Time out for Reynard.
He’ll just wait.
Eyeing up those chickens
To seal their fate.


Time out, but wary,
On the qui vive.
Fodder for his family
Just about to thieve.


Time out for him now,
Night’s work done.
Taking a siesta
In the sun.

May05 26th1

Say what you will, but
The urban fox,
Is part of Nature’s spectrum,
Not unorthodox.


May05 26th2

Photographs taken in a Surrey garden … WHB: 2015-17



Sonnet to the Morning



As the seductive sun appears
Dispensing its joy in generous rays
The air I breathe is warm yet fresh
And the world awakes from its malaise.

Content to soak up all the warmth,
The earth, the grass, the trees are still,
Suffused with morning’s cooling  calm
Sharing a taste of earth’s goodwill.

The elfin stream is placid too
Reflecting back the sunlight’s heat
Tending the water’s life below
Coaxing us all the sun to greet.

Oh, make the most of this fair day
Before it melts and drifts away.



I composed this sonnet inspired by an early morning scene in The New Forest, Southern England,  which is also the subject of my pen and wash sketch above.




Lynmouth, North Devon … Pen and Wash … WHB – 1997


From the high moor
cries a river

Long lingering Lyn
stretches her arms
from the  east
and from the west
before then
gathering the courage
to continue

Until at last
these fledgling rivers
less tentative now
more fluent
and sure
almost impetuous
towards each other
through their sovereign gorges

Plummeting now
to where their destined
waters meet
in conscious confluence

A stillness then returns
caution again prevailing
tentative once more,

still grieved
by distant memory

But now able
with measured movement
to veer past
 the lighthouse
by the river’s mouth
and to slip softly
 into the welcoming sea.


On 15 and 16 August 1952, a storm of tropical intensity broke over south-west England, depositing 9 inches of rain within 24 hours on the already saturated soil of Exmoor, North Devon.  The East and West Lyn rivers, which drop down from Exmoor, were swollen even before the storm.   Debris-laden flood waters cascaded down the northern escarpment of the moor, much of it converging upon the village of Lynmouth in particular.   In the upper West Lyn valley, a dam was formed by fallen trees, etc., but in due course this gave way, sending a huge wave of water and debris down the river.

Overnight, more than 100 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged along with 28 of the 31 bridges, and 38 cars were washed out to sea. In total, 34 people died, with a further 420 made homeless. The seawall and lighthouse survived the main flood, but were seriously undermined. The lighthouse collapsed into the river the next day.

(Notes adapted from Wikipedia)swirl





Lily Pond at Hestercombe House, Taunton, Somerset . . .   Watercolour  -WHB  c.2003


 No murmur breaks the silence
the afternoon is still
the pool reflects the calmness
which hovers in the air

The colours
and the scent of flowers
speak only of serenity
and peace
the splendour of the garden
throbs with Nature’s pride
a statement of the passion
and the pleasures of creation

Tall distinguished Iris
goddess of the rainbow
clutch the water’s edge
radiating their vibrant heritage
stealing the sun’s power
to enhance their golden presence
their stature
their boldness
speaking their nobility
and proudly defining
their cool distinction

Whilst languid water lilies
blanket the pool’s surface
coveting recognition of their worth
their foot pads
watery meniscus
a haven for the diffident carp
shading all the pool’s life
from the sun’s keen scrutiny

And then recalling
their antique role
in baiting
that languorous youth Narcissus
by encouraging the pool’s mirror
to reflect his admiration
bolstering his vanity
and tempting him
to his destruction


Anthropomorphic Feelings


Anthropomorphic Feelings

I sometimes think and wonder
How do other creatures feel
When they meet a rather common human trait?
Do they moan and feel like us
Do they ponder, think, discuss,
Or is it that they can’t articulate?

#   #   #

Can a caterpillar cry
Does it ever feel regret
In its small world does it feel as we do feel;
Can it laugh when it is glad
Does it cry when it is sad
Does it ever feel it’s getting a raw deal?

And what about a cat,
Does it worry when it’s fat,
Does it tell itself to change its attitude?
Does it think “Well. Fancy that,
I’d rather like that rat,
But I really must cut out the fancy food?”

And take the little wasp
When it’s supping from your glass
Does it ever think “Well, that’s enough for me,
I’d better get back home,
For I’ve left the wife alone.
I don’t want her propositioned by a bee?”

When a spider gets leg cramp
Does it leap up and foot stamp,
All eight feet drumming till the sharp pain goes?
You can’t tell an arachnid
To be placid, (is that hackneyed?),
Or to stretch its legs and wiggle all its toes.

Does an anchovy not wonder
When it’s swimming in the sea
Why so many of its mates just disappear?
Or why every little fish
Should end up in a dish
And swigged down with a glass of frothy  beer?

Does a mayfly feel quite old
When it gets to twelve o’clock
Knowing well it’s reached the end of its short span?
Does it ever feel regret
Does it not feel ready yet
To end up in that final garbage can?

Does a badger when it hibernates
Need to get up for the loo,
Or does it just imagine digging holes?
‘Cos I bet it can’t be troubled
And is just a bit befuddled
While dreaming of those tasty juicy moles. 

When a greenfly knows it’s pregnant
Does it dare to tell its mum?
Is it frightened to be seen with that big tum?
Does it go into retreat
Does it hide its little feet
And just sit tight until its time has come?

And what about mosquitoes
When they take a bite or two
From any passer-by, and without question?
Do they ever stop and think
Now what did this chap drink
That’s giving me this awful indigestion?

Does a rabbit ever worry
When it’s losing all its hair?
Does moulting make it think it’s going bald?
Perhaps it dreads the thought,
Gets upset and overwrought,
Completely overwhelmed and quite appalled.

#   #   #

So when I’m beset with sorrows,
Feeling there’ll be no tomorrows,
I’ll just think of how these creatures get along.
When feeling a bit off
With a headache or a cough
I’ll  know it’s to creation I belong.


From the cover of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ …Published in Penguin Books, 1951


The Waterfall


Canonteign Falls, Dartmoor, Devon . . .  Pen & Wash by WHB


Humble in its origins
on the heather moor
rolling gently down towards
the valley’s deep green floor

Suddenly the land gives way
beneath its watery tread
and  leads it down the rocky face
towards the river bed

Down the limestone outcrop
over mossy stones
beside the yellowing bracken
it bubbles sighs and moans

Until at last its downward race
is given a pause for rest
before it has to carry  on
with renewed force and zest.




Triassic Red Rock at Exmouth, Devon … Photograph WHB – 2010

Offcut of the Jurassic coast
Orphan of the distant cliffs
Detached from its mother lode
Now an imposing sentinel
A majestic rock
A Triassic red rock.

Descendant of the Devon Cliffs
Ancestor of a million pebbles
Reliving its life in isolation
Facing the diurnal tides
Confronting Poseidon’s rage

Andromeda’s chains now long cast off
This pedestal of the shoreline
Now serving a valued purpose.

Harbouring shore life
A haven for gulls
Cosseting kelp
Succouring seabirds
Sheltering shellfish
Anchoring limpets
Its periwinkles
Feeding on its algae

Minimally diminishing with every tide
Yet serving its constituency
With resolution.
And promising
Its adherents
A fitting future.




Golden Sunrise  . . .  Watercolour  . . . WHB – 2013



The morning threatens to burst its carapace
And I await the beginning of a new day

And as the sun cracks the horizon’s shell
And pours its yolk into today’s cup
The world comes alive
Spreads its panoply of colours
Displaying its wanton nature
In bright yet consoling shades
Of golden yellow
Straining to give back to Helios
Due recompense for his diurnal toils

On such a day as this
Is Nature disposed to display
Its plenitude
To boast shamelessly
Of its joy in bringing
Light and Life
To a sad world




Before The Sun Sets


Pen & Wash Sketch – based on ‘Ancient Trees’ – to mark National Trust Week 1999 . . .  WHB

Before The Sun Sets

The crisp crunch of my footsteps as I crossed that frosty field
Confirmed to me the joy that winter brings;
The frail but wondrous sunlight burning through the morning mist
Affirmed a world of wonder in all things.

It brought to me a memory of those long days of my youth,
When all was young and all life was tomorrow,
When time and love and right and wrong were not things I considered,
Just the lasting joy which Nature can bestow.

Tomorrow was a world away from the life that I live now;
No anguish that my world might cease to be
Before I’d felt and savoured all that life can have to offer,
Before the sun sets on that ancient tree.

Despite my knowledge of the pain that’s in the world around me,
Bleak Nature seeks to calm its shifting shadows,
The seasons, sun, the starlight, still remain to bring us hope,
That vital spark from which renewed life flows.