Grass Roots Open Writers (GROW)

'Environment' 2014 Calendar


It is autumn again, I notice the leaves,
I don't want to leave, I have found an essence here.

Time calls me,
the hours, the minutes, the days, weeks, months
I escape in my music.

Mother nature whispers patience,
I stare at her breast,
I feed from the nipple
of her human kindness.  I feel replenished.

Father time proclaims excitement,
further down the line,
farther on, journey, adventure, music.

Stephen Taylor

Frack Off

People at the bottom
people at the top,
some with very little
some with quite a lot.

Drill your own head,
no brain found
Number 10 again,
what a bright idea.

we oppose this,
invest in green
it is
common sense,
not more
fossil fuel, expense.

Stephen Taylor


I love to see the winters snow
it gives the landscape a sparkling glow
all of the fields are covered in white
i especially love it when the winter sun shines bright
All of the trees in the winter are bare
gone are the brilliant green leaves that they wear
I go out to do my jobs with coat hat gloves and scarf
To do my horse walk the dogs feed the calves
the woods are quiet now animals are in hibernation
to sleep for the whole of winters duration
I rush to get everything done, before winters long nights
I cant see to do things in the fading light
I come in from the bitter cold to get warm by the fire
All wet clothes are put straight in the dryer
Thank god for central heating
From winters chill it provides a warm greeting
When theres nothing to do, i love to snuggle up warm in bed
but first of all i have to makes sure everythings fed
I always find in winter I eat more food
theres always lots more there, to leave it would be rude
Typical winter foods like soup  and mince pies
To Summer salads and barbeques I can say good bye
The thing that I really hate is the frosty mornings de-icing my car
with all that ice on the windscreen I cant see far
I dont like the winters  dangerous icy roads
Dangerous driving conditions all traffic slowed
The thing I love about winter is of course Christmas time
Beautifully decorated christmas trees
Children jumping up and down with glee
I love to hear the christmas carols and songs
they make the nights not seem so long
brightly wrapped christmas presents galore
Piled up so you cant see the floor
I love to see holly with its brightly coloured berries
heres hoping this christmas will be merry

By Liz Jury

This is what Autumn means to me 

The changing colours of the trees
The cold and blustery autumnal breeze
The drop in temperature before winters freeze
This is what Autumn means to me

The reduction in daylight
The crisp autumnal days so Bright
The dark, ever lengthening Nights
This is what Autumn means to me

The sound of the wind howling against the door
The season of gathering of food to store
The wilds animals always looking for more
This is what autumn means to me

by Liz Jury


Sunsets can be very beautiful and colourful, you can see many different colours in a sunset depending on where you are at the time.

Some sunsets I have seen for myself, some of them on tv. The sunsets I have seen on tv are sunsets over mountains or over deserted landscapes. Even the ones I have seen on tv look pretty good

When I lived in London, you would see the sun disappearing behind the big blocks of flats, you just got the glare through the window. Now, I live in Hastings. I like to watch the sun set over the sea front. It can be quite spectacular, as the sun sets, it looks like it is sinking into  the sea. Sometimes it looks like there are two suns, one sinking into the sea, one coming up from the sea.

By Andrew Gager

My favourite places

I live on a farm in the middle of the countryside. It is very peaceful and beautiful place to be. There are cows, sheep, horses, chickens, all the usual farm animals to look after, there is always plenty to do here, never a dull moment. It is an organic farm, which means that there we do not use any chemicals. I Due to this, the wildlife here is thriving.

When I do get a few minutes to myself, I have a favourite place to go to on the farm. I saddle up my horse, chelsea and take her up to this special place. It is a wild flower meadow high up on a hill. It is a bit of a climb but it is well worth it. Once we reach the top of the meadow, I stop and take in the view.  It is idylic looking down over the wildflower meadow,  a vibrant mixture of colours sunshine yellow sunflowers, cornflowers, and my favourite bright red poppies. I like  to take in the aroma of the wildlofwers. It is so peaceful here, all i can hear is the sound of chelsea contently grazing and the sound of the stream that runs along the bottom of the meadow. 

Beyond the wildflower meadow I can see rolling green fields. I can just about see the sea in the distance, it is almost the same colour blue as the sky. it is hard to tell where the sea ends and the sky begins. There is nobody else here, just me and Chelsea, just for an hour or so it is like noone else exists. I can sit amongst the wild flowers and eat my picnic.

All too soon it is time to leave this magical place, there are chores to be done but i know we can always return here anytime we want. I never tell anyone where we are going, it is our special secret place.

by Liz Jury

My favourite holiday

I couldn't believe it!! we were finally here !!! I didn't think this day was ever going to come but here we were just landed in Johannesburg airport South Africa. We were going to have the holiday of a lifetime on an African Safari in Kruger national park.

It was mainly for my benefit really, I have always had a rather unusual fascination you see. Ever since I was a child I have been obsessed with elephants. I am interested in African wildlife in general but it has always been elephants in particular.  I used to collect everything I could to do with elephants and watch them for hours at the zoo. And now, after 26 years of waiting I finally had my chance to see them in the wild.

We were met at the airport by our guide, Pete. I was bubbling with excitement, not long now and i might be face to face with my childhood obsession. I was a little disappointed when Pete said that the park was a four hour drive away. My disappointment didn't last long. The route to the park took us up through the stunning drakensberg mountains. The views were breathtaking.

When we finally arrived at the park, Pete asked us what we would like to see as we had a few hours before dark. Leopard I answered just for a joke. I knew that leopards were rarely seen. Sure enough Pete explained this was unlikely. He drove on, just around the corner. Pete had to eat his words. He stared open mouthed.  There, at the side of the road in broad daylight was an adult male leopard. Eventually, Pete drove on. You are very lucky, exclaimed Pete that's the best leopard sighting i have had in 30 years doing this job.  I think this is going to be a lucky holiday laughed my mum

We hadn't got very far before Pete was forced to grind to a halt again.  This was the moment I had been waiting for. There, blocking the road was the most magnificent animal I had ever seen. It was only our first day, and here was my first elephant. It was a huge adult male eating from a tree. When he moved, Pete laughed I didn't think he was ever going to move. It turned out we had been waiting 20 minutes.

Mum turned out to be right, it was a very lucky holiday. Over the next few days, we saw giraffe, rhino, buffalo and hyena to name a few. My favourite was a herd of elephants with young. The babies were running around, playing together. It was by far the highlight of the holiday for me. All too soon it was time for us to leave the park. We moved on to the garden route. Along the garden route, we visited an elephant sanctuary. We had the opportunity to touch them and even got to have a ride on a bull with a guide of course. I definitely preferred Kruger though, nothing could top seeing them in the wild where they belong. I would love to go back one day, this was my favourite place

By Liz Jury

Lucky Leopard   

In 2008, me, my mum and my dad went on an African safari to Kruger national park, South Africa. We all had a keen interest in wildlife, and it was going to be a once in a lifetime holiday. As we arrived at the gates and drove into the park, our guide, Pete asked us what we would like to see. My parents turned to me, although were all interested in wildlife, I had always had a particular interest in African wildlife, the  trip was mainly for my benefit to be honest.
I had done my research, and knew that there was one animal that we were very unlikely to see. The elusive leopard sleeps all day in trees, and only comes down to hunt after dark. I had read that even if you live in Africa you are considered lucky if you see a leopard. Just to test our guide, to see what he would say, I said i wanted to see a leopard.
Just as I expected, our guide told us what I already knew, he said he had been working as a tour guide for 20 years, and in that time, he had seen maybe 2 long distance leopards, and even then, they were high up in a tree, and he wasnt even 100 percent sure it was even a leopard. He said our chances of seeing a leopard were about 1 in a million.

Just around the corner, everybody in the car, including our guide gasped in amazement. There was our l in a million chance. As if to mock us, a  huge male leopard had decided to grace us with his presence. He was standing on the ground in broad daylight, it was almost as if he was mocking us.  Even Pete was initially stuck for words, he couldnt believe our luck. When he did eventually speak, he said that this was the best leopard sighting he had ever had.  The leopard stood there looking at us before casually strolling off into the African bush. It was almost as if he had heard Pete, and thought I'll show him. 
The lucky leopard bought us a lucky holiday with lots of amazing sightings of African wildlife including  my favourite animal, elephants. They have always been my favourites, but this particular elephant holds a special place in my heart. I didn't want to leave this magical place.
We went on to visit different places in Africa , all the native African people we told about our lucky leopard sighting looked at us as if we were mad. A leopard? on the ground? in the middle of the day? unheard of. They were gobsmacked when I showed them the pictures. Some people I have told dont quite believe me, so I have decided to add this picture to prove it !

By Liz Jury

I Dream To Be Free

As I stand in my enclosure watching the world go by
I have often heard people remark as they stare into my intelligent eyes
I wonder what she’s thinking; I wonder what’s on her mind
They say an elephant never forgets, well I will never forget my home
My mind starts to wander, to happier times, when I used to be free
I dream to be free, to see my friends from the herd again,

I’m an African elephant and I’m here in the zoo to serve a purpose, educate you,
And to create young, to be reared, then taken away
 Some of them go to on to be part another exhibit in a zoo
The luckier ones have the chance to be released to where they belong
With every one that goes back to the wild
I can’t help but feel jealous, when is it my turn
The zoo is a sanctuary to preserve endangered species
I understand that without zoos there would be no wild elephants, but
I dream to be free to roam the African plains

With every passing day that goes by
I stand in this enclosure, with my long nose outstretched through the bars
 I have everything an elephant could want
There is water for me to drink, grass to graze and trees for shelter
I have two other elephants to keep me company; and an indoor area for shelter
The keepers bring us food and care for us day and night; it is a life of luxury
I hate to sound ungrateful but
I dream to be free even just for a month, a week or even just a day   

by Liz Jury


As I wake up on another Autumn morning, the air outside is covered with a thin mist. I think I will probably need a jumper today. I go downstairs to get the dogs, and go out onto the shiny dew soaked grass. As I walk past my car, I see that the windows are covered with a thin layer frost that seems to sparkle in the morning sun. I can wipe it off with my finger, it is not iced over like it sometimes is in winter, but is a sure sign that Winter is coming. The mist is starting to clear now, and as we continue into the fields. It feels strange seeing the fields so bare after being so full of crops over the summer months.

We are going into the woods now, the squelch of the dew soaked ground  is replaced by the crisp crunch of leaves under foot. I love going for walks in the wood in the Autumn. The trees are turning from a vibrant green to deep reds. The dogs enjoy chasing the squirrels that are scurrying around the woodland floor collecting acorns for the winter storage. Conkers and chestnuts
are starting to litter the woodland floor.  Nature is preparing to go to sleep, but dont worry it is not dead, ready to come alive again in the spring. I have tied my jumper around my waist now, Autumn can be a deceptive season. This is turning out to be a lovely warm Autumn day. 

As we head out of the wood, the Autumn feel continues, hungry wild birds are raiding the hedgrows which are alive with wild berries. As I breathe in deeply, the air always seems to be much clearer in the Autumn. I can smell something else Autumnal now. A Bonfire stimulates all my senses I can hear the familiar crackle of the wood as it burns I can see the smoke now as it rises above the hedge in thin whispy waves. But most of all, I can smell the smoke, it is the kind of smell that you can taste in the back of your throat.

by liz jury

Autumn Poem

As I wake on yet another cold autumn day
In my comfortable warm bed I would do anything to stay
As the wind bangs and rattles against my window frame
The leaves fallen from the trees dance as if they are playing a game
I begrudgingly force myself to get up and face the day
As I step outside to a bright, crisp Autumnal day I pray the rain stays away
It is the season of change, between warm summer and winters bitter cold
The leaves are changing from lush green, to a spectrum of colours from red to gold
As everyone brings out their winter coats, storing their summer dresses away
We are presented with yet another glorious, sunny Autumnal day
The woods are a hub of activity with squirrels gathering food to store
For harder times when they know they will need more
It is a season of productivity with field mushrooms
As people clear the leaves from garden paths with brooms
As a life line for wild birds before winters harsh chill
The hedgerows offer an assortment of berries, they can have their fill
It is the season of harvest as farmers gather their crops
Before they are killed off as the temperature drops
At the end of a long day, I come in and sit by an open fire
Until once more to my bed I will retire
At the end of the day, I am glad I got up for a reason
I should make the most of this beautiful Season

by Liz jury

Swathes of Sitka Spruce

Sterile, devoid of life, except for
The cloven hoof of passing deer.
Sentinel led, deep green fronded
Constrained with no space for light.
Multiple eruptions on the far reaching
Landscape of wild Scotland; invaders
In the native home of the Scots Pine
Where Red Squirrels and Crossbills
Habituate endemic in ecological balance.
A balance we are endeavouring to restore
When once the only the choice we had
Was to plant swathes of Sitka Spruce.
Regimented; standing to attention, like
Battalions of men who fought for justice,
In foreign fields; the needs of which to serve,
 And restock; stripped the land of the North
Into a mass representation of no-man’s land.
Tree stumps and severed limbs. Nerves; as
 Brittle as snapping twigs. Trampled Flora,
 As the trenches filled with slime and mud.
Now (as agriculture reclaims the battlefields)
In their broadleaf woodland; bending with the
driven wind; young saplings, thrive alongside
Toughening bark of their slow maturing cousins
 And whist Wildcats skulk and hunt in the shadows
Our young men are still being felled in Foreign Fields

Jan Hedger

'Swathes of Sitka Spruce' started as just a few words, following a discussion, in the Tuesday writing group a couple of years ago. Having lived in North East Scotland for seven years previously, and having travelled the country – I saw and walked round many of its forests – always struck by the regimented, tightly packed, plantations of Sitka Spruce – a canopy of darkness and gloom, where nothing else grew and wildlife was sparse.

I was partly aware, through the media and conservation sites, the extent and the monetary value, to the economy, these forests produced in cheap home-grown logging and timber.

There was even a period, where investing in these plantations, was offered to private land holders as a tax break, and this loophole was later exploited as a tax haven for the wealthy.

These trees, however, are not native to Scotland – so where did it start?

In order to finish and to do justice to 'Swathes of Sitka Spruce' I did some research.

The native woodland of Scotland, was re-formed after the Ice Age, covering the retreating tundra; in Scots Pine (predominant) Aspen, Oak, Rowan, Holly, Willow and Alder -  it became known as the 'Caledonian Forest' which is a poetic name, from a Latin word meaning 'wooded heights'. Trees were only part of the landscape – there were open 'savannah’s' – heath, scrub and bogs. Creatures and plant-life colonised and grew in number. Certain trees formed their own pockets and life within and around them.

With climatic changes, the Viking invasion, exploitation and the growth of farming; the land and its forests ever changed.

Although deforestation in Scotland, goes way back, the biggest and most catastrophic change, came about through war – bringing us to the words of 'A Sitka Spruce'.

Due to demand for timber, pre WW1 (and our own having been depleted) Britain had been importing from abroad. With the outbreak of war, this was no longer possible – and with the increasing need for wood for our troops in France and to power industry at home – forests across Britain were stripped bare and left as devastated as the broken landscape of Flanders. Tree cover dropped to around 5%.

In 1919, the British Government – fearful of being reliant only on imports – formed The Forestry Commission (still going strong today and in ownership of many of our forests – they do an excellent job)

In order to re-stock quickly and to be sustainable – introduced species, such as Sitka Spruce were planted to create dense plantations – the only remaining native forests were both felled and under-planted. Like the Grey Squirrels competing with the Red Squirrels – the introduced species took over and shaded out our native species. Conservation, then was almost unheard of and not on the Governments agenda.

Now we appreciate, and understand more, the need for protecting what we have – and the important ecological balance, woodlands native to our shore – have in balancing our own eco-system. Many creatures, that once roamed and hunted in our forests, were lost – we owe it to those that remain, a re-planting of their natural habitat.

This, is exactly what has been happening. Over recent years – the Forestry Commission has played a huge part in re-generation of native species – so once more, these glorious trees, reclaim their place. It remains an ongoing project.

Scotland is one of the main areas of re-generation.

Having finished my research – it kept coming back to me, on seeing WW1 images of both, the stripped Scottish landscape - where little care had been taken and trunks ripped from the ground – exposing roots; branches, splintered and broken, the ground deeply rutted from rusty archaic machinery – and the barbed wire strewn and splintered wood fragments, alongside bone and limb - abandoned in the desolate no-man’s land of France.

This is what shaped 'Swathes of Sitka Spruce' - a past, a present and a future; of us, as humans and of the land - there has to be an ecological balance and a wish for peace, for both, and for sustainability.

Jan Hedger

For more information see (reference) links;

Sunflower Anthem

We stand like a Wordsworthian host
of golden sundials; with
deepest brown at our epicentre;
heads exalting the all seeing saffron eye
of the one burning with radiant desire,
to envelop Tuscany fields in its searing heat.
Mesmerised; in the grip of continuous rays
we are hypnotised, unable to break, till the eye
closes, in a spreading sunset of deepening sleep
and the guardian of the night, bathes us in a
cool and spirited illumination of softness.
Collectively; we sigh and lower our heads
a little; resting on towering green stems,
until the eye blinks away sleep at sunrise

Jan Hedger


Some degree of care is needed when making decisions and this is fact is scientificaly proven.  We have heard of the Butterfly effect and the Probability theory but these seem rather vague till we look a little deeper into their meaning.

The Butterfly effect is simply explained as the last straw which broke the camels back.Why is it called the Butterfly effect?  If we look at long term weather forecasts, we can see that the predictions can often be faulty.

The Butterfly effect is an example of how two opposing weather systems are so finely balanced, that the slightest weight or disturbance on either side can dramatically cause this balance to tip.

When we make important decisions it is worth considering the Butterfly effect and the probability factor.While the Probability theory is an extremely complex mathematical theorem, it is worth asking ourselves: What is the probable effect may result in our decision?

This is not intended to suggest we should procrastinate over every choice we make, but to state that the best laid plansetc.  Of course, we have, and need to make decisions all the time, but a little care can go a long way in helping us make the right choices.  I hope!


Grass Roots Open Writers (GROW)

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