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Burwardsley Mini Folk Festival

Gosh, what an event it was, the Burwardsley Mini Folk Festival held in the Village Hall on Saturday 15th October 2016, a fine autumn day, to raise funds for repairs to the parish church, St. John’s.

Burwardsley is a tiny village in deepest rural Cheshire, nestling in the lee of Bickerton Hill, from which there are stunning views as far as Wales, Merseyside and Shropshire. St. John’s, dating from the 17th century and now a Grade II listed building, is built of buff sandstone with a pyramid-roofed bell turret at its west end, a gorgeous, much loved Anglican church with a loyal congregation.

The Mini Folk Fest was organised by a local lady who serves as a sidesperson at St. John’s: the wonderful Pam Moyle, our friend and fellow Chester Poet, whose own first book, From Here, a collection of her beautiful rural verse, is just out from Cestrian Press.

The whole event, which opened at 1pm, had a traditional, community feel to it with stalls selling everything from pewter repoussé art to cup-cakes. My partner Maureen Weldon helped at the book stall whilst I did a spot as storyteller for a group of young children who sat on cushions and listened open-mouthed before going to get their faces painted.

A troupe of belly dancers, called Halabia, were fantastic in swishing silk, and I’ll bet Burwardsley had never seen the like! During the evening half, Maranella, a medieval folk group, were tremendous too.  Truth is, every act was brilliant in its own, very entertaining way; similarly every reader at the open mic, including Pam (of course!), Maureen (with not only poems of her own but also a harmonica/oral rendition of Thomas Moore’s ‘The Meeting of The Waters’), myself and Mike Penney.

With a delicious hotpot along the way (thanks, George!), the event continued until nearly midnight, concluding with a jamming session with all musicians joining in. Maureen, on harmonica, played the first sweet bars of ‘Danny Boy’ and one by one the others followed with accordion and guitar, the song soon building into something truly moving, marvellous and memorable.  It was the perfect close to this most friendly, colourful and heartwarming of folk festivals.

St. John’s Church so deserves the best of care and it was a pleasure – an honour indeed! – for Maureen and I to do our bit for the cause.

Paul Beech


Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

Twin Dakotas – First Review!

Here is the first review of my debut collection Twin Dakotas: poetry and prose, recently published by Cestrian Press.  It’s by Patricia Salamone, who regularly comments on my posts here.  Pat is an American author whose blog The Writer’s Desk is one of my favourite places on the web.

To say I’m chuffed would be an understatement – I’m positively glowing! Now, in a humble/proud way, I can feel that my creative labours over the greater part of my adult life have not been in vain.


Pat’s review:

I have just finished reading Paul’s book of poetry and prose, Twin Dakotas.

I have taken my time reviewing this book because it is so beautifully written. You can’t help but read the poems and prose over and over.  Each time you do, your feelings will soar in a different direction.

I have finally decided that my favourite is ‘Twin Dakotas’. However it was a tough decision because I loved each and every poem and prose.

Paul takes you down the path of his life in such a beautiful way, you want to stop along the path and savour every word.

It will stir every emotion you possess but in a beautiful way. You will want to re-read this book many times.

Kudos Paul!!!

The Best Way

Here’s a poem I wrote twelve months ago, following a visit to Parkgate on the Wirral Peninsula.

Overlooking the Dee Estuary, the village was once a major port before the river silted up and is famous for its association with Emma, Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson’s mistress. Nowadays the vast saltmarsh is of great interest to bird watchers for its rich variety of wildfowl, waders and raptors.

Maureen and I enjoyed wonderful fish and chips there!

The poem is included in my first collection, Twin Dakotas: poetry and prose.




Why that way, towards the hills,

towards that blinding line as the sun sets,

skein after skein, honking?

Why not out across the sea?

I walk the Old Quay, wondering.


Waders cry in the flashing fire of the saltmarsh.

The glowing sandstone of the low wall

thrums with ancient knowledge.

Yet it is in your high-altitude honking

I find an answer:


Instinct, trust in instinct, it’s the best way…


I take her hand in mine

and we sing.


Paul Beech.


Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

A Journey Begun

As a youngster at junior school, I was praised for my articulacy but was actually a slow reader and couldn’t spell for toffee. It turned out I was long-sighted and made to wear spindly Council specs with round lenses, which I hated because they pinched my nose so tightly I had ugly bruises either side.  They did the job though: they corrected my eyesight.  And when Mum bought us Enid Blyton’s ‘Adventure’ novels, my reading really came on apace.  I was Jack, the lad with Kiki the parrot on his shoulder.  Later came Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Fleming.  I was Sherlock Holmes, James Bond…

My Grandad Dawson was my real hero though. A World War I veteran, decorated for bravery in the trenches, he’d gone on to become a Chief Inspector of police in Civvy Street.  He was a gifted raconteur and I’d listen spellbound for hours as he recounted episodes from his military service and police career.  Never will I forget his warm northern tones and turns of phrase.

I was hooked on stories of all sorts and discovered I could tell a good tale myself, a chip off my grandad’s old block. I would be a writer.


Aged nine or ten, I invented the game of ‘Stop!’ which I’d play with my younger brothers.

“Stop!” I’d call, and whatever we were doing, whether sauntering through a park, spinning flat stones on the tide, netting crabs, turning cartwheels or throwing snowballs, we’d freeze on the spot. “Think!” I’d command, and we would think about where we were and what we were doing at that particular moment in our lives, that particular moment in the history of the universe.  We’d stretch our five senses to the limit and beyond, seek even to connect with the ancient perceptions of prehistoric man.  Then, after maybe thirty seconds, maybe a minute-and-a-half, I’d cry “Carry on!” and we’d resume whatever we were doing before, but with that frozen moment banked in memory and somehow the richer for it.

Later, reading Dylan Thomas and Louis MacNeice, I found another way of capturing such moments: poetry. And I began composing stanzas in my head.


So there you have it, how I came to poetry and prose as a Lancashire lad many moons ago, when I carried a Box Brownie camera and rode a Dawes Domino bike. My first book is out now yet still I have far to go, the higher regions of verse and narrative to explore.

This journey begun is my life.

Paul Beech



My debut collection, published by Cestrian Press 2016, is Twin Dakotas: poetry and prose (ISBN 978 0 904448 50 4), price £6.50.

If you’d like a copy, please email me on and I’ll get back to you.



Copyright © Paul Beech 2016



It was a long drive to Callander, around 300 hundred miles, but we made it with only a couple of comfort breaks on the northbound motorway, and the small Scottish town, famous as “Tannochbrae” in the original Dr Finlay’s Casebook TV series, was gorgeous as ever with the River Teith winding through, the Crags towering above and the sun shining.

King’s Bookshop was packed out with poets when we arrived in the early evening but such was the air of friendship and so brilliant, so uplifting, the poetry that, weary as we were, Maureen and I were fairly buzzing when our turns came to read.

Playing harmonica between her poems, Maureen went down a storm as always. She was a hard act to follow but I did my best, reading from my newly published collection Twin Dakotas, and received strong applause and even a cry of “Good man!” from the aisle.

It was great to meet up with friends. And the whole of the Poetry Weekend, so wonderfully hosted by Sally Evens and husband Ian, was amazing.  Gosh, such talent!  The quality of the poetry was truly exceptional.

Thank you, Sally and Ian, for all your hard work and generous hospitality in putting on another fantastic Poetry Weekend. You were great.

Paul Beech

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

Heading North

On Friday, Maureen and I will be heading north for the Callander Poetry Weekend 2016 hosted by Sally Evans and her husband Ian at King’s Bookshop in this gorgeous Scottish town, “the Gateway to the Highlands” as known. It will be my second time at this annual event and I’m much looking forward to it after the wonderful time we had there last year (see my post of 13/09/15).

Maureen will play harmonica between her poems and I’m sure she’ll go down a storm as always.

My poems will all be from my first collection, Twin Dakotas: poetry and prose, and will include one from 40-odd years ago, when I began pounding the keyboard in earnest. Having no contacts in the poetry world back then and no knowledge of the small press magazines where my work might have stood a chance, I aimed too high with the inevitable result – rejection after rejection.  These days, thanks to Maureen bringing me out, I’m in an altogether better place, but maybe my early poem will chime in with a few others at Callander.  Here it is:




A loner –

porcelain eyes, as if on wires,

guide his floating face

above the concourse

as he hacks his way


through the jungles of his mind,

his talent his machete.


Soon –

a clearing opens before him

and there is the crowd.

But what will they care

for his poem?


Paul Beech


Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

Boyhood Memories

Coming down to earth after the excitement of my first book launch, I did a spot of desk-clearing yesterday and came across a couple of memories posted on blogs. They’re memories that capture something of my long lost youth in Farnworth, Lancashire, so I thought it would be nice to start the week by sharing them here:


[1] Skid


It would have been the late-‘50s, myself 11 or 12. A bright summer’s day in Lancashire.  I was very proud of my Dawes Domino sports bike.  But coming downhill full pelt I overtook a moped then skidded into a cinder track at the bottom.  Of course the wheels went from under me and I was badly grazed.

Bandaged, I enjoyed sitting out in our back garden, sipping dandelion and burdock and reading a book of true-life exploits from the Second World War. All our dads were heroes then and mine had served in the RAF.


[2] Message In A Bottle


As a 15 year old, on the eve of moving home with my parents and family, I put a message in a bottle and buried it under my dad’s shed. Returning recently after 54 years, I found the shed gone and much else besides.

Probably the house has changed hands several times since those distant days of my childhood when a vista of factory chimneys greeted the eye through our rear leaded panes. Whether my bottle was ever found and the message read, I don’t know.  My message was hardly deathless prose, so I doubt anyone would have been very interested anyway.

Planting the bottle was certainly an emotional moment for me though. And wondering about it occasionally down the decades has always brought a whiff of the old days, something more than nostalgia, something…mystical, perhaps.


Paul Beech


Copyright © Paul Beech 2016