Or there’s a short clip of me reading it (and avoiding those curious cows) at Shaky Bridges on a beautiful September day.
We cool dusty feet in Millian Brook, and climb A ridge of rabbit scrapes and toppled gates To gaze upon Sow Valley as St Chad’s chimes Names are carved in oak and beech. Woodlands dates Bob hearts Bren. Tru Luv. Beneath us, rail tracks sing And far off M6 windscreens shimmer code Timeless here. Insects buzz, hover. Swifts take wing We’ve left the tarmac for an ancient road We’re followed, surrounded, by curious cows We shoo them, then un-shoe to wiggle toes In glistening shallows of the meandering Sow At Shaky Bridges we forget our woes Silvery minnows dart. We toss sticks. Make wishes Upstream, the ghost of Izaak Walton fishes
We had labradors when I was young and they’re among the greediest breeds. My mum used to try to avoid mentioning words like biscuit or cake as the dog went crazy.
So she decided to start spelling out the words instead. B I S C U I T. And so on. Whether the dog began to associate the emergence of the custard creams with the spelt word, or whether labradors really can spell is one for the scientists.
Anyway, it gave me this idea for a poem starring Bruce.
I’ve just got back from Shaky Bridges – a wonderful and peaceful stretch of river I’ve written about here before.
We walked for an hour and were only troubled by curious cows. I was at this stretch of the river Sow reading (and recording) a sonnet I’ve written which I’m delighted is going to be shared by Staffordshire Libraries (more of that soon).
The cows were a good audience. Indifferent at first they got closer and closer and the first ones told others to come and listen too. I think that’s what was happening anyway.
It was unseasonably warm but it’s a lovely shaded lane. The M6 and mainline to London are not far away but you’d never know.
I don’t think much has been written about this place but I’m happy to celebrate my home county and another of its overlooked spots.