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Gull Alert!

July 14, 2016

Gull © Celia Warren 2016

This gull looks very innocent,
standing on the quayside,
but many of his family
cause big problems at the seaside.

They’re growing pretty vicious
and at times completely nasty
if they spot a kid with sandwiches,
an ice-cream or a pastie.

If you’re outdoors with a picnic
on a beach or up on deck,
gulls may dive-bomb and they’ll steal it
and they don’t mind who they peck.

So please do not encourage them,
don’t throw them little crumbs,
then fewer frightened children
will go crying to their mums.

And if you have a bite to eat
and gulls are hanging round,
keep well undercover
if a shelter can be found.

© Celia Warren 2016

Some years ago, I was eating a pastie near where I live in Dartmouth, Devon, when a gull, in one swift swoop, stole half my pastie, and flew off. It seemed quite funny at the time, but I’ve never eaten in the street since. Now gulls are causing injuries, especially to children, as they grow ever more aggressive in seaside resorts, so much so that the problem was featured on our local TV news last night. Apparently, and incredibly, they are a protected species, so even if people and pets are at risk there is nothing you can do, except stay indoors, especially if you’re eating. One poor family had their Yorkshire terrier carried off from their garden by a gull. Many children have received cuts and bruises from direct attacks from the birds. Much as I love birds, it does sound quite scary. If you’re at the seaside, try and eat safely under cover.

One World

June 29, 2016

SideBySide © Celia Warren 2016

Side by Side
Greenfinch and Bluetit – not birds of a feather,
But look at them peacefully feeding together.

© Celia Warren 2016


Holiday Inspiration

June 21, 2016

Back home after a month touring the south of France! Holidays offer new experiences, tastes
and sights. Here are some raw poems-in-the-making inspired by my fabulous trip.

© Celia Warren 2016 mistletoe France
If mistletoe grows
where nobody goes,
will it be missing
lovers’ kissing?

© Celia Warren 2016


© Celia Warren 2016 Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Sand, fine as pepper, blown in our eyes,
our hair, our sandals, our nails,
Mediterranean sea as blue as the cloudless sky.
We climbed to the top of the church tower,
then higher, up sloping tiles to the apex,
surveyed red roofs, swallows, shoppers,
and sparkling sea from on high.

© Celia Warren 2016

Weights and Measures

© Celia Warren 2016 Reims building © Celia Warren 2016 TheWeightofOneself_Lyon

Some carry the weight of the world
on their shoulders.
Others run wild, leaving care
to their betters or olders.

Some people carry themselves
and they know their own weight.
Others slide carelessly,
sink or skate.

© Celia Warren 2016

Stored Sunshine

© Celia Warren 2016 Stored Sunshine Langlade

By a sliver of moon, we recycle the sun:
in solar-cell storage it brightens the night.
The cat’s gone to bed, the tortoise and dog;
We drink last year’s sunshine in wine, while the light
glints and distorts as it stencils our table.
Then it’s upstairs to bed while our legs are still able
to carry us there. Will we sleep in this heat?
With a nightcap of armagnac – dreams will be sweet.

© Celia Warren 2016

Heading Home

© Celia Warren 2016 trees like toffee apples France

Along the road, approaching Calais,
Heading home from weeks in France,
Rows of trees like toffee-apples
Offer one last happy dance.

© Celia Warren 2016

… and finally, after I’d danced ‘Sur le pont d’Avignon’, so did my chessmen, after I’d arrived home:

The Chessmen’s Flood

© Celia Warren 2016 Chessmen's Flood

The chessmen’s board is flooded
since it’s rained all day and night.
The rooks provide a wooden bridge
in answer to their plight.

It’s like the bridge in Avignon –
the pawns soon take the chance
to step up high upon the bridge
and have a little dance.

The bishops like the bridge, but still
find usefulness in boats,
while both the black queen and the white queen
clear their royal throats:

Sur le pont d’Avignon,
Pion y danse, pion y danse,
Sur le pont d’Avignon,
Pion y danse tout en rond.*

© Celia Warren 2016

*On the bridge at Avigon, pawns are dancing, pawns are dancing … round and round.

This Week’s Special Numbers

April 18, 2016

… 400, 90 and 18!

2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. His plays and sonnets are enjoyed the world over and are still as pertinent today as they were when he wrote them. In William’s honour, I am going to share my parody of the bard’s eighteenth sonnet followed by the original. I hope you enjoy them.

Shakespeares 18th worm

Shakespeare’s 18th Worm* – Celia Warren

Shall I compare thee to a bit of string?
Thou art more bristly and more flexible:
Rough soils do hold the horrid stones that sting
And cruel clay is heavily inedible.
Sometime too wet the mouth of heaven spits,
And often are thy segments clogged with dirt,
And every squirm from squirm sometime desists,
By chance of nature’s sending in a bird.
But thy eternal wriggle shan’t grow weak,
Nor lose possession of that squirm thou hast,
Nor blackbird brag thou danglest from his beak,
When in eternal stringiness thou growest.
     So long as worms can squirm or hedgehogs fast,
     So long as birds are late your life will last.

Shakespeare’s 18th Sonnet – William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
  So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
  So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Meanwhile, in the same week, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday. So here’s a lighthearted limerick for our queen:

For Queen Elizabeth II

Our queen will turn ninety this week,
Which means she is almost antique.
She is also the queen
Whose reign has now been
Quite the longest – which makes her unique.

Celia Warren 2016

If you enjoy reading limericks, I have written 1265 others. Each one defines a word from the English language. I wrote them as part of an international project to write a dictionary that defines every word by way of a limerick. It’s called the Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form.

*This worm sonnet is the only worm poem I’ve written that doesn’t appear in Don’t Poke a Worm till it Wriggles — but if you like worms, you know where to find more!


130 years ago

March 19, 2016

On the 19th March 1886 my maternal grandmother was born. My mother used to tell me stories of her own childhood, and stories that her parents had told her of their childhood. In time, such little, personal stories become lost. On the world stage they are insignificant. Even within a family history they are forgotten. As a writer, it’s my privilege to preserve such stories from time to time. For me, it is such everyday human stories that bring history to life, the universal experiences that could happen as easily today as hundreds or even thousands of years ago. This story from my grandmother’s childhood dates back to the late 1880s, when my grandma would have been aged about two. (She’s older than that in the photo below, of course.)

© Celia Warren 2016

photos © Celia Warren 2016


compass jellyfish © Celia Warren 2016




Summer 1888

When my grandma was two, so they told me,
a little Victorian girl,
she played on the beach at the seaside
and watched the seagulls whirl.

She dug in the sand for hours,
with her simple wooden spade,
and collected sea in a bucket
for the castle-moat she’d made.

Her little bare feet found softness,
a smooth and gentle squish …
but her squeal of delight turned to tears:
she was standing on jellyfish!

So many stories they told us,
of ancestors, now long gone.
Many are lost and forgotten,
but my grandma’s tale lives on.

© Celia Warren 2016

Happy Reading on World Book Day

March 3, 2016


I’ve seen Portuguese flowers
and Portuguese birds,
eaten Portuguese food,
spoken Portuguese words.
I’ve seen Portuguese fishing boats
and their returns,
but I’ve never yet seen any
Portuguese worms!

I’m just back from another wonderful holiday on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Although the land belongs to Portugal, it is a lot further south – a sub-tropical island in the Atlantic. The climate is such that in February, the warmth of the sun is like a British early summer’s day – not too hot, but pleasantly warm. Of course, it is still winter, and the locals, who are used to hotter summers than ours, are well wrapped up against the cold. So tourists from northern countries stick out like a sore thumb: only foreigners would be wandering around in shorts and teeshirts!

Monarch butterfly © Celia Warren 2016As usual, I saw some wonderful sights: Madeiran chaffinches – the same species as chaffinches at home, but different colours – more green than crimson. I saw magnificent Monarchs – the huge, colourful orange butterflies that live there. And there were lizards everywhere, too. It’s a volcanic island. The rocks are black and the soil is red. But, as my little poem says: I never saw a single worm!

Wishing you happy reading on World Book Day.

If you want to find some worms, you know where to look …

DONT_POKE_A_WORM_CVR … published by A&C Black, Bloomsbury

     ISBN 978 1472 900 234

It’s the RSPB Big Bird Count today

January 30, 2016


… and tomorrow. All you have to do is watch a small area in your garden or a park – or anywhere, really – and count the highest numbers you see at one time of any one species in one hour. Today, I’ve counted four chaffinches, two robins, a dunnock, a blackbird, a pigeon, one blue tit and one great tit. I even photographed some of them. When you finish your bird count, send your results to the RSPB.

If you love birds and wildlife, and drawings, paintings and poems about them, then you’ll also enjoy The RSPB Anthology of Wildlife Poems. ISBN 978 1 4081 3118 3


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