Friday, 8 August 2014

Wandering through hollow lands.

I’m looking fairly foolish, I’m all alone in the middle of nowhere with a big white feather in my hat and my fingers purple with blackberry juice.

Robyn got a couple of days of lousy work and is worn out while I’m trying to cope with the un-copable and losing.

So in the evening I stole an hour or two and went out to Staines Moor on my own. It isn’t a moor at all, more like a marsh which dries out in the summer. I only discovered it a couple of weeks ago; when I’m ill again I’ll write it up properly, it’s got an interesting history.

Anyway, here it is;


On one side is a reservoir, then on the other is the Staines Bypass and then there’s the M25 motorway. It’s a forgotten piece of country in an urban mess.


This is the river Colne which wanders through the meadow, flooding in the winter. It flows from beyond Uxbridge over gravel so it's clear and bright; there are streams of weed swaying in the current and timid fish hiding in the shadows.

The swans have a couple of kids from this spring and where they were grooming on the river bank – that’s where my white feather came from.

The grass is almost waist high now, brown from the August sun. Every now and again my steps disturb waterfowl who fly up angrily as I pass.

I walked to the far end of the moor and over to the motorway where there is a deserted railway line overgrown with trees and brambles.


The blackberries are ripe, sweet from the August sun and so ripe they pick themselves. That's where my purple fingers come from.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

                                               by W. B. Yeats


I went out to the hazel wood,  

Because a fire was in my head,  

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,  

And hooked a berry to a thread;  

And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,  

I dropped the berry in a stream  

And caught a little silver trout.  


When I had laid it on the floor  

I went to blow the fire a-flame,

But something rustled on the floor,  

And someone called me by my name:  

It had become a glimmering girl  

With apple blossom in her hair  

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.  


Though I am old with wandering  

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,  

I will find out where she has gone,  

And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,  

And pluck till time and times are done,  

The silver apples of the moon,  

The golden apples of the sun.


It’s an early summer; these are elderberries which normally ripen in September.

And there is a feel of September in the air, as though summer is already over.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)  

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