer
Marquetry, inter-spliced with apple and rose-wood that perfumed the showroom with
Lavender polish that masked the salesman’s overpowering breath.

© Harry Mills
All rights reserved

Friday 12 August 2011


“You’re a recipe for disaster,”
the head chef screamed.
“My vol-au-vents have puffed away
The crème surprise has creamed.
Ruination faces us,
my Michelin star I’ll lose.”
“Sorry about that Guv,” I said,
“I just came to change the fuse.”

© William Botley
All rights reserved

Thursday 11 August 2011

Role Reversal - February Half-Term 2011

Part 1

My husband, Barry and I have our two grandsons staying with us. Jamie is thirteen and Luke, eleven. They love to go fossil-hunting on the shore between Lyme Regis and Charmouth.

It’s a glorious day, mild and sunny but there is a snag in our plans: we arrive at Lyme at high tide and so can’t reach the best part of the beach.

Undeterred, we visit the Fossil Shop and the boys happily while away an hour picking and choosing how to spend their pocket money. Next comes a competition: who can make a pebble skim furthest over the waves? This is always a favourite game but as the years pass, the boys creep closer to beating Granddad. Today, he manages to hold his own and so the oldies’ honour is maintained.

Afterwards we have an early lunch, picnicking on the beach. The pebbles do not make for a particularly comfortable seat but the boys don’t seem to notice any hardship and eagerly tuck into ham and cheese sandwiches, yoghurts, crisps and a homemade flapjack. Many years ago, I was instructed in my grandmotherly duties by Jamie, who informed me, very seriously, that ‘You can’t have a picnic without cake.’ However, the flapjacks seem to prove a popular substitute. We follow these with an ice-cream – it seems well nigh impossible to over-fill the boys these days. I envy their ability to eat anything and everything and only grow upwards.

Now it’s time to approach the end of the sea-front known as Church Cliffs. Here the land sweeps out into the bay, taking a long, gentle curve round to the next beach. Halfway along this are the remains of a major landslide and it’s amongst these comparatively newly exposed rocks that the best fossils will be unveiled by the falling tide. But as it’s February, the tides are very full and this one is showing few signs of dropping any time soon.

By keeping close to the seawall, we begin to make progress. Every thirty yards or so, a breakwater juts out into the sea and a rough flight of stone steps takes us up and over these old defences against erosion.
It’s at the top of the third breakwater that I realise things are becoming tricky. On the other side, the seawall no longer plunges straight down. The bottom ten feet are supported by a steep and green slime-covered slope. At the top of this incline runs a very narrow footpath and, above that, at about waist height, a rusty handrail. The waves are rushing greedily up the slope, as if eager to wash away anyone foolhardy enough to use this slippery pathway.

‘Right,’ Jamie takes charge. ‘We’re going to have to time this carefully. Watch the waves and when we see a few gentle ones coming, just make a dash for it.’
I’m not convinced that ‘dashing’ along this narrow ledge is particularly wise but the boys are off and make it safely to the next breakwater which rises high above the tide. Taking a deep breath, I follow more cautiously.

As we get further out into the sea, the breakwaters become higher and rise a good twelve feet above the level of the dodgy path. I’ve been watching my footing so carefully along the slippery edge that I’ve failed to realise that after the first two, there are no further steps up the next breakwater. Only a wet, knotted rope hangs limply down.
My heart sinks. Even as a fairly athletic teenager, I never climbed ropes. The boys mountaineer easily to the top.

‘I don’t think I can do this,’ I shout above the crashing of the waves.

‘I think this is the only bit with a rope,’ Luke yells back from his vantage point on top of the breakwater. ‘We’ll go ahead and check it out.’

‘Be careful,’ I scream as they disappear from sight. Barry and I wait, huddled together on the last step and pressing ourselves back against the seawall.

‘Watch out J,’ I hear Luke yell, ‘there’s a tsunami coming in from France!’ There’s certainly a large wave approaching. It splashes over our shoes.

‘I hope they’re alright,’ I mumble anxiously.

‘They’re boys,’ Barry says, nonchalantly, ‘they’re thoroughly enjoying it. Stop worrying.’

Sure enough, the boys soon reappear at the top of the breakwater.

‘It’s OK, Nan,’ Jamie tells me. ‘This is the only rope. The next three breakwaters have an iron ladder thing. It’s easy.’

‘You can do this Nan,’ Luke encourages me. I know they’ll be very disappointed if I don’t. I seize the rope.

‘Keep it taut,’ Jamie instructs.

‘Put your hands just above the knots,’ Luke tells me. ‘Now put your right foot in that hole. Good. Very good, Nan.’

‘Left foot there. Now move your hands up the rope. That’s right. Excellent. You’re doing really well.’

I’m very scared. I’m perched halfway up the breakwater with something like an eighteen foot drop onto the rocks below. I realise that I’m caught, quite literally, between my daredevil grandsons and the deep blue sea. But I can only go on, obeying their very clear instructions and enjoying their generous praise until my head comes level with their feet. Then I have another belated realisation. As the rope is firmly anchored to the lip of the breakwater, there is nothing to support me as I try to get onto the top.

‘Just push yourself up on your hands,’ Jamie advises. But I can’t begin to contemplate that. I haven’t got and never have had their upper body strength.

‘OK. Give me your hand then,’ Luke tells me.

‘But I’ll pull you over,’ I protest.

‘I’ve lifted twenty kilos in the gym,’ he says, proudly.

I’m an imperial girl myself but even under these fraught conditions, I calculate that I weigh somewhat more than double that.

‘You’d both better pull me,’ I manage.

I’m gasping for breath. They start pulling. Coming up below me, Barry holds the rope one-handed and with the other, pushes hard at my rear. Finally I flop inelegantly onto the top of the breakwater like a stranded whale. I’ve broken every fingernail, grazed my shins and bruised my knees but I’m elated as I bask in the boys’ fulsome compliments.

Little do I know much worse is in store...

to be continued...

© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

Childhood Recipe Circa 1953

June heat.
A veranda.
Roses twist around its intricate wrought iron.

Carefully select the blowsy blooms,
Snip off the bitter base,
Simmer, distil, strain,
Add the merest touch of cochineal,
Decant into a tiny phial painted with daisies.

Wait three long days
While sunshine shimmers on tarmac.

Then wear the scents of summer like small queens –
Until the perfume putrefies
And stinks.

 © Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

Wednesday 3 August 2011


As with this old seeping, creeping age
Reality? Or perception of a cold, sleeping dream
Blurring the fading pictures of a wandering life
Slurring the mouthless words, adrift each night.

Her long, long hooped stocking legs walking
Mumbling her mother-tongue, unknown language
Paraded through an aquatic zoo of the dead
Faded, once staring, bright unblinkable eyes

All lifeless, beautifully naked and spotted
Captured in the ocean's death nets, garrotted
Marked with the freckles of the sea's trillion
A touch of slime, then time back to oblivion

 (D'Talipapa: fish market, Boracay)

© Harry Mills
All rights reserved