Poem: Beans coiling uncoiling – Lockdown 33

Welcome to another small moment of noticing – this time we’re back to the veggies. These lockdown poems are often a celebration of paying attention, noticing the small wonders that are before us every day. Since we’ve had some rain, the beans have been racing ahead.  I seem to have managed to keep the pigeons off them for now, but, with all the little seedlings, they are strutting around looking interested.

I am intrigued by the way the stems search out their supports, and coil around them.  It’s beatiful to come back day by day and see what progress they are making.  All from a small bean, and the earth, and the rain, and the sun.  No wonder they inspired fairy tales.





Beans coiling uncoiling – Lockdown 33

How does the bean know
to twist itself so perfectly
around these tall sticks?

How does the stem grow
close on one side, where
it touches, stretched
out on the other,
open to the air
and the sun?

I uncoil it tenderly
from where it has
How long until it
cleaves to its
new home?
How long until
it feels safe,
and thrives?

The Little Christmas Tree – A good time to order!

I know, it’s still a long way off, Christmas.  I know, we don’t really want to get started yet.  Some shops, however, do seem to be trying to get us started, and October half term is the time when I try to begin thinking about mincemeat making, or some long term baking to be doused with brandy.

And yet, I notice that sales of my picture book, The Little Christmas Tree, are picking up, so some of you good people must be getting organised!  As of today, there are only three copies left on Amazon.

There are still copies available elsewhere – for instance through the publishers Lion, and other booksellers such as Waterstones.  So, if you were thinking of getting hold of a copy, now may not be too soon at all!
It is beautifully illustrated by Lorna Hussey, and the sparkly edition is a particular joy.  Here are some pictures to whet your appetite.

christmas tree

Last year, I took the book to the fascinating Cribfest at St Mary’s Church, Grundisburgh.

I hope you and the young children in your life enjoy it as much this year as you have in previous years.

The Little Christmas Tree – in stock!

christmas tree


This is the very first story I wrote after leaving school – and it is still such a favourite.  It is a Christmas fable of kindness and gentleness, beautifully illustrated by the very talented Lorna Hussey.

Last year, a new edition was issued, with very festive sparkles.  These don’t show up on the photo, but they are glittering away on my shelf as I write.

You can ask your bookshop to get it for you, if it’s not in stock, or you can order it online.
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

Last Christmas, the book sold well in the USA, so thank you very much for your support!




Poems can tell stories – I hope this one does – stories which seem to have a meaning beyond the events.  This is a story from the past week or so in my garden –  one of the many that unfold daily.  The story of a pigeons’ nest I uncovered.

As I began writing, I thought of the dilemma we all face as humans sharing their home with other creatures – how to live lightly, how to nurture and care for all who share our little bit of land.  As a large and powerful creature in this world, I have responsibility. I wrote about feeling like a giant in my own garden in Pulling up trees. In this instance, I had not seen the parent birds going in and out of this shrub. I thought I knew where all the nests were. I thought I had left it late enough. I was mistaken..

As the days passed, I cheered the two youngsters on as they adapted to their new situation – a nest with a view.  Their mother just carried on caring for them, a little nervously at first, protecting them from rain, feeding them, sheltering them from the midday sun, even though they were now exposed to the crows, and the buzzard, that fly overhead.  Without that care, they would not have survived.  With it, they are thriving still, despite my unintentional assault on their home. No one in this family is giving up.

When I speak positively of their new, open situation, of course that is not about the birds, but about me.  The birds are better off hidden.  I was beginning to think of how we, when faced with hard change, can raise our eyes, and find courage and hope in even an unaccustomed view.
The world is full of parables.



I leave things wild.
I plant flowers the bees
and butterflies
Ground cover
covers the ground,
and frogs and newts
rest in the shade.

So, this is not what should happen
when my window is crowded with leaves
and I wait till high summer
till the birds are quiet
to cut
hard and deep.
the ratcheted loppers
slice through wood.

I stop

As I see those two strange
black creatures,
yellow feathered,
shaking in their nest.
I step back, as quietly as I can,
shaking too,
a destroyer of their world.

Inside, I close the curtain,
peep around to see
the mother bird nestles them,
tends and feeds them.

They thrive and grow
in this newly open nest,
small strange dinosaurs,
now fledglings
stretching their wings,
seeing all that space
all that light
in which to rise,
and fly.




Pulling up trees



I am sure that all of us who are have responsibility for a little bit of land know what it is to turn your back for a while, then find  it is growing with such glorious, irrepressible speed that you have no hope of getting it back to whatever plan you had.  If, like me, you have a secret preference for wildflowers and woods, it can be hard to pull things up.  I keep the runaway primroses and bluebells – but runaway trees!  Much as I love a wood, I have to remove them. The tension, wanting but not wanting order, is something I explore in this small poem.  I also touch on the more-than-reality of fairy tales, so often expressing some of the deeper workings of our spirits.


Pulling up trees

How quickly this place becomes a wood!
Last year, while I was sleeping,
seeds fell and grew, fell and grew, and now
as the year wakes, these small brown sticks
are all topped with leaves –
miniature sycamore, tiny ash.

How easily they pull up from the damp earth –
one long strong root, going deep,
and side filaments that resist, then
give, satisfyingly.
Such destruction –
I am the giant of my fairy tale.

Open lawns of grass, clusters of flowers –
bluebells and primroses – would be
swallowed up in a dense picket of saplings,
so close the squirrel and the bird
would find it hard to move,
the deer’s path would
no longer be straight –
my garden a wood
that grew while
I was sleeping.