Archives for posts with tag: United Kingdom

basu das 3

Moving to the U.K.
by Shreerupa Basu Das

Post marriage, I had to shift to a different continent. I was apprehensive, as it meant leaving behind a life that I was so used to…Little did I know this would be a life-changing decision for me.

The first step in this direction was to get my spouse visa . This was easy, and we got it within five days of applying . This brought in another dilemma. it meant I could fly immediately with my husband. I remember the night before we flew, both our mums were busy packing for us while I just sat teary-eyed in a corner. The goodbyes at the airport were even more difficult.

I remember the aeroplane touching down at Heathrow Airport and the long queues at the passport desk . It made me feel a bit lost but the view of the Thames as we crossed it gave me new hope.

The next most important thing was to adapt to the weather. I had arrived on a cold December night. But the best part was our new home on the seafront at Swansea. Then came the difficult part, setting up a home and getting used to the ways here. Each incident added to my experience, helping me settle down a bit more. We made new friends here–a the most common link was that we had all moved away from home. And then there were times when I missed my family a lot and my new friends would cheer me up.

When I look back I realise the move has helped me not only to discover myself but has also changed my outlook . And as rightly put across by my six-year-old: “Ma if the Earth is constantly moving then we are also moving, aren’t we!”

PHOTO: The author with her parents and family standing before the Tower Bridge,  London, England.

basu das21

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shreerupa Basu Das is from Kolkata, India, where she worked as a qualified chartered accountant. A resident of the UK for the last eight years, she is a mum of two and works as a mortgage consultant. She loves to cook and travel, and writes occasionally, taking inspiration from her life experiences.

Safe Harbour
by Abigail Ottley Wyatt

In chill November, stoutly, you and I,
bent-backed and booted, turned into the wind.

Sinking in the slow, red mud, we walked;
I tracked your giant steps;

heard in their clink and tumbling crush,
the singing of the stones;

saw rocks like teeth in the sea’s stark mouth
slow drawn by time’s far edge;

and cockle shells, bleached pale
as death, spill secrets in dark sands.

But then we found our progress barred:
across some river’s tiny roar,

you taught me how the faulted earth
might fall in stern and folded crags

and how it still might quake and split
to break the breaking, bounded shore

There tigers prowled, their bloodstone eyes
as abstract as their welted stripes,

and monsters moved among the stones,
stirred up the bones of the tasty dead.

And so we crossed the Alps to find
a land of snakes and stars;

a single tree, still rooted,
kept its vigil by the shore.

PHOTOGRAPH:Blue Anchor Bay,” West Somerset, United Kingdom, by Geof Sheppard.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about a very unlikely “perfect vacation.” The year was 2012 when, around the middle of November, my current partner and I packed our then still separate bags for the first “week away” of our newly established relationship. We were, of course, an older couple and we had both been quite badly hurt in the still quite recent past. Beyond all question it was a big thing for both of us but we each put on a brave face and kept our misgivings to ourselves. Our destination was only a three hour drive away, a place called, most descriptively, I thought, Blue Anchor Bay. In fact, once there, we found our holiday was just perfect and that, despite the chilly weather, there was an abundance of sunshine. I drafted this poem lying on the carpet in front of our beautiful and cosy wood-burning stove and finished it over the course of the evening of the day it describes. As I wrote, David, my partner, examined the many photographs he had taken and sipped at a very decent whiskey. Not surprisingly, I suppose, even three years later, “Safe Harbour” remains his favourite among my poems.

Author photo by David Rowland. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abigail Ottley Wyatt is a former teacher of English turned writer of poetry and short fiction. She lives with her singer/songwriter partner, David Rowland, and her Jack Russell, Percy, in the shadow of Carn Brea near Redruth in Cornwall. Over the past eight years her work has appeared in more than a hundred magazines, anthologies and journals. She is grateful to the editors of every single one of them and she hopes to be published in many more.

by Mark Redford

on the coach down to Folkestone: the pages of

from a time and world before my day whole cities and
lives lived in shadow and yellow light in recede and smirk

in caption and still in number and date –
later we walked down into town from the campsite

from the streets we stepped into the general store
the smell of tins and packed food rose from the

faded lino floor with lime highlights, the comic rack
revolving: seceding titles, successing numbers,

companies of generation, branches discovered,
a distant family, a close ancestry; now traceable

PHOTOGRAPH: Walking the long way down into Folkestone, the author (with his younger brother) with landscapes coming out of his head in more ways than one (don’t worry, he paid the price later when he had it permed and most of it fell out; — eh?; the 1970s: can’t live with them, and yet they’re still here!).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We didn’t have much money after Dad left so we had a few holidays in a caravan of an aunt in Folkestone; the escape from London to the Kent coast added fresh smells and landscape to a 13-year old possibility but also depthened (sic) what I read at the same time (proving the proverb: the more you travel, the deeper you stay where you are). I still read comics, but I mostly smell them now.

mark redford

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Redford was born in Bethnal Green, London (within the sound of Bow Bells, ‘wish mayksim a troo cocknee’ although he only speaks like that when ‘ease avvin’ a bubble’). He has been teaching for 28 years and was passionate about the cognitive development of learning until he finally realised that nobody ‘got it’.  While he is recovering from that, he has resumed writing and continues teaching with a wan and slightly ironic smile. He has published slightly too (The Blue Hour magazine, The Haiku Quarterley; and is soon to self-publish MLR Poemics Presents #1; Uncannily green Poems) but mostly transmits, in a tiny voice, from some dark cupboard [that’ll have him] in the posts of mlewisredford.wordpress.

stirling street rainbow
Rain Charm for Stirling Street
by Gaia Holmes

Oh, the itch and nag of it —
this rainless month
when sapless slugs
fruit our yards like prunes
and the lawns
in the salubrious parts of town
are brown whispers.

Even inside
red roses yellow
and spill their petals
before they’ve had time to bloom.
Hard green mangoes
rot before they’ve ripened
and in the fridge
milk thickens and clots
in the necks of bottles,
the cheese gets louder and louder
until it roars.

And lately, we have had
restless nights too hot to touch,
deserts between us in our beds,
Sirocco winds blistering our dreams,
our waking bodies
black with fruit flies.

All you sun-junkies,
you lovers of deck chairs
and Ambre Solaire, forgive me.
I am taking action.
I am standing behind the kitchen door
wobbling a crosshatch saw
to make the sound of thunder.
I am cooking lightning
in the microwave.
I am pouring rice on to a saucer
to make the sound of rain.
I am summoning a storm.

Previously published in Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual, 2015.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love all kinds of weather, especially sunshine but also rain. I live on Stirling Street and when the sun shines on Stirling Street its residents get bolshy & tetchy. Arguments start. People get angry about parking spaces and traffic cones start appearing on the kerbs. Cats wail all night and it seems that a good dose of rain balms the tension. I love the sound of it on the skylight window in my attic. It makes me feel safe and creative. I love the smell of it, the petrichor, the world after rain—wet grass and tarmac, the scent of shimmer.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Stirling Street Rainbow” (Halifax, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom) by Gaia Holmes.


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gaia Holmes lives in Halifax, West Yorkshire, UK. She is a freelance writer and creative writing tutor who works with schools, libraries, and other community groups throughout the West Yorkshire region. She runs “Igniting The Spark,” a weekly writing workshop at Dean Clough, Halifax. In her spare time, Gaia is a DJ for Phoenix FM, Calderdale’s community radio station. She plays accordion with the band Crow Hill Stompers. She has had two full length poetry collections published by Comma Press: Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed (2006) and Lifting The Piano With One Hand (2013). Gaia is currently writing about sink holes, working on her third collection, and dabbling in fiction.


We’re celebrating the first anniversary of the Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology (Silver Birch Press, November 2012) with a free gift — and feel free to spread the word by reblogging this post or emailing your friends.

On Monday, 11/11/13,  download a FREE Kindle version of the Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology –  a 240-page collection of poetry & prose from over 60 established and up-and-coming writers in the United States and United Kingdom. Get your free Kindle version of the Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology at

If you don’t have a Kindle, download free reading apps at this link.

If you are in the UK, find  at

Other countries, check your local Amazon site — the Kindle version is available for free there, too.


We’re celebrating the first anniversary of the Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology (Silver Birch Press, November 2012) with a free gift — and feel free to spread the word by reblogging this post or emailing your friends.

Until  Monday, 11/11/13,  get a FREE Kindle version of the Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology –  a 240-page collection of poetry & prose from over 60 established and up-and-coming writers in the United States and United Kingdom.

Through 11/11/13, get your free Kindle version of the Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology at

If you don’t have a Kindle, download free reading apps at this link.

If you are in the UK, find  at

Other countries, check your local Amazon site — the Kindle version is available for free there, too.

“The castle grounds were gleaming in the sunlight as though freshly painted; the cloudless sky smiled at itself in the smoothly sparkling lake, the satin-green lawns rippled occasionally in a gentle breeze: June had arrived.” J.K. ROWLING, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

PHOTO: “Scotney Castle Landscape Gardents, Kent, UK” by ukgardenphotos, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


“This powerful memoir immediately establishes itself as the work of a highly talented young writer. In a voice that is strong, unsparing, never judgmental, Mayall traces her years-long journey as a young woman to find escape out of the entrapping mean streets of Los Angeles, a separated world invisible to all but its denizens. She does this with unflinching honesty and authenticity. She knows what it’s like to wake up into the harsh sunlight in a Venice Beach parking lot, cramped in an old car with other outcasts. She conveys the urgency for chemical surcease that leads her into dangerous streets, dark alleys; surcease no matter if bought by a sordid paid encounter. A punishing dawn at times finds her still searching for that illusive escape.

Through all this, Mayall is able to find poignancy and humor. She finds it in the drug recovery meetings she haunts in search of vagrant camaraderie. She finds it—and introduces the reader to a cast of memorable fellow exiles–in a rigidly ruled rehabilitation institution.

This is a memorable book — beautifully and even lyrically written. At times it is melancholy, at times hopeful, at times shocking, but it is always moving. At times it is even exuberant with the sense of a life lived determined to survive.” JOHN RECHY. author of CITY OF NIGHT and THE MIRACULOUS DAY OF AMALIA GOMEZ

PHOENIX, a memoir by Philippa Mayall, is available at

Silver Birch Press is pleased to announce the release of PHOENIX, a memoir by Philippa Mayall — a book that renowned writer John Rechy, author of CITY OF NIGHT, has called “Memorable…powerful…and beautifully written.”

BOOK DESCRIPTION: PHOENIX begins on a tragic night in Manchester, United Kingdom, when a house fire destroys the author’s life as she knows it. Philippa (Flip) flees the scene, devoured by guilt — and later leaps into a synthetic existence of mind-altering drugs and alcohol. Her desperate urge to escape takes her six thousand miles from home to Los Angeles. But Flip discovers her feelings came with her, and soothes them with even more potent drugs offered by a new friend. She ends up homeless, living in a car with two other people and two cats, and a new flame is ignited within her. After a violent confrontation with her friends, Flip is forced to enter a drug rehab so she isn’t sleeping on the streets. This is the beginning of her real and most courageous escape.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Philippa Mayall was born into her own gritty northern drama in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1973. Her penchant for writing was discovered by her mother at an early age. She kept switching the lights on to write down nuggets of sentences and phrases she thought of in the night and didn’t want to forget. This made her very unpopular with her brother who shared the room (they remain good friends today). She moved to Los Angeles in 2000 and her time in America is enormously influential on her writing, as are her roots in Manchester. After realizing her real dream of wanting to write about her experiences, she moved back to England, where she studied for a Masters in Creative Writing at Kingston University. PHOENIX is her first book. In the future, she hopes to write more. Philippa currently lives in Los Angeles, California.

PHOENIX is available at



Poem by Fred Voss

As he has every night for 4 months Frank is reading MOBY DICK

(a novel he has read 5 times)

to Jane before they go to sleep.

Having reached chapter 72 he reads details of how a whale is stabbed and speared

again and again at close range by laughing pipe-smoking sailors until the whale

spouts blood

and rolls over and the sailors carve up its blubber and cut off

its head

and gather whale vomit.

Frank smiles and says, “Melville’s detailing of the tools and skills of whaling

is just like what I do with the machine shop

in my poems,”

as Jane sighs and bites her fingernails.


“Frank, please stop,” Jane says. “I can’t take anymore. I can’t even swim.

We’ve got to get off the Pequod. I want romance.

I want you to read to me from MY BOOK now.”

Frank winces

and reaches for Jane’s pretty little book ELIZABEH AND PHILIP

in which he has reached chapter 2 and reads

of their royal wedding on November 20, 1947

wedding presents

rings and jewelers

wedding gown with rose-and-corn-ear-patterned lace pink carnation floral decorations

chauffeurs and royal coaches and The King’s Valet

and what the Huntley and Palmers wedding cake was made of and how much it weighed

are detailed and analyzed to Jane’s smiling anglophile delight.

Frank and Jane look at the photographs of Elizabeth and Philip standing at the

Westminster Abbey altar waving out the windows of the Cinderella carriage

smiling from the Palace balcony.

“Oh wasn’t Elizabeth beautiful! Royal weddings are so romantic!” Jane gushes

as Frank writhes and slaps shut the pretty little book

unable to take any more and eager for tomorrow night

when he can get back to the fun and pleasure of reading MOBY DICK

with tattooed-all-over shrunken-head-carrying cannibal Queequeg

and a giant Albino whale

who methodically saws off Captain Ahab’s leg and drowns sailors with a slap of its tail

and finally rams and sinks the Pequod itself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

leaving Ishmael afloat on Queequeg’s coffin

like an orphan ready to be rescued

by the ship Rachel looking for its lost sailors.

Now what royal wedding,

dear readers,

could be more romantic

than all that?