Saturday, March 15, 2014

Guinness Walk - Inter-Hospitals Pilgrims Way Stroll

An extra half at the finish line.May 16th 1970

The celebratory dinner menu
Have you ever walked so far that your legs froze up at the end of it?  Well it happened to me, and I have the book to prove it.  It was all a long time ago now, in May of 1970.  I was a dental student at the time, attending Guy’s Hospital Dental School in Borough, London.  The occasion was the Inter-Hospitals Pilgrims Way Stroll.  What a euphemism that was!

It was a misty Saturday morning, and masses of us were driven down to Compton Lane, just south west of Guilford in Surrey.  Sandwiches were being handed out to all takers.  I had already had a good breakfast, but I took a couple of sammies for which I was grateful later on.  We were all gathered to take the Pilgrims Way, a Chaucerian fantasy across the south of England on the old Canterbury Trail.  Well it was up hill and down dale for thirty miles all day.  Some of the entrants cheated, they ran all the way, tch!  I took my time through the soft rain and the muddy cart ways between various farms stretching out to the east. 

Neil the "Bovril Man" climbing the hill.

By mid-morning a bracing hill climb found me staring at what looked like a pavilion on the crest.  I was delighted upon reaching it to find a hiker’s snack bar distributing quartered oranges and half pints of Guinness.  I had never had Guinness before.  It changed the complexion of the whole day.  Although I did find myself regretting not having had a second half later in the afternoon.

On crossing the finish line all participants were awarded a copy of “The Guinness Book of World Records”.

That First Guinness

I never really cared for Guinness
Thick, black, oily smooth and bitter
Not ’til that day of the United Hospital Walk
When we traced out the path of the Canterbury pilgrims.

Up hill and down dale
On muddy farm tracks and over fields
By hedges in the cold misty morning
And me in my stripped pajamas like the Bovril man.

But by mid-morning in the sunshine,
When I was bracing myself against a steep hill,
It seemed that a pavilion was staged
At the very top.

Other walkers were stopping ahead of me,
And hot and thirsty I paused
For only a little while
To down a half pint.

It went straight down,
Thick, black, oily smooth and bitter
I never cared for Guinness till then.

(This poem can be found in "The Thorn With Me", on Amazon)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Riding Tortoises - A poem

Car-Hartley’s farm, in Rumeruiti- Kenya, was our home in the holidays in the 1950's.  There were two very large tortoises on the farm.  We loved to ride them, in fact, we tried riding everything we could, rhino, buffalo and even ostriches. Getting the tortoises going could be challenging, but once we got the knack we could enjoy a short ride. They were wiley critters and as soon as we were aboard they made a bee line for the fence knowing the wires would knock us off as they forced their way under it.

Here is a picture of my sister Roida, having a ride on a huge tortoise, while Ewan seems perhaps a little dejected that his pedal propelled jeep doesn't go so well.  You can see a huge Giraffe box in the background. 

Tortoise Toe-Jam

A tortoise, as every one knows,
Takes his home with him where ere he goes.
And he’s terribly strong and can take you along
But you have to watch out for your toes.

You are not going any where quickly
The view is not anything high,
You might find your ride is just hidden inside,
Its shell, but you give it a try.

A nudge with the toe of your sandal
To the back foot, just under the rim,
Should do the trick, but you have to be quick,
And not get pinched as legs are drawn in.

The thing about children and sandals,
Is they wear them until toes are bunched,
It’s with razor to go, that, you cut off the toe-cap,
So on tortoise rides toes might get crunched.

When our feet got too big for our shoes they cut the toecap off.


Sunday, March 02, 2014

When The Spirit Moves - the eighth book of poems

This week my eighth book of poetry went to press. The volume is called "When The Spirit Moves".  It contains poems that have a spiritual or religious connection, and are uplifting reminders of occasions when the human spirit is moved.  Amongst the compositions are “Mother’s Hands”, “The Folded Palm” and “House of Sighs”. Traditional Christian values underscore the sentiments expressed in these optimistic and uplifting works.

Here with an introduction by John MacArthur, our pastor at Grace Community Church,  is an assortments of spiritually moving tales. There is a Christmas story which is the versification of "The  Christmas Miracle of Johnathan Toomey", based on the book by Susan Wojciechowski Christmas 2001.

This volume is one in a series of ten books of poetry which has been written over the last fifty years.  Should you care to read any of these volumes and like them, your favorable review on the Amazon site, and here would be greatly appreciated.

More of my poetry is viewable on

Dr. John MacArthur had this to say in the introduction:
This is the real thing;
poetry that warms the heart,
stirs the memory,
enriches the vocabulary,
and brings a smile.
The settings are inimitably Scottish
and, for those who’ve been to that fair land,
they provide a brief visit.
I find poetry to be musical
if it’s well done.
And these rhymes sing.