Our summer holidays were always at Easter –
that time of year it was ‘so much cheaper’:
Even after a pay rise (for men-with-truncheons),
still that week, but then the joy of Butlin’s:

We went self-catering at Bognor Regis,
where Dad smuggled in my eldest brother
(through the holiday camp’s padlocked gates –
Chris was concealed under oil-soaked sheets).

Before we did Easter at Selsey Bill,
in a caravan hard-rocked by gales:
I drew seagulls, the only visible detail,
in that landscape of endless shingle.

Forty years later and another vacation,
off to Devon, a last-minute stay-cation,
on a holiday to engender family joy,
gulls now photoshopped by the youngest boy.

Rock Pools

In these recharged times
of eye-sucking screens
the two boys still felt
the pull to cold rock pools,

where Fred wrist-delved,
turning possible pebbles,
but Wilf was slowed, upset
by his so-aching tooth:

Me, their photographer,
was quite unsteady,
cautious over rough slices
of tripped possibilities,

and my parental recall
of other times, of deep cuts,
but still they climbed, hunters,
stalking in their innocence

of that shorter progression,
just before their steps lengthen,
when they will stumble
with the strides into ageing.

But now they leapt from high
to scribe in sand their names,
a stick scrape, like us before,
to be tide-washed from the shore.


The curtains swing,
lifting in and out
of the single-glazed
breeze-wide windows, 

through which
the gulls’ cries circle,
in turned over levels
of kid-like bickering:

The slim walls disclose
coughs and mumbles
of our own children,
and we are drape-blind

in the box bedroom
of this plot-placed
static tin caravan,
which rattles now,

as the sky lowers
with holiday-grey rain,
and the wet suits
are rinsed again,

but the view is great,
whilst we both lie,
seeing the world
through poor WiFi.

On the Beach

She inserted pink earbuds
whilst lain out on the beach,
a solution to drown seagulls,
and other such wild screeches,

like those howls whipped up by
huge ice-cream-now-demands,
fought off by over-tired parents,
complaints of the young and old:

Immobile, eyes shut, sight cut,
with that downloaded programme
off Radio Four, for such times,

and now, she was kissed by the breeze,
and the soft attrition of blown sand,
she was no longer on the beach.

Holiday Traffic

‘Keep two chevrons apart’
is the roadside command
for some of the foot-down way,
as we cruise boot-squeezed,
with brake lights popping,
on this, the first Monday
of the summer holidays:

We are driven, just one stop
for service station Starbucks:
The boys danced to muzak
in the hourly-mopped loos,
as we refilled with tea and latte.
Then back to the rushed tarmac,
and the dash-dash-dash of lanes,
to hurtle again through the flume,
towards a static caravan in Devon.

Walking on Water

Arlington Reservoir vibrated,
that low bowl of gust-cut waves,
the quantity now the difference
to my previous walk here,

that and my end-of-day inability
to route march any more:
as a kid, returning from school
they called me ‘Bell-fast’.

A stared sparrowhawk, high,
worked miracles to remain in place:
I am the opposite of that bird,
landlocked, working to move.

The gravel scuffs, my soles wear,
it hurts, even in these boots,
and because I have sent myself
back before the rest, I must

sit at the car park and wait.
My youngest is the first to return,
and to hide my accelerated pain
I ask to be taught to skateboard,

and as I stand, held by him, unsure,
the wind drops, and I balance 
as on a small boat, not quite Galilee,
but hoping he still believes in me.