The next e-chapbook of poems from our July P.A.D. (Granada Camp For Wayward Poets) comes from Vivienne Blake with her collection entitled:


A Love-Hate Relationship


1. Holiday Time
2. Deluge
3. Revolution
4. The Mill and the Pony Camp
5. Camp Stew and Chocolate Whip
6. A Forest of Flies
7. Exploration
8. Evening Walk
9. Renaissance Camp
10. Leadership
11. Recipe for Joy
12. River Camp
13. Ottava Rima
14. My Place
15. Campfire’s Burning
16. Sleeping Out
17. Time to Go Home

1. Holiday time

Unpack the tent to find a hole.
Mend the tent.
Pack the tent.
Pack some food
and something to cook it in,
eat it from, wash up in;
wellies,  waterproofs,
sleeping bags,
rugs and warm clothes.
Maps, musical instruments
and lego in the car
to amuse the kids on the journey.
Hang on a minute.
Must I?
Couldn’t I
have a five star hotel
with en-suite bathrooms
and someone else to cook
and make proper beds
and clean up after me?

Oh well, I can dream.

2. Deluge

Someone up there turned on the tap
and pulled out the plug,
to unleash Niagara on an unsuspecting world.
The ants scurried hither and yon
in search of shelter
under the coverlet of a leafy haven
and dryads danced with naiads
in an ecstasy of nature.

3. Revolution

Panting up the thousand-pedal hill
rain hammering on my cycling cape
arms out searching for escape
eyes blind with ragged temper tears
cooking over a flickering candle
sleeping cold on  stony ground.
It’s a simple no-brainer to explain
why I’m on a mission to ban camping:

4. The Mill and the Pony Camp

Two little girls with bicycles
set out towing a horse
to a tiny island between millrace
and Grand Union Canal.
The horse set free to graze,
they set up their little camp.

The nights were hard
the food was bad –
each meal a variation on sausages or Spam
with Shredded Wheat and marmalade for breakfast.
But not deterred,
intrepid girls explored
one on horseback,
one on bike, in turn.

A week went by adventuring
without a serious problem.
The occasional fall
didn’t scare them at all –
the pony was their factotum,
carrying shopping or girl
back to camp full of environment,
then home, at last, for nourishment.

***The Grand Union Canal runs from London to Birmingham in the centre of England and at that time there were still pairs of narrow-boats taking goods between the two cities and beyond, with whole families travelling the waterways all their lives.

5. Camp stew and chocolate whip

Camping wild means simple food,
mostly out of a tin or two –
ravioli, washed down with pop
or mince and tomato makes a good glop.
Beans and spam or sausages
plus of course hot beverages.
The kettle and the camp stove
plus frying pan enough to contrive
a meal sufficient to survive.
But mere survival is not enough:
chocolate relieves a diet of mostly mush.
Tabasco adds a little spice
to everything in paradise.

6. A Forest of Flies

Words hang heavy while creatures swarm
and buzz and hum around the tent,
storm my citadel; jump
with passion onto my skin; thrive
on my flapping, swatting, clapping;
sneer at my efforts to remove them.
Without an ounce of magic
I’ll never be free of them.

picture URL:

7. Exploration

Holding our breath in reverence
for the mystery of the forest
we’ll explore the dangers ahead
timid yet brave for adventure,
breathing in good fresh air.

How to escape the labyrinth?
Tie a string and trail it behind,
leave paterans of twigs at junctions
or cut blazes in bark to point the way?
Keep an eye out for monsters
or maybe a bear.

Collect pebbles in pockets
for a cairn at the top
to show that we were there.

Pateran:  an arrow of stones or twigs, left on a path.

8. Evening Walk

Distant view
of trees and pastures
now obscured by waving maize.

Remote hum
of main road motors
muffled by beloved birdsong.
Inaccessible roughness
of thick bark on oak trunk
untouchable high above the bank.
Sweet flavour
of luscious blackberries
lingers long on my grassy walk.
Insistent perfume
transports rosy thoughts
from some secluded garden.

image:  Sandwood Bay from Undiscovered

9. Renaissance Camp

Sandwood Bay in Sutherland
in days gone by as now reachable only
after a twenty-mile trek across moor and mountain.
My renaissance camp would set up there.

Back in time, like a Tardis
I’d wander the pristine shore
rejoicing in the sounds of the sublime –
the swish of sea, the cry of guillemot
the scream of dive-bombing oystercatcher.

Mermaids would whisper their stories
into my ear to re-invent for the children
who’ve accompanied me there –
sturdy trekkers that they were,
receptive to wilderness and beauty.

They’ve picked up the baton
now that trekking is behind me,
in search of remote places –
renaissance of the seeds we sowed so long ago.

10. Leadership

Voices various
instruments melodious
blend harmonious
in chorus classical
conductor tyrannical
resultant canticle
beauty inexpressible

11. Recipe for Joy – a senryu chain

Past and future days
soaked in memories and dreams
comfort and solace

Good days and bad days
tolerated with courage
happy and sad days

Doing and making
obsession and digression
learning and laughter

12. River Camp – a prose poem

I wake in the dawn to the sound of lapping water and the pungent scent of river mud.  I stick my head out of the tent flap to watch the peaceful Thames.  A hatch of midges dances, erratically catching the first rays of the sun.  The grasses at eye level glisten with dew and silvered cobwebs join the green blades into a lethal network.
Lazily I roll over, yawn and stretch.  A cacophony of birdsong separates into distinct sounds: trills, squeaks, coos of wood pigeons, chattering chaffinches, melodies in harmony and à capella airs.
The siren song of the river beats at my will until I squirm out of my sleeping bag and pull on yesterday’s clothes.  Bare feet in cold, wet grass, then mud squidges between my toes as I push the dinghy with a rasping rattle until it floats.  I clamber in.
The current takes hold and the boat drifts peacefully past pollarded willows, their stubby trunks supporting an effusion of shaving brush fronds.
A pair of swans glides past, with four cygnets in line astern.  I spy a gaggle of fluffy baby moorhens under the bank with the triangles of their parents’ upturned tails nearby.
A silent shadow swoops above, neck tucked in, as the heron searches intently for its breakfast in the murky green water.  I am content.

13. Ottava Rima

A hatch of midges hovers in a cloud
above the Kielder Water at eventide.
Hungry for human blood they are avowed,
not to disperse until it is supplied.
Despite this hazard, hardy walkers crowd,
for the beauty of the lake can’t be denied.
As complex eco-systems demonstrate:
it’s nature’s way ever to compensate.

14. My Place

I rather fancy a beach hut,
with a gingerbread porch painted blue.
A proper bed with a mattress
and a bright hand-made quilt or two.
It would need a little bathroom –
my days of dew-soaked treks are gone –
a camping stove for cups of tea
and the occasional meal for one.
It could be hidden among the dunes
on the coast not far from home,
so when the mood takes me for camping
I wouldn’t have far to roam.
A comfy chair in the porch
to idle the days away
watching the tide as it comes and goes
and the birdlife cabaret.

15. Campfire’s Burning

A gaggle of girl guides
ging gang goolied
without a clue what it meant.
We came round the mountains
wearing pink pyjamas.
A big baboon by the light of the moon
combed his golden hair
while riding on a donkey.

We found a peanut, ate worms,
carried water in a holey bucket
to the quartermaster’s stores,
and sang of the explosion of Sambo
from too much fizzy pop.
We laughed with a Kookaburra up a gum tree
and finished with Courtesy –
our favourite campfire song.

We grew quietly sentimental
as flames dwindled
into a heap of ashes,
sang Taps
and went to bed.

16. Sleeping Out

Head to toe on veranda hammock
under phoney bearskin rug
sisters chatter loudly long into the night.
Little by little spreads the silence of sleep

or does it?

Ripples from river slurp softly on the bank
crow of wayward cockerel
causes murmurs from sleepers
rustles in the flower beds
as hedgehog creeps along
beat of wings from hunting owl
summer crickets’ creaky song
but little by little spreads the silence of sleep

17. Time to Go Home

Where are you hiding? The parents called.
Come out this minute, it’s time to go home.
They searched the camp,
they searched the woods,
they shouted hither and yon
until at last from the old oak tree
a giggle met their ears.
We don’t want to go home,
they shouted
as their hiding place was revealed.
Hard-fought negotiation ensued
with promises to return next year
before at last they slid down to the ground
and sulked all the way into the car.


All poems above (C) Vivienne Blake, 2014


  1. Excellent, Viv!! A wonderful collection indeed. I love the child-wander-wonder-lust in #7 and I always enjoy the treat in reading your prose voice as in #12 this particular piece reads like a melody of the river…so visual. Great work and thank you for sharing with us all! 🙂

  2. It is always a pleasure to compile and highlight these collected works to tell a story or enhance a theme. Vivienne has a great poetic voice and I enjoy reading her. Thank you for participating Viv! A fine “chapbook”! Walt.

  3. Vivienne, I love your camp-days chapbook! You work the words like the true craftswoman that you are. Thanks for sharing these poems with us.

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