In the bleak mid winter


ChurchSnowy adventures in guerilla poetry today, this time in Essex. Initially slightly irked that we were visiting a church on my only day off from Church, I was soon taken with the little Log Church at Greensted, otherwise known as Greensted Church or St.Andrew's, it's the oldest wooden church in the world and the oldest standing wooden building in Europe ( . Somehow during our journey from Hackney we missed the snow falling in Essex and then whilst in Essex missed the considerable snow fall we found on returning home. On entering the church we were met by three friendly fellows sheltering from the snow and fully equipped with sarnies and flask of coffee and as is so often the case in Essex, we discovered that we shared knowledege of Hackney at various seasons of its life. We then went on a walk in the cold white landscape, all made very bright and beautiful by the frozen crystals lying all around.

A field of geese was a real treat as were the blue black sloes whose taste had been tamed by the frost.

Too cold to write poetry in these places, so exhilarating walk over, we went to Ashlings Farm where warmed by soup and the festive cheer of parties having their Christmas lunches we found some inspiration and the results are below.


Cold sun shines on a low white landSloes

The snow sparkling with shreds of ice.


On bushes stripped of leaves

Bright berries still shine


I taste the bitterness, but also,

In frost-chaffed flesh, a surprising sweetness.


In a church older than I can imagine,

Dark and warm with ancient wood,


We talk with three men and a Methodist

Finding respite from sudden cold.


May I taste here the sweetness in the bitterness

The warmth in the cold, the beauty in the dying.

by James Ashdown

Ancient Oaks

Ancient oaks and swollen sloesGeese

bedecked in sparkling white

the gentle sun and frozen earth

add beauty to the scene


Midst winter barns and trampolines

the ancient spire stands clear

a homely place, with Hackney crew

warm coffee, Christmas cheer


Honey, tea towels, local jams

please buy them while you're here

and come and join us if you can

the manchild is due near

By Lucyann Ashdown