(Ponden water, West Yorkshire, England)
“At the end of the river the sundown beams
All the relics of a life long lived
Here, weary traveller rest your wand
Sleep the journey from your eyes”
(From “Turn loose the Mermaids” by Nightwish)
Flying is easy… isn’t it? Dragging your luggage behind you.
Finding the desk and checking it in, hoping the weight is right, too.
Passing through security, Passport ready, hand luggage checked,
Take off your belt, remove your shoes, trying so hard not to get vexed.
But then all is done, pack your bag, get dressed, you are through
And for the next ninety minutes, sit back, relax, enjoy the view.
But wait, open your mind, is this really the best way to go?
Or would you prefer to relax, enjoy the trip in a way which passes so slow.
Take the car, take all you need, no fears of being overweight.
Sit in the bar, have a meal or sleep as you wish, travel at a pace more sedate.
If the sun shines, go out on the deck. Take in the air, you can’t do that on a plane
And when you arrive, your car is still there, ready to go once again.
However you go, I’m sure you will find that there is so much to do and see
Such wonderful sights, too many I know, millennia of history.
With languages diverse, and cultures galore, the seasons make no difference at all
Summer sun or winter snow, stroll in a park or around a castle’s walls.
As the sun sets, dipping slowly down with it’s rays reflected on the lake,
It gives a moment to reflect on the decisions we have yet to make.
Whichever route you choose, whether by land, by sea or by air,
You will never be disappointed by the things that you find there.
P1: Flughafen Munchen, Bavaria.
P2: The Alps
P3: Stena Btitannica.
P3: Ghent Castle, Belgium.
P4: Herrsching, Lake Ammersee, Bavaria.
P5: Neues Rathaus, Munich, Bavaria
ALL Photographs and words are copyright 2016, the author. Reproduction/transmission in any form is strictly prohibited.
I am afraid!
I am afraid that my homeland, the once ‘united’ Kingdom is coming to an end.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is now deeply divided over whether to remain a part of the ‘club’ that is Europe. Our neighbours, friends and allies.
A continent that within living memory was divided, conquered and won back with the loss of Millions of lives and yet, our memory is so short that there is a very real danger of it happening again.
Since the decision was made to withdraw, the media has been awash with reports of racist assaults and abuse.
This made me think.
I am writing a novel which is set during the last world war and some things I have written are becoming chillingly familiar.
Below, I reproduce a segment from Chapter Four which is set in Munich in 1939… or is it?
You are welcome to agree or disagree but, for me, it rings some chilling alarm bells…
Munich. April 9th 1939. (or Manchester 2017?)
…She didn’t have to wait long. At this time of the morning trams were frequent and soon she was on board and rumbling back towards her own home.
Sitting by the window in the half empty tram she looked sadly at the smashed and burned shops and businesses that had once belonged to Jewish people and had been destroyed just five short months beforehand during a time now known a Kristallnacht. She had been on duty that night and the suffering had been abhorrent. Families were driven from their homes and savagely beaten before being loaded into trucks and driven away to goodness knows where.
She herself had almost become a victim. She had been on her way home, as she was now but after a long day shift and had turned the corner as a group of men were smashing the windows of a tobacconists shop and dragging the occupants out into the street. One particularly burly attacker grabbed a frail old man and pushed him along towards a waiting lorry. The old man lost his footing and fell forwards onto the cobbles, hitting his head as he fell. She heard his assailant shout:
“Come on, you filthy Jew, get up, we haven’t got all night!” and swung his foot hard, connecting with the old man’s ribs. She heard the cracking of bone and the scream of his wife who ran to him.
The burly man raised his hand, in which he was holding a wooden baton and was about to bring it down hard onto the head of the old woman when Maria grabbed him, screaming:
“No! Stop it, You’ll kill them!”
The man swung around and raised the baton again, intending to strike her but, as he brought it down, he realised she was a nurse and relaxed his blow, allowing the baton to remain hovering.
“Get away from here!” he screamed at her, “This doesn’t concern you!”
Although it was dark, her bright blue eyes flashed with anger.
“Of course it concerns me!” she screamed back at him, “You can’t treat people like this.”
“People?” he shouted back, “People?! These aren’t people! These are Jews!” and he swung another kick at the old man, his boot connecting with the man’s face, breaking his nose and causing him to lose consciousness. Blood poured out onto the cobbles, mingling with the shards of broken glass that glistened like so many crystals in the flickering flames of what had once been his livelihood.
“For God’s sake stop!” Maria yelled at him, unable to move now as she was being restrained by several of the people who had gathered around the scene, the tears pouring down her face.
He glared at her for a moment.
“Perhaps you are a sympathiser,” he growled, pointing the baton at her, the tip just a few centimetres from her face. “A Jew lover maybe?”
The man turned once again and shouted to no-one in particular but in her general direction:
“Get her out of here before she ends up on the truck with the rest of this lot!” He then turned away and pushed the old woman along with his baton.
By this time, the old man had regained some of his senses and as the people in the crowd pulled her away Maria saw him being dragged and pushed onto the lorry along with the old woman who was also being struck and beaten by the bully.
The tears rolled down her face.
“Why won’t you help them?” she sobbed as she struggled to break free from the firm grip of a couple of men who were preventing her from returning to the scene. “You know them, you were customers of theirs, you bought your tobacco and cigarettes there! How can you just stand there and let this happen?”
“Don’t you understand?” a voice close to her hissed, “We are saving your life! It’s the Nazi’s. You cannot fight them. You will disappear yourself if you try, now go from here, go home, shut yourself away until it is over and don’t try to stop them. They will kill you”
Maria heeded the anonymous advice and walked on in shock, broken glass crunching unnoticed beneath her feet, until a tram rumbled up beside her.
She climbed aboard, numb, and sat silently for the whole journey, just looking at the blazing shops, broken windows and, worst of all, the violence. The beatings, men, women, children. People who had lived their lives here, serving the community, friends, neighbours, now unwelcome and being treated worse than animals. She saw lorries being loaded with people and their properties destroyed. The scenes she had witnessed this night would haunt her for the rest of her life.
When she got home, that day, she went straight to bed with the briefest of greetings to her parents and she never told them what she had witnessed.
“Have you been crying, Sweetheart?” her mother asked with a frown, “Your eyes look a little red and sore.”
“No, Mama,” Maria lied. Something she had never done before to her mother but she couldn’t bear to tell her about the things she had seen. “I am just tired, It has been such a long night.”
She smiled weakly, rubbed here eyes with her fingertips and left it at that..
She lay alone in her bed that night and cried softly until there were no more tears left and she slept little. The few hours she did get were haunted by terrible dreams of flames and violence.
That though, was five months ago to the day but this day was different. The streets were quiet and the tram was almost empty as it rumbled along taking her home…
Words and Image Copyright 2016 The Author . Reproduction and/or transmission in any form is strictly prohibited without the written permission of the Author.
Deep in the forest, Centuries ago, this house was built out of stone.
Some say for a highwayman but I’m not so sure, perhaps by a Troll for his home.
(The Ugly House)
High in the hills, a deep dark mine where the tapping and chipping of slate,
could be heard from a afar as the dwarves worked their craft, working from morning until very late.
Trolls and Dwarves, a place of beauty don’t make, though they toil and use all their might.
While the Dwarves mine their caves and the Trolls work their stones, something makes a much fairer sight.
With the crashing of stones and the chipping of slate now quiet, you could hear if you’re silent yourself,
The singing and skipping of sweet water nymphs and sprites and yes, of course, Elves!
But then, man did appear and from his castle so strong, chased away everything so fair.
But if you listen and wait, I think that you’ll find that the faerie folk are really still there!
(dduallt. Ffestiniog Railway)
Snowdonia National Park, North Wales. April 2016
All words and photographs are copyright 2016, the Author. No unauthorised reproduction is permitted in any form whatsoever.
The sky, black as ink, silver dots,
Impenetrable darkness it seems.
But fading now to a deep velvet blue,
and the stars fade away like my dreams.
A thin pale line, growing brighter,
The horizon with thin orange hue,
The blue of the sky ever lighter,
and the world starts to come into view.
A brand new day is awakening,
The shadows are long on the ground,
The still leafless trees thick with rime
and the frost covered fields all around.
A bright yellow orb slowly rising,
The Sun shows her face o’er the hills
Spreading her warmth on the landscape
And chasing away night-time chills.
The frost all around is receding,
The white fields turn back to green,
The coldest heart fills with warmth,
A more beautiful sight I’ve not seen.
Words and photograph copyright 2016, the Author. Reproduction in any form is strictly forbidden without the authors consent.
Below the main station, the river runs fast,
Through tunnels built so long ago.
Loud in the darkness, it thunders and roars,
Until back into sunlight it flows.
Next to the Aire the canal is so calm,
Which once connected cities so great,
But now it is still, a place to relax,
Or walk with a very slow gait.
The Leeds Liverpool Canal and River Aire, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.
Words and photographs copyright 2016, the Author. No reproduction in any form is permitted without the consent of the Author.
Today, like many others, I am expected.
Not just by one but by many.
In towns and cities across the land,
They wait for me and pay a pretty penny.
They know what time to expect me,
If I am late they get mad, check the time,
They don’t want to wait and when I arrive,
They are pleased and surge forwards in lines.
North of the border, across the Tyne,
Thousands of people are waiting and so,
Out to the East and down to the South,
I am famous, it’s obvious, no?
But ask any of them, do they know who I am.
Show them a picture or ask them my name.
They will shrug, their faces go blank, because…
I’m just the person who drives their train.
Words and Photograph Copyright 2016 The Author. Unauthorised reproduction in any form is not permitted without the author’s consent.
High in the sky, the stars shine so bright.
Which one did they follow on that wonderful night?
The three wise men who, from the orient came,
To find a child, though they knew not his name.
Whether we believe in the saviour or not
There is no doubt that the world changed a lot.
And through wars and conflicts that are so reviled
There can also be peace because of this child.
In nineteen fourteen, in ‘the war to end wars’
On Christmas day the guns, they did pause,
And from enemy lines, I know for a fact
The enchanting sounds of ‘Stille Nacht’
So beautiful it was that for one precious day
Bitter enemies met in the mud and the clay
To shake hands, play ball, drink and so on
And to share precious memories of their families back home.
Christmas is not just for eating and gifts
It’s a time to remember and heal harmful rifts
Thinking of others and not just ourselves,
But of those who are worse off in their own personal hell.
You don’t have to believe, in God, wrong or right
But you cannot deny that because of that night
A wonderful thing happened that changed us forever
In America, or Europe, East or wherever.
We all come together at this time of year
To celebrate our joy with plenty of cheer.
I hope beyond hope that this year at last
The whole world will shout HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Text and image Copyright 2015, the author. No unauthorised reproduction is permitted in any form whatsoever.
Follow the road through the forest,
Tall oaks with their canopy so green.
Through this sleepy Dutch town,
Streets and houses so neat and clean.
And then you find the entrance,
Its spires of thatch so unique.
The gardens inside are so tranquil,
So come on, let’s take a peek.
But wait, some things, it seems are quite scary,
Perhaps you should stay away,
Not from Raveleijn, of course,
That’s a show you must see today.
No, this is the thing that will scare you!
Or excite you maybe, I don’t know,
From the looks on the face of the riders
Judge yourself if you want a go!
A day of Fairy tales and fun,
Excitement and glee all around,
A place of fun and adventure,
And yes, there are fairies to be found.
There is something here for everyone,
Young and old alike,
So come on and stay, for more than a day,
You know it’ll be well worth the hike!
De Efteling, Kaatsheuvel, Nord Brabant, Nederlands. September 2015
All words and photographs copyright 2015, the author. No unauthorised reproductions, in any form, are permitted
She steps down from the bus, the city dark and cold,
Soft rain falling, wets the ground, the silence taking hold.
She pulls her scarf around her neck, umbrella overhead,
and walks off down the alley, looking forwards to her bed.
Behind her, footsteps follow, or is it just a trick,
Echoes from the walls, rebounding from the bricks.
Her feet move faster, stepping out, but still she hears the sound,
The footsteps keeping up with her, her heart begins to pound!
She splashes through the puddles, dares not to look behind,
Her heels are clicking faster now, the fear fills her mind,
She hears the footsteps following still, matching step for step,
Running now, uncomfortable, tries to catch her breath.
The footsteps getting closer now, she’s almost at her door,
Up the steps she pants, Umbrella hits the floor.
Hand in pocket, grabs her keys, lifts them to the latch,
Stumbling fingers, numb with fear, for him they are no match.
She turns to face him, hands outstretched and suddenly, she smiles.
For there before her, panting hard, a woman all the while!
“Why were you behind me? What is it that you want?”
The woman tries to catch her breath, her hand held out in front.
“My ‘phone!” she cries, “I lost it? Why didn’t you just shout?”
The woman raised her other hand and pressed it to her mouth.
Then moves to touch her ear and shrugs and takes a breath
“I see!” she said, “Apologies, you’re dumb and you are deaf!”
Opens the door and steps aside, “Come in, get dry and warm,
I’m sorry that you scared me, I hope that no harm’s done?”
The woman smiled and shook her head and pointed down the street,
“I see,” she said, “You have to go, well, thanks, I’m glad that we did meet.
Words and photograph copyright 2015, the author. No unauthorised reproduction by any means is permitted