Reading poems to cows

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.

Looking towards town along the Sow
Where Izaak fished
From the ridge

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.

Moor Lane

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.

North Yorkshire pt 2

Chapel

We had a wonderful week in North Yorkshire back in August. There’s more about Scarborough elsewhere on these pages but here are a few further photos. Seconds after I took this there was a torrential downpour and we had to shelter in a shop doorway opposite while being divebombed by pigeons who were similarly unimpressed with the rain. This chapel is a short stride from the arcades and rock shops but I know nothing else about it. Quite a contrast from the Kiss Me Quick hats and stag night Learner signs.

Harwood Dale

This is the view from our holiday cottage. A wonderful spot. I could sit and write with this as my backdrop all day.

The weather was good but the sheep would huddle together at night and in rainfall, which I expect they see plenty of in Yorkshire.

Severn Ways to Love – Shrewsbury

A rare day off work on Thursday and a journey into Shropshire.

Shrewsbury is an ancient town and has fantastic old buildings. The number of independent shops seems to have increased too.

Poor David III

A lot of history was made here and poor David III of Wales met his end in a scene reminiscent of the ending in Braveheart. The bloody torture wasn’t just suffered by the Welsh as the plaque (right) below notes. Harry Hotspur and the Earl of Worcester met horrific ends too.

Poor Harry

Around the corner in Market Square is Clive of India. An interesting character from Market Drayton, he’s somehow managed to avoid being cancelled (so far).

Clive of India

Shrewsbury is full of tilting doorways and ancient leaded windows. The street names are wonderful too….Dog Pole, Pride Hill, Mardol, Raven Meadows and Wyle Cop. If you haven’t visited you should. It’s beautiful…..it sits on the wonderful river Severn (pictured below from the English Bridge).

Shrewsbury from the English Bridge

Severn Ways to Love is a dreadful pun on the Cola Boy tune in case you wondered….

Under Milk Wood and over the Orme

We took off to the coast and had a great day in north Wales. Llandudno was very busy with long queues for trams, pitch and putt, ice creams, pizza and fish and chips.

There is doom and gloom about the economy in some quarters but our coastal resorts are at least booming and it’s great to see. In recent weeks we’ve been in Scarborough, Whitby, New Brighton and Llandudno and I can’t remember seeing them as busy.

Prices have inevitably gone up but I hope people are experiencing and appreciating places close to home and having a great time. And I hope they’ll return.

The queues for the cable car stretched halfway across the headland and the pier was as busy as those Oxford St sales photos from the 80s.

Cafes have opened up and there are signs everywhere that read ‘We are hiring.’

Llandudno pier

It was a beautiful day and we clocked up 15km or so pacing up the Great Orme and along the beach.

From the Orme

Times are hard for many but I saw a lot of happiness today. Families from Manchester and Sheffield and Bolton and Birmingham splashing and paddling and eating ice creams and laughing and joking and forgetting their problems for a few precious hours in the Welsh sun.

Dylan Thomas would’ve appreciated the tattoos and bare, sunburned flesh. The lovestruck teenagers and the devoted pensioners, the aging jacktars running the boat trips, Punch and Judy, the tinkle of ice cream vans and slap of tide on ribbed sand.

Dylan Thomas

He watches over it all from the stairwell of Waterstones in the town.

Oatcakes

Yes, it’s National Oatcake Day – August 8 – and you’re probably excited. You should be. Not to be confused with the Scottish, hard and biscuit type variety, these oatcakes hail from Staffordshire. Food of the Gods.

Here’s a poem I wrote in praise of them and the fact they’re overlooked more than a few miles of the upper Trent.