The See through house (prelude to 'beachcombing')

a child sings from an open window
a sweet song serenades an angry sky
escorting the sun home soft and mellow
so many years have now drifted by
visiting my old home here on Vatersay
Western Isles have their own genetic blends
I made the wee trip over from Castlebay
all that was left to see - two gable ends!
As my eye resists a lonely tear
I walk alone for a while on the sand
memories hark back to yesteryear
my family couldn't tame an untamed land
unrelenting hardships too much to take
the summer rain and then the winter snow
remnants of a failed dream in my wake
endless crashing tides screamed we had to go
but now I've lost myself in time's assuage
smoke billows forth from a happy fire
forgetting the gales and their howling rage
just the birds and lambs of nature's choir
but then the Cuckoo sang a confused song
Oyster Catchers didn't know which way to fly
no more children's laughter all day long
Father leans on his staff and starts to cry
I visit my Childhood home this one last time
bookending my days, a kind of crescendo
a strange thing I know but surely not a crime
for an old lady to sing from an open window.

Observations in a coffee shop at .......

Couple in the corner
skinning up a joint
boy with his parents
doesn't see the point
lady looks at menu
sees something she likes
man sits by the window
keeps an eye on their bikes
husband orders coffee
ferry drifts out of range
looking out the window
lady checks her change
girl behind the counter
finds it all a chore
family in the corner
they've been here before.


A swish of Sandpipers land on the beach
morning waves under an apricot sun
riot of sound in a babble of speech
incoming tide chases birds on the run

grasping the sweetness of nature's long hand
gust of Sandpipers, better than a dream
forage fervently as one in the sand
sticking together they work as a team

scripts of tiny feet on legs of wire
their toes write in cuneiform where they tread
each page is washed clean but they will not tire
this pending novel will never be read

a breeze of Sandpipers dance on the wind
swaying merrily as clouds float on by
like ink to paper, to the beach they're twinned
safe together as night reclaims the sky


away from houses and away from cars
a lonely lochan under bittersweet stars
sing me a lullaby but don't make a sound
the Swan's lost her Cygnets and they cannot be found

happily chirping, birds on their wires
the bleating lambs of late summer choirs
sing me a lullaby but don't send me to sleep
the Swan's lost her Cygnets, in her heart she will weep

she looks so elegant, she looks so kind
she can't find her daughter, she cried in her mind
sing me a lullaby but don't make it too long
the Swan is about to sing her last song

she serenades young ones sleeping so tight
she can't find her Cygnets yet searches all night
sing me a lullaby but don't make me cry
please bid your farewell but don't say goodbye.

Oh dear! Sorry Blogfans that was a bit morbid. I was doing some 'work' on the shores of Loch Erisort in South West Lewis, because it is so sparse there, everything seems to be struggling for survival. When a lone Swan meandered past it added the vital ingredient to the subject matter. Honestly PBF's I'm a jolly old chap really. I'll see if I can lighten the mood a bit on the next one.

Golden days

golden hiatus for miles and miles
dusty faces greet you with smiles
the dust of gold in natures warming
blows a kiss towards the morning

the feel of warmth upon your skin
the glow of love from your kith and kin
pulling together, sweat and toil
abundant harvest of the soil

Grandad relaxes in his rocking chair
salt from galloping waves fill the air
'go not happy day from these shining fields'
nor love, wine and laughter that it yields

watching families gather in the hay
didn't even know they still did it that way?
hauling corn and pitching hay in the glen
they'll soon be doing it that way again.

Dear Florence

Dear Florence
Please listen to your Father my dear
I know that we've been through it all before
it's for your well being that I fear
no daughter of mine should be born for war
heed the wisdom of your Father and Lord
Ladies of class can't get caught up in wars
why not do nothing and party  abroad
leave all that nursing to drop outs and whores!

Dear Father
Out in the fields my men are falling
but many more are dying of disease
I've never been so sure of my calling
my mission's to change conditions like these
cleanliness and care will be my ethos
it's not easy but I'll do what I can
I vowed to make order out of chaos
I'll show you what woman can do for man

Dear Florence
Who do you think you are, some Sarah Gamp?
while I'm going to balls and many great shows
then I hear about you with your silly lamp
you can't see past the end of your nose!
Why don't you come home and swallow your pride
I always thought you would be more astute
miles away at some dying man's bedside
rubbing shoulders with girls of ill repute

Dear Fran
I don't care for operas or golf courses
I'm happy laying straw to mop up blood
I don't care for servants or race horses
all my young girls are flowers in the bud
I will not waste my life in a mansion
all my young girls have changed their ways
I will not be a lady of fashion
while men die in a lice ridden malaise.

Dear Clarkey
I need more bandages I need more beds
I need better food I must have a Chef
I need more pillows to lay wretched heads
the war office it seems is permanently deaf
if these drains were cleared we would lose fewer
Clarkey You can't see the horrors of war
it's a death camp on top of a sewer
Clarkey I don't think I can take any more.

Dear Florence
It's like I told you when You were in France
be strong believe in yourself, stand your ground
your views are right now maintain your stance
I'm twice your age, your thinking is sound
You think you can't do it, I tell you YOU CAN!
you are as strong as a Highwayman's horse
show the world what woman can do for man
now hold your head high and stick to your course!

Dear Florence
I can't stress how much I love you my dear
you  need a servant to tend to your hair
I'd give you five hundred pounds a year
London, perhaps Paris, we could live there
you could do nothing I'll study science
please come home with your hair dry my tears
prosperity will be our alliance
pray give me an answer, it's been eight long years

Dear Richard
how it truly breaks my heart to tell you
we just cannot go on any longer
it feels that my heart is breaking too
tho what doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Richard you will always be my treasure
but the plight of the wounded I'll ne'er shirk
I never wanted a life of leisure
my dear Richard I have married my work.

Dear Florence
Sweet angel I don't know where to begin
you're the one that turned darkness into light
I's always told that to kill is a sin
I don't think we know what's wrong and what's right
I've lost my Husband I've lost my best friend
I know that you nursed him right through the night
at a dying man's bedside down to the end
yet you wrote me letters 'cause Ben couldn't write.

Dear Lizzie
Ben was duty bound to follow orders
he was brave and loyal down to the core
even though our leaders made some blunders
He was committed you  can't ask for more
He said he loved you, such words of pure grace
I know you loved him and he paid the price
I swore he died with a smile on his face
you'll both be together in sweet paradise.

The Nightingale sang in all her glory
Sister of charity, lady with the lamp
you're the image of our island story
you gave us 'nursing' you were no Sarah Gamp
when wars  cease and we all love one another
will the Nightingale once more sing her song?
When everyone is your Sister and Brother
Dear Florence... it wont be too long.

I would just like to point out that Florence's Sister, Frances Parthenope, was at first diametrically opposed to Florence's nursing but later had a change of heart and totally supported her work in Crimea.

Moatside ( for j,k,s,e &o)

we went there worried and heavy of hearrt
but the workers were ready to make a quick start
it wasn't a joke it wasn't a scam
they were going to build a great big dam!

see the river of love, how fast it flows
Where does it end, seems nobody knows
What will they do if 'love' wants to leave us
don't worry about that, leave it to the Beevers!

amidst static cows and wondering sheep
these busy little creatures just would not sleep
the water of life flows for miles and miles
busy Beevers greet you with great big smiles

fast as a Squirrel, fleeting as a Stoat
they channelled the river into a moat
so now love surrounds their nice little home
and peace, love and laughter therein do rome

high in the trees a Nightingale sings
as he brushes gold dust from off it's wings
"hey put your worries and cares to one side
you can leave them down there....
                                                              by the Moatside.

Dear Flora

Dear Flora I can hardly hear her voice
I'm sure I've seen that face somewhere before
you can take your 'Spinster' that's the sailors choice
but you wont fool Redcoates they're men of war
you wont fool the Redcoates Dear Flora
they're men of war.

there are Redcoates in the hills Dear Flora
there are Redcoates all over the Bens
they've got muskets in their hands Dear Flora
you can hear their footfalls in the glens
hear their footfalls in the glens Dear Flora
their footfalls in the glens.

a Spinster by the name of Betty Burke
spoke Gaelic under Irish skies
I feel something sinister here does lurk
don't pull the wool over the Captain's eyes
don't pull the wool over my eyes Dear Flora
don't pull the wool over my eyes

on his head there is a large reward
I know you're family are Jacobites still
Dear Flora don't mess with the Captain's sword
Redcoats don't play games they shoot to kill
the Redcoates shoot to kill Dear Flora
the Redcoates shoot to kill

do you not know the sea is rough tonight
on your voyage to the Isle of skye
be careful with your 'Spinster' when you alight
make sure that you lift her petticoat high
lift her petticoat high Dear Flora
lift HIS petticoat high!

When Prince Charles Edward Stuart disguised himself as a Maid Servant and was safely conducted to the Isle of Skye by Flora McDonald, he would have got dressed up right in front of this fire place at Nunton house on the Isle of Benbecular. Parts of the house date back to 1715, thirty years before the disastrous uprising. Nunton House is now a Youth Hostel.


she stands by the wall
away from the dancers
asks a few questions
gives thought to the answers
she stands in the corner
with folded hands
                                  she's a Wallflower
                                  she understands

the dance of the sexes
they fluff up their feathers
a lack of discernment
unties there tethers
the lady in the window
how lovely she sings
                                      she's a Wallflower
                                      she sees all things

away from the limelight
and attention seekers
and the flashing lights
and 100w speakers
she waits there still in
the corner of the room
                                         she's a Wallflower
                                         waiting to bloom.


gently fall the autumn leaves
language without speech
they resonate without a sound
a dirge of tartan leaves
the Cello paints a confined beauty
sun dances in the trees
under the backdrop of an orange sky                                                                                       
our cares are autumn leaves
oblivious to green rippled water
on a rainbow crested breeze
a swan lands on the languid river
oblivious to our needs.


white mountains dotted on a lonely sea
see the Icebergs as they float wild and free
showing small bits of their life to each other
careful not to bump into one another
unable to see what lies beneath
like secrets remaining in their sheath
you  can't see each others arctic woes
hidden figures under baggy clothes
sometimes tho Icebergs willingly collide
secret lives no longer able to hide
drifting as one in the sun's golden sheen
as this poem slowly glides off the screen

The Storm

the Sapphire sea twinkled in the cosy seclusion of the evening
the excitement was palpable as we knew we were going to catch a lot of fish
it seemed like nothing could wake the sunset from it's revere
yet the fragile silence was soon broken
the surface of the sea changed like a chameleon
the wind snapped it's fingers
waves reared up like mountains
our vessel bobbed about like a child's boat
overhead gulls were blown about like bits of parchment
four experienced seamen struggle to tie down the sails
rain soaks them with Herculean force
they slip and slide on the watery deck
faces that were furrowed with concern now turn to panic
is this how it would all end!
No, there is but one thing we now must do...



what you own is your own home
let your memories write your story
where you heart is you will rome
let your mountains be your glory

wear your art upon your sleeve
as joyful days guide you along
love is the fabric that you weave
happiness the beat of your song.

Leaving Petriberg (for A&L)

with all their memories wrapped up in chains
and some that were woven in the fabric of time
they haul up the anchor with stresses and strains
to sail in a sea where words refuse to rhyme

we waved long after the ship was gone
and wondered along the long lonely shore
Petriberg huddled together as one
we know that we've all said our goodbyes before

the dapper bassoon danced a playful theme
as the current of truth carried them away
things don't always appear what they seem
the oboe soon danced the dawn of a new day

back at Petriberg our hearts begin to swell
like a letter written that you dare never send
although the Coxon knows the sea so well
we never thought that it would come to an end

but end it did and things always move onn
forward for tomorrow is a brand new day
the ocean was deep and the sun's glory shone
with coats of ermine and flowers of Saint Gilais

so they unchained their memories and all was fine
it's never long till the sea meets the sand
it wasn't long before the water turned to wine
an apricot sun in a fairy tale land!

Flight of Icarus

you were the King so you wear the crown
don't beat your wife up, just grind her down
don't throw your teddy against the wall
intellectual bullies make people crawl
more like slow poison than cyanide
behind walls of books you tried to hide
you could not think and you could not feel
your selfish longings were your wings of steel
you flew way too high above your station
guided by the sweet scent of liberation
the high intellect that made people crawl
don't expect any compassion when you fall
you were a Hero but only in your own mind
pernicious fool no better love will you find
stranded in fantasy trapped in a dream
the sun scorched your wings, you started to scream
tears fall at home but they fall in the dark
that part of the brain doesn't make a mark
the arrogant dreamer has one last laugh
swollen in his own pride's epitaph
you tried to take what wasn't yours to take
now a shattered world lies in your wake
So Icarus was it worth it in the end?
sun broke your wings but will they ever mend?

Even the most experienced fence builders can make the most rudimentary of errors!

The Phoenix in us all

a new day is here go and dry your tears
claw back your life, now conquer and rise
relieved of your worries doubts and fears
Phoenix from the ashes heads for the skies
go take your heart and fly across the sky
your spirit's burning from the flame inside
dreams shattered but your hope will never die
close both your eyes your in for a long ride
go and spread your wings, once again you'll soar
you'll come out fighting and answer the call
if you get knocked flat keep coming back for more
just get up and stand firm each time that you fall!

Beachcombing (Part one)

New Scotland old Scotland it was all the same
the clearances were a distant memory
and the two thousand mile journey that took weeks.
They settled on Nova Scotia's East coast,
time and circumstances made them one flesh
as they embarked on love's difficult journey.
They were blessed with a sweet child Ishbael
they loved her, tho no longer each other

At night Ishbael would sing out the open window
she would sing to the moon she would sing to the stars
she imagined that she was a ballet dancer
and dreamed of being such when she grew up
Mother eeked out a living from the tired land
Father spent most of his time on the fractious sea.
She stood motionless at the front door each night.
He checked his lobster creels under a salty spray

The Spode China would be laid out on the table
strategically placed on the driftwood surface
cups stained brown with tea, coffee and nicotine
and on the outside with smudges of lipstick.
It was the most treasured family heirloom
it was somehow smuggled across in the boat
it was passed on to them as a wedding gift
it was the only item of value they ever had.

Night after night Mother watches the sea
in the distant field sheep murmur like Bees
The bog cotton waves like a myriad hankies,
as sunlight dissolves under cumulous cloud.
His bent over figure would surely soon appear
whistling a sea shanty walking up the track
but like a novel, his script came to an end
the storm weathered body was never found

Outside on the lonely pebbled shore a Curlew sang
the net curtains rose and fell to it's bleak strains
wind rattled the windows like the beating of fence posts.
They drink hot milk from Spode china for the final time
their family had creaked under the stresses and strains
that night a tall poplar tree crashed through the roof
storms wrecked their home like they wrecked their marriage
a perfect marriage of howling wind and frigid air

A lifetime of memories carried toward the sea
yet that old enemy was soon to be their friend
like a crush that simply would not go away
veiled by wrinkles Mother responds to the calling.
Larks cavort up and down in their in their unyielding plot
while they are bound for a far and distant land
the land was in their blood , the blood was in their kin
the Isle of Vatersay, they were going home.

               end of part one.

Beachcombing (part two)

Old Scotland new Scotland it was all the same
but she could not ignore the similarities
she looked across the ocean, it was all the same
two thousand miles of Atlantic anger
wind driven waves like a Tiger on a lead
but the tide died, the sea had peace like a child's hair
this reminded her of her kind Step Father
he would lean on his staff and cry when things went wrong

a storm took this house too only they were not in it!
They settled acoss the water in Castlebay.
Time was unveiled as she relived her childhood,
withered fence posts and rusty wire that kept the joy in
brushing aside the nettles the hearth warmed her heart
window frames were as firm as her Father's hand shake
she carefully scraped away the moss of time
Darkening seas awakened to her silvery voice

she scurrried along the beach with a youthful gait
reminiscent of her ballet dancing days
then the tide of her heart rose like a mountain within
down in the marram grass, she stared in sheer disbelief
her body all a quiver she picked up the fragments
with cupped hands tears were mingled with Spode china
she raised her eyes heavenward and screamed nach eil sin allne
which when translated means 'how beautiful is that!'

tears rolled uncontrolably down her face
she stood still shaking the fragments in her hands
it made a lovely tinkling sound like cow bells
two thousand miles of Atlantic anger,
had softened the edges and smoothed over her memories
she looked fervently at the long deserted croft
the wind erased her footprints in the sands of time
... and then the sun went down.

The End

when you're poems fail to rhyme
when you're watch runs out of time
when you feel your fate was sealed
we were all on the same level playing field

when clouds slowly start to fill your sky
when the ocean gives it's final cry
life's pathways they did wind and wend
we were all equal in the end

we all had good times and hope they'd last
but time went rolling on by far too fast
that lady in the window she's still singing
not about THE END but a new beginning.


  1. A pleasure to the eyes & mind to read. Great photos too. Gervais

  2. Dear Florence made me cry! Is Beachcombing a true story? A.T

    1. Yeah Al Dear Florence is a bit of a tear jerker. As for 'Beachcombing' I'm afraid it's totally made up. It's the sort of 5hing that coukd happen though.


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