On the first spring day of prolonged clear sunshine

she mows the lawns, weeds the paths, hoes the borders,

counts the figs, admires the honesty,

tends the low lavender hedge – then relaxes

on a lounger in front of the gazebo,

framed by clematis and magnolia blooms.


She sleeps, safe in the garden’s ivy clad

chambers – the alfresco rooms she has made

from soil ravaged by lime and gravel.

If she lies too long she will catch the sun –



Sitting on the bench on our patio, sipping

our peppermint teas one August morning,

we saw five buzzards leisurely circling

the church spire, a quintet of raptors,

four of a kind – and a joker for crows

and jackdaws to mob. But what is the prey

in this suburb for so many to survive?


The Romans built a road from Deva

to the salt pans on the plain over this heath

and its brook and through its hollows. Heather

and gorse,



Hugh d’Avranches, one of the Conqueror’s henchmen,

with him at Hastings, got the Saxon earldom

of Chester and the palatine of Cheshire,

with its forests of deer and boar, as reward.

His nicknames were ‘Lupus’ and ‘Gros Veneur’

because he ravened the Welsh like a wolf

and he was a hunter and a glutton.


His descendant, Gerald Grosvenor, His Grace,

the late, sad 6th Duke of Westminster – holder

of twenty eight appointments, decorations,

medals, orders and titles,



Taking a wrong turn, as per usual,

out of Wrexham, I found myself driving

to Llay* up that gradual gradient,

looking for signposts to places I knew

to set me right but reached the colliery houses –

built in the ’20s with indoor toilet,

bath and the electric at nine pence a week –

on First Avenue, Second Avenue

and so forth to the Ninth as if the owner

could not be arsed to find proper, local  names.

Llay Main was the deepest pit in Britain.



As luck would have it, we were married this day

exactly half a century ago.

We holiday with our small family

to avoid the inevitable party

and announce our golden wedding to friends

via Facebook – and receive some humbling

encouragements that speak not simply

of being there like pebbles as the tide

ebbs and flows but of inspiration.


We chose to honeymoon by Bantry Bay.

Ireland spoke of mystery and romance –

to us ignorant of its privations.