The Crocalog: Tales from Hawkey Beck

The Crocalog Tales
The Crocalog

The crocalog lay in his bower
And cared not for the day or hour.
Since he had no shame to hide
He rolled right over on his side.

And lying thus he well could hear
The stories whispered in his ear.
The babbling beck had tales to tell
Of maidens fair and ogres fell.

The tale of Princess Jaune he heard,
(Eagerly drank in every word)
Imprisoned in a castle strong
And punished though she did no wrong.


The Crocalog Tales: Castle Toadstool
Castle Toadstool

A wicked ogre passing by,
Strong Castle Toadstool caught his eye.
Now, ogres are quite insecure,
For this, there really is no cure

Brave castles lit by sunlight’s gleam
Stab right at their self-esteem.
Just to give the folk a fright
He cursed the castle – out of spite.

The curse bound all in slumber deep.
But Princess Jaune was fast asleep,
She didn’t hear the words he spoke
So she, alone uncursed, awoke.


Meadow Vetchling
Princess Jaune

No one came to help her dress,
The reason why she could not guess.
No maid her presence came to beg
To breakfast on a scrambled egg.

She stamped her foot with discontent
And, in her nightdress, out she went.
Into every room to peep
And found her servants fast asleep.

So then, the King and Queen she sought
Of this sad state to make report,
But found, to her distress and fear,
Both bound in sleep, her parents dear.



First, she put on her dressing-gown.
Climbed the tower, looked out and down.
Bright swords, sharp spikes, was all she saw
Closed every window, every door.

She thought of brave Sir Furze, her knight,
Who wandered far to try to fight
A dragon for his gold and land
And with these riches win her hand.

Where was he when she needed him?
Her situation now was grim.
No clothes, no food, since who knows when,
She threw a tantrum there and then



The emptiness inside her grew
So to the kitchen, down she flew.
Boxes, bags there by the score
She emptied them out on the floor

Nothing could she see to eat
In all the food around her feet.
At last, she spied a crust of bread
And hurried, with it, back to bed.

The covers pulled around her ears
She sobbed, wrapped up in all her fears.
‘Alas!’ she cried, her shoulders shook,
‘I’ll starve before I learn to cook!’


Wild Rose
Wild Rose

Brave Sir Furze had wandered far
Seeking lands where dragons are,
And while he sought for knightly action
He found, instead, a fair distraction.

Many a maid his talents sought
With scented notelets, phrases fraught.
Begging for a knight as he
To rescue her from sad ennui

Miss Bramble dressed in frilly white
Sought his attention to her plight
And Lady Rose of Briar Park
Declared her future grim and dark.


Dressed for the ball - Bluebells
Dressed for the ball – Bluebells

Now rescuing maidens in distress,
Locked hard away under duress,
In dragon danger, peril sore,
Is, indeed, what Knights are for.

But maidens waiting for the chance
To be invited to a dance,
Not chained in rags in towers tall
But finely dressed as for a ball.

While needing less a knight’s strong arm
Still need, no doubt, his Knightly charm.
To rescue seek from boredom’s pit
Is surely stretching things a bit.


Ragged Robin
Ragged Robin

But brave Sir Furze, he did his best
To rise to this, his manhood’s test,
And though he could not save them all,
He rescued several at each ball.

These maidens fair with music sweet,
Each one he would dance off her feet,
While the musicians took a break,
Rich food and wine they would partake.

Few thoughts he gave to his princess.
He doesn’t know she’s in a mess.
Unwashed and hungry, I’m afraid,
And calling on his Knightly aid.


The Vacant Vale
The Vacant Vale

Each day she’d climb the castle tower
And at the empty landscape glower.
No knight in shining armour rode
Just vacant vale where the beck flowed.

‘Am I a maiden in distress?
In case of doubt let me confess.
It’s plain for anyone to see,
I need my Knight to rescue me.’

Disappointment filled her heart
And soon she felt the teardrops start.
A robin, sad to hear her wrongs,
Then joined in with his doleful songs.


Doleful Robin
Doleful Robin

‘Oh, Robin, try with all your might,
Fly near and far and find my knight,
Tell him of my situation,
Waiting here for my salvation.’

The Robin cocked his head askew,
Thinking what he ought to do.
Before things could get any worse,
He sang again his mournful verse.

Then, off he flew into the sky,
All he could do would be to try
To seek her knight, as she did ask.
Indeed, it seemed a hopeless task.


Swan with Reflection
Swan with Reflection

Down from the tower, just by chance
In a large mirror stole a glance
Dishevelled and unkempt was she
She was no sight for knights to see.

Straightway to shower and wash her hair
(It was days since she’d been there!)
With the caress of water warm
Good thoughts came buzzing in a swarm.

‘I must desist this futile mope.
I’ll cook a meal – I’m sure I’ll cope.
I’ll leave things out wherein I lack it,
And follow just what’s on the packet.’


May Blossom - Covering the Hedges, Like Washing Spread Out to Dry
May Blossom – Covering the Hedges, Like Washing Spread Out to Dry

‘I need clean clothes, I’ll take a look,
Try to find an instruction book.
These grave issues I must address.
Am I not a royal princess?’

‘It’s time I took myself in hand.
My Knight is in a far-off land.
I know that he on me depends
While he, with dragons fierce, contends’

‘Oh Robin true, fly far and wide
Take my sad tale, sing at his side.
Tell how, for him, I greatly yearn,
To rescue me on his return.’


Robin in a Gorse Bush
Robin in a Gorse Bush

Dancing all night, idle by day
Sir Furze in scented bower lay.
He mused upon his dissipation
In the current situation

A robin did a sad song make,
It did not help with his headache,
‘Yes, of my conduct I’m not proud,
But Robin, please, don’t sing so loud!’

‘My Princess has great hopes of me,
How disappointed she would be
That my commitment is so weak.
I will, today, a dragon seek.’


Far Off Mountains
Far-Off Mountains

Straightway, Sir Furze, he took to horse
Towards the mountains set his course.
‘Twas there, the thought was in his mind,
He surely would a dragon find.

Then, what a battle there would be
He would display his bravery
The fight of fights, unto the death,
Against the flaming dragon’s breath!

The clash of steel – of sword and shield
With valour both, he’d surely wield.
In his mind’s eye, he plain could see,
Himself, stood there, in victory.


Blackbird - keeping a look out
Blackbird – keeping a lookout

The Princess grew more confident
Her meals turned out just how she meant
The clothes with which she daily dressed
Hung in her closet neatly pressed

Still, each day up the tower climbed she
Hoping for her Knight to see
Here at this high elevation
Welcome him with pure elation

But when she felt the teardrops start
These days, grave doubts tugged at her heart
Fearing, perhaps upon a whim,
The dragon had, sadly, slain him.


Mushrooms - A Tumbled Inn
Mushrooms – A Tumbled Inn

Sir Furze rode on and, once or twice,
He stopped to ask for some advice,
‘Are dragons found in hereabouts?’
But each he asked expressed their doubts.

Deeper he rode far in the hills
The sun obscured by cloudy chills
Through rain and sleet and thunder’s roar
At last, a tumbled inn he saw.

He asked, ‘Are dragons to be found,
Here where the mountains do abound?’
‘The Ancient Sage would surely know,
He’d kindly tell you where to go!’


Fireplace With Fire
Fireplace With Fire

‘First, shelter for me and my horse
I’ll seek this hermit in due course.
A stable where Horse can retire
For me a seat near to the fire.’

The patron showed him to a chair,
‘Please sit, Sir Knight, and if you care,
In our fire’s warmth to freely speak
Of where you came, and what you seek.’

‘I seek to win me gold and land
To beg My Princess for her hand.
To fight a dragon seems to be
The way, as far as I can see.’



‘Our Ancient Sage is wise and kind.
Politely ask what’s on your mind
He, for no charge, will answer you
Explaining what you need to do.’

‘The way is hard, the mountains high
Your horse can’t climb where eagles fly
Sword, shield and lance will hamper you
And leave behind your armour too.’

Sir Furze he went to bed unsure
These words struck at his very core
No horse, no sword, could this be right?
How would folk know he was a knight?



Sir Furze climbed on, the way was hard
Used hands and feet to gain each yard
‘Advice they gave I will endorse
This is no path for man and horse.’

At last a cavern he espied
The Ancient Sage should be inside
‘Art thou within, oh Ancient Sage?
I would, a while, with thee engage.’

A flame broke through the stygian gloom
Its flickering light lit up the room
‘Ah, welcome friend,’ rumbled a voice,
‘Come, sit or stand as is your choice.’



Sir Furze advanced into the grot
Unsure if he should sit or not.
To stand to him did seem most wise
For quick escape, should need arise

‘A dragon for his gold and land
I need to slay, you understand
This, the matter I must address
To gain the hand of my princess.’

A chuckle from the darkness came
And lit the cavern with a flame
‘See now Sir Knight just why you joke
I am the last of The Dragon-folk.’


Robin in the cave
Robin in the cave

‘This cave – my lands, I have no gold.
Wisdom I have; I’m very old.
In life there are diverse paths but,
Which ‘er you choose, there’s no shortcut.’

‘But wait! Who’s this. Come brother bird.
It’s time your story should be heard!’
The Robin sang his sad song and
Sir Furze found he could understand.

‘Well, Sir Knight, you need not guess,
Your duty is to your princess.
Take sword and steel, and to her pledge
Your love against The Ogre’s hedge!’


No Gold or Lands
No Gold or Lands

Down to the inn, sword shield and horse
To save his princess by brute force
The weary miles must galop by
None bar his way. On he needs fly!

The dragon’s words ring in his mind
No gold or lands are there to find
Which all these years he sought in vain
A waste of time it now is plain

To his princess, he must return
Make plain she is his main concern
The Ogres hedge he must attack
Drive the curse, whence it came, back.


The Ogre's Hedge - Gorse
The Ogre’s Hedge – Gorse

Upon the tower our princess stands
Looks out expecting barren lands
But see! Her hopes are now fulfilled
Her knight returns, he’s not been killed.

‘Princess,’ he cries, and draws his sword
‘A path I’ll hew both straight and broad
Through bushes dense I’ll drive a wedge
And free you from The Ogre’s hedge.’

He hacks away with all his might
But finds his plan does not go right.
For as he chops so the hedge grows
And soon it will behind him close.


Down from her tower the princess flies
To force the castle door she tries
Opens a crack through which to squeeze
But thorns and spikes are all she sees

From sleeping guard she wrests a blade
Carves her way through the gap she’s made
Towards her knight stretches her hand
He reaches out, their hands clasp, and …

An Ogre’s curse is made from hate
So love’s true touch does it abate.
The castle woke to a sweet sight,
Their princess brave, kissing her knight.

The End


Ringlet Butterfly
Ringlet Butterfly

Today we have the Ringlet Butterfly. As you can see, there is nothing very remarkable about it. It’s just a butterfly.

It prefers the cool damp days to bright sunny ones and so is out and about when its other more gaudy associates are sheltering from the inclemency.

Many cartoon heroes and even the main dramatis personae in our espionage fiction are usually remarkable people. The truth of the matter is that these larger-than-life characters are truly fictional and in the real world spies are valued for their ordinariness, their ability to blend in and disappear into the wallpaper – to be invisible in plain sight. The Ringlet performs this sleight of hand with ease. They are one of our most common butterflies but barely get a mention. When the subject arises their more colourful cousins, the Red Admirals, the Painted Ladies, the Peacocks, the Fritillaries, claim the limelight.

Are our, so ordinary, Ringlet butterflies leading a secret life, we wonder? Are they taught Morse Code in their cradles? Do they emerge from the chrysalis as fully competent agents provocateur? Is their love of dull damp days a cover for their clandestine operations?

And if so, whose side are they on?

Unlikely Bedfellows

Impatiens And Mimulus
Impatiens And Mimulus

‘Oh Mimulus, you drive me mad,
You timid yellow bloom.
Your talk is always of the bad,
Your mind is full of doom.
Disaster fills each waking thought,
Your conversation palls.
This list of battles to be fought,
Just on my deaf ear falls.’

‘Impatiens, slow down and hear
The warnings that we bring.
Pink blossom, haste will cost you dear,
A doleful song you’ll sing.
Our future flies on fragile wings
This world’s a dangerous place.
These are not vague imaginings,
But real threats that we face.’

For context see:

The Wheel of Life

Buttercup With Two Flies
Buttercup With Two Flies

One behind and one ahead.
One in the lead and one is led.
The timid trail after the bold.
A buttercup, their world of gold.

We mortals all chase fool’s gold too.
Around we go. Who’s leading who?
Bright sword sharp or ploughshare blunt.
Each to the rear and each in front.

The sun his daily orbit makes
And never pause or rest he takes.
So, we upon life’s wheel must toil.
To till and plant and reap our soil.

Idle Musings

Hoverfly in the Hogweed
Hoverfly in the Hogweed

To bee or not to bee, a question I ask myself,
You might as well be asking, ‘When’s a fairy an elf?’
A witch is always a who, but a which is only a what,
Then again, here’s a thought, ‘Should I bee a wasp – or not?’

Do I look really fierce? I’m hoping you’d think I sting.
Would my yellow and black coat convince you – that’s the thing?
I’m trying not to get eaten by a bird looking for a quick bite.
Now my disguise is good – I just hope birds have good sight.

You’ll find me in the garden, I love to smell the flowers,
And buzz around among their dappled scented bowers.
I know that I look scary, but I don’t want to make you cry,
You see, I’m just a harmless, friendly, hoverfly.

Painted Lady

Painted Lady
Painted Lady

‘Painted Lady passing by,
Just a social butterfly.’
So they say, all unaware,
For their opinions, you don’t care

Is life just a pleasant hour
While you flit from flower to flower,
Turning hours to tranquil days,
Basking in the summer rays?

Is it impolite to ask
If this paint is just a mask?
Do you hide, with raffish flare,
All the burdens that you bear?

New Ploughing

New Ploughing
New Ploughing

Awake. Awake, good brown earth, your slumber now must cease.
Come, show us what you’re made of, for you shall have no peace.
No longer lie there, somnolent, in your verdant green pyjamas.
You lie in working farmland, not on a beach in the Bahamas.

You’ve crops to feed and germinate, give sustenance and cosset.
And grow them tall and rear them well on nature’s pluvial posset.
Up now, awake, though warmer days make slumber so seductive.
You’ve drowsed the year away ‘til now, it’s time you were productive.


Spotted Woodpecker Pair
Spotted Woodpecker Pair

‘Will you look at that?’
‘I can’t see any peanuts.’
‘Not peanuts, I mean look at that knot.’
‘Which knot?’
‘This one.’
‘What for?’
‘Just look at it!’
‘I am looking at it. Now what. Where are the peanuts?’
‘Never mind the peanuts, just for one moment. Just look at that knot.’
‘It’s a knot, OK, I see it. Now, where are the peanuts?’
‘OK, OK. Let’s forget the peanuts, just for two seconds. We’ll do peanuts in a minute. OK?’
‘Now, look at the knot.’
‘I’ve looked at it already. It’s still the same. Was something supposed to happen while I was looking at it? Because if it was – it didn’t.’
‘Nothing is supposed to happen, that’s not the point. Just look at it closely.’
‘OK, I’m looking.’
‘You see?’
‘Yes, I see.’
‘What do you see?’
‘A knot.’
‘Yes, a knot. But don’t you see?’
‘Of course I can see the knot. So what? Can we get back to the peanuts, now? The kids are waiting, you know.’
‘Peanuts! Is that all you can think about?’
‘The kids are hungry and I can’t see how this knot can help to feed them. But I can see how peanuts can.’
‘You mean you honestly don’t see anything wrong with that knot?’
‘No, just tell me – and let’s get to the peanuts.’
‘OK, I give in. You’re going to kick yourself when I tell you, though.’
‘I’ll risk it, just tell me.’
‘Oh for Pete’s sake, look at it. Did you ever see a worse example of a Granny Knot?’


Train going past
Train going past

Train going past on the railway track,
Carrying passengers, clickety-clack.
Some going there and some coming back.
Clickety, clickety. Clickety-clack.

“Quinquireme of Nineveh,” some people quote,
But Nineveh is long gone and a quinquireme’s just a boat.
It’s hold stuffed with trade goods and trinkets by the score,
But no room for passengers, unless you man an oar.

“Stately Spanish galleon,” rash pirates favourite prey.
Give them a broadside and chase them away.
But you can’t buy a ticket, no matter what you do.
Don’t hang around the docks, though – you’ll be press-ganged for a crew!

“Dirty British coaster,” history’s taken you as well,
Carrying coals to Newcastle, all smoke and noxious smell.
The cargoes you carried are not now what we need.
What we have are passengers and passengers need speed.

So, train going past on the railway track
Carrying passengers, clickety-clack.
Some going there and some coming back
Clickety, clickety. Clickety-clack.

John Masefield’s Cargos is one of my favourite poems. He died 52 years ago –  in May 1967.

Loquacious Lump

Lumps In The Beck
Lumps In The Beck

Said a duck, in the beck, swimming by,
‘Strange lumps, here and there, I espy.’
‘Not just one hippopotamus,’
Said a lump, ‘There’s a lot of us!’
‘Oh, how nice,’ said the duck. ‘Well … must fly.’

The Crocalog Reflects

The Crocalog's Garden
The Crocalog’s Garden

The crocalog, he wandered far,
To find just where the answers are.
He found it was more complicated
Than he’d, at first, anticipated.

Disillusionment set in.
He pined for all his kith and kin,
No longer felt the urge to roam,
In short – he wanted to go home.

Now contentedly at rest,
He’s made himself a little nest.
Where he needs beg, from no man, pardon
But sits serenely in his garden.

Population Polarity



Today I came across some Ribwort Plantain with its striking flower/seed head and rough five ribbed leaves. My first thought was that five ribs would easily create a Devine production line allowing the manufacture of five Eves at once. On second thoughts it occurred to me that Divinity appears to rely on market forces and so would be unlikely to want to flood the market with either men or women. The world functions best when the original ratio is maintained.

Then, I remembered that the King of eSwatini (formally Swaziland) had not in fact ordered the men of his country, on pain of fines or imprisonment, to marry at least two wives at a time. It was, a spokesman said, a malicious rumour that appeared first in a Zimbabwe newspaper.

Prodding Google awake, I asked him which countries had the most of one or the other. He found me a list from 2017/2018 – with some interesting numbers. However, caution is needed – the island of Martinique, the place with 120 women to every 100 men was, reportedly, in North America. {There is a suburb of that name in New York.)

Most places approximate the world average of 98.25 women to each 100 men – until we come to the Arab states. Here, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have around 35 women to every 100 men. Such extremes make me uneasy and I’m inclined to wonder how the figures were collected.

You know: Lies. Damn lies – and statistics?

The Blacksmith’s Apprentice

The Guardians of the Gate
The Guardians of the Gate

‘No! I beg you Sir Knight, if you value your life, leave – lest the castle guardians destroy you!’
‘Princess Miranda, I am sworn to free you from your prison, and I will do whatever needs be to accomplish this!’
‘Sir Knight, I am not imprisoned. You may leave me here in the castle. I need no rescue.’
‘Then, I will enter the castle that we may continue to converse at our leisure.’
With a fine caracole, Sir Knight raised his lance in salute and galloped forward – into the massive fireball of dragon flame that issued from the castle’s two fearsome guardians.
Princess Miranda covered her eyes and turned away.
‘Anna,’ she turned to her elderly governess. ‘How can I stop them from coming here, just to be destroyed by the dragons?’
Anna put a comforting arm around her shoulders. ‘As long as the castle is here, they’ll keep coming, Princess, it’s not your fault. There’s nothing you can do about it.’
‘I must go to Olaf, Anna.’
‘That young smith’s apprentice? Princess, you know you shouldn’t be talking to him. Have you told him who you really are?’
The princess nodded, ‘Yes, he knows. He promised to tell no one. He told me he loved me before he knew who I was. So, I had to tell him the truth.’
She turned back to the window, ‘Why, there’s Olaf now. Oh no. What is he doing? The dragons. No. No!’
‘Princess Miranda. I can’t live without you any longer. I’m coming in, dragons or no dragons!’
‘Olaf. Oh, Olaf. No!’ She leapt away from the window, flew down the stairs and out through the castle door.
‘Olaf. Olaf!’ She ran towards him, arms outstretched.
‘Miranda. I love you.’ He ran forward reaching out for her.
The dragon’s fire engulfed them both – changing to become, instead, a cool spring breeze carrying fragrant cherry blossom and sweet birdsong.
‘Oh, Olaf!’
‘Oh, Miranda!’
Then, as the castle and its guardians shimmered and faded behind them, he kissed her.
True love, surely, conquers all.

…a rose, by any other name…

Hedge Garlic
Hedge Garlic

‘Jack? Jack? Here. Yes, that’s me. Jack-by-the-Hedge is what most people call me. I do have a few other names, Garlic Mustard is about the most useful.

‘Well, I actually am a Mustard, but I smell and taste like garlic. So, you know…

‘Yes, indeed. Hedge Garlic, too. I’ll even answer to Hedge Mustard now and again.

‘No, not really. I’m used to it, I suppose, and they’re similar enough. So, no, I don’t get confused by it at all.

‘Thank you, yes, people do say I’m a useful person to know. I can liven up your salad for you for instance. I’ll admit some people say they don’t like the bitter after-taste, but there’s always someone going to complain, isn’t there?

‘Quite, they’re probably the ones who heard I was useful as a disinfectant. You know how it is – when these things get spread around.

‘Yes, lovely day. The weather hasn’t been bad lately, has it? But then we usually get a few nice days at the beginning of spring, don’t we?

‘Well, as you can see, I was lucky this year – got my flowers out before May Blossom swamped everything – the early bird and all that.

‘You’re local, I take it I’ve seen you passing this way a few times.

‘Right, right. I’ve got family all over the place too. We’re doing very well in America, apparently.

‘Of course, nice of you to stop and chat. I’ll see you next time you’re around this way, no doubt.

‘Goodbye for now then.


Where do Acorns Come From?

Oak Flowers
Oak Flowers

In the wood behind the house stand many a mighty oak,
Leafless amid daffodils and April’s showery soak.
So many days, so many years, to passing season’s clock,
They’ve added rings beneath their bark made from this earth and rock.

Each weighty tree of solid wood was once a fragile shoot.
Sprang up amongst the winter brown. Drove down to hold and root.
See here, where shoot and root unite, an acorn small and brown.
That grew full ripe, high in the air, ‘til Autumn brought it down.

But ere the acorn cup grows full a magic spell unwinds,
Amongst the Springtime growth renewed within green leaves enshrined.
A promise of full future strength foretelling oaken powers.
Here with windblown leaf and twig the mighty oak tree flowers.


Early May Blossom
Early May Blossom

Mother Nature’s a quirky old lady, she likes to make up her own rules,
If we try to guess what she’s doing, we’ll just end up seeming like fools.
She likes to sprinkle some Snowdrops, then add a few Daffs just for show.
With a background of brown, green, or even – white if she fancies some snow.
She finds Spring overly pushy, likes to keep her in her right in her place.
Mam does things when she does things – at her own, unhurried, pace.
So, the question that’s waiting an answer, to which we just need Yea or Nay.
Will May blossom blossom for May Day? If she’s willing, then maybe it may.

Blue Belles

Early Bluebell
Early Bluebell

We managed a nice picture of the early bird bluebells this week, so I thought I’d have a chat with Google about them. I was hoping he’d mention that all parts of the plant are reasonably toxic to humans and animals.  Or perhaps, that most of the world’s bluebells are here in the UK, but it’s OK, we’ve made it illegal to dig up the bulbs and to pick the flowers to offer them for sale. Perhaps, even, that they are quite pernickety and take around seven years from seed to producing their first flower and trampling around on their leaves kills the bulbs.

But no.  What he wanted to mutter on about was The Bluebell Girls. This was the name of dance troupes in all the major world capitals started and run by Mary Kelly who became better known as Miss Bluebell. She left school at 14 to become a dancer in a Scottish troupe called The Hot Jocks. In the 1930s she danced in Berlin and Paris – she and her husband were in Paris during WWII and he was arrested by the Gestapo – but escaped with the help of the resistance and she hid him in Paris. Despite having to go through severe questioning herself they stayed there, with their children, until the war ended.

All interesting stuff you might think – and that she was a remarkable lady. But what had caught Google’s eye was actually that Miss Bluebell was the one who introduced the world to the concept of topless dancers.

Good News

Tiny Silverweed leaf - hiding in the grass.
Tiny Silverweed leaf – hiding in the grass.

At the corner, we usually stop to look into the field. It’s been empty for the winter but a few days ago John put his animals out to graze. Not sure how they took it – they’ve been in a nice warm barn and the weather has done its normal April thing and turned nasty on us. In the hedge by the gate, a nice sunny spot, the Hawthorn has had a crisp sprinkle of new green leaves for a week or so. Today we noticed bunches of tiny green nodules – May Blossom in waiting.
The Daffodils have done their thing and are mostly standing around looking weary, this time of the year is hard for them. In the fresh-grown grass, bright yellow Lesser Celandine is peeping out here and there ready to carry the yellow theme on when the Daffs retire into their ageing bundles of leaves.
The dark browny-purple spikes of Rose Bay Willow Herb are already losing their striking dark colouring, as the feather duster of leaves spread and pale – hard to believe within a few weeks these will be four or five feet tall.
Seeing something glistening the roadside verge I bent for a closer look and found this miniature Silverweed leaf still holding a few of last nights raindrops.
There is no doubt, whatever the weather, Spring is here.

Home Thoughts From the Crocalog

The Crocolog Again
The Crocolog and Friends

The Crocalog, he travelled far
He saw things just the way they are.
But, always in his peregrinations
He sought for farther destinations

In thoughts of what he’d left behind
A face not place came to his mind.
He sought strange sights his time to fill
And hoped he could forget, but still. . .

Then, he ceased his self-delusion,
Saw through all his past confusion,
Home’s not the place where the beck bends,
Home is the place you left your friends.

Awake Spring Awake

Hawthorn Leaves
Hawthorn Leaves

Come on. Wake up! The alarm has buzzed.
The hour hand has passed the equinox.
Look in the clean underwear drawer,
And find some pretty pants and socks.

Up, Spring. Get up! Winter’s old bones ache,
His snowy cloak is tattered and torn,
He’s done what he came for and now he’s just
standing around looking all forlorn.

Here’s your green dress — quick, put it on
This is no time for you to start flapping.
Cherry blossom for your hair. Let’s go!
Before they all start slow clapping.

It Might Be


It’s beginning to look as though we might have made it through the winter. Winter is always tough. The light is bad to non-existent – even on a sunny day, the sun is so low in the sky that it illuminates very little. We are left with pictures of the sky, pictures of dark objects that might be something interesting or if all else fails, an occasional picture of a train.

But the wake-up clarion call blazon’d abroad by the recent warm mini-spell has shaken the flora and fauna out of their winter doldrums. They are up and running around – putting out flowers, growing leaves, beguiling and enticing members of the opposite sex and bellowing their territorial ambitions at the top of their lungs at unearthly hours of the morning. The weather has retaliated in no uncertain terms. It has grumpily regressed to its immature years and retreated to the safety of howling gales and the comfort of snow/sleet/rain in any random combination. There isn’t much we can do, except try to be supportive and understanding.

The positive aspect of all this is found in little warm and sheltered nooks. That’s where we caught sight of the Honesty featured in today’s picture – tucked under the sunny side of a thick hedge.

You know what? It might even be Spring.

The Return Of The Crocalog

The Crocalog Returns
The Crocalog Returns

The Crocalog you may recall
His lie in wait began to pall.
He thought of all Life Lessons teaches
Of waters blue and golden beaches
Or even swamps with fishy pong
That he could lie in all day long.

Off he set and gave no mind
To those that he would leave behind.
Responsibilities he’d shirk,
No thought he gave to his life’s work
That his career would go to pot
He plainly didn’t give a jot.

But, home is home when far away,
Our traveller found out one day.
He hankered for his soggy beck,
His life to salvage from the wreck.
He’s turned, retraced, o’er hill and foam
Each weary step and now he’s home.

For further information See:- The Crocalog – He Couldn’t Wait – The Dreadful Duckalumps


Almost Spring

Dunnock - in the hedge
Dunnock – in the hedge

For a moment Spring was here.
For a moment my song was clear.
For a moment joy danced around.
For a moment new hope was found.

But now I, silent, sit and mourn.
Spring’s promise into scraps is torn.
Where the sun so warm and bright,
From early dawn ’till sunset’s night?

Gone away and left behind,
Dank laden airs, all so unkind.
How can I sing my song of love,
While stifling mists press down above?

Disaster Relief


I left it late – as always. I needed to get this blog done and ready to go live at 11:00 am GMT tomorrow, Friday. All my photos are stored on my server. Once it ‘served’ many purposes; collected and dispatched all my mail; served my websites to all who requested them; stored documents and stored all my photos. But time move on and its functions have been gradually eroded, and now it holds only documents and photos – with some part-time website support. Once a week, on Saturday night/Sunday morning, it does a backup and sends everything it can off into the never-never-land of the cloud.

Today, when I went to find a nice picture to distract you from the cares of the world, I couldn’t find my photos. The server had crashed.

Woe, sackcloth and ashes required immediately!

Well, it’s late, as I mentioned above. I’m certainly not going to go delving into the innards of antiquated computer hardware at this time of night. So, the best I can do for you right now is a photo from my phone.

It’s not too bad – a pair of crocuses that have popped up in a surprising place.

Crashed computers and the loss of at least a week’s worth of photos will have to wait their turn. I can only deal with a limited number of panics in any one 24-hour period.

The Excitement Mounts

Robin On The Hedge
Robin On The Hedge

As we wait, impatiently, for Spring to arrive there are a number of boxes that must be ticked. First, the appearance of the snowdrops, next, usually the crocuses, then the daffodils start to blow their own trumpets. Around this time the Robin starts singing.

Most birds only sing in Springtime – it’s part of the mating rituals and defines their territory (a bit like singing in opera, a good loud voice gets you the best offers.) First, we have a warm-up period where the birds sing in the middle of the hedges or lower branches of trees, often quietly almost to themselves. Soon they get the measure of the competition and start to throw their chest out and give it all they’ve got – from the top of the trees or hedges.

The Robin starts the show. A few weeks later the Blackbird will begin whistling quietly to himself in secret. The Thrush is no shrinking violet; he takes up pole position on the top of any convenient tree and belts his song out at full volume. This prods the Blackbird into action and shortly after he, too, begins his variations on a theme that last until Summer.

Here’s the Robin, as you can see he has braved the top of the hedge – things must be hotting up in the mating game.


Chinese New Moon In Supermarket Carpark
Chinese New Moon In Supermarket Carpark

I got out of the car in the supermarket carpark and there, straight ahead of me, was the new moon that had heralded the Chinese New Year a few days ago – so I took its picture, as you do.

Later, getting out of the car at home I looked up and, with less light pollution, a clear sky and almost no moon, the stars glittered their way over my head, from the woods behind the house to the Scottish border. And there was my old friend Orion.

Seeing him took me back a good few years – to when The Dog, a mere slip of a girl in those days, needed someone with her when she went out to do her business in the dark.

I would stand there waiting, and on one clear night, as Orion was pushing his shoulders up into my view I noticed, on the other side of the sky, Venus just setting into the dark clouds along the horizon. So I wrote a poem, as you do.

The Hunter strides upon his way, his sword by his side
Following, following, following with every stride
Westward ever westward but he seeks no game
Still, the thrill of the hunt is on him just the same
This game he plays with a Lady, beautiful and serene
She knows he follows after and makes sure that she is seen
She beckons him on with her eyes but every time he nears,
because she is a Lady, she turns and disappears.

Hope you like it.


Sheep In The Mist
Sheep In The Mist

The mist moves ’round like circling wolves.
They prowl just beyond sight.
The edge of thought holds them at bay.
I feel them still through this grey light.

The mist hangs heavy, pressing down.
A weight so light to bear.
Sound, dull yet sharp, comes from beyond.
Unreal and strange in this dank air.

The flock, close by, stand, in mixed greys.
Their forms nought but vague mounds.
Are they real or ghostly earth,
Living just in my minds bounds.

A Hard Choice

Young blackbird
Young blackbird

Spotted this guy in next door’s holly hedge this morning. At first, I jumped to the conclusion that the spotted breast meant that we had a thrush here. We do have a local thrush, but he only makes himself known as spring nears, usually by singing, very loudly, from the top of the silver birch tree near the gate in the evenings. Once he announces his presence we expect to hear the similar, but less repetitive, voice of the blackbird as he, too, moves on from his chiding ‘tk tk tk’ as we walk past him in the hedge, to a full-blown improvisation from the larger of the bushes, and, as spring settles in, from the gable end of the roof.

However, on further consideration, we have decided that this guy is probably a juvenile blackbird. Despite the eponymous intimations, blackbirds are only black sometimes. As juveniles, they are often greyish-brown with a spotted chest – betraying the fact that they belong to the thrush family. I’m fairly sure that this guy will be a nice even black with a bright yellow beak by the end of summer.

When it comes to vocal accomplishments, the thrush certainly has the volume – though some might say he lacks imagination. But the blackbird is the master musician, his never-ending variations on a theme are a pure delight.


I Can See For Miles And Miles

Criffel on the skyline
Criffel on the skyline

After a mild but cloudy few days, today was more wintery. It was bright and cold, and with the cold came dry clear air.  In fact, it was so dry that all the wet roads dried out  – leaving us with a light dusting of frost on the fields and verges, and occasional patches of solid ice where the night’s rain had left a slightly deeper puddle. The sun shone down on us, but with very little warmth and the frost and ice tended to just ignore it.

Once again, I had forgotten to put my gloves on when we left the house. Gloves complicate everything, from fitting the key in the lock when locking the door – to pressing the shutter release on the camera. You spend double the time and effort, perhaps even triple: take your gloves off; do what needs to be done; put your gloves back on, and repeat every half a minute. Naturally, today, when I came to press the power button on the camera – my fingers were so cold and numb it took longer than if I had had my gloves on.

With the sun being so low in the sky at the moment, we generally walk downhill – into the sun, only stopping at The Dog’s insistence – until we get to the beck. Then we walk home, up the hill, with the sun at our back. This gives us better photo opportunities. This was one of those opportunities. The mountain on the skyline is Criffel, and it is miles and miles away, over the other side of the Solway Firth, in Scotland.

A Bit Early

First Snowdrops
First Snowdrops

You know when you have people coming to visit, and you said about two-ish? Then at two o’clock you just need to have a quick vacuum round and then everything will be ready, so you get the vacuum out and pull the wire out all over the floor and are down on your knees messing around with wall plugs to try to find the one you can take out without switching something important off? You finally find a spare socket and plug in and are about to switch on – when there is a knock at the door.

Your guests are standing there. ‘Hello,’ they say, ‘You did say two o’clock, didn’t you?’ as they notice you in your tracksuit bottoms with the vacuum in your hand.

We find ourselves in a similar situation. Here we have Snowdrops springing up all over the place and we really thought they wouldn’t be here before the end of January. A few more days, a week or so at the most, and we’d have everything in apple-pie order – but no they’ve turned up now.

Well, what would you do? Shall we sit them down with a cup of tea while we finish the cleaning then go and get changed? Or shall we try to bluff it and pretend they’re right on time and that we were just putting the vacuum away?

A Place to Ponder

shadow at the railings
shadow at the railings

It was a nice this morning, so when we came to the bridge over the beck, I stopped to look over the railings.

The beck was chuckling away to itself in a contented sort of way – not as if someone had told a funny joke but more because it was feeling pleased. Everything that shouldn’t be there was being washed off downstream – and anything that should be there had been manoeuvred safely to somewhere it would stick. Life was organised and arranged to its complete satisfaction.

The hedges, as we wove our way down the hill, were full of the cheerful cheeping of various assorted small birds and we had received a warm ‘tic, tic, tic,’ from a passing blackbird. The nasty cold wind of the last few days had blown itself out and there were only a few small fluffy clouds to mar the blue of the sky.

Standing there, the sun was warm on my back – a pleasant change indeed – the sun doesn’t have much time for us these days. He is putting in a lot of overtime down in the southern hemisphere at the moment, you know.

The general feeling of relaxed contentment was contagious and I stood there for a while contemplating my shadow, thrown on the far bank.  Is this, I wondered, what they mean when they talk about our ‘Comfort Zone’? The Dog finished snuffling in the brambles and became restless enough to interrupt my reverie, so, reluctantly, I left my warm spot and started back up the hill, homeward.