Art On The Rack


tall and slender
thin and lean
what do such racked
such skeletal
figures mean

imagination extended
perception broadened
brought to brush and canvas
stone and chisel
bronze and rasp
unique reality
given expression
in the artist’s eye
and distorted vision

el greco

artistic differences
in paint and bronze

fashion’s fad
now continued
on the catwalk

do my eyes
deceive me
with beauty
in the eye of the bewildered
or perhaps following

and stretched out models
and elongated
in the artist’s vision

paraded to their public
asked to accept
an interpretation
allowing retrieval
of a larger truth

thus to become
stricken and striated
of a new generation

fêted now
as great and good
but fated still
to be misunderstood



The images at the top are, from left to right  . . .
El Greco:  ‘St.John The Baptist’ – c.1600; Oil on Canvas
Giacometti:  ‘Walking Man’ – 1960; Bronze
Modigliani: ‘Lunia Czechowska in Black’ – 1919; Oil on canvas
Parmagianino: ‘Madonna With Long Neck’
The bottom picture is of ‘Catwalk models’ – from Pinterest.




North Yorkshire Coast #1

[ Photo Gallery # 78 ]

After my three Photo Galleries displaying the delights of Whitby, my next two galleries will cover some of the delights of the Yorkshire coast further north, now named the ‘North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast’.

01 NY Heritage Coast

‘Heritage Coast’ sign at Sandsend

02 HawskerChurch

A sea mist masks the church and gravestones of the coastal village of Hawsker

03 sandsend

Evening view to the north from the beach at Sandsend

04 sandsend

Rough sea looking south towards Whitby from Sandsend.

05 sandsend-westbek

Misty morning beside Westbek at Sandsend

06 RunswickBay

The picturesque artists’ village of Runswick Bay

06a Runswick

High tide in the bay at Runswick

06b Runswick

Further view of Runswick Bay

07 Skinningrove

The old mining village of Skinningrove where the Kilton Beck meets the North Sea and still runs red with the iron deposits carried down from the surrounding hills .  Known as ‘Britain’s Iron Valley’.

Kilton Culvert

Kilton Culvert (N.B. not one of my own photographs)


Three views of the ‘Repus’ Cobble, an old Skinningrove fishing boat now positioned looking out to the North Sea from the beach at Skinningrove.

10 Skinningrove

It is not clear why this cobble has been named ‘Repus’, but it has been pointed out that the name spells ‘Super’ backwords!

11 Skinningrove

Manning the prow of the ‘Repus’ Cobble



[ Photo Gallery # 76 ]

A further selection of my photographs of Whitby taken on my frequent visits there  in the past . . .

01 Whitby Panorama

Panoramic view of the entrance from the North Sea to Whitby Harbour and the River Esk

02 Whitby

The Church of St. Mary on the headland on the south bank of the River Esk.   Ruins of the ancient Abbey can be seen behind the church

03 Whitby

View of the inner harbour and the swing bridge crossing the River Esk and connecting the north and south areas of the town.

04 Whitby

View to the east across the inner harbour

05 Whitby

The breakwaters at the Whitby harbour entrance

06 Whitby

Another view of the Whitby Whale Bone Arch

07 Whitby

Bronze statue of Captain James Cook
The inscription reads:
Front: To Strive, to seek to find and not to yield. To commemorate the men who built, the Whitby Ships and the men who sailed with him.
North Side: In every situation he stood unrivalled and alone on him all eyes were turned.

08 WhitbyGulls

. . .  very popular with the local gulls

09 Whitby

A WW2 anti-aircraft gun on the Whitby seafront

10 Whitby

Whitby Harbour entrance

11 Whitby-199Steps

The bottom of the 199 steps in Whitby, leading up to Whitby Abbey and the top of the East Cliff.  These steps are an extraordinary attraction in Whitby, y attracting visitors from all over the world.

12 Whitby

Wood-carved monument to Whitby seamen in the inner harbour


WHITBY – North Yorkshire

[  Photo Blog # 75  ]

Moving from my visits to the coastal areas of the far south-west of England over the past few weeks, I now wish to post over the next few Thursdays a number of galleries of my photographs from the opposite, North-Eastern, coasts of England.  This particular photograph collection is of the historic North Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby.  I have visited there before in a number of my earlier blogs.

The photographs below cover a variety of different scenes within the town . . .

Whitby (0) OS Map



Whitby (1)

The jawbones of a whale, framing the ancient Abbey and church on top of the cliffs on the southern bank of the River Esk as it meets the North Sea.  In the 18th and 19th centuries the whaling industry was thriving in Whitby.  Dozens of ships braved the Arctic seas off Greenland to hunt these elusive leviathans for their lucrative whale oil.  Many of the crews never came back.

Whitby (2)

A similar view, but this time showing the statue of Captain James Cook, gazing out to the North Sea, from where Cook first set out to sea in ships transporting coal to London and the River Thames. 

Whitby (3)

Close up view of the Cook Memorial

Whitby (4)

Looking North along the Yorkshire coast towards Sandsend

Whitby (5)

The sea entrance to Whitby Harbour

Whitby (6)

Modern reproduction of  HMS Endeavour, the British Royal Navy research vessel that Lieutenant James Cook commanded on his first voyage of discovery, to Australia and New Zealand, from 1769 to 1771.

Whitby (7)

Whitby Inner Harbour looking south to the ruins of Whitby Abbey

Whitby (8)

The modern ‘Endeavour’s’ figurehead

Whitby (9)

Modern-day street entertainer at the entrance to one of Whitby’s many ancient ‘Yards’.   Visit my poem about this particular historic Whitby spot at:  ‘Argument’s Yard’ 

Whitby (10)

Queuing for entry to Whitby’s famous ‘Magpie Cafe’, renowned for its fresh fish and chip meals.

Whitby (11)

Goths in Whitby for one of its regular Goth Weekends’, a celebration of the fact that Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ novel begins its story near the ancient Abbey here.

Whitby (12)

More of Whitby’s Goths


Sara Teasdale – ‘A Winter Night’

 [  No.70 of my favourite short poems  ]

Acquainted With The Night

Winter Night … Pen & Wash – WHB

A Winter Night

My windowpane is starred with frost,
The world is bitter cold tonight,
The moon is cruel, and the wind
Is like a two-edged sword to smite.

God pity all the homeless ones,
The beggars pacing to and fro.
God pity all the poor tonight
Who walk the lamp lit streets of snow.

My room is like a bit of June,
Warm and close-curtained fold on fold,
But somewhere, like a homeless child,
My heart is crying in the cold.


by Sara Teasdale


NOTES:  (adapted from Wikipedia) . . . 

Sara Teasdale (1884 – 1933) was an American lyric poet.  She was born Sarah Trevor Teasdale in St. Louis, Missouti, and used the name Sara Teasdale Filsinger after her marriage in 1914.  . . .  From 1911 to 1914  Teasdale was courted by several men, including the poet Vachel Lindsay, who was truly in love with her but did not feel that he could provide enough money or stability to keep her satisfied.  (In 1914) she chose to marry Ernst Filsinger, a long-time admirer of her poetry  . . .  In 1918 she won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1917 poetry collection ‘Love Songs’  . . .  In 1933, she died by suicide, overdosing on sleeping pills.  Lindsay had died by suicide two years earlier.



Your Country Needs You


Doug, a dear friend of mine, died recently at the age of 95.  In 1943, at the age of eighteen, he was drafted into the Royal Air Force and trained as a pilot. In the latter stages of World War Two he was posted to the Cocos Islands in the East Indian Ocean from where he carried out several missions.  At the end of the Far East War in September, 1945, he took part in the relief of Changi prison, the notorious Prisoner of War camp in Singapore where the Japanese interred many of their prisoners.

I have written this poem in an attempt to understand something of the situation which he and many other young men faced in those precarious times.   


Given a bomber at twenty one
A young man’s coming of age
Told to use it wisely
On the far east’s war-torn stage

A Lancaster
A lethal gift
To war’s sad sorry tale
An airborne killer
Sky high thriller
Death following in its trail

You grow up quickly in a war
No marking time
No second thoughts
Prevarication precluded
No time for rage
Get on with it
With reality engage

This his introduction
No subterfuge
With minimal instruction
No simulation
Taught to deliver destruction
Reality games now

Yes, young man,
Your country needs you
To fill the gaps left by those
Who bought it
– For their country –
Before you do the same

But, chin up
Soldier on
stiff lip and all that
Who knows
You may be home by Christmas



Ground crews of No.356 Squadron RAF based at the Brown’s West Island, Cocos Islands, celebrate on hearing the news of the surrender of Japan.  (Published under the terms and conditions of the Imperial War Museum Non Commercial Licence, including use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM (CI 1557)


West Cornwall # 2

[  Photo Blog # 73  ]

Below is a further selection of the many photographs I took on my visits to South-West Cornwall and the Lizard Peninsular between 2006 and 2008.

Cornwall Map

Map of South-West Cornwall

CornwallSep06 Mousehole03

Low Tide – The Harbour at Mousehole (pronounced “Mowzel”) 

CornwallSep06 Mousehole04

Low Tide – The Harbour at Mousehole – close-up view

CornwallSep06 MullionCove1

On the Lizard Peninsular – Mullion Cove – 1

CornwallSep06 MullionCove3

Mullion Cove – 2

CornwallSep06 MullionCove5

Mullion Cove – 3

CornwallSep06 PoldhuCove02

The Lizard Peninsular – Beach at Poldhu

CornwallSep06 PoldhuCove03

Beach at Poldhu – Shoe Rack

CornwallSep06 PoldhuCove05

Beach at Poldhu

CornwallSep06 PoldhuCove06

Early Evening  at Poldhu Beach

CornwallSep06 PoldhuCove07

Poldhu Beach

CornwallSep06 PoldhuCove08

Poldhu Beach


CornwallSep06 PoldhuCove14Marconi

The coast and the Marconi mPoldhu

CornwallSep06 PoldhuCove17Marconi

Poldhu – The site is famous as the location of Poldhu Wireless Station, Guglielmo Marconi’s transmitter for the first transatlantic radio message on 12 December 1901 to his temporary receiving station on Signal Hill, St.John’s, Newfoundland. 

CornwallSep06 PoldhuCove18Marconi

Poldhu – Marconi’s Commemoration Plaque


The (Very) Outer Hebrides

From time to time I intend to reproduce, usually with minor changes, a few of my earliest WordPress posts from ‘Roland’s Ragbag’.  These will be ones which were, and are still, of particular import to me and which most of my current followers and readers will not have seen or read before.  For those of you who may have come across the earlier versions, I do hope you will consider them to be worthy of a second airing.


ON . . .  Flannan Isle, St.Kilda, and ‘Coffin Road’


The Outer Hebrides – showing Flannan Isle


In 2012, on a Round Britain cruise, I passed close to the Flannan Isles and to St.Kilda.  This was, for me, meant to be the highlight of the cruise, as I had in the past read much about both these remote places – the outermost islands of the Outer Hebrides – St.Kilda in fact being the furthest west point of the whole British Isles.  Unfortunately, the weather, as is often the case in those parts, was not good.  The sea was rough and the islands shrouded in mist.  I did manage a few photographs of St.Kilda, covered in mist and seabirds, but that was it. . .



St.Kilda in the mist … Photos by WHB – 2012

Flannan Isle is in fact a small archipelago of seven rocks, sometimes known as ‘The Seven Hunters’.  It has held great interest for me ever since, way back in my school days, just about my first introduction to narrative poetry was through the re-telling, by Wilfred Wilson Gibson, of the story of the three missing lighthouse men in his poem  ‘Flannan Isle’ (q.v.).  The story, for those not familiar with it, has echoes of the story of the missing crew of the ‘Mary Celeste’.

The Flannan Isle lighthouse was constructed in 1899 by David and Charles Stevenson.  Just a year later, when investigating why the light was not lit, 3 men landed on the isle but could find no trace of the 3 lighthouse keepers.  Although the table in the lighthouse was set with food, and although the rules of procedure insisted that one man should always remain in the lighthouse, no trace of any of them was ever found.   The full story is recounted in Gibson’s poem.  I have always remembered in particular the emotive last verse:

‘We seem’d to stand for an endless while,  Though still no word was said,
Three men alive on Flannan Isle,  Who thought on three men dead.’


The whole story was brought vividly back to me when I recently read Peter May‘s 2016 book, ‘Coffin Road’.   Gripping from the very beginning, It is a top-quality read – the best book I have read for a long long time.

‘A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road.’

Flannan Isle itself, and the story of the three lighthouse men, are central to the story. There is a very strong plot and, as well as being a first-class thriller, the story has a cogent environmental message concerning the dangers of science being exploited for profit unrestrained by ethics.  As in others of his books, Peter May brings the Hebridean landscape to vivid life in all its rugged beauty, as well as realistically conveying the wildness of both the Hebridean sea and its weather.

I also learnt a lot about Bees from ‘The Coffin Road’ !!!   I thoroughly recommend it.



Houses of God



Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Strength in stone,
Hope in height,
Testament in time
Prove its lasting might.


Selworthy, Somerset

To those with faith,
Those who believe,
Those who rejoice,
And those who grieve.

3St Justin Church-Cornwall

St Just’s Church, St. Just in Roseland, Cornwall

Here present hope
And future need,
Through prayer and praise
Help fears recede.

4Yorks-Lastingham-Blacksmiths Arms

Lastingham, North Yorkshire

Church and chapel
Hold their place
In loving hearts,
With God’s good grace.

5Salisbury Sunset

Cathedral, Chichester, West Sussex

Cathedral cloisters,
Calm retreat,
Where stress and pain
With courage meet.


St.Colman’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Cobh, Eire

Houses of God,
Built for prayer,
For those with faith,
Somehow, somewhere.


Coleridge At Watchet

[  Photograph Gallery # 69  ]


The harbour town of Watchet lies on the North Somerset coast of England, between the Quantock Hills and the Brendon Hills on the Eastern edge of Exmoor.

The harbour at Watchet is said to have been the inspiration for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous epic poem ‘The Ancient Mariner’.  Whilst on a walk with his friends, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, over the Quantock Hills in 1797 from his home in nearby Nether Stowey, they came upon Watchet.  It has been said that looking down at the town from St. Decuman’s Church in the town gave him the idea for his poem.

‘The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared, 
Merrily did we drop 
Below the kirk, below the hill, 
Below the lighthouse top.’
In 2002 the Watchet Market House Museum Society decided to commemorate the town’s important link with Coleridge by commissioning a statue. A seven-foot high effigy of the mariner was designed and created by sculptor Alan B. Herriot, of Penicuik, Scotland, cast by Powderhall Fine Art Foundries in Edinburgh and unveiled by Dr. Katherine Wyndham in 2003.  This statue now stands overlooking the marina on Watchet Esplanade.
There is now a designated ‘Coleridge Way’ walk of 51 miles through the landscape that inspired Coleridge to produce some of his best known work.  It takes an east to west path from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth through the lovely Somerset countryside of the Quantock Hills, the Brendon Hills and Exmoor – or obviously, in the reverse direction.

My photographs below were taken on a visit to the area in and around Watchet in 2007.



Watchet 01

Watchet – Harbour & Marina


Watchet 02

Looking north-east from Watchet harbour across the Bristol Channel to the island of Steep Holm

Watchet 03

Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’. created by the Scottish sculptor, Alan Herriot

Watchet 04

‘God save thee, ancient Mariner! 
From the fiends, that plague thee thus! — 
Why look’st thou so?’ — With my cross-bow 
I shot the ALBATROSS..

Watchet 05

(Coleridge) … this renowned poet resided for some years at the nearby village of Nether Stowey.  In 1797, while on a walking tour, Coleridge visited Watchet.  On seeing the harbour he was inspired to compose one of the best known poems in English literature, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’

Watchet 06

While the black-backed gulls keep an eye on events

Watchet 07

Coastal rock striations near Watchet 

Watchet 08

Dead, or just over-wintering?