the month we found, beyond the rose of sharon,

past the mint and the sage, in the sunless

corner by broken pots and upturned

zinc buckets, the first wild strawberry…


when we walked up the Acropolis,

with feral dogs among the olive trees…


when we walked through Carnac’s standing stones

and heard the wind shake the fields of wheat…


when we decorated our first home,

with Chris Montez, ‘The more I see you’…




It’s good, at times, to have grown old, though not

to ‘wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled’

but to be allowed to sit upon a fold up

picnic chair beneath a beach umbrella

and read – something, as a stilted youth,

I would have paid for if I’d had the dosh.


Now, between paragraphs, I watch, across

a quarter of a mile of sand, the family

paddle and swim. Suddenly, behind me,

the Christian Beach Team strikes up,



I think of those we love the most, recall

their playing here four decades apart –

as she and I sit at a picnic table

to finish her ice cream then rehearse

our vaudeville act. ‘I say, I say, I say,’

she declares, with barely a lisp or

hesitation, ‘my dog has no nose!’

‘Your dog has no nose! How does he smell?’ I ask.

‘Terrible!’ she says, and runs to the swings.


She can swing herself now,



Before the fell doctor took his axe to it,

there was a line from Paddington via

Ruabon up the valley to Lake Bala

and so to Barmouth on Cardigan Bay.

What is left is Llangollen to Carrog,

a heritage line run by volunteers.


They have Thomas the Tank Engine days.

The smoke boxes are covered by plastic

faces – Edward, Gordon, Thomas himself.

We go en famille and our grandchild,

predictably, is enchanted but not




the storyteller’s trapdoor: ‘And it so

happened…’ But it does sometimes. Aristotle

called them ‘accidents’ – and here’s a pile-up!


It is a Thursday night – and bell ringing

practice at the parish church we can see

from the long window on the half landing.

Our house was here years before the church

or the houses behind us or in our street.

The Shoulder of Mutton Field was bought

at auction and the first built was ours

more than a hundred and sixty years ago.