16 June 2017

There is a natural poetry produced by the joy of exploring our amazing countryside and communities. Poet Andrew Carnegie has offered to capture some of this for The Great Big Walk, hoping to share some of the wonder that the Welsh team, Richard Parry and Merlin Blockley, experience as they walk from Batley to Wales.

 

Photo of Welsh walkers, Richard and Merlin crossing the Mersey.

Day 1 

Reflecting upon The Great Big Walk starting today in Batley, just one of many communities that form the United Kingdom, today the hub for five walks departing many miles to bring smiles across our land.

Batley Hub

Google maps pleads, as I zoom past Leeds to Batley,
Noting Lower Soothill, contemplate a clue to an industrious past,
Divinely seven miles equidistant, Bradford road to Leeds,
Stocks lane, seeming to explain either cattle or punishment.
Links a branch road near a branch toll, former still surviving.
A two dimensional representation of a multi dimensional community,
One where people live upon its streets, laughing, really quite neat.
Walking upon tarmac laid so people could easily parade a walk to shops.
Stopping to exchange pleasantries, worries about strife, easy walking,
Enjoying life. Asking about Mrs Smith's health, in Mr Singh’s shop.
Not everyone drinks, but everyone thinks their community is great!
A diamond being polished by gentle passing of gentle folk,
Who spend friendly time, pleasant banter, funny jokes,
Danes appeared above the valley, explaining its name,
Small groups of Anglo Saxons, only thirty before history was tamed.
Hanging on to strips of mystery, mostly Henry’s church which still appears.
Times when shoddy meant something, a real woollen trade,
Expedient recycling, well ahead of our modern age, shoddy stocks,
Shoddy this and shoddy hats, shoddy uniforms parade, and a library,
Built by a man whose greater legacy was a poet, although he could not know it.
A cosmopolitan hub from which five spokes now step out upon a walk,
Not to sell something, nor to spin stuff so its meaning is lost in some,
Post truth kaleidoscope. Really to slow something, letting things slow,
So the natural glow of community, the spirit of who and what we are,
Sings out slow, a low harmonic, a travelling wave which crosses valleys,
Leaps hills for thrills and marches into our living rooms saying ‘Hi’!
‘Hello’, neighbour meeting neighbour, stopping to chat to stranger,
Moving aside the residual fears that fills news coffers and now offers,
Something precious thats endangered, in danger of being lost.
The sanity of an easy smile, the joy of idle time, pause and wait a whiles.
Time not worrying about spending money but spending value, spending time,
In harmony with each other, contented, and really quite divine.


Day 2

Thinking of biscuits from a safe distance,whilst others walk the talk of The Great Big Walk.

Hen wlad fy nhadau

For one show I turned on my television, my decision made,
Observing a hub of hubbub, central point of an extending circle,
Whose circumference was pin point focused on Batley.
Woollen home, Yorkshire owned, good socks and God bless her,
The MP Jo Cox. Folk talking, about walking across our land,
Mature psychiatry I could understand, red klaxon hands of Jo Brand,
Almost comedic but today not quite. Today straining as they explain,
Five teams barely trained to walk out, carrying a standard of hope.
A hope which came to me as I received a twitter poke from Mohammed,
Poet, community journalist, presenter, but really just a Batley lad,
Out raising profile for Batley poets running for Jo, Batley where everyones a poet,
And I felt the call to come home to a place I had never been, but may come to know.
Place where the local mosque offered community and sustenance,
Whilst Richard walks with Merlin, holding wizard talks, leaving,
Not far behind the warmth of church, out of sight but not necessarily out of mind,
Having sung out on national television to the land of his fathers.
Aye, land of his fathers, Hen wlad fy nhadau, an anthem of hope,
Not just for Wales, but for folk like me, average folk who spend evenings in the pub,
Where the land of our mothers, brothers and sisters is not one twisted,
By what divides but joined by whats inside, that which despite supposed chagrin,
Is not about skin or race, how fits our face, but the cavernous smile,
As Richard described walking in an aroma of Fox’s biscuits, Batley aired,
Towards Heckmondwike, something sweet, understood and easily shared.
So I dunk the love I see in rich foaming teas of culture, fully sustained, day prepared.


Day 3 

Musing around The Great Big Walk and the conversations that are starting about how wonderful our communities are. 

Pause for talk

Tender tendrils radiate outwards, rain drops upon a window pane,
Slowly meandering across visual fields, community revealed,
Seeing aspects neglected, witnessing the unexpected.
Humble people walking in an age where folk may have forgotten,
Or feel so. Feel so yet when infrequently step out to walk,
Feel isolated, so little time, barriers to pause and just talk.
Just stopping. Doing nothing but appreciate each other,
Spending time discussing hopes and fears, recent years.
Grinning as a mum shows a daughter, just for fun,
A simple film cassette, and it being unrecognised, surprised?
Technology is rushing by and runs upon rails nailed with a flood,
Of rusting fears, unemployed happiness, a trumpet of loneliness,
Upon an abacus in an age where both abacus and slide rule no longer.
Finding who we are does not occur trapped in cars, for then,
Wire heated windows incarcerate easy chats, create spats,
Morphed into metalled androgyny, trudging monotony.
We need to escape, celebrate our new found freedom,
Throwing blankets across the razor wire of advertised desire,
Hauling ourselves up in a basket of hope, but not over walls,
Or barriers, but walking around them.
Walking around them, Shaking hands with the guards. Having our preconceptions,
Click open the shutters of our minds, no longer alone,
But part of a whole, bursting out into the sunlight of our soul.
Not divided, for our equation defies explanation, we are the sum parts,
Whose addition is not average, but adds up into a fractal,
Of beautiful, multicoloured, geometric, simple, complexity.


Day 4

Inspired by a call from Richard Parry, walking The Great Big Walk.

The Third Cutting

Turnpikes and other delights, rise mighty old roads,
Millenia of heavy loads via rail and canal trail,
Today centuries muse dusts off quarry soaked shoes.
Richard leans upon a wall, talking respectfully to Paul,
In the middle of solitude, someone taking chance.
Chance to talk about the romance of the countryside,
Which lays supported by natures banks, an investment,
Evolving to slowly dissolve and then cast rods role once more.
Regal Standedge trail, prevailing against the prevailing,
Natural rust, entrusted to future communities,
Where in former times, as folk climbed, others burrowed.
Creating long canal tunnels which furrow from sight,
Navigating the buffs and the cuts, yelling stand to.
Stand to and hear these lessons, history speaks!
About how many small hands and many small feet,
Taking small steps moved inside and topped off mountains,
Moving continents through communal effort and good cheer.
And on the subject of good cheer, lets recall Paul.
A man simply out walking his dog, stopping to talk to strangers,
Not worrying about imaginary danger, but sharing time, his narrative.
Discovering they lead not to chains but via his dog to Wales,
Hay-On-Wye, a border collie called abroad to serve, wagging immigration.
Celebrating a reunion via ambassadors, who walk to talk to walk.
Begging to come along further, wiggling down to Diggle,
Yet knowing duty calls, and so the Welsh walk,
Dog wags, returns to Paul, all passing stone carved poetry,
Observed not just in words but in the vision we call home.


Day 5 

I sat safely rhyming Richard and Merlin's efforts for The Great Big Walk as they head towards Wrexham and their home country. 

Sylvia’s Future 

Sylvia turned ninety, never expecting to be sung to in Welsh!
Not a language of which she had great command, nor a desire to understand.
Yet there was this man, totally unplanned, singing with gusto,
And Sylvia could feel the love that was revealed, and she smiled.

So Richard and Merlin said their goodbyes, smiling, off seats,
Back on their feet, walking Cheshire’s plain, towards Manchester,
Stopping to reject an offer of a cash donation, needing explanation,
That nothing was sought but love brought, and an ending celebration.

Descending now towards Manchester City, quite literally on the ball,
Where a charity was revealed, something amazing, a celebration for all,
Involved, where their community discovers unity for forty thousand young a year,
Now thats true love by a great football club, taking in kids as holidays appear.

Now Richard is a man of some considerable age, weathered but bold,
Staring closely at page, So it was quite an amazing thing to discover,
That he could take up walking football, not as a fan but as a lover,
And that red cards would protect from getting out of breath, sport for the old.

But as they left the club, the support car deflated and so they ran, if I can explain,
To cross Manchester briefly by tram and then train, schedule rescued, back in the game.
Northwich community exercise came as a surprise, a real welcome bunch,
By wonderful people, looking forward in lycra, looking back fondly at lunch,

Unknowingly crossing south of the famous Anderson lift, they could have visited,
But didn’t go to it, not wishing to just barge in, they carried on walking, carrying a grin,
To arrive at Weaverham, a river runs deep, two tawny owls hunting quite well,
Catching a deserved evening meal, filing them nicely, satisfaction revealed,

Preparing now to reinvade Wales, further adventures, more tales to prevail,
Two tawny owls, stepping out, a form of transport, so many neglect,
So essential for football, exercise class pass, health and respect,
Which in Sylvia’s time, led to longevity, a life lived well, time to reflect.


Day 6

Richard described a breathtaking moment on the Cheshire plain where they could see back to their past and forward to the future, I held my breath as he described it. Mr Appleton has just decided to leave and go walking and the young lady had wanted desperately to go to the cinema, but her aunt provided an experience she would never forget instead. As they walk down towards the welcome of a choir filled community run pub, I have significant pangs of envy.

Dee’s Border

Plain crossing famous cheese, pausing relief,
To disbelieve the vista that stretches to far horizons.
Surprise, sheer beauty scaled, seeing back to Batley,
Ahead to Wales. Regaled with a song of sight,
Whose tune murmurs beauty, constantly on duty,
Flight imagination scales anticipation, intake of air.
Intake of air held, spell bound such is delight,
Paths covered, communities uncovered, hope ahead.
But wait. A border crossing. But we live in safety,
No barbed wires nor shackled walls, just a ridge to a bridge,
Dee’s border in order, a slow halt at Holt, then he’s seen.
Mr Appleton striding along in the other direction, just upped,
Leaving Wales via a poetic trinity, a valley of Ceiriog,
Rhymes of Huw Morris, John Hughes and Rev Ellis shoes.
I pause in respect, my neglect of language shadows greatness.
Merlin and Richard paused too, just as well they stopped,
Just like that to chat. A niece who instead of cinema had been
Pulled into the cinematic dramatic. Stunned by the views,
As she moved her shoes, marvelling smell dwelled upon
Stream barked woods. A smile no popcorn could provide,
With a feeling inside that films tend to hide, which will last
Probably a lifetime, and its free. They skip along Coedpoeth’s
Depth’s, two Morris chancers seeking worship at Tyn-Y-Capel,
Minera chapel of community run ale where a choir waits,
Songs and stories will tonight prevail, comrades in charms.


Day 7

Quiet Fun ‘Ding’

Amongst early haze of the valleys,
Richard felt amazed, quite stunned.
Hot, we discussed sun effects,
But no, this amazement, continued to run.

So I quizzed him upon a quisling,
Talk man, stop sitting on the fence,
Your full meaning is missing,
For once the narrative, makes little sense.

Does your heart skip in step with the valley,
Your lips purse to kiss local stream,
Should we worry about with whom you now tally,
Does your mind wander, do you know what I mean?

He babbled like a gurgling brook,
About shops in community, feelings of unity,
Saying I should visit, come take a look,
But I politely declined, more answers in mind.

He recalled a shop in the forest of Llandegla,
Heather from prior Nants mill, and lollipops,
Stood humbled by shops in Pwllglas,
He is married, should I stop or continue to ask?

He mumbled about the big lottery, I was stunned,
Had he brought a winning ticket, his walking over,
Before it had begun? But no, on the mountains,
And into the valleys, all supported by big lottery funds.

‘Kerching’


Day 8

The Great Big Walk

T – Thousands step out, small steps of,

H – Hello, lets share time today in,

E – Every street. Just so neat, friendly form of meet and.

G – Greet. We all gain by coming to know, and thats,

R – Really coming to know, our neighbours, our community,

E – Everyone laughing, sharing time in happy unity.

A – Around us, waiting to be shared, are hidden treasures,

T – That are waiting to surprise the unprepared. Open eyes,

B – Big surprise, what magic awaits for you and,

I – I. You see we share our air, why not show we care,

G – Get together, lets plan and compare, not who and what, but

W – Where we can erect tables, so folk can come, have some fun.

A - Anyone and everyone, getting rid of barriers to communication,

L – Loving folk, no need for explanation, just watching as we grow,

K - Knowing each other, not as strangers, but as loved neighbours. 


Day 9

Richard has been raving about lots of things during his walk but the Tape project sounds like it is in a class of its own. A project where it has excited the hearts and minds of professionals who come to give time and are producing commercially acceptable projects at a fraction of the cost. This at the same time asoffering an exceptional learning environment for anybody interested in film or media.

Got it Taped

Ednyfed Fychan, councillor, general, quite a few years back,
Spent his life working, fighting at a time when life was black and white.
No fool, when he took his leave, he wanted to relax,
So he settled upon a rivera in Wales, known today as Colwyn bay.
Colwyn where golden sands run to meet the Irish sea,
Waves upon a mystery, as pleasant as a place can be,
Toes grasp the sands of time, smiling at they wash in love divine,
Natures creativity interlaced with Welsh positivity, in this vicinity.
Shining here, upon a stage, is a charity, about whom folk rage,
Not in anger but in sheer delight, ruby red, emerald tight.
Winning awards not with generals swords, but certainly with council,
British film council that is, as they support groups of all ages,
To step up and upon the stage, see the world as an open page.
Graduates when life is fraught, who journey out upon a pathway of support,
Producing things that people watch, recently ignite, British winters delight,
As Rhyl reflects gasping in the shadow of the ferris wheel, films that work,
Make us feel. Search inside for feelings we thought we’d hide, maybe deny,
That roll out before we can object, to be kissed into health,
Inner health of Colwyn’s amazing community project, got it taped!


Day 10

Mountains in mind 

Stories flow out of context, why spoil one with facts,
So this one mixes things, enjoy, sit back, relax.
Mountainous car parks cupped an early start,
Where folk drove over night, to ensure they could park!
Coupled dressing and undressing, mountains in mind,
Boyfriend lacing boots, so lovely, so kind.
Soaring aspirations of education, a quiet university,
Sent to Coventry, suddenly quite rowdy, not at all sedentary.
But I wonder did Richard risk offence, leaping in the lake,
Cold water sense. Visions of things we may not wish to know,
Should I ask where he left his clothes, or if this was a cause of alarm,
Connected with Merlin leaving, now he has walked back to his farm.
Ripples upon the icy scene, gentle lapping waves, cold and quite keen,
Now shivering, walking to keep warm, he put best boot forward,
Feeling comfort now torn, enthusiastic welcome from men in the shed,
Joining to make things, real manuals, discussions he said.
Tired and damp, he struggled with tools, what a great idea for comradeship,
Laying down new rules. But more a school for thought, a walk on the wild side,
Nat Y Glyn. He’d knock on the door, step right on in, but there isn't one!
A school of forest and nature and magic and stuff, where folk get down and dirty,
Mud even touched, but also where memories are laid down for a long time,
Opening young eyes through social enterprise, so worthy, also off line!


Day 11

Reflecting upon loneliness, how it affects men, often men still working who become technically isolated and how the National Lottery Fund, The Big Lunch and projects like The Great Big Walk have reached out across our country shining a spotlight upon communities where people have not just had enough, but have got out of bed and done stuff, and so I went walking in a T-Shirt in the rain.

T-Shirt in the Rain

Water curdled, time gurgled, ribbed plant pot next to an empty decanter,
Old strains of past times, youth’s flower now just a memory,
Far back in the garden of doubts, our seed dispersed upon the wind.
We look down from our Welsh dresser, once bright pine, now yellowed,
Sticky varnish of photographs, friends, family, laughs, long past,
Roots laid deep into our soil, each others company, each others foil,
Alive yet not, an unfilled decanter, an old plant pot. Snap shots,
Of interaction, post arrives, TV action, walking dog, welcome distraction,
Sat behind the pane, watching life pass, isolated, difficult to complain,
When our isolation, such as its surprise, followed aspiration, as we strived,
Flushing kids off to school, not much time as a rule, to stop to talk,
Little interaction, no time to walk, ignition on, then we are gone,
Waving to others who do the same, looking back, seems insane.
Meandering rivulets, little rivers each dashing, gravitas flash past,
Opiate of light, greyed, but still a delight, maybe today electronic book,
Or seek to touch someone via book of face, unsatisfactory social media,
Brings memories of giggles at dinner, reaching out to touch, slap a back,
Have a chat, not just sights and sounds, but atmosphere, smells profound,
Then I open my eyes, surprised. A stranger looks back, not a reflection,
Grinning genuflection to a blessing, conversation, a call not to arms,
But street meets, shed talks, community projects for men like me,
My heart exclaimed, as I shook off my leaves, adjusted my roots,
Leaping up to say, ‘and me’, then walking in a T-shirt in the rain.

Read more about male loneliness in our blog post Say 'Hey bro' to your 'neighbro'.


Day 12

Richard was fascinated by the Green Towns profound and innovative insight into the wants and needs of Ffestiniog. The Welsh government has implemented a World first, so that this generation, and any future generation, cannot pass on an environment in a degraded state to that in which they received it. The problem is that whilst the idea is grand and noble, getting the mechanisms of government to actually implement this is difficult. The way forward is different. Rather than complaint, an acceptance that government serves us, the people. It us, the people, who by getting together can allow, innovate and celebrate rapid progress by highlighting issues well known but which are not reaching into the system to allow them to be addressed. This champagne of conversation fizzes over and enthuses all who sip from its glass. Sophie Howe and Jane Davidson have agreed to join Richard at a future point of the The Great Big Walk to hear how these conversations are occurring and how they can help us flourish.

Blindness

Few folk read their bible, but if they did they would see,
With clarity, that those around Jesus really don’t understand,
Not only what he’s planned, but also how to achieve it.
Now often this required clarity, is difficult to achieve in government!
Take what the Welsh have planned, World leading conservation,
Of our environment. Yet a lack of implementation, unaware,
How to commence conversations, to obtain it. So the flesh is wiling,
But the head is weak. So just this week, Richard got to speak,
To the Hay festival, hearing an explanation from Sophie Howe,
On a subject she knows well, backed up by government,
In the person of Jane Davidson. Of how they are there due to people,
But they struggle to infuse innovative new views into clanking,
Local systems that administer whats always been achieved.
From old dusty memories upon the shelf, unaware of change,
Lacking the DIY knowledge of health. That clarity comes from community,
Real people, just like you and me, who can take our enthusiasm,
And leap the chasm that prevents progress. Guide dogs to the blind,
Faithful friends, not unkind, who do things by having conversations.
An example would be the folk of Y Dref Werdd, Ffestiniog’s Green town.
Trawsfynydd offered an unrequited hope, cheap nuclear electricity,
So estates in its vicinity, didn't need insulation, power would almost be free.
Then the green town sat down, walked out to have a talk, hearing of poverty,
How the internet is unable to be brought. How the houses were cold,
Obvious explanation with no insulation, and heated with power draining,
Storage heaters which require a guard to stand and feed the meters.
So the green town suggested the guard stand down, looked around,
Had more chat, found a company with gas, ask if they could have some of that?
And whilst talks continue, the nerve and sinew of local authority, had been unaware,
It’s through listening and talking that the blind can be guided,
So as we are all walking, lives journey together, leaders can hear,
Have insight, bubbling up so well, celebrate things really quite clever
Which always happens, when we all work together, lets talk. 


Day 13

Richard bubbled over from non alcoholic rowan champagne, describing the work of edible mach in Maethlon. Volunteers plot in bits of spare ground or planters edible vegetation and its everywhere. Feeling hungry, anybody can just pick and eat, just dig into the soil and grab and bite an onion, it such an amazing and loving thing to do. He then hit new heights of delight, describing the work of Sharon Girardi who has engineered 75 acres of trees growing food on the Welsh slopes. If this proves to work, and it certainly seems like it will, it means that Welsh maintains and valleys can move away from pine and become a huge reservoir for food cultivation. But then humbled by the behaviour of a single council officer, who deliberately works late so the kids in the playground can use the office toilets as there are no outside ones. In an age where many struggle, what an amazing act of unselfish dedication to his community, which passes unrecognised yet impacts in such a great way.

Edible News

Sweet tart rowan, waves fragrance, bubbling effervescence,
Tickling tastes, nostrils flared, smooth and welcome shared.
Upon pavements, central grass, laze carrots, people drive past,
Cauliflower empowered, emancipation of vegetation.
Peeling back onion layers of communal street gardens,
Social allotments outside council toilets, libraries, even supermarkets.
Lovingly planted, carefully prepared, free for all, just pick, easily shared.
No farming community but a community of farmers, working together,
Some planting, some watering, some love, and then anyone eats,
Upon these streets, sweet treats, but around slopes rise to sun rise.
She had vision, Whittington’s sister, departing London's streets of gold,
Seeking to bury treasure, and then watch it grow, invested trees.
Rising experiment in mountainous engineering, fruit trees, reveal,
On the slopes, not straight and level, naturally facing towards the sun,
A forest farm, able to feed everyone, post industrial plantations.
But lets make a statement. Not mission statement but a real one,
Not mere words locked in a file, incarcerated, prisoner to systems,
Rarely viewed, barely used. A man sits writing, council worker at his desk,
Freely chats, friendly, but what impressed, was the apology for keeping him late,
Which he failed to even contemplate, pointing to the kids playing happily,
On playground swings, rotational vertigo with glee, whose only loo’s,
Were in the councils mews, and so he each night waits, working late,
Until the last child goes home, probably unaware, that his there,
So they can find relief in between their joy and laughter.
Who needs mission statements, when this one mans placement,
Shows such incredible love?


Day 14

This poem is an amalgamation of a conversation with Richard today, where he described the feeling of walking so far and then suddenly seeing home far away and feeling unnerved in that moment. At the same time on Twitter, Richard asked what was the difference between solitude and loneliness. Tracey Jane Robbins, Eden's community project manager, replied saying ‘solitude is the joy of being alone and loneliness is the pain of being alone, or indeed the pain of being disconnected from those around you.’ I wrote a short micro poem but this commenced a thought process which has taken up until today and the poem below represents that. I imagined Richard, enjoying solitude, walking through amazing community projects which in many cases address an endemic of loneliness, our society conveniently overlooks in its relentless drive forward, seemingly unaware of the side effects along its road.

Alone upon the Sea

I stood upon a magnificent edge, a Titan, chess positioned,
To North, To South, To East, To West, a sea of land within my vision.
My solitude, a welcome embrace, of our amazing natural space,
I had wandered out of the sky, to stand here now, seeing why,
My walk along the road alone, had been a journey to atone,
For drowning in the modern pace, of email and mobile phone.
Below me, at my beck and call, ants scurried, seeking more,
Whilst I stood here, far above, had everything the ants would love,
And more, so much more. My exquisite solitude, alone upon a sea,
Was a walk with inner self, with God, enjoying my spirituality,
Which was often misplaced, in the ant world below, where they race,
Hamsters in a cage, epitomising permissive slavery, of our age.
Far down there, a face looked back, drawn, haggard, life seemed black,
Unable to see past light pollution, unaware of the absolution,
Nature offers so near but far, when we travel everywhere, by polluting car.
They could not see me, few saw them, life’s loneliness to contend,
Time passing in a solitude not so well, loneliness of a prison cell,
Yet they were free, nice house in a long road in our vicinity.
Trapped by time passing them by, today few hear them cry.
Indeed the tears have dried like an old river bed, parched, unsaid,
Feelings of being better off dead, shops closed down the road,
Rated shopping centres encouraged out of town, where
Lonely people flow like tadpoles, all alone, after all who cares?
Who cares what somebodies name is, when they are not spending money?
Titan stood in exquisite splendour, watching and smiling,
Michelangelo's God reached from Heaven to Eden,
Stretching a finger to touch and start a conversation.
Like a fuse on fireworks night. Fizzing rapid sparks,
Exploding in the heart of that community, and that’s how it starts.
People talking, people walking, people meeting, people greeting,
No longer ants but people, with names and aims and laughter,
An integrity against disaster. which rips off the sticking plaster of external control,
And takes it. Takes it, and bakes it, and make its, and opens it, wide-open.
Wide open so the doors swing wide with applause, folk cry freedom,
Cry out for more, and a community grows.


Day 15

Richard met up with a very talented couple last year who have exceptional knowledge regarding the ancient woodlands. With the The Great Big Walk, he set out to meet them and was delighted to spend time. The east wind brings corrupt acidic air onto the Welsh hillsides and valleys so that moss and lichen don't grow on the east side of trees. At the same time, ash die back is slowly and inexorably marching up the slopes. This poem was inspired from the words; 'I hoped I would die before I saw ash die back come this high, sadly I haven’t.’

East Wind

Upon leaning slopes, wind slowly fills, moss rolled moments,
Stretching bough and bark pon simply light,
East the beast of acid breath, drooling rain, molecular entwined,
Unkind caress, stripped heart of forest glade.
Since ancient times and modern futures, these woods army stood,
Doffing cap to Coleridge as he passed, silently upon foot pad,
Muttering ’bout seas and ancient things, times of rhyme,
Secreted bonds long gone, but still a walk of Fleming.
Noticing the insipid march of death, ash dies back past future,
Denied to those in denial, as air caressed with East winds breath.
In the valley, pon the hills, polluted air despite no mills,
Drifting across borders and seas to off load calamity,
As trees stand story to mans insanity, over ages now.
Liz holds strong, seeing tumours upon the hillside,
Luxuriating contamination, drifting invisibles whose jetsam,
Produces flotsam upon seas of green Welsh grass,
A snapshot of corrupting influences, calling last orders.


Day 16

Richard spoke about TH Parry White, one of the most famous Welsh poets. This poem is a play on words for him, with an attempt to put it into Welsh.

In the style of Indeterminacy

They chanced upon a poets memory,
From times gone past and evermore,
Who wrote from earlier last century,
About school houses and sweeping floors.
Indeterminacy from literacy, quite clear,
As words fit and parry fight,
Tight upon the listening ear,
A lilt of rising ancient sight.
Then to raise concerns along the way,
Of white poems and other colours,
Where histories language comes to play,
Sat amongst the Welsh rune lovers.
Yet buried parents, so its said,
No longer listen in dead of night,
For they remain today, now long dead,
And Parry-Whites door stays locked tight.

Maent yn chanced ar cof beirdd,
O'r cyfnod wedi mynd heibio ac byth,
Pwy ysgrifennodd oddi cynharach ganrif ddiwethaf,
Am dai ysgolion a lloriau ysgubol.
Amhendantrwydd o lythrennedd, yn eithaf clir,
Fel geiriau ymladd heini ac parry,
Dynn ar y clust i wrando,
Mae lilt o godi golwg hynafol.
Yna i godi pryderon ar hyd y ffordd,
O gerddi gwyn a lliwiau eraill,
Ble mae hanes iaith i chwarae,
Sad ymhlith y rhai sy'n hoff rune Cymru.
claddu rhieni eto, felly ei ddweud,
gwrando mwyach meirw y nos,
Am eu bod yn parhau heddiw, yn awr hir wedi marw,
A Parry-Whites drws yn aros gloi dynn.


Day 17

Had an amazing day, such an honour to join Richard, Amelia and Orso on the walk from Ogmore to Tonypandy. The views were incredible and the wind-powered generation station was surprisingly beautiful and inviting. Calling it a farm hides not only its purpose, but also the invitation it holds. I found walking underneath slightly unnerving, but I suspect that is due to having worked around helicopters a long time ago. The walk down the hill had a really interesting conversation flowing and the sudden appearance of this chalk-white cross came at the perfect time in the conversation, to the extent that we all felt slightly stunned it had occurred. The chocolate Labrador held up the name of his race well, invading the picnic and demolishing some available chicken, tumbling folk over, before returning to his owner saying he hadn't been fed for a week and other such Labrador truths!

Hills and Cathedrals

Short walk over a short hill, just a few hours, on rumour mill,
So I lazed at Ogmore fire service, used the loo, went to pharmacy for sun cream,
Idling time as I waited, explaining to folk about Richards journey we all follow.
Conversations started, ‘From Yorkshire’? ‘To Wales’? Why,
‘Is there a race?’ Such lovely people, such a friendly place.
I’d was soon woken up as the orange car appeared, saying hello,
To Emilia, Orso and Matt whilst Jess considered angles and were we on track?
Then Richard smiled, a knowing look of calm, I saw his eyes glint, nervous,
Should I be alarmed? Our gentle stroll strode up the track, Richard was there,
He kept looking back. Thankfully Emilia, in taking poetic pity, strolled a little slower,
She was great company, interesting and witty. Which I appreciated as my feet,
Continued to prove, each step up a mountain, struggling in peat glue,
Occasionally slipping, a falling neglect, but who cared, part of a team in company,
Walking a little Wales, within an incredible view! And oh we were so within it!
Alongside gurgling mountain streams, aromatic grass, no city screams,
Wafting whiffs of conversation, flowing and ebbing like a tide, Not always followed,
But feeling so good deep inside. As we neared the top, my heart rebelled,
Threatening to stop, each breath straw sucked, I was struggling, walking was tough!
Until Richard said something in Welsh, fantasy about poetry, medieval, rolling off his tongue,
To deaf English ears. Confusion appeared and as I stood panting abreast the edge,
Realising his ploy was simply joy to move my mind to where my body was struggling to see,
Knowing in certainty I would never know what he had said! We strolled in sedition,
Questioning spin and marketing decisions to plough wind farms when they’re not!
Silent moving sentinels of immense beauty, studiously turning, soporific duty,
Turning wind into calm devotions to motion, but someone stole the farm!
Sliding down now, over the top towards Tonypandy, a riot of Rhondda colour,
And Emilia and I discussed street art and graffiti, how she was spiritual,
Finding rebellion through words whilst I was faithful and followed one.
We strolled through a natural cathedral whose walls soared gloriously up,
Discussing faith and if man’s cathedrals had sought to emulate this space,
When perfectly, between the trees, upon a hill side, a white cross of Christ.
In life divine, but within our conversation exquisitely and perfectly timed,
So much that Richard burst out singing a hymn, and we joined in.
Walking down towards the sports ground, a feeling quite profound,
Joy and love there, sensing also, a picnic the team ahead,
Had prepared for all to share, although the chocolate Labrador’s inclusion,
Might not have been part of the picnics planned conclusion!


Day 18

I wrote this due to a comment Richard made about loneliness and a lady who collected Welsh postcards connected to a further conversation about the Welsh word for homesickness, a need for the Welsh identify to come back to Wales, to be in touch with the soil and earth of home. In the distance we could see the dark rapid waters of the river Severn and I could see our society as the trees that float out to oblivion in its waters. Uprooted and going, but who knows where?

Floating Roots

Heavy water moved mountains, eroding banks to invest,
In its deep dark brown tides. Its motion a lunar devotion,
Gravity locked from before to evermore, a Seven bore.
Equinox of peaks and troughs, sliding change, upon the locks,
Each postcard different, from today in black and white,
Through tomorrow in sediments delight. Secret things float,
Past safe harbour, beneath the gaze of holidays, and past boats,
Trees uprooted to spiral at a rate of knots, no longer rooted,
To forest spots, called home. Home where wooden hearts,
Did once reside and now depart, no longer in touch with
Soils nurture or mothers toil. Listless and rather sad,
Drifting alone upon that tide, moving, cannot be denied,
But where and why and also, once alone, who really cares?
A tree alone does not a forest make, for a forest is a celebration,
Of lofty community. A community in symbiotic harmony,
With all around, from birds who fly, to life thats found,
Upon the soil of forest ground, which each tree replenishes,
By its life, a virtuous circle, of friends and wife,
Or husbands planted near sisters branch, upon which balance,
A harmony of chance.


Day 19 

Today is the anniversary of the death of a wife, daughter, sister and mother, who also happened to be an MP. The Great Big Walk left Batley, her constituency, on 29 May and people have walked back to Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, London and Cornwall. Those walkers have stopped to talk to people and discover what makes us great. It has been a slow rediscovery of a beauty that simmers just below the surface, of a country that was in danger of losing its own story, the history and the narrative of who we are. We all need to know where we start so we can set out to journey together. So today feels like a quiet day, a day for contemplation, and —if you are of the mindset —a day for prayer. After the quiet, comes the noise and this weekend erupts into a Great Get Together and a party where we all eat at The Big Lunch. Diminishing artificial barriers that limit our community, making friends of neighbours and loving the time we spend together, safe in the knowledge that we all have more in common than that which divides.

A Quiet Time

Expectation mounts,
Delicious sherbet fountain,
Purchased but not quite open.
Awareness eyes the liquorice,
That waves proud and loud,
Knowing that soon crowds,
Will suck upon sweet friendship.
Where the sherbet conversation,
Sparkles upon the taste,
Salivating celebrations,
As neighbours pass the plates.
That bloke at number ten cheers,
As Mrs number 8 giggles,
And overfills her plate,
Whilst the kids at number 9,
Are having a whale of a time,
Not even online, simply divine.
So this weekend will be spent,
On holiday with new friends,
Not strangers never seen again,
But people we see all the time,
Who now have a name,
Join our party!

 

All poems written by Andrew Carnegie especially for The Great Big Walk.

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