And breathe – the joy of a garden during the Covid-19 pandemic


And breathe is a short reflection on the peace of a garden in these times of lockdown. Here is a slightly modified version of the poem published on the Poetry Wivenhoe website on their Anti-Covid-19 poems page. A different, new poem has been posted daily on this site since the end of March 2020, and mine is on day 53.

And breathe

The house breathes quietly around the reading man.

Rafters expand; they creak in the heat of the sun.

He closes his book. he opens the french windows;

the outside air is unseasonably warm.


He stands and listens to the birdsong,

louder than he has ever heard.

The cuckoo calls and the blackbirds trill;

they own this air and only share with butterflies and bees.


He looks for planes flying in the higher sky,

sees no contrails, no noughts and crosses on the bluest blue.

The quiet new world, he thinks. He returns to his book

and breathes …


Spine poetry

img_7249Spine poetry can be a good distraction in these times of social isolation – it’s a form of ‘found’ poetry, creating a poem from any words you find around you. Here the words were found on my bookcase, on the spines of books. Just read the titles …



in the springtime of the year,

the keepers of the house,

walking for fitness,

growing old disgracefully,


the English dreamers.


Happy Birthday


Tomorrow is my birthday

I’ll play my music loud

Count daffodils in the garden

Find a vase for a chosen one.

Tomorrow is my birthday

           I’ll gaze at my single cut flower

       Count cards upon the mantle

        Take Mothering Sunday calls.

Tomorrow is my birthday

I’ll make a collage of my cards

Find chocolate in the cupboard

Hiding there since Christmas.

Tomorrow is my birthday

                  Won’t count chocolates going down

          Nor the tonic of rare botanicals

       Mixed icy with juniper liquor.

Tomorrow is my birthday

I’ll play my music loud

Smile, eat and drink while

People sing me Happy Birthday …

          Twice as they wash their hands.

Writer, Doctor or Both?

At such a challenging time, both nationally and internationally my March blog is an opportunity to share some simple thoughts. I now regard myself a writer but despite no longer being a practising doctor people still ask for advice and opinions on things medical. I am always cautious not to treat (other than in a serious emergency) or give prescriptive advice but common sense with a medical background doesn’t disappear just because you are retired.

The only real advice one can give to ‘well’ people at the present time is the obvious advice ie. (i)encourage people to listen to news bulletins; just enough to keep up to date and react accordingly but not so often as to fuel inevitable anxiety. (ii) wash hands properly with soap and water for 20 seconds and do so regularly. (iii) reduce socialisation, or self isolate if directed by government, medical advice or 111, and depending on personal circumstances. Do not just turn up at the GP surgery. (iv)stop greeting others by shaking hands or kissing (v) do not make unnecessary journeys on public transport, do not mix in crowded places, avoid big events and probably pubs and restaurants too (vi) be supportive and helpful to friends, family and neighbours but without putting yourself at risk, or you’re no use to anyone. Look after yourself.

I heard Mary Archer talking on the BBC this morning and it was the best advice I’ve yet heard about self isolating. She suggested a daily routine is most useful for maintaining sanity so make sure you get up, wash, dress and make the bed. Factor in one hour of exercise in a simple plan, either at home or in the garden if you are lucky enough to have one, or go for a walk in an open space ( dog or no dog!). She puts one hour of reading in to her day and then makes sure she socialises on the phone or on line. She thinks it’s a good idea to limit negative news programmes and TV discussions but allow one good daily update, generally trying to find uplifting television to watch or  great music to listen to. Another tip is to cook your own food if you can and develop an old or a new hobby. My husband has set up a small studio in the dining room to try new photographic techniques – so far with excellent results. I’m planning to pick up my guitar again but here the results might not be so good!


As a writer it’s quite easy to self isolate because we all do that for hours on end if working on a story. We usually love reading and we can write reviews; we can do research, write and edit our work; we can share stories online with friends in the writing community and beyond. Writers, journalists, artists, makers and creators are the lucky ones in these demanding times, so spare a thought for the small businesses, the actors and performers, the workers on zero hour contracts, the poor and the homeless. I could go on but that’ll do for now. Keep safe.

January’s tale ( in February)


I wanted to write a flash fiction about a snowdrop so here it is. Who’d have thought a snowdropper was someone who stole underwear from a washing line and that a glump was a sulky person? You can discover all sorts when you do research!

The Garden of the Grumpy Galanthus

‘Don’t be such a sulky glump.’

‘I’m not sulking but I look like a punk.’

‘You look beautiful.’

‘What with these green streaks? All I want is to be perfectly pure.’

‘Every snowdrop is pure, green streaks or not.’

‘The snowdrops who stole the woman’s underwear isn’t pure.’

‘He’s a pervert not a Galanthus like us.’

The striped snowdrop’s head hung low. A dewy tear plopped to the soil.

‘I do look like a punk, or at the very least a painted replica, like those in her pot.’

The pure white snowdrop extended a comforting leaf.

‘Head up, the Narcissi are coming early. Smile.’