Poetry – Light and warmth from many summers given and gone – ode to a cherry fire

Poetry – Light and warmth from many summers given and gone – ode to a cherry fire

BookCoverImage61xmXHYgJpL__AA160_ 61U89AzgoAL__AA160_ 61qDTq70unL__AA160_51QC-PE-PZL__AA160_Prose Cons and poetry cover

Light and warmth from many summers given and gone

I still look sadly at the large empty space where the cherry tree once stood. Instead of a huge pink mound of ice-cream between my house and the houses beyond, there is now a vacuum and nothing is masked.

There will be no new leaves to seek the sun or fruit for the birds this year.

The tree became sick and, as with any suffering creature, I had to decide its fate. With buzzing saws it was reduced to mere timber.

I chopped and hacked that wood and stored it in a pile behind the wall, sheltering it from the elements.

Through this winter I have brought those logs into the house and on a cold winter’s evening it has heartened our room with its stored light and heat and brought much pleasure into our lives.

Today I collected the last of it and scrounged around for the last small twigs with which to last the evening.

Tonight we will enjoy the cherry tree for the very last time and I will gaze into the flames, and think of it in all its pomp, and celebrate its long and wonder filled life, and thank it for its gifts.


Light and warmth from many summers given and gone


Today I collected the last of the twigs,

Sufficient for one more evening.

I scavenged the ground for enough

To provide one final fire.


Tonight I will stare at the flame

As it releases the work

Of many decades of labour.

The wood will shine one last time.


In beauty it stood proud

And would now have been

In blossom like a pink

Wedding of bloom.


In summer its green leaves

Would have sighed under blue skies

And hidden the ugliness

Of brick and tile beyond.


Its fruit would have

Briefly hung in rich profusion

Before providing rich pickings

For the birds and ne’er a one for me.


And as it releases the

Light and warmth of all those

Years of sun into my home,

I will think of it once more,

And in my heart

I will thank it

For the joy

That it so freely gave.


Opher 24.4.2016

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Poetry – We are at war!

We are at war!


We are at war!

At war with the elite

Who would ravage the land!

At war with inequality

Which robs us of our fairness!

At war with fake news

That robs us of the truth!


This is the war of reason

Not guns.

The war of ethics

Not weapons.

The war for the future of the world.


We are at war!

Never has so much been at stake!

We are rebelling

Against extinction!


Opher – 26.11.2019



Perhaps now the deniers who are witnessing the drying up of the Victoria Falls, the shrinking of ice-caps, heatwaves, floods and hurricanes, will start to wake up. No longer in thrall to the greed of Trump – for whom nothing matters except money.

The world is pivoting. It totters.

We should use our intelligence.

The wealthy will sell the planet for profit. They peddle fake news. Their greed and selfishness is endangering species after species and putting us in the firing line.

There is a war. It is a war fought with words and votes. It is a war we need to win.

This is the battle of the ballot box.

Forget Brexit. Think planet.

Anthropocene Apolcalypse – Environmental destruction – the slow, relentless creep!

Environmental destruction – the slow, relentless creep!


I’ve just come back from Holland. My daughter is moving into a new house. I was talking to the neighbours. They had lived there for ten years. They told me that their house use to be the last one in the row; that across the road was woodland and that beyond that was nothing but fields. I looked down the road at the long row of houses, across at the tram line and over to the new town.

In my village there are new houses springing up on waste land, the odd tree being chopped down, ditches culvetted, ponds filled in. Hedges disappear, gardens are concreted.

Across from my school there was a spring which was designated as a site of scientific interest. I used to take my classes across in the summer to see the water voles, frogs, newts and tadpoles. We even found grass-snakes and slow worms. It is now a new housing estate.

All over the country there are new roads, houses and buildings. There are hedgerows, streams, ponds and trees being eradicated.

It is slow, steady and relentless. Nature is fought back, habitat destroyed. A slow creep.

It is the same story all over the world.

It is not just about the graphic deforestation. The steady creep is wiping out wild animals even more effectively.

This is a passionate and always readable book conceived in love, gestated over a lifetime of travel and naturalism, born in a burst of anger and hope. There are many vivid accounts of places visited, focusing on their flora and fauna, with plenty to celebrate and much to fear. Pointers for the future are given and I’d like to have had even more detail of these. But this is a book to inspire social change. The message is that we all need to work on the solutions. This is a valuable and timely book which throws down the gauntlet in our desperate search for survival and sustainability.

Anecdote – Hunting Lizards, Slow Worms and Snakes

Anecdote – Hunting Lizards, Slow Worms and Snakes



Hunting Lizards, Slow Worms and Snakes

It takes knowledge, skill and agility to hunt reptiles. Tony and I were experts. We had a series of sites that we would make our way around. In the early morning we’d often arrange to meet up on our bikes, complete with aluminium milk churn with lid to put our catch in, and we’d happily spend our day hunting.

The heathland was the place for lizards. We’d creep stealthily through the dried vegetation with eyes and ears alert to any rustle or movement and body poised. At the slightest movement we launched ourselves, fine-tuning our hands as we sprang. We’d bring our hands down and try to trap the unfortunate lizards. We were very good at it and often went back with a haul of lively lizards.

Slow worms and snakes required slightly different tactics. We rarely found them out in the open. They liked to sleep in the warmth and darkness under corrugated iron where they were safe from predators. But that did not save them for us. Corrugated iron was a common building material. It was used for roofing on huts and fencing. We knew where all the discarded corrugated iron was in the whole area and made our rounds.

To catch animals hiding under corrugated iron there was a well worked plan. We would take it in turn to quietly approach the sheet of iron, so not to disturb anything underneath it, and then fling it back and dive. As I flew through the air I’d look to see what was there and make a grab for it. We caught a variety of creatures this way. The easiest were the slow worms. There were legless lizards and as the name suggestion none too fast. They would be coiled up under the iron and easy to grab hold of. The snakes were faster. They would react as you dived and you had to be quick to get hold of them. There weren’t many snakes but we caught both grass snakes and adders.

The adders were very distinctive with their black zig-zag line down their back. They were a bit scary because we knew they were poisonous. But they tended to be small. The grass snakes were a lot bigger.

The hardest creatures to capture were the voles. They were quick. But I once caught a whole family of voles in a nest under the tin. I grabbed them with both hands and transferred them to the milk churn. I kept that family of voles in a big aquarium for weeks until the babies were fully grown and then I released them.

On one occasion I jerked back the sheet of tin and dived. As I flew I saw a big slow worm and one hand reached for that and then a huge grass snake reared up at me like a cobra and I instinctively grabbed that round the neck. It was so big that when I stood up and held it up at shoulder height its tail reached the ground.

That snake was big and strong. He writhed about and threshed to break my grip but I clung on. He tried to twist his head round to deploy his fangs but I was having none of that and gripped his neck even tighter. Then he started to exude this foul smelling excrement that he smeared on me. But that didn’t deter someone as mad as me. I was excited. Even when he let out these huge hisses it did not put me off.

The usual thing for us to do was to take our booty back to Tony’s house. He had a big enamel bath in his back garden. We’d empty our churn into it and divvy up the catch. I transferred most of mine to the big pit I’d dug in the back garden. It was three feet deep with a pond I’d created out of a huge old sink. I’d planted grass and shrubs and put plenty of rock to supply cover. It was full of my frogs, newts (both palmate and crested), toads, lizards and slow worms.

I kept them happy by digging up lots of worms and buying meal worms from the pet shop. I used to enjoy feeding time. I’d dump in a wriggling handful of meal worms and watch as the frogs, toads and lizards all came out of their hidey-holes to feast.

I put my king grass snake straight in there. Once he’d settled he must have thought he was in paradise. I hadn’t reckoned with the fact that he was big and powerful enough to get out of that pit. He only stayed a few days and polished off my entire stock of frogs before leaving. But I did enjoy marvelling at him slithering around flicking his tongue out and checking out that place. He was a wonder to behold.

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Global Warming and a punch on the nose!

Global Warming and a punch on the nose!


The next time I bump into a global warming denier I am going to punch them very hard on the nose.

I have just completed mowing my lawn. It was luxuriant, damp and muddy. I had to do that because the grass had become so long.

Mowing grass in November is bad enough but I had to do it in December last year – in the North of England!!!   That is absurd!!  The only time I’ve ever done that before was when I was living in Los Angeles!

Perhaps the deniers will start to believe now? One too many ‘once in a hundred years’ events. Perhaps they have to be flooded, blown away or burnt out before they start to see the obvious!

The Paris Climate Talks – A few random thoughts.


Firstly – well done to Prince Charles! Being an antimonarchist does not stop me from congratulating the man when he uses his power and position to do something good. I believe he does care. He wants to protect rainforest and natural habitat around the world.

Secondly – Is it possible for a bunch of capitalists, with all their vested interests, wish for perpetual growth, lust for power, and greed, to find a way forward? How bad does it have to be for the prospects of the planet before people like this see there is more money to be made out of preserving nature rather than destroying it?

Thirdly – are we in the process of preserving wild-life and jungle merely as a tourist attraction? Is the whole world a theme-park akin to Disneyland? Are the only reasons to preserve gorillas, elephants, rhinos and chimps so that rich westerners will spend money to see them? Surely they are more important than that?

Fourthly – are even the rabid industrialists beginning to realise that global warming will create more problems than they can cope with? Will the cost of warming the world prove too much? Will it be cheaper to stop it warming?

Fifthly – Are they planning to do something about the real cause of all the problems? The problems are being caused by the huge population increases. That is priority number one!

Sixthly – Issues such as deforestation, burning of jungles, pesticides, pollution, trade in wild animals, loss of natural habitat, cruel poaching of wild animals, whaling, and a hundred and one other pressing environmental issues cannot wait. They are too in need of attention to wait. It isn’t a question of money. It is a fact that we are destroying species at an unprecedented rate. We can’t afford to wait. They need protecting now!

50% of the world for humans! 50% for everything else!

The animals and plants deserve to live too!

Photography – The mud flats at Spur Head.

I like taking photos. The mud flats, home to tens of thousands of birds, have a great beauty to them.

I loved these white chalky rocks

Ripples in the sand and seaweed coated rocks.

Cockle shells in heaps.

Don’t you just love it???

Spurn Head Nature Reserve – a haven.

The Humber Estuary opens out at Spurn Head. Spurn is a spit of land that juts out into the North Sea.

It used to have a thriving town. It used to be an important military base. Now it is a great nature reserve.

Tens of thousands of birds come to feed on its rich estuarine mud with its invertebrate life.

The water’s edge is alive with many thousands of rare wading birds.

It is fabulous to see.

Join the Revolution!!! I’m with the kids!!

Today – right across the world – people are taking to the streets to protest!!

We should all be out there with them!

Today students are leaving their classrooms in tens of thousands to protest!!

We should give them our full support!!

Today the world is suffering from climate change, from species extinctions, from pollution and overpopulation!

Unless we stop the madness there is no future!!

Today Trump is ripping up the environmental protections and opening up the USA parks and sites of wonder for exploitation. He will ruin the beauty of the natural world and massacre wildlife for a quick buck.

Today Bolsanaro is repealing laws to protect the Amazon. The result is that the Amazon is burning and millions of creatures are being slaughtered.

Today in the UK we are building on greenbelt, filling in ditches and ponds, grubbing up hedges and chopping down trees.

Today the numbers of humans continues to grow, forests are cut down, seas overfished and animals hunted to extinction.

I want a future with elephants, rhinos, whales, gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans running free. I don’t want some plastic nightmare!

I’M WITH THE KIDS!!!  THIS GREED HAS TO STOP!!!! Nature matters more than providing the wealthy with more loot!

We can put it right. We need to stop this mad rush for growth, to reduce our population, to stop chopping down trees, filling in ponds and polluting the world.

We can live with nature and not against it!