Monthly Archives: July 2013


There’s a Manchester-based online writing group that has an interesting ‘Wednesday Write-in’ every week. Gets the old grey cells moving! I’m enjoying the challenge, and perhaps you will too:

‘Cake’ is a very interesting concept, and perhaps something like it could happen in the Torbay area, too.


Care free

I remember those ‘long, lazy, hazy days’ of long ago summers.
We’d cycle into the great unknown, satchels full of jam sandwiches,
fizzy pop, bats, balls, all the paraphernalia of childhood games.
Pools of water shimmered on the road ahead, mirages in the heat of the day.
Tyres squelched through melted tarmac, telegraph wires hummed and sang to us.
The soft still air was shattered occasionally by the curlews’ plaintive cries
soaring high above golden fields of wheat, and from village gardens the smell
of damp, sweet cut grass tickled our noses, causing sneezes and laughter.

The thwack of bat on ball or the soft plop of tennis ball back and forth
was soporific. Stopping by a village shop, noses pressed against the window
hoping to find something to spend our threepenny bits on, all we’d see was empty
cartons, along with waxed fruit and laxative chewing gum in the fly-blown display.
Outside walls boasted metal advertisements extolling the virtues of Vimto,
Ovaltine, Andrews Liver Salts, Pears Soap and Ice Creams. How we yearned
for an ice cream cone. ‘Don’t you know there’s a war on?’ was the only response
we ever had to our hopeful requests for ice cream. We’d cycle on, care free.

Betty Harcombe

Country notebook – autumn

Autumn in South Devon has been beautiful. The sun captured the rich colour on the hills, and the woodlands worked their seasonal magic to become every photographer’s dream.

On Dartmoor bracken turned the landscape bronze and gold. Mosses grew lush on granite walls and rainfall revived the rivers. In full spate the rushing water lifted salmon from the pools where they’d waited to complete the most important journey of their lives. Then they battled their way to the shallows of their birth insuring the survival of a dwindling species.

Fruit has been plentiful. Blackberries have been harvested for pies and jams, sloe gin is maturing, nuts have been gathered. Hawthorn and holly bow under the weight of blood red berries, while flocks of small birds fly from feast to feast, raiding nature’s store before winter begins to bite.

At ground level, spider-spin caught in the sun glistens mile after mile, highlighting the delicate workmanship of those tiny creatures. In the woodlands toadstools have sprung up among the leaf litter. High above, leaves sway and shimmer creating a multi-coloured canopy of dying beauty.

Birdsong has increased after the long dry summer silence and grey squirrels are acrobatically active.

Sadly, those in authority have jumped on the fashionable bandwagon of a project to kill grey squirrels. Declaring them aliens here, in an effort to make room for the red squirrel, is wrong for they have been with us for over a century. Red squirrels survive in great numbers in France and much of Northern Europe where huge woodlands still exist. Maybe our lack of forests is a key factor to the lack of red squirrels!

Thankfully we welcome our winter visitors, as migrating birds flock to our leys and estuaries.

Even during autumn we can count on a regular wildlife bonanza.

Carol Woodford

Torbay Writers make a splash!

This is the one-stop spot for Torbay U3A Creative Writing group. Here you will find recent work by the group. That will include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays and articles.

There will also be links to lots of useful resources and fellow writing groups.