Curlew River

On a clear and crisp Sunday morning in the churchyard at Teynham, muffled sounds of singing escape the thick, flint walls of the old church. In the treetops and overhead, fieldfares laugh their pagan cackle; redwings rustle deep within the heart of berry-laden holly trees; immigrant blackbirds pink pink and a local robin ticks from the ivy-covered boundaryContinue reading “Curlew River”

Life and Death in Late Winter

The view from the old, stone castle or Ankara Kalesi stretches beyond the houses, tower blocks and mosques to the empty white mountains. The capital city has been exploding from a small town of some 50,000 in 1945 to a city of 5 million today. Young people continue to leave the harsh demands of the distant countrysideContinue reading “Life and Death in Late Winter”

Winter windfalls

Adrift in the North Downs, the small village of Eastling sleeps in the early morning sun. The great yews bury much of the churchyard in deep-frozen shade. A goldcrest briefly emerges from the dense needles in its hunt for tiny prey. Goldfinches sing their light, liquid trickle from high, hidden places. A chaffinch bursts into its plain, spring song butContinue reading “Winter windfalls”

Pintails and Running Rail

Feather perfect, pintail pairs paddle the gin blue water of the East Flood; the males stay close and carefully guard their females. Every now and then the dominant male lifts up out of the water and bows his head toward his partner, and then a few moments later, pitches forward and lifts his pointed tail. A sweet,Continue reading “Pintails and Running Rail”

Travels in the Holy Land

Israel December 20th 2016 – January 3rd 2017 The Ayalon River or Wadi Musrara used to flow from the Judean Hills west through Tel Aviv to the sea at Jaffa; today it is re-routed through a concrete channel that lies in the centre of the Ayalon highway and adjacent to train tracks. The clogged artery of theContinue reading “Travels in the Holy Land”

Winter Sun

Oare Marshes, North Kent, December 14th 2016 The sun shines low in the sky and the few high clouds pay scant attention to the stretched blue canvas. The wind warms from the south, and the drying day is a break from the blanket of brooding drizzle. The familiar view of church and brewery in distant Faversham sitsContinue reading “Winter Sun”

East is East…Shellness and Sheerness

From the sea wall on the Isle of Grain, the Port of Sheerness is an unbroken strip of trade and industry between the gun metal Medway and the brilliant blue sky. The Grain Tower, once the principal defence for the Medway ports, squats in the shallow estuary like an old, broken barrel. The high tide takes itContinue reading “East is East…Shellness and Sheerness”

On the Konya Plain

The ancient city of Konya, which sits at the southern end of the vast Central Anatolian plateau, has a rich history: visited by St Paul; the former capital of the Seljuk Turks; and home, in the 13th century, to the most famous Sufi poet, known simply as Rumi. In the old centre, a mosque has beenContinue reading “On the Konya Plain”

Early Winter Snows

The  wind drives the Swale into a muddy broth. Small flocks of Brent geese career down the coast on the wind and then turn and hang before alighting on the barren shore. Oystercatchers flock on the tideline with curlews, redshanks, grey plovers and a handful of turnstones. There has been a recent passage of scoters andContinue reading “Early Winter Snows”