A Good Place

Some places have the right ‘feel’ about them. There is something that’s difficult to define, but we know instinctively that it’s a place where we feel comfortable, relaxed, safe and at the same time energised.

What it is that makes a difference is hard to understand. There are some beautiful places that leave us feeling cold, some very ordinary places that feel quite special and we want to return to again and again or at least linger as long as we can.

Obviously the weather makes a difference and so does the time of day – sunrise and sunset, the warm late afternoon ‘golden glow’. But all of these things somehow don’t always matter  and when this is the case, when we feel ‘right’ about a place no matter what time of year, day, hour. No matter what the weather is throwing at us – those places get to us, get under our skin and make us linger.

This is one such place. A place that always feels peaceful. I know that many old graveyards do have a certain quality that modern cemetaries with rigid lines lack, but this particular place must certainly be an idyllic place to end your days.

I may have posted this poem before but if I have, then that will simply reinforce the fact that it’s a place that I often revisit.

Pushing up Daisies

Here above the sea,

ruins stand part cloaked in ivy.

Exposed stones warmed by evening sun.


Here we wander, see

no neatly mown paths, nor sterile

gravelled graves, no vases with flowers.


Here in summer, swallows

scythe blue skies above

carpets of unruly, scattered daisies.


Here blackbird scolds us

for invading his territory of

stones clothed with moss and lichen.


Here at Kirkmaiden,

there is peace for those who lie there,

pushing up centuries of daisies.




This afternoon, the scene we looked out on was so peaceful. From our corner of Southern Scotland we look across to the Lake District hills. No bridges here and although there is talk of building a bridge from Stranraer to Ireland that seems extremly unlikely.

We are living in a crazy world where governments seem to find millions to spend on defence projects and yet there are children going to school without having had breakfast, families who have to decide whether they can heat the house and still buy enough food to last the week and pay the rent. Jobs are being lost, businesses are closing down, nurses, doctors and teachers are overworked and suffering from stress – all this plus the threat of Covid and yet, and yet, headline news today is that our PM is finding an extra £21.5bn for defence.

In the latest anthology Bridges or Walls?, produced by Dove Tales(Association of Scottish Artists for Peace), my poem focuses on the kind of bridges we need today.

Bridges We Need to Build

Extending kindness

sympathy, friendship and  love

we can build bridges of hope.

Bridges of music

transcend language barriers

Bridges of food

provide for the hungry

Bridges of smiles

to welcome strangers

Bridges built with love – needed

to defeat an ever lengthening list

of negative forces poisoning our world.

Finding Peace in Lockdown

I  was recently introduced to the works of Irish poet Eavan Boland. One of her poems Atlantis includes the following

where we come from, they gave their sorrow a name

and drowned it.

In these times of Covid 19 and a very uncertain future, maybe we should face up to our fears as well as our sorrows, give them both a name and drown them.

Many years ago I read a book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Her philosophy was basically Take responsibility for anything you are being, doing, having, or feeling and never blame anyone else. The only way to get rid of a fear of doing something is to go on out and do it. That’s OK if you’re afraid of doing something but what if your fear is not fear of doing something but fear of what other people or other things (like viruses?) might do.

Again and again I return to the saying by Reinhold Niebuhr

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

This helps to get things into perspective and accept that there are just some things that we can’t change and we have to resign ourselves to things as they are and, yes, there are some things we just can’t change. Worrying will certainly not change things and only make us feel worse.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk reminds us in his book Peace is Every Step  …we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.

If we focus on the present then we have less time to fear the future.  Fear of what might happen in the future can destroy any enjoyment of the present and also hope.

We can focus on the natural world which is a constant balm to disturbed and uneasy minds.


A Room for Peace

For many years I’ve read and re-read the writings of  the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. His writings on mindfulness and peace are well known, but this is perhaps one of my favourite quotations (many can be found on the web if you don’t have his books)

When we have peace, then we have a chance to save the planet. But if we are not united in peace, if we do not practice mindful consumption, we cannot save our planet. Thich Nhat Hanh
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/thich-nhat-hanh-quotes_3
There are times, like now when I read of arms being supplied to support the war in the Yemen, that I despair of some politicians ever abandoning their hawk like attitude but – we shouldn’t give up hope.
When visiting a friend in hospital one day I came across a notice –


‘There’s a room provided

a room set aside for contemplation,

meditation, reflection, prayer

for those of any faith or none.’


On reflection, what faith would

condone massacre, bloodshed,

rape, self-immolation or torture?


Those following religions often

find barriers to understanding

in suspicion, hatred and fear.


Fear of the unfamiliar, unknown

feeds suspicion and unrest.

What faith can overcome this?


There’s a room provided

for those of any faith or none.

Is there room for peace?



A Walk to Inspire

Today started with a beautiful sunrise and got even better!

There are some days that will stay in our memories for a long time and this was one of them.


The sky looking north had an almost opalescent glow with pearl grey clouds edged with pink. The hills had become islands floating on a misty sea – and that’s the direction we were heading in for our walk.

After parking at Stroan Bridge, we headed along the trail marked yellow. This was a quite magical walk where we saw sights that will eventually inspire poetry but in the meantime …


A field of frost


This picture says more than a thousand words but meditating on a view like this is good for the soul.

Perfect Vision?

The year 2020 – will we all achieve perfect vision? We can hope that we will at some time in the future see the world as a better place than it is now. Fires engulfing continents, the longed for peace seeming impossible in some places, famine and homelessness in so many countries and as for the political situation in the UK – I shall stop there before this gets totally depressing.

We need to look for the positives in our lives, we need to hope that all is not lost, that things can improve. Sometimes people come into our lives that transform the way we see things. At Christmas we often work on a jigsaw together and that reminded me of the following poem that I wrote a while ago

Missing Piece

Until we met, life was incomplete

like a jigsaw unfinished.

Can I begin to say how I felt?

That elusive piece I searched for

seemed forever missing, lost

but needed, to complete my picture.

The straight edges were together,

corner pieces all in place

but a space remained, in the centre.

With you, I found the missing piece.

You gave me the shape I needed

to complete the puzzle.

Now, I have a picture, with pieces

fitting together. Will time leave that

jigsaw complete, out of the box?

I fear that time will take you away

and take that picture apart.

But we live for the now.





Finding Time

In a world where everything and everybody seems to be driven to move at an often frenetic pace, we are fortunate if we are blessed with time to be still, time to walk among the trees and by the sea.

At this time of year, and today we’ve reached the autumn equinox, swallows are gathering on wires ready to embark on their journey back to warmer climes. The leaves are begining to turn, we enjoy the warmth of the autumn sun, gather hazel nuts from the hedgerows and consider the prospect of making an elderberry cordial.

The days are getting noticeably shorter and the chances of walks in the evenings diminish, so we have to make the most of the daytime hours. Today we watched a pair of rutting deer as we walked across fields, to woodland along an old track. Here we could sense the ghosts of horse-drawn carriages. The soft light filtered through the branches and the only sounds came from the waves washing on the beach down below us.

This is when we need to live for the moment, absorb, remember and soak up the peacefulness that counteracts the horrors of our world.


Stepping into the Past

Sometimes on a walk we come across a reminder of times when this part of the country wasn’t quite such an idyllic peaceful place to be.


Observation Post

It looms ahead of us, a monster

of dark concrete, its square

empty eye sockets facing

our coastal path.


Now redundant, the look-out

stands, a chill reminder

of unhappier times. I step into its

darkness, only one, two steps

before a hasty retreat


to back away from

shadows of the past, into

the reassuring normality

of the present where there’s

fresh air, sunlight


where celandines line the path –

saffron beacons beckoning peaceful invaders.


Finding the calm after the storm

We are living in turbulent times – climatically and politically. We wonder when things are going to settle down, when life will become quieter in every respect.  How long do we have to wait for that?

Now more than ever we need to get out and walk – walk amongst the trees and along footpaths and green lanes.

Here, where the mosses are a vibrant green and the paths are carpeted with leaves that glisten after the rain – russet, red, gold – jewels of the forest, the air is filled with scents that send us searching for late season fungi. No purple blewits to be found this week though.



The burns are becoming rushing torrents and only as we turn away into the wood do we experience the quieter peaceful sound of the rain steadily dripping from the branches.


A small flock of jays are disturbed by our presence and fly off calling loudly; guardians of the wood objecting to the rudeness of intruders.



Stormy Weather

As the wind whips the long grass into Van Gogh seas and birds are tossed in the wind, the following haiku seem appropriate

Wind 1

Grasses form a sea

Land-locked waves undulating

Whispering secrets


Wind 2

Birds cling to branches

As the wind blows and buffets

Feathers versus force

On days like this we need a picture of stillness and peace to meditate on.

DSC01252 (1)

This can be found in one of my favourite gardens – Glenwhan, Dunragit