Sainsbury’s Rewards

Sainsbury’s Rewards.

I arrive in the car park, unsure as to where I should park… myself.
Where I’ll best fit.
Squeezing out of the car and instantly, I’m baffled.
Too much to absorb, I admit.

Soon enough, I’m settled in.
Attuned to the bright lights, the colour… the echoing din.
The noisy people.
Like bees, but less busy… with less purpose.

I marvel at the fruit and veg – a deluge of innocuous shapes.
Such aroma… I’m tempted.
I spot a mate. We have a bit of a laugh –
Some of the misshaped sweet potatoes remind us of mutual friends.

Coconut organic yoghurts stare back at me, unimpressed.
But it’s OK – instructions are included: a list, to aid me pass this test.
To help select essentials for the week ahead
(And puddings. And snacks. And wine. And…)

Barely into the tinned goods aisle and I’m hit by enthusiasm
(And a bit later, by a rogue trolley.)
If I want it, I reach out, it’s there. If it’s not, I merely have to enquire
(Or mumble a brief prayer)
I’m guided straight to it. Instant gratification.
Survey the shelves: what you see is what you get.

Later on, in a frozen realm, Confusion reappears.
I swear he’s messing with the PA,
Inserting mis-information – an assault on both ears.
Is this trip a mistake?
What seemed so effortless a few aisles ago
I now declare to be onerous… I ache.

The till’s in sight, though there’s a queue.
But standing just the other side – a guy.
I swear that he can see right through… me.

He beckons, without a single word.
But trolley’s now so laden down, with all the ‘stuff’.
And here’s what’s worse: I’ve have no purse.

He’s smiling now, and mouths: “I’ve paid… just come”.
Reluctant hands release their grip from all they’ve picked.
But somehow know that what’s ahead will far transcend the list they penned.

I’m running now – I ache no more.
He takes my hand. We leave the store.
Content that he, is my reward.


For a few more attempts at poetry, including some pie-winning efforts (!) visit here.

For anyone else with kids who go to camp…

Wrote this this evening, thinking of our kids at camp, that we collect tomorrow morning.
It’s very rough, but was just a good way commit my feelings to paper (blog) and also served as a cunning distraction from an essay I’m supposed to be writing!
I make no apology for the fact that it rhymes; it may be un-fashionable, but then so are most of my clothes… yet life goes on.

They packed their bags

They packed their bags (who knows with what).
We drove them there – the cord was cut.
We drove away – the tears did fall:
It’s hard to leave your kids – so tall!
They may have reached their teenage years
But that does not negate my fears
That while they are away from me
Their stay at camp might sometimes be…

It’s good for them to be away
From us, and home, for seven days.
It’s good for them to make new friends.
All this, please note, I comprehend.
I want them to explore and grow
And get some sun, and fun, although
I want them to be safe and sound,
Seeing as I’m not around…
To help.

I want them to find some bits rough,
To build them up – to make them tough.
But not so hard that they can’t cope.
This is my plea – this is my hope.
I pray they get to know God more
And learn what they are living for;
To aid them when life gets too hard.
I pray that they won’t disregard…

Their sheets are washed, their rooms are clean.
The house is calm, bereft of teens.
We can’t complain that they’re afar
We’ve had a blast – the week’s been ours!
We’ve watched what we want on TV.
No Minecraft, COD or MP3.
But twelve hours more and they’ll be back
Their mud-stained clothes we’ll all unpack…

(Image from

Post-Greenbelt waffle

My attempt to sum up this year’s Greenbelt, using that often overlooked, yet hugely loveable number – 4.

Gutted that I missed:
1] Adrian Plass (I’m such a fan, but wasn’t at GB on the day he spoke).
2] Jude Simpson (but at least I managed to bump into her for super brief catch-up).
3] Dave Walker‘s calendar (it had sold out by the time I got around to attempting to purchase).
4] Tea towels (Greenbelt branded ones. Again, they’d run out. Must try harder next year. Not sure I’m actually ‘gutted’ about this, more ‘slightly annoyed’).

Dead chuffed to have heard:
1] Ruth Downie (interesting talk on crime fiction).
2] Simon Morden (part 2 of his thoughts on Christian publishing, etc).
3] Andrew Philip (poetry reading that I actually understood, and enjoyed). Pic of his session, with me in attendance, here!
4] Rev Gerald Ambulance (his profound take on the current state of the Church, and some insightful comments regarding the role of women in marriage).

So glad I consumed:
1] Pie Minister pie – Heidi (goat’s cheese/sweet potato) with mash and groovy. (Read my ‘award-winning’ pie poem here.)
2] Bowl of fried potato/wine sauce and sausage, from Le Grand Bouffe.
3] Hot choc, that I managed to persuade them to add brandy to, seeing as they clearly had some as they sold coffee with brandy.
4] Pizza from the posh pizza place, as this time I went wild and paid extra for ‘all’ the toppings.

Got stuck right in:
1] Attended a ‘Student Focus’ session, (SCM). Did a creative book plug for Dear Bob, involving volunteers, weird props, jogging, masks, Pringles… you get the idea!
2] As per the past few years, did the Generous session, this year on ‘local activism’. Plugged Living Generously .
3] Donated some Dear Bobs to The Hub, for eventual distribution to teenagers at GB. (See Ben’s plan here).
4] Wrote out some Bible verses in monk-like fashion (assuming ye olde monks used i-pads with i-pens). It’s going to be presented to the Queen, no less – see my verses here.

Thrilled to natter over a cuppa with:
1] Darren Hill (after 8 years of knowing him only via phone/email/Facebook, finally met up – hurrah! He was instrumental in inflicting ‘Dear Bob’ on the general public.)
2] Jo Swinney (after knowing her… a couple of months via Facebook, finally met up)!
3] Penny Culliford (it wouldn’t be Greenbelt without at least one chatting marathon with this lady, some years we’ve managed several).
4] No cuppa, but SO pleased to grab a quick hello with fellow Subway-ers (Christian Writers’ Group): Tim R, Tim S, Jules, Paul B, Veronica Z… and those already mentioned above.

Swapped several pennies for:
1] The Insatiable Moon (Mike Riddell).
2] Paradise Now (Jari Moate).
3] A greetings card with some Christian artwork on it (with intention of framing it at some point – perhaps in the year 2017, when I’ve got a spare minute).
4] A FRANK sports water bottle, that I could then re-fill during the festival, for free!

We (family and I) were also a-weeping and a-wailing that for the first time in six (ish) years we didn’t get to camp/hang out with our buds Lori and Richard Passmore (and kids). Boo and double-boo.

Overall though, it was simply superb to wander around the site and soak up the oh-so-familiar (yet ever ‘fresh’) GB atmos with my gorgeous family, including my fab sis – a real live Cheltenham local.

A few pics can be viewed here.

So how was GB11 for you?!

Back from Greenbelt..!

Duvet and mattress, porcelain loo –
Are absent from Greenbelt and its campers, who
Make do without, all weekend long.
They shiver by night, and by day: pong.

My tenth year attending was worth my while –
Jude Simpson’s wit made my face smile.
Milton Jones – the one-liner King.
Dave Walker’s scribbling kept me giggling.

Roger McGough – a poetry machine;
He once helped to write: Yellow Submarine!
That beat-boxing Shlomo, the epitome of cool.
Rev Gerald A. boldly broke every rule.

Remember from Blue Peter, Simon Thomas?
His main stage compering was fab, I promise.
Went with my hubbie to a ‘talk’ in Bethlehem:
“Affluenza’s what we’ve got!” declared Oliver James.

Zic Zazou – very… French – noisy too.
Beer and Hymns (overheard from nearby queue).
Free tea from Speakers’ Lounge – totally fantastic.
First visit to Blue Nun – four quid for wine in a cup of plastic!

Fried potato, wine gravy… sausage perched on top.
I tend to scoff this every year – I like it quite a lot.
But now it’s all over – Greenbelt ‘adieu’.
Back to duvet and mattress, porcelain loo.


Last year my GB poem won me a box of pies through the post!
As you can see, this year I’m expecting signed photos/t-shirts/CDs/books/all-inclusive holidays, etc, from all the ‘stars’ that are named.
I’ve briefed the postman that his job will become that bit more demanding over the next couple of weeks. It’s just a matter of waiting now.

Some info/pics re my previous talks at GB here.

My GB 2010 pics here.

An ‘official’ GB pic of me here (typical – the photographer came to our talk, took lots of pics, and this is the one they choose… of me freaking out as Peter had just decided that it would be a clever idea to kiss me for a photo, which made me go bright red, naturally)!

A poet, and I didn't know-it!

PLEASE don’t think that I think that I can write poetry, as I’ve barely ever written any and it’s really not my thing.

But, was dead chuffed that someone has been able to use my ‘Burn’s Night’ poem (reply from the Lassies)…!

I had this comment on this blog just the other day:

Just a line to thank you for putting your ‘Reply from the Lassies’ on-line. I was asked to do it for our Burns Night and was so relieved to find it! I changed it to make it relevant to us—
Once again thanks—you saved me hours of effort
Elsie Smith

and then this one:
thank GOD you posted this… it is the only useful reply from the lassies i could find anywhere. will happily plagerise parts if you don’t mind 🙂
from someone else.

Which now means that of the 2 poems I’ve ever written (well, since primary school)… one was rewarded with a box of pies (hurrah!) and the other was ‘used’ by at least 2 ‘lassies’ at a Burns Night. It’s nice to feel useful!

Don’t worry – have no plans to inflict any more ‘poetry’ on the world… at least, not until I’ve run out of pies…!

being paid in pies!



Yes, my writing career has reached the giddy heights of being… paid in pies. For some writing. A poem, in fact. A pie poem I posted on this blog after tasting some rather heavenly pies at Greenbelt this summer, here.

The pieminister people found it (someone had entered it into their most prestigious poetry competition) included it in their Winter newsletter and rewarded me by sending a box of their fine pies (worth about fifty quid!).

Poetry isn’t really my thing (which you’ll be nodding your head in agreement with if you’ve read the poem in question!) but now I’ve been paid for a poem, even paid in pies, I am going to consider myself a professional poet (as surely when one is paid for their craft they can be considered a professional?!). Or, if not professional… it’s still technically correct to say I am a prize-winning poet. Oh yes.

Have jested with hubbie that although he may be the primary breadwinner of our family… I am now the pie-winner.
(It’s such rib-tickling humour that keeps our marriage alive, I’m sure.)

So, I’m a poet. A pie poet. A pie-ate.
Anyway, the aforementioned pies are now napping in my freezer, waiting to be re-awakened on some future occasion (xmas day breakie perhaps?).
Yum scrum.

Delivery of box of pies piccies here.

Greenbelt Ministry

Greenbelt Ministry
I was ministered to at Greenbelt.
In an unexpected way
I had to queue to get it
Ye highlight of my day

My fellow queuers clearly
Had received such love before
It was painted on their faces;
Eager, smiling… wanting more

I knew I’d made the perfect choice
Joined this queue – this one alone
My happy fate approacheth
Secret fantasies finally known.

Heidi was my pie of choice
Goats cheese and potato sweet
(Pretentious and middle class)
Though Moo and Blue looked fab to eat

And how I loved the taste
Of the pretentious middle-class
It hugged my soul so very tight
My expectations were surpassed.

Lo, the pie was not alone
Yet adorned with a dollop of mash
Not as grim as at school meals
Miles advanced of that trash

To make it even more divine
Gravy was poured on top
Though they had named it ‘groovy’
How very quaint is this shop?

There were no lies abounding
Groovy was at the core
‘Tis why I gave up six pounds fifty
And considered coming back for more

Heidi was now my one true love
(Hubby could have cause for concern
But then he’s never had a Heidi
Not as far as I’ve known)

The pies that they were out of
Were blessed with a little note
‘Gone to pie heaven’
A very groovy quote

It seems they’re Made in Banksy-land
Rather than Hong Kong
Formerly known as Bristol
Where queues are just as long

At the Belt that’s made of Green
A queue is so the norm
If Brits are fairly into queues
It’s for what Greenbelter’s are born

We queue to get in on day one
For talks and music too
We stand and wait, then waiteth some more
We even queue to poo

So if they tried to sell their pies
In lands far far from here
Would people queue up orderly?
Would anarchy appear?

A tiny prick of tears is formed
When one is forced to think
Of worried pies, of Heidi’s cries
With anarchy on the brink

When my body’s all queued out
And numbered are my days
Pie Heaven’s where I’m destined
My ticket is One Way

pieminister (the pie shop’s name)
Will dominate the place
Pies will be free; queues will be gone
Pie smiles on every face

They’ll be no tears nor pain nor fear
Due to pies for all the hours
Clouds made from mash will float on by
And rain down groovy showers

The Lord of the Pies will sort me out
Heidi greet me at the Pie-ly Gate
I will scoff and not grow weary
Munch pies, and not be faint


Please note, this poem is not sponsored by pieminister, and I live at least an hour away from Bristol.
Feel free to view my GB piccies here

Burns Night

Went to a tartan-tastic Burns Night – our first one ever!
My mission was to tackle the ‘Reply from the Lassies’ speech, and here is my attempt.
Writing and delivering it turned out to be far less stressful than determining what to wear (ended up buying a strip of tartan material and making a sash-like thing, which makes me sound like an accomplished seamstress, which is a lie as I used the iron-on hemming stuff that I use for the kids’ school trousers’ hems.)

Reply from the lassies

As I start my speech this evening
I fear that my reply
May cause some consternation
I hope though, no outcry

A man deserves to be rebuked
(A lass is ne’er to blame)
He emailed me with his request
Colin is his name

‘I would be honoured’, so it read
‘If you’d do the ‘Reply”
‘On behalf of Lassies’, so he said
So casual, by the by.

Thus, I swiftly emailed back
To say that would be fine
It’s a shame that I had no idea
Of the stress that would be mine

I’d thought this speech was something quick
that I could find online
And print off, just before I came
And read out, at this time.

Yet only a few days ago
To Google’s aid I turned
He said I had to write my own!
None was supplied by Mr Burns

The ‘reply’ required a lot of thought
It was to be new each time
It wasn’t something he churned out
Not one of his five hundred and fifty-nine

Yikes, I cried – this isn’t right
This is an awful affair
Have they any idea how long it took
Just To work out what to wear?

And glancing back at that webpage
T’was with horror that I saw
That grace and charm and wit were required
Don’t you know me but at all?

When times are dark, and things are hard
T’is hubby whom is my light
Help I yelled – I cannot cope
Ha! He said – now shut up and write.

But so I bravely battled on
Back to Google I turned
My ever present buddy in life
So much from him I have learned.

Reveal, he did, ‘Replies’ of lassies
From Burns nights of the past
Please picture the horror on my face
On reading: 15 minutes it should last.

Don’t panic tho, I quickly thought
That this I’d just dismiss
Fifteen minutes of me, I fear
Is no one’s idea of bliss

And furthermore it was revealed
‘Men’ I must show as fools
Whilst also referring to Rob himself
Tell me – who makes up these rules?

And what to say to show men up
To make them sound less wise?
A man can be a useful thing
No woman will deny…s

They work so hard from dawn to dusk
And still put dinner on the table
And sort the kids and clean the house
Oh… whoops – that’s us lassies that are so able.

But men are… they can help round the house.
When from the TV they’re dragged
And they… can be good company
They’re handy… if you need a good nag.

OK, ok, it’s said in jest
I think men quite alright
Despite conning me into doing this
Or laughing at my plight

And as for Burns that famous Scot
A real one, not just in part
T’was two hundred n fifty years ago he was born (tomorrow)
And a bit later, he did depart

The bit in the middle, it seems to consist
Of flirting and being a tart
But he sought out some time to write lots a stuff down
Which now is considered pure art.

Well, my poem is done; it turned out to be fun
My panic was clearly in vain
But just so I’m clear, if you have one next year,
Please don’t make me do it again

So thanks to you Rich, your speech was quite fab
You were so very frank
On behalf of all the lassies here
I’d like to extend our thanks

Piccies of the evening can be viewed here, if you’re interested!