Wandering Words

Remains of Elmley Village MLP

Remains of Elmley Village MLP

Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to be commissioned by the Wandering Words project to write about the beautiful Elmley Marshes Nature Reserve. The website is now up and running and can be visited at;


Along with my own thoughts on Elmley there are contributions from other Kent writers who have been exploring everywhere from the remote areas of the Hoo Peninsula to Sheerness High Street.

Wandering Words is a writing project and online platform that is putting the written word on the map in Swale & Medway.

By commissioning new writing about the landscape, architecture, communities and heritage of the area they hope to inspire others to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and share their work too.

You too can get involved, the project is looking for a wide variety of contributions, blogs, poetry, journalism, graphic novels – all are welcome.

Wandering Words is developed, managed and funded by Ideas Test, working in partnership with Rochester Literature Festival.

Later in the year I will be running a short nature writing workshop as part of the Rochester Literature Festival. Visit the Wandering Words website for more details on how to book.

Easter Moon over Elmley

moon rise and marsh harrier at Elmley

moon rise and marsh harrier at Elmley

The Easter moon rose above the marshes of Elmley.

Satsuma orange,

skimming the earth,

pockmarked with craters

It defied superlatives.

“Bloody Amazing,” I said, to no one.

Alone in my car with my thermos of soup.

No posh words to fall from my lips

but a need to say,


To witness

And pay homage to a thing so marvellous.


Carol stayed at Elmley Marshes National Nature Reserve courtesy of the Elmley Conservation Trust. If you would like to stay on the reserve visit http://www.elmleynaturereserve.co.uk/stay


Duelling Marsh Harriers at Elmley

CIRCUS AERUGINOSUSHeaded across to Elmley Marshes this week for the first of my walks for the Wandering Words Project. I took my favourite walk, down the track towards Elmley Village. Spring is really struggling to get underway this year but the track is a little sun trap and here the blackthorn was thick with heavy scented blossom and a chiff chaff, my first of the year, threaded its way through the branches.

I passed the remains of Elmley Village, once a thriving community of 150 people, with a school and a pub called the Globe. The end of the Turkey Cement Works saw the village community dwindle away. Now all that’s left are the remains of the school and a few gravestones.Elmley village

Above the reedbeds, an aerial battle was taking place. Two pairs of marsh harriers caught in a duel, tilting in mid air to somersault onto their backs and stretch a claw at their opponent in a hot spurt of anger, a flash of temper and then a slow batting away on lazy wings across the fringed tops of the reed. Down in the thrash at the base, bearded tits pinged a warning as the predators shadow floated above.

Rabbits skidded in front of me, dashing for burrows as I walked the shoreline of the Swale and climbed Elmley Hill, to enjoy the sweep of the straight as it wound its way around the Isle of Sheppey. I got out my thermos and my little stash of peanut butter oakcakes and lay on my back, head propped on my bag, warming my winter pale skin beneath a rare glimpse of spring sunshine.

Cattle raised their heads as I returned across the grassland, above them a starling murmuration weaved a giant sentence across the sky.

see sky dancing marsh harriers here.

Wandering Words

Remains of Elmley Village MLP

Remains of Elmley Village MLP

Just been commissioned to write about Elmley Marshes in Kent for Wandering Words, a project run by Ideas Test, part of Arts Council England’s, Creative People and Places programme.

Wandering Words is a literary project that aims to make available to the public a website featuring pieces of writing created in response to the landscape, architecture, communities and heritage of Swale and Medway.

I am delighted to be part of the project and also delighted to write about Elmley Marshes. Elmley is somewhere I am bound up with. My friend Gordon was the last RSPB warden on the reserve, he died, age 50, at Kingshill Farmhouse. I can never visit Elmley without thinking of Gordon or Steve Gordon, the estate manager for the Elmley Conservation Trust, who died late last year, also, way too young. But Elmley is not a place of sadness for me, it is a place of great beauty and richness, partly due to the efforts of these two men. It is no hardship at all to have an excuse to visit it more often.

My writing will form part of the Wandering Words website, an online literary map, where people can upload text, audio and video. The aim is to encourage people to write, share and explore writing of all kinds.

Wandering Words will be launched in mid May and is a collaboration with the Rochester Literature Festival which takes place in October.

In the meantime I will be setting my alarm clock for a dawn visit to the reserve as soon as possible to catch the hares performing their spring courtship dance.

view of the Swale from Elmley Hill

view of the Swale from Elmley Hill