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One Last Time…

February 2, 2014

How fondly I recall those happy days when Stella and I owned a 35-foot static caravan at Talacre on the Point of Ayr, North Wales.  It was little more than an hour’s run in the car and dropping down through Holywell with the Dee Estuary and Liverpool Bay spread below, to spend a weekend or a few days at the van, was a thrill every time.

Sometimes we’d have grandchildren with us, and that was always fun.  Sometimes I’d go alone to write.  I loved the beach with its long-disused lighthouse, the dunes, home to the famous Natterjack toad (not that I ever saw one!), and the mudflats, where I’d watch waders, wildfowl and other seabirds through my binoculars.

Under ‘Diary’, I’ve posted many of my Talacre entries.  Under ‘Novel’, I’ve posted extracts from the book I was writing back then, The Petrie Consignment.

Circumstances compelled us to sell the van in April 2010 and the sense of loss was huge.  Talacre haunted my dreams and twelve weeks later I returned alone, one last time… 


TUESDAY 06/07/10

I wanted to see Talacre again; I also needed another look at Basingwerk Abbey for my book.  So today I went – my first time back since selling the caravan in April.  It was a dull day with a few drops of rain mid-afternoon.

Parked up, watching the clouds, I enjoyed a meat and potato pie and thick vanilla slice from my favourite bakery.  It was funny afterwards, as I walked from the car, peaked cap, binoculars around my neck, khaki shorts… a gorgeous blonde in a Ford Focus gave me a dazzling smile and big wave.  Maybe she mistook me for someone else.  Maybe I just looked comical.  Of course I waved back!

I wandered the dunes and beach, swallows zipping everywhere.  A couple knocked a ball about as dog-walkers strolled and a party of schoolchildren gazed up at the tin man on the balcony of the old, supposedly haunted, freshly painted lighthouse.  My arms began to turn red in the salt breeze.

I was amused as always by the notice warning of quicksand near the lighthouse at times of rising tide:


Should you find yourself in soft sand…

What to do – DON’T PANIC.

Step back slowly the way you came.

If you sink further, lie back, slowly release your legs and use a backstroke motion until you reach firmer ground.


I took a turn around our old park – very peaceful and quiet with blown leaves everywhere and the smell of newly-mown grass.  Distantly came the echoey cries of children in the pool.  It was a shock to find our van gone, probably relocated on another pitch.  The bare concrete base brought home to me, as perhaps nothing else could, that all our happy times here were history now, memories only.

If Talacre didn’t have quite the same feel for me, Llanasa certainly did, the village still possessing that timeless charm with sheep dotting the hillside and cattle grazing the upland slopes.  I enjoyed a half of lager and packet of crisps at the Red Lion then sat beside the village pond to read a chapter of Robert Barnard’s Last Post.

Basingwerk in the evening, with jackdaws calling from the trees.  The ancient ruins set in trim lawns were indeed evocative.  I could almost feel the presence of the Cistercian monks who occupied the abbey so long ago, kept sheep and ran a corn mill powered by Holywell Stream.  Then a party of teenagers came along and one of their number, a nerdy-looking lad in specs, scrambled nimbly up one of the tallest of the 12th/13th century stone walls and nonchalantly walked along the top! 

I shall have fun setting a gun battle here!



Copyright © Paul Beech 2014

From → Diary

  1. Angela permalink

    What a lovely picture you paint.
    I am thinking of having a run to Prestatyn and Rhyl soon. Maybe you and Stella fancy coming and we can stop at Llanasa for a spot of lunch or maybe pick up one of those lovely meat and potato pies.

  2. Hi Angela, so glad you liked the post. And yes, we’d love a run up the coast with you. Ah, for a breath of sea air! Let’s lunch at Llanasa. There’s such an air of tranquillity about the place, you’ll feel you’ve slipped back in time to a gentler age. I’ll give you a bell to fix it up.

    Love Paul xx

  3. I can see my self there. The way you describe the scene. Lovely.

  4. Dear Ann, I’m so thrilled you’re following my blog, thank you. I’m keen to see more of your work too. I’ve missed ‘Shoreline’ since returning it to the library.

    Take care and have a good weekend.

    Sincerely yours,


  5. I have written a few haikus which rhyme. It seems like when they don’t it is hard to follow the chain of thought. It often had too many thoughts. This is what I have been accused of in my writings. I have
    a difficult time transferring British over into American English. I’ll bet that you have the same problem conversely. I am just a novice who enjoys writing poetry as a means of release and therapy and having a soothing, relaxing affect. I would like to hear more poems about your dad and your relationship with him. Obviously, he meant a great deal to you. In other words, you had much pride in and respect for him. Picking the right, best way to express something if often confusing and confounding. I am listing your location as one of my special items. My email address is: James Thomas Horn,

  6. Jim, nice of you to drop in, thank you.

    Now then, haiku. Well, they’re not supposed to rhyme, of course, but the rules of poetry are there to be broken, so far as I’m concerned. I play fast and loose with haiku myself; they’re fun to write. And it has to be a good thing, surely, to experiment and push the boundaries sometimes, enabling both poet and verse-form to develop and be refreshed.

    It’s interesting you find the British idiom difficult. So do I – well, this modern youth fad for dropping T’s anyway: “woh-ah” for water, “lay-ah” for later, etc. It drives me nuts; talk about chalk on a blackboard!

    “Fancy a bih-ah?”
    “Nah, goin’ pah-ih lay-ah. Beh-ah stick wi’ woh-ah.”

    Except for Gangsta-speak, I find the American idiom a doddle by comparison.

    On a more serious note, yes, my wonderful parents meant the world to us. Mum passed away in August ’06, Dad in April ’12, and the coming to terms with our loss is a slow process. More poems about them will emerge, for sure, when the time is right.

    Do call again – you’re most welcome!


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