Dalkeith Country Park By Michael Inman

Upon a cold and bright young morning,
We travelled far with some still yawning,
Out of city and into town,
We arrived to a quiet Dalkeith.
We walked to a place rich in palatial history,
Surrounded by forest filled with mystery.
For they had trees so old civilization seemed young,
Oaks so spanning a thousand years to grow.
The oaks did rise strong to last,
Far from mans axe to make ships mast.
Yet now despite such a problem did grow,
Amongst old branches the birds do so sit,
To wich then disastrously the seed got cast.
With seed came holy now deemed to last,
All taking root so then nothing else could,
Oh pest holy bush growing fast and wild,
You leave no space for our old oak child!
So with this we arrived to change such disaster,
To remove pest holy so oaks future could be had,
With good spirit, pull, mattock and swing ,
Out came the Holly like a unsprung spring,
With one gone followed by another,
Great swathe of Holly came to be no more,
The soils so rich below now freed,
Is perfect for oak now to seed,
With holy bush gone we’ve made new hope,
A millenia of history shall now have future,
We smiled knowing such so glad work was done,
And back we then travelled to the pub for some fun.

Ode to Corstorphine by Michael Inman

Twas once upon a Sunday morning,
When many a student was left yawning.
A seed of adventure and tale was sown
For a sinister twist in the land had grown.
A plant known as salmonberry had taken root
From pasts ornamental a menacing fruit,
Upon old hillock of forest and green
The place I talk of is now costrophine.
The grand old hill is where we went
With tools and mind all hellbent
We’re here to save our old green hill
From the salmonberry’s gotten ill.

We arrived after mornings birdsong,
The journey outwards rather long
And with so we saw our common foe
And with our tools we struck first blow.
The berries were feeble but also wise
For they had roots against their own demise
As much the roots did put up fight
We cut and dug with our own might
Through saw, mattock and so spade
A new begging had been made
And so with this the sun did smile
And made our efforts all worthwhile.

We took a break with food so good
Our life was brought back to our blood
And with so came the second round
To clear that salmonberry hound
We clambered up old Corstorphine
The hillside harsh and rather mean
With tumble and fall we were not rendered
We ploughed on till the berry surrendered
Dusk soon came and day was done
Our battle was now dearly won
So, time for the pub we all so cheered!
For one hillsides well and now all cleared.

Poem by Michael “Miguel” Inman

Fire and Ice by Sarah Coates

Lauriston Hall - Fire and Ice

Cold Stations, Heavy baggage,
warm trains, Conversations.
Dark, sinuous roads,
through hills white and brown.
A juddering bus,
bright starry sky,
frozen earth.

A large house looms in the gloom.
A stately porch, a generous welcome,
Hot soup and bread!
The wood stove crackles,
people chatter.

Upstairs has a chill in the air,
far away from the fire.
A faded smell of smoke and old furniture.
The taps harbour an indescribable odour.

Noses like stone in the frigid room,
limbs quivering in the covers,
chilled to the bone,
groggily dozing, in and out of dreams.

Soft daylight fills the house,
breakfast comforts our tired bodies,
The hearth warms us.
We are ready for work.

We face the bitter morning outside,
we stand, and I watch,
as sparrows dance amongst the ivy.
Our boots crunch the old snow,
as we slide up icy paths in the woods.

The woods give peace,
with sun on snow
and dark gushing burn.
Icicles hang from the banks.

We take station at our tasks.
The briars are tough, but we are tougher,
We dig roots from the
iron-hard ground
and set the thorny stems alight,
smoke curling into the air.

Removing and burning invasive species and Brambles

Others build fences,
fixing important boundaries.
Others clasp and carry firewood,
precious fuel for the fire’s heat.

The birds are with us,
Ravens crowing, kites soaring.
Blue tits singing, Robins scratching,
searching for worms on the newly bare soil.

After the day of work we are rewarded.
A dinner of curries and rice and bread,
in the toasty room with the fairy lights.
Gentle, relaxed company lights the evening,

Many race to the hot coals of the sauna,
seeking refuge in the fiery heat,
Skin sweating and red faces panting.
A plunging descent into frozen waters,
Steam rises off the emerging bodies.

I sought out the refuge of the hearth to sleep by,
drifting off with the sounds of embers and a ticking clock.
Morning brings frost to the window panes,
but a new fire inside.

The work begins again,
under heavy grey skies,
Trees sighing.
The rain comes.
Voracious sheets of water,
Dripping from branches, washing away snow,
our hands become numb.
The bramble fire protests with hissing steam.

We are quick to finish,
trudging down the hill with sodden coats.
The rain eases, revealing the signs of spring.
Snowdrops appear from under the ice,
pretty, white petals flourishing from green stems.

We return to the house for the last time,
stealing scraps of bread before the journey.
We bundle into the steaming bus,
Sad to watch the quirky old house disappear
in the rear view mirror.

Poem by Sarah Coates