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St Michaels Mount

Visiting St Michaels Mount is always a watery business, given that it is an island only reachable on foot at low tide, but today to add to that it was raining, heavily at that and it was February and so the water poured from the heavens onto the earth and onto the sea and the sea foamed and heaved, as it was high tide and there was a wind up. Read More...

Sing Gospel

With Geraldine Latty, www.geraldinelatty.com.
www.myspace.com/gerladinelatty

This gospel workshop was at St Andrew’s church in Cullompton,Devon, well mid-Devon actually, which is not near anything in particular so it was just lovely of Geraldine to come and sing gospel with us, various men and women from far flung parts of Devon, which is not central at the best of times. Read More...

Banner

I found a banner in Exeter cathedral that I had never noticed before. It was at least eight feet high and was embroidered from head to toe. It was, as it were, hiding on one of the side aisles outside the quire and I may have walked by it many times, I don’t know, but today for some reason I could see it. A life-size figure, Mary I think, made in 1931. She wears a robe that is turquoise blue, she has braids and a halo, all traditional but what caught my heart were the figures close to her; there was a goose looking very interested in her and a bunny also fascinated by the Mary. Read More...

Crediton Flower Festival

Have you ever been to a flower festival? You don’t know what you are missing. Especially if you don’t know what it is. If you love flowers, seeing them set in the most sumptuous of surroundings (very old churches of red sandstone, stained glass windows, brass engravings, carved stone statues), all of which are the permanent cast of characters, then in Spring added to this is the impermanence of flowers in large arrangements all to a theme, telling a story. 
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Exmouth Festival: 25th -30th May

In the triangle at the centre of Exmouth there are sea shanties being sung to rows of red and blue striped deckchairs arranged in front of a stage. Further on there are morris dancers, firstly those in black, with top hats and blacked out faces, then there’s the traditional morris dancers walking the streets in white shirts and trousers, floral or plain waistcoats, red hankies and bells from knee to ankle that sound as they walk . This is celebrating Devons heritage and is a day of traditional fare so there are shanty men in costume and (a few women) so there’s music everywhere, whether for the ceilidh, the sea shanties or the morris dances. Read More...

Asleep on the Sea Front

I walked along the sea wall at Dawlish, the first time since the winter storms ate some of it, a giant’s bite into the Victorian sea wall that had up till then carried the Frist Great Western train line direct into the heart of the West country. It’s been fixed, thanks to 300 Network Rail engineers who came to stay in Dawlish, which must have had a bit of a shock because the usual trade is tourists who come to eat ice creams, whelks on the sea front and coffee and teacakes and of course fish and chips on the beach looking at the sea side! Accompanied by hungry sea gulls. Read More...

Taunton Home

I did get home. I did escape from the Somerset Levels in flood. It does feel like disaster travelling through it, but a quiet disaster, a patient disaster. One that creeps up slowly, by inches, as water levels rise. No drama. An inexorable drip, inch by inch as cattle wait to be rescued and the sheep despairingly wonder how long they are to look like Peruvian lamas when they are blackface or somerset poll, as they are in this poem: Read More...

Westonzoyland to Bridgewater

As we go on I see a tractor pulling earth and broken concrete (signs of the flood) and everywhere along the route there are travellers asking the bus driver where she is going. They are lost and waiting for a bus, any bus. Wanting to get places, wanting to get home where they came from. Rather like India, the vagueness, the waiting, the awareness of the temporal nature of things that can change at any time for any reason. Only here the situation is too much water, whereas in India it is always a lack of what we have in abundance. Read More...

Across the Levels from Street to Taunton:

Now the journey got interesting. We took a route out of Street past Walton church through Pedwell, and from the bus I could see a fisherman fishing on the levels beside willows with the sea to the right, miles away. There were black cows sitting on hillocks as they knew if they went down on the flat land they would get their feet wet. Read More...

Ride Across Somerset levels

RIDE ACROSS SOMERSET LEVELS

I did not intend to go to Shepton Mallet on the Somerset Levels on March 3, but there was a memorial service there for a great friend. She was funny, so wise! I set off on the train, knowing that Castle Cary was the nearest stop to where I wanted to go. (I travel by public transport not so much because of ideology but because we sold the car (a Rover, old but with a silver heart) a couple of years ago and now I travel by train, which means I can look at stuff.
Here is a Castle Cary poem, from years ago . Written when I lived in Canada and borrowed the name for a house I lived in once, but subsequently lost. Read More...

Flooding

On the topic of flooding: Read More...

Okehampton

The Inland Route for the DAL (Dawlish Avoiding Line): having a look at the old ordnance survey map (1982) for ‘Okehampton and North Dartmoor’ one finds the markings for the disused railway line that used to run inland in order to avoid Dawlish and the seaside route between Exeter and Plymouth. According to the Ordnance Survey one can see a route that used to run from Exeter using the current Barnstaple line. Just after Crediton there is a branch line at Colebrooke taking this we pass by North Tawton, Okehampton go past Meldon (and the Meldon quarry). From there the train ran by scenic Lydford and of course close to Lydford Gorge then via North Brentor and Tavistock to join what is now the Gunnislake branch line at Bere Alston to take one into Plymouth. We have thus avoided the sea entirely and gone via scenic North Dartmoor instead.

Here is a poem for Okehampton and the travel there now: On Sundays there is special train that runs on the Okehampton line in the summer. Read More...

Dawlish part 2

The Dawlish Alternate Line (DAL) has been suggested since 1935. I looked at my Dad’s old ordnance survey map (1966) which had the disused railways marked on it and there I found the signs of a route that had existed many years ago. From Exeter to Ide, Dunsford, Doddiscombsleigh, Chudleigh, Chudleigh Knighton, Kingsteignston to Newton Abbot. So this is not a new idea and there is an alternate line.

Here is another poem for Dawlish, my favourite platform which has its feet in the sea and pigeons roosting under the platform decking cooing at the passengers and looking out at the sea from their nests warm from the station. Read More...

Dawlish

I wrote this poem a year ago before the line at Dawlish was battered by the storms yesterday that took away the train line and some of the platform with it. I think this is the best platform in the world; where else would you wait for your train on a platform that is half in the sea and half out and on stormy days watch the waves crash over the line ahead of you and sit of dream of the sea. Read More...

Sea Time

In honour of the New Year, the sea is giving us a show time. The waves are like houses and take down buildings, pavements, halt train lines and cast sand and sea weed over roads close enough to run awash.

There’s rain after rain and storm after storm. The rivers are full, the fields are full, the tides are high and winds blow day after day. The South West is staggering but still here, still loving the sea. Here is a poem I wrote for the waves which had reached 30 feet:
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Friends

Thinking about childhood and there was this memory of dressing up and wandering around the neighbourhood kitted up in lovely gowns, provided by girl next door. She’s my best friend. Best friends are the stuff of life. It’s a special love. How many others are there?
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The Folk Cafe

This is as good a place as any to begin a blog. It was two weeks ago that I said ‘yes, I would read my poetry at a sort of a folk /open mic session held in aid of Lucy’s charity ‘CHAPS’.’ Lucy is raising money for an orphanage she’s going to build in Uganda. Someone wants to go out and raise the money for an orphanage in Uganda. So I thought Yay! I’m there and if that’s to read some poetry that I haven’t read in public, so be it. Read More...