Photo: WHB – taken in Aberporth, Ceredigion, on the West Coast of Wales, facing towards Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea

She emanates wistfulness
melancholy, sorrow
bound to her rock
out of sight of her sea.
Andromeda’s prison
awaiting her Perseus.

She thinks of the sea,
beseeching the ocean,
to roll in and take her
to wash her away
to be lost in the waves
to swirl with the kelp
in that pellucid world
in those welcoming depths
to join the white horses
to laze in the rock pools
bask on the corals
where once were her friends

No coteries here
no sisters, no mermen,
no one to favour her –
offspring or lovers.
That whirlpool which bred her
the spray which had bathed her
sequestrated and gone now
no longer her milieu.

Is this always and ever
is this life’s stricture
retribution for what?
For loving her kingdom
her aquatic birthright?
Or for being in form
not fish, fowl nor fiend?

For living a life
half tide-borne,
half earth-child,
hermaphrodite, epicene,
ambiguous, undefined,
a shadowy being,
crippled, malformed?

Her joy now –
the sunlight,
the breeze
and the dew
the song of the seagull
the far sigh of the sea.

Only these now remind her
of when she was free.

Poem: WHB (Copyright)



The Paps of Jura

juramapI proffer just a short profile of one of my favourite islands of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides.  I include just a few photographs taken on my visit there a few years ago.

Jura is an isolated, dramatic, historic island.  It is a close neighbour of the larger and more populated Isle of Islay, which provides the main means of access to Jura, via ferry across the short Straits of Islay.

The road, which starts when alighting at the ferry terminal on Jura, extends northwards for about 8 miles.  It then peters out into a track leading to Barnhill, at the most northern end of the island. This cottage is where George Orwell chose to spend a good deal of the last few years of his life, working on his book, ‘1984’, a classic of modern literature.

On Jura’s one main east coast road is Craighouse, the only village on the island, which includes the island’s only church, shop and whisky distillery. The majority of the island’s approximately 200 residents live in this south-eastern part.


Jura – looking across the Sound of Islay from Port Askaig on Islay


One of the many rivulets running down from the mountainous West Coast


Looking across to Scaba from Jura


The Isle of Jura Whisky Distillery at Craighouse


Ready to tune up on the beach at Craighouse


Heather-clad moors – looking across from Jura to Islay

George Orwell and the Corryvreckan Whirlpool


The publication of Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ in 1949 might not have happened had an incident off the north coast of Jura not turned out differently.


Orwell’s cottage at Barnhill

 Orwell’s house on Jura looks northwards over the stretch of water towards the island of Scurba.  This stretch of water is known as the Strait of Corryvreckan, and it contains the world’s third largest whirlpool.

One day, whilst in a boat here, without any life-saving equipment, and very close to the whirlpool, Orwell and his three-year old son were thrown out of their vessel.  They were able to cling to the up-turned boat until, eventually, they were rescued by lobster fishermen.

In later life, Orwell’s son, in re-telling the story, wrote that . . .  

“. . . the family – including Orwell’s sister Avril, nephew Henry Dakin and niece Lucy Dakin – had been out on a small motor boat as part of a camping trip.  “Father got the tide table wrong,” he said.  “We got wrecked. We lost the outboard and got caught in the tide.” None of the party had been wearing life jackets, said Mr Blair. “My father and I ended up upside down underneath the boat,” he remembered.  “He pulled me out and dragged me ashore.  It was a pretty stupid thing to happen.  In the twinkling of an eye that could have gone totally wrong and we could have been swept away and drowned. And of course that would have been the end of my father because he was still really in the middle of writing Nineteen Eighty-Four – so that wouldn’t have happened.”


My own attempt at photographing the Corryvreckan Straits from a cruise ship in 2012