Night Flight

Night Flight

Wakened at two again,
Rain lashing on the pane..
Filled now with gloom this deep,
How can I ever sleep?
What a hell of a year it’s been,

Darkness – a jungle deep,
Corrupting compost heap..
Fighting blindly to get out..
Why can’t you hear me SHOUT?
What a hell of a year it’s been,

Love conquers all- who says?
Unites all continents..
Leaders polite – contrite,
Watching their people’s flight?
What a hell of a year it’s been,

Our beautiful planet – wow..
What chance do we have now?
But.. in the clearing night,
Suddenly fright takes flight..
What a hell of a year it’s been,

So – I’m awake again, at bloody 2am.
But could this be.. my PEREGRINE??
Brushing past the window here,
Dispelling all fear near.

What a hell of a year it’s been, dear!


Night Flight

Helen Thomson :Bardrishaig: 27th Sept’ 2016

With thanks for this beautiful image of a peregrine falcon I’m currently tracking down the photographer to provide credit.

H. Thomson





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Shore Thing

Shore Thing


Slate on slate, sun on shore.
Pondering matters- that matter no more.
Treading warm slate under bare foot..
Conjuring memories of pursuit.

Of gilded treasures – deep, dark pools
Mercury, copper, gold..and jewels.
Diamonds turned to crystal and frost
Love, and laughter slowly lost.

Time is neither past, nor ahead..
Lost, forgotten – nor left in a shed.
Fill time, dance with it, shout along..swim.
Like the birds on the shore – soar..and sing!

Shore Thing
20th Sept’ 2016

Helen Thomson

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Child’s Play

Child’s Play


On precious days wrestled from the wind, and from whatever it carries with it, there’s a stillness about the island – like a liquer you could bottle.


There’s a collective sigh of relief, in my case – a hefty intake of breath – before I climb
the next ridge in my quest to discover what makes up my new island home.


Along the route the smallest of plants find shelter in any nook or cranny.. here in the ‘bowl’ formed by the top of a wooden fence post..out of reach to the Luing bull brooding nearby.


While work gathers pace in the garden to make it a happy place for adults, and safe for visiting children before the winter sets in, I head out on foot, waylaid each step of the’s hard to avoid crushing some beautiful plants.


They are nestled in cushions of moss and grasses that protect them, and they bounce back like a luxury carpet as I move away. Equally tiny creatures must move amongst these miniature forests and glades..


It will be fun to show my grandson Jax, who was two a few days ago, the wonders of these worlds at ground level..although he may be surprised there are no potatoes to harvest..

Happy Birthday Jax!

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For All Time

For All Time


Our new garden field (once a much-loved garden but sadly fallen into disuse) slopes off into ‘infinity’ – ending as it does, abruptly, at the edge of a bracken-strewn rock-face dropping around forty metres to the foreshore below..and giving an almost uninterrupted view out to sea on the western side of the island. Remarking that this reminded me of images of infinity pools in luxury travel magazines led, in my recent absence, to a purge of all foliage deemed to obstruct said view..and, in turn, to a new view of the remaining garden’s future development.


From this headland we can see much of the Inner Hebrides..within view is a string of islands called the Garvellachs – looking like a skimming-stone frozen in slow-motion on the surface of the water. Here – a thousand years ago – monks lived in ‘clustered, mortarless huts shaped like beehives’ as part of a (literal) movement by travellers known as the ‘peregrini’. This Celtic Christian culture of retreat inspired travellers to the north-west coasts of Britain and Ireland to find remote, unsettled their pursuit of achieving harmony between man and nature, belief and place. “There, with the ocean extending away from them, and nothing to abbreviate or delay the eye, the monks were free to consider infinitude”. H’mmm…I’ll bet they didn’t achieve that with the aid of a chainsaw.


“A long Christian tradition exists”, I read, “that considers all individuals as peregrini,in
that all human life is seen as an exile”. Our own decision to move to this lovely wild place has in some quarters been seen as an exile. Some have wondered aloud if we will “last out the winter” here. How funny that with no knowledge of our past, they predict our future.
I won’t be rash enough to gamble on the outcome. I only know that I’ve made one such fast decision to re-locate before this; based simply on instinct, and passion – that resulted in a fifteen year long love-affair with a landscape. Hence my lack of concern.

I’ll surrender myself to the island – as the waves shape the pebbles of the beaches..and the lichen, the rocks. Let tide and time do its best.


This is a move to infinity: endless, forever and ever.

For All Time

Extracts re: ‘peregrini’ taken from Robert MacFarlane’s “The Wild Places”
ISBN 978-1-84708-018-9

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Where Spirits Dwell

Where Spirits Dwell


The first window of morning frames the yacht moored in the reflection of a copper kettle.
Boiling overnight, now set to shimmer.
Crisp leaves, and I, chase wind and chaffinch over glimmering slates to the sithean hill – where spirits dwell – above the house.


Over sheilings now worked in miniature by softer hands. Under the gaze of the sleepy Luing bulls on the gnuig.
Amongst the land they love, and which loves them; we walk in silence.


Arrow-straight seems the route across to Scarba. Today topped by its cloudy cap with rainbow feather. Beware this hat of many colours.
Below this flinchin promise pass packs of grey dogs nightly as the dark-hour falls.
Be home, before the Corryvreckans cauldron waves beat their warring drums.


But first, take a faerie lantern from the cave below the hill. Follow the rin to the shore till gold mends the broken banks of cloud.
Or until the copper beach runs out to where the selkies play.

Where Spirits Dwell

11th August 2016

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The Wonder Of Blue

The Wonder Of Blue


From the blue of the ferry taking us across to our new home..


To the blue yonder.


With the Isle of Scarba, hazy on the blue horizon..


Overlooking the small, sheltered inlet where the fish are brought in ..


..Serving, occasionally, as the “fish shop”..

It’s the eighth of the eighth, 2016: and I’ve entered my “blue” period.




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Blown Off Course

Blown Off Course


It’s easy to be blown off course. By hot or cold air. By the opinions and machinations of others. By perceived criticism, wisdom, advice. Trouble is, all of it – including that which we dish out ourselves – is, with rare exceptions, coming from one context..viewed through our own filter. Unless you happen to be the Dalai Lama that is.


It’s easy too to take a lofty view of things ..


Or to wash up on a rocky shore, listing to one side with your previously crystal – clear – waters muddied and worse for wear.


Steer yourself back on course;  remember – it’s surprisingly easy to find some well-meaning person all too ready to tell you ..and anyone else within well they would run your life – if they were you.


Prepare for all weathers – and steer your own course..

If the Dalai Lama offers advice.. follow it.

Blown Off Course

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Matching Gatepost Chickens


It pays to search even in dark places for a place to call home.


One tree can make a garden; and give shelter..


A space to meet up and chat.


Space to run free.


Others may try to beat you to the best..

20160513_160726 in the new herb bed.


Hopefully, new neighbours will become old friends..


Matching Gatepost Chickens

Title:- recently I passed a very grand farm entrance where a live chicken stood at each stone gatepost. The image hung on in my memory till the words found a home here.

With love to my nephews in Somerset.

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Walking On Air

My daughter and her family live in the hamlet of Massford in Dromara, in Northern Ireland – their house being literally at the foot of Sliabh Cruibe – the Mountain Of The Hoof. On a recent visit to see my Irish grandson I looked forward also to a better acquaintance with this beautiful mountain.


One of a range of mountains forming the foothills of The Mournes – the Dromara hill range is some 400 million years older than its southerly cousin. The view from Sliabh Cruibe (Slieve Croob in “English’) towards the Mournes is well worth the 534 meter
ascent. There was once an enormous cairn measuring some 75 x 45 meters here – probably marking an ancient burial place on the summit – now merely a platform for the scattered remains of several smaller cairns – and from this the mountain is known locally as The Twelve Cairns.


Sliabh Cruibe is associated with the celebration of the Celtic Harvest festival of Lughnasa, where dancing, music, games and courtship followed community gathering of blaeberries growing wild on the hillside. The festival was one of the quarterly feasts of the old Irish year. The tradition was followed up until the 1950’s; and is enjoying a revival by the local community in recent years.


The tallest of a group of peaks in County Down between the village of Dromara and the town of Castlewellan on the coast;  in an area designated as being of outstanding natural beauty; it is also the source of the River Laggan. Beginning as a spring on the summit of the mountain, it runs past my daughter’s house, continuing through Dromara, County Down, Lisburn and Belfast where it enters Belfast Lough.


The journey to see my daughter and grandson follows the course of the Laggan all the way – beginning when a vast Scandinavian-run Stenaline ferry delivers me from Cairnryan in South-West Scotland into Belfast Lough. I look forward to exploring more of the Laggan on foot in a future trip. Having previously merely driven to within reach of the summit of the Sliabh Cruibe- I set out on foot two sundays past on a truly glorious day for a walk.

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I was aiming for the T junction between the Dree Hill and Clonvaraghan/Finnis Roads, and planned to turn left and walk the further half mile to the spot I knew would give me my first sight of the undulating Mourne range. As I climbed the summit was beckoning; but a looming storm over the Mournes deterred me and I cleaved to the original plan. Two of the local residents appeared in agreement.

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I’d thought the view to come would be the peak experience of the walk; but I’d not anticipated the wonderful sense of peace that swept through me, gaining a greater hold with every step.

Walking in sunshine, and such a landscape, dispelled any leftover rainy winter discontent.
Sure my bones would be complaining soon, I found instead that the higher I climbed –
the better I felt.

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Walking on Air.

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Here’s Looking At You Kid

I’ve met some real characters in the animal world; as a scroll through my files shows..

From my dog Dillon –  comin’ up roses..

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To a pair of budding MI5 the field.

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Meeting a cute blonde in the park..

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Everyone from friends and neighbours..

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To an endangered species.. makes an appearance.

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You never quite know what’s round the corner..

A flock of security guards in sheep’s clothing..
..asking “Whachtu lookin’ at?”.

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Or perhaps – like my cat Griffin – I’ve been wondering thru the catnip again..

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Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid.

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