Window on The West


From here I’ve seen

thousands of suns,

the days end with copper glints 

through languorous trees. Summer’s 

apogee is seed of summer’s end, sure 

as swifts scream out the balm of night.


A fast-forward pipistrelle delays 

the drawing curtains, ever 

thankful for the light.

On the windowsill the sphinxing cat 

sleeps, pointing 

the way to live

Poem and picture ©copyright rp 2016

Keck, Cow Parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris


Where I grew up, which was once part of the Danelaw,  we called it ‘keck’, a common name for cow parsley; some call it wild chervil, or even Queen Anne’s Lace. Well, it sounds like an ancient Norse word, but it could equally be good old Old English. Either way, it is characteristic of this time of year, as spring turns into summer.


words and pictures ©copyright rp 2016

Simply Bee


Nature will provide

There’s enough for you and me

Riches all around


haiku and images ©copyright rp 2016


Ecclesia 1


A light held aloft

nature’s path to liberty

treasure in a field


words and picture ©copyright rp 2016

What Goes Around

roundhouse3Providence recently took me to Flag Fen, a three and half thousand year old Bronze Age site in eastern England. What began in a field several decades ago with the discovery of timbers from an ancient causeway, has now transformed into one of the most significant archaeological sites of its kind in Europe.

Flag Fen lies at the fen edge, where the flat lands of the south and east meet with the higher ground to the west. It would have been a rich, much sought after environment then, one the most abundant in Britain at the time.

In those days the fenlands afforded a welcome bounty, an alternative to the interminable forests which had still not been extensively cleared. There would be fishing and fowling in the winter; in the summer as the water levels dropped, massive areas of pasture became available for sheep and cattle to graze on.


I’d been to Flag Fen before maybe a couple of times, though certainly not in the past fifteen years. It has changed of course, there is more to see and do. It even has some of its own Soay sheep to give it that authentic Bronze Age feel. But can we truly feel it?

What I enjoyed the most was the roundhouse reconstruction. That probably goes for a lot of the visitors, too. Yes, it’s only a reconstruction, but common sense tells you that it’s probably pretty accurate. Less accurate were my initial feelings towards these ‘primitive’ people who had to live in such dwellings. Standing before it, there was an odd sense of familiarity about the building. The roundness is, well, homely. It’s dark inside but not depressing, nor suffocating. In the summer it would be a welcome shelter from the sun and the heat. In the winter it would be a shelter from the cold with its wattle and daub walls, turf roof and warming fire. All year round it would simply be a welcoming family home. This would be one of the best alternatives to caves, which offer the same benefits of cool summer shade and warm winter shelter, a more organic and equable way of living through the seasons. It was natural, more efficiently heated than any modern house, even with the earth floors. And by the way, organic was the rule then, not the expensive exception of today.

roundhouse2But ok, so none of these people who lived at Flag Fen were literate. Yet they had a sophisticated working language, intimate knowledge of the seasons and the sky at night. Yes, life was very hard, brutal at times, and most often quite short. However, there was clearly a meaning to their existence. How many of us can say that about ourselves? The wooden causeways they built, the votive offerings of broken knives, swords, spears and other valuable items, they cast into the water either side: They genuinely believed a different dimension lay through and beyond that water. A dimension they inhabited after their death.

And who’s to say they are not right?

They experienced life directly, first hand. There was no TV: They had no news to listen to, no game shows or soap operas to watch, no video games to inure them to life’s crazy extremes. There were few distractions to prevent them from contemplation, the storytelling during the long winter nights. We can only guess who their heroes were. It was a harsh world, a verbal world. A real world. Do we live in a real world, or is it just different?

Neither was there any excuse not to pull your weight during the seasons: You either harvested, pulling together, or you starved. Everyone was involved, you invested your energy into your own community. You depended on your family, your community and vice versa.

roundhouse1So, would I swap my existence for one three thousand five hundred years ago on this piece of fen edge? Probably not, but I came away thinking that these people, invisible now, yet tantalisingly close at hand, were more than my equal. I feel I could learn a lot from them, discover something more meaningful in my own life, something better than merely typing these vain words, casting them into the ether. At least that Flag Fen farmer cast seeds that grew, caught fish to eat, slaughtered his own livestock. By comparison I feel almost like a pale shadow, whilst he positively interacts with his environment. So is there anything worthwhile I could teach him? I can’t think of a thing.

Perhaps we should reclaim (while we can, if we can) some of the practical, timeless knowledge we have lost, effectively go one step back to go two forward. It’s certainly foolish, arrogant of us to believe that Bronze Age men were in any way inferior to ourselves.


© words and pictures copyright rp 2016

Au Revoir Summer?


Summer doesn’t officially begin until June 1, or June 21 with the Summer Solstice, according to some.

But a few warm days in early May lulls you into that typical false sense of security, leaves you thinking summer may have come early.

Then, of course, the heavens opened and May returned to its usual, not entirely unexpected mixed bag of meteorological mayhem.


And that’s just it, the downpour reminded me of many previous Mays, and by all accounts the temperatures will be almost back down to single figures by the weekend. This is a normal May.


That’s why I said ‘Au Revoir’ at the start. So, like the French might optimistically put it, until we meet again, dear summer…

Here’s hoping.


© copyright words and images rp

Poem: ‘Turning’


Is there a point where the tide
a moment that I could see, or touch?
I’ve been looking
at tables giving times, exact
minutes of apogee, and it was
just here I’m sure,
right here,
where I pointed
and watched
and saw nothing, except
the foam stretch ahead of me
like phantom silk, all
along the buff triassic sand, as far
as I could see or walk.
“That’s where the waves
stop,” you said, “where the tide
turns back to the sea – and me.”

image and poem © copyright David F. Barker