Loch Etive

Connell Bridge | Photo at Pixabay

We pass the Buchaille Etive Mor, that classic mountain pyramid, as we drive deep into Glen Etive to the head of the Loch. We take down the canoes and pack them with a two man tent, sleeping bags and enough food for three days. After paddling a few miles down the loch we spend the first night camped far from any roads on the loch shore. On the second day we pass under the Connell Bridge as the tide is in and paddle on to the sea. The tide is starting to turn so we quickly paddle back into the loch before the rapids under the bridge can form as they do at low water.

After camping on the loch side for a second night I awake to a glimmer of light through the tent fabric and unzip the tent door and flysheet. Still lying in my warm sleeping bag I enjoy the strengthening light. The Americans call this half hour before and after sunrise ‘the sweet light’ when luminance grows and the world forms anew.  Through a light mist a little further down the shore I become aware of large forms moving quietly. In the night a dozen red deer have come down to the loch to graze. Our different worlds, for a few minutes, are shared.

Colin Dixon


With Sunset
The cooling air is clear and still
The path now knows my feet
Leading, winding
To the beach.
Calm waters reflect my lamp
Encroaching dusk protects the boat
Departing the horizon.
Delivery complete;
The black air is clear and still.
With Sunrise
Another morning.
Track and beach
Protect their secrets
Free to enjoy the on-coming day.
The warming air is clear and still.

Michael Bohling

Comfort as I wait

comfort as I wait | photo at mackinlaykidd

I screeched as loud as my lungs have capacity for air! With deep joy I can smell the ocean, I know it is just beyond this brae. The pain of my harrowed feet lifts and I start to run towards the edge of my world. I lift my arms above me, fingers open, air travelling briskly between them. My shawl falls from my shoulders – I can not care! Surely I taste the salty air around my lips. Battering me with its beauty, there it is – mighty watery landscape, half light upon it. On a distant rock a lighthouse calls me forth. Rolling meadow grass left behind, I’m met with a terrain of boulders, strewn across where land meets sea. Aware of this thin boney body, that has now become mine and the burning of my mule feet. I tumble, clatter and falter, relieved when I reach the sand. I fall at the small waves and with haste and with delicacy, I remove what’s left of my shoes. Shocked by the sight, I move forward to let the water splash over my feet, cleansing them with sharp relief. My body drops into exhaustion, ready to allow stillness to come over me. With low mist snaking in and purple skies darkening, the light offered to keep sea travellers safe is my comfort as I wait.

Catriona Messenger


Out of sight

out of sight | photo at pexels

She was out of sight, but he could feel her, as if she were there with him. Countless times they’d watched sunsets together over the years. But now she was gone, too soon, too young.

A young couple walked hand in hand on the dunes, but he had to close his eyes tight shut, and turn his head away … it was too agonising to watch couples so obviously in love. He felt so alone, so painfully alone.

Warm lights emanating from that house … “those folk are so lucky, enjoying their happy evening in” he imagined, whilst he stood there, alone.

“Why did you go?!” His voice bellowed angrily and uncontrollably through gritted teeth, whilst hot tears erupted from his screwed up eyes, tumbled down unshaven cheeks, and soaked his ear lobes with their scalding salinity. A helpless, guttural moan rang out from the depths of his being … And then he just stood silently.

It was then that he felt it, the gentle touch of her finger lightly stroking his hair. It was her, he knew it, he could feel it, and she was signalling she was here, right here, with him.

And something deep inside told him that the sun would set, then rise again … and all would be well.

Kevin Turpin



There is a path

there is a path | photo at pixabay

There is a path: it can be found
A full moon or rising sun will point the way
It is a bridge that stretches across the fishy water
Spanning the distance between earth and sky
Once – love blind – I set my foot upon the way
Trusting another with my heart until
One day from careless hands it slipped
Into the sobbing sea
With each betrayal of naive trust
My heart a little wilder grew
All loving overtures I saw
Were siren voices nothing more
I scoured the deep for shells to hide
and there a mermaid self became
In feral dreams I spent my days
Safe from the lure of love’s bright flame
But time will ebb and time will flow
And something stirs within my soul
I stand again upon the shore
The grey light pearly on the sea
And all is still save the waves that hiss
And wet my feet with a judas kiss
Believe – they whisper
There’s still a chance
That love is more than fine romance
Remember Peter on the water’s face
Running to find love’s sweet embrace
I know not if such things are true
Just this; just this:
There is a path – a hard and rocky road
A full moon or rising sun
will light the way

Kath Sunderland

Heartbreak … and the Purple Fop

purple | photo at pixabay

Why did I have to bl**dy well go and leave the earth.

OK – I got scared, scared of how desperate, broken I felt.

Last thing I remember thinking about myself was: ‘Oh for gods sake ‘Grow Up.”

Some eejit was being way out of order, throwing punches at me, and I got in a rage – I mean the eejit was doing my head in. So, I wasn’t being grown up! Don’t believe I’ve ever grown up.

And now I don’t know where I am, which is ironic, all my life I’ve never known where I am, so what’s my problem here!

Am I dead? Is this hell? This is one weird world.

Wading through stuff – not water – too sticky. It’s purple. Everything is bl**dy purple.

Not that I’ve got anything against purple.

Each to his own!

But hey, I’m a 21st Century 30 year old bloke. Wouldn’t wear it. Wouldn’t do the hair in it! Wouldn’t paint my bench in it.

I’m stuck, up to my armpits in this stinky, purply stuff, and now – the equally stinky purple stones are talking. To ME!

One of these talking stone nut jobs has transmogrified, morphed into a camp, fop type being. It’s covered, head to toe, reptile like, in shiny gaudy scales. Got a kind of human misshapen body, a human-ish head and something resembling a faceted face. Long fingers, fascinatingly like claws, long nails adorned with popinjay colours and bejewelled rings on each finger!

It makes a foppish sweeping movement with its hands and arms and bows to me – I think: eff off you tart.

It’s clicking its gaudy claw fingers, croaking in a wide spread slimy voice: “Good day, dearie, come to find yourself have you!”

Sally Stubbs



Loutro, Crete, Easter 2016

Loutro | photo at wikimedia

Leaving the early morning village up the steep mule track past the ruined castle, the bee-loud carob trees are soon behind us. The limestone is softened with bright asphodels, thyme, and, occasionally, rank dragon arums. Livaniana lies high above and we ascend steadily through this herb-rich, myth-laden landscape.

Livaniana’s age and dilapidation lends some romance, in the soft morning light, to its buildings whose function easily trumps form. The Aradena Gorge zig zags down to Marmara from the snowy Lefka Ori high above. Overnight the summit snows are tinged brown from wind blown Saharan sand but here the air is soft with hints of real warmth to come. The olive trees are thinly scattered and we know on reaching the tiny isolated church that the solitary wild pear tree lies next to the path we need to descend.

Back near Marmara a distant figure leading a sheep and a goat, silhouetted by the sea, comes into view. It’s Theo who owns the Lykkos taverna and the two animals will be for tomorrow’s feast. After a swim into the marble sea caves we head to Lykkos for a breakfast of Theo’s yoghurt and thick Cretan honey.

Colin Dixon