Same Roads


During lockdown, we find ourselves walking the same paths again and again yet each time there are subtle changes, sometimes more obvious changes. Lockdown is making us more aware and that’s not a bad thing.

In Wendell Berry’s poem Travelling at Home, he wrote

Even in a country you know by heart

it’s hard to go the same way twice.

The life of the going changes.

The chances change and make a new way.

Any tree or stone or bird

can be the bud of a new direction.The

natural correction is to make intent

of accident. To get back before dark

is the art of going.’

With sunset around 4.00pm, getting back before dark is an important consideration when embarking on a long, even if familiar, walk. But as we walk , we begin to notice more changes in the hedgerows, the lichen and mosses on the fallen trees, the fungi – patches of lightness among the dark carpet of sodden leaves.

The birds are much tamer now the temperatures are around freezing and below. Especially the robins and blackbirds make their presence felt as they crisscross the paths in front of us, reminding us we should think of them as well as those of their kind in our garden. (They are the lucky ones, getting fed mealworms each day.)

It’s the natural world and the beauty of the woodland, mountains and shores that help to keep us sane in these uncertain times.




Beyond Five Miles

As lockdown eases we can now go further than five miles for a walk. This poem was inspired after we had our first walk beyond five miles …


Beyond Five Miles

 Liberated from lockdown,

we follow winding

lanes to the Wood of Cree.

On familiar paths, we’re

drawn uphill by storm-filled

waterfalls’ magnetic pull.

It’s the season of cow wheat;

waves of long grasses

flecked with yellow specks

of flowers, much prettier

than their name.

Dykes still moss cushioned,

saplings in a crèche, feet

encased in mossy boots.

It’s a tonic to be back again;

we wallow in a sea of green,

breathe woodland scents.

Life here has continued

oblivious of any virus.

Was that a roe deer or the

ghost of a memory? So

much to see, we feast eyes

on orchids, nearly missed as

we look up to see a treecreeper,

spiralling the trunk of an oak.

At our feet, an inch of russet

in the form of a young toad

braves our boots. We stop,

hear the strident call

of a jay guarding his patch

of  ancient woodland.

Then stillness …

we linger, absorb the healing

peace, fresh scents of

trees, mosses, grasses until

a distant roar of motorbikes

reminds us of life elsewhere.


The Joy of Living

Lockdown continues and on a rainy day there is less time spent in the garden and more time to think, reflect and write.


The snow and the wind and the rain of hills and mountains
Days in the sun and the tempered wind and the air like wine
And you drink and you drink till you’re drunk on the joy of living*

Summer in lockdown and a heatwave;

we walk each day – average three miles.

Stay local we’re told, so the hills remain

tantalising, too far away for now.


Each morning we look out on Larg,

Lamachan, Curleywee, Cairnsmore.

Can we stay fit to stand again on the tops,

to gaze down on our home in the Machars?


The months slip by, the sun beats down.

I think back to that cold November day

we climbed Cairnsmore, reached the

snow-capped summit in sunshine.


Resting backs against a drystane dyke

we sheltered, drank the wine of the air,

feasted eyes on feathered cirrus and frosted grasses

while our thoughts drifted hundreds of miles


south, to where you lay, immobile. Once,

you would have shared this walk with us,

quoted Ewan MacColl. That November day

we toasted your friendship, and the joy of living.


We knew you didn’t have long; that fact made

our own lives seem more precious. You were

one who lived mindfully, who lived for the now.

On Cairnsmore, we followed the map of your life.


*The Joy of Living – written and sung by Ewan MacColl

not long before his death.

Silent Streets

This evening, four of us stood (two metres apart naturally) having a conversation in the middle of the road. This is becoming the norm – but how strange and unlikely that would have seemed had someone told us five weeks ago that we’d be able to do that.

As we continued on our walk, all that could be heard was the sound of birds – and this a Saturday evening. Apart from during the book festival, our small town is never really busy, there is never a lot of traffic noise, but the silence is taking a while to get used to. It’s like the silence after a very heavy snow fall but the daffodils are in full bloom, the trees are all coming into leaf or covered in soft pink blossom and just occasionally the sound of a lawnmower shatters the peace.

We are fortunate living where we do – we have a garden that keeps us busy, we can go for walks and see mountains, fields and the sea. For us life is different but still good. We are thankful for that but there is a shadow cast when we remember others …

Worlds About Us April 2020

We live in surreal times

life has changed with

relationships once close

now only virtual links



Covid 19 self- isolation

social-distancing now

enter our vocabulary


yet we can see how

around us – in another world

the natural world

there’s no isolation here


groups of swallows arrive

skeins of geese will soon depart

robins have paired up

the music of many bees


accompanies us as we sit

seek solace in the garden

where life thankfully

seems normal


on an evening walk

the air is full of insects

swallows skimming past

feasting on their fast food


indoors –  internet news

brings graphic horrors

of disease and war

with this hidden enemy


less thought now for

ongoing wars with famine

refugees – millions fleeing

drowning dying day by day


facing both seen and unseen enemies

that’s their reality – cruel not surreal