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Saturday, December 6, 2008


For Writers Island 9 - If Only
Matinee Muse - Self Actualization


A quarter century ago
I was coming out of my teens
That period between leaving school
And entering adulthood

A time when all is possible
Nothing can’t be done…it seems

I was with a group of friends
On one of our, now legendary
Camping expeditions to France
Pas-de-Calais; Berck-sur-mer

A long stretch of beach forms the coastline
‘La Manche; - English Channel, laps its shores
It still bore the scars and relics
Of a planet torn by war

Decaying, concrete bunkers
And rusty coils of barbed wire
Littered the sands, to remind us
Of World War Two, our fathers fought

A friend and I, decide to walk
To Le Touquet, just for fun
Or perhaps personal achievement
It seemed like a good idea

We’d bought a map, on arrival
Sat down, planned our strategy
Gone over it, in fine detail
Before announcing our intention

“Six kilometres, en francais
That’s about four miles in English
Ninety minutes, at the most
E.T.A. – just before midday
We’ll stretch out on the beach awhile
Take lunch in a café on the sands
Drink a toast to doubting friends
Watch the world go by, and smile”

“Send us a postcard,” joked our pals

They weren’t too far off the mark

Six hours later, we arrived
At pure white sands of Le Touquet
We’d had to trudge through sand so soft
It reached our knees, sometimes our thighs
Nothing on the map to warn us
By this time, we were exhausted

Under different circumstances
This location would have conjured up
Images of Art Deco toffs
Flown in from England in their bi-planes
With fully loaded picnic hampers
And overloaded butlers
But all that we could think about
Was where to find food and drink
Then board the next bus back to Berck

And that’s exactly what we did

No great adventure to relate
To fellow campers at the site
Of course they later found out all
The details of our mis-adventure
Much to their collective amusement

They still laugh about it today

In hindsight though, I’d say, honestly
It was one of the dumbest, and yet
One of the most memorable
Episodes of that holiday
It taught me two valuable lessons
I carry with me to this day

The first; whatever you attempt
And however well you prepare
The unexpected always lurks
To wreak havoc on your endeavours

Second; if you ever plan
Something off the beaten track
Take a friend along for the ride
(Embarrassment shared, therefore halved
And others’ struggles dilute your own)
A back-up, to confirm accounts
Details enhanced over years
Omissions brought about through shame
Or purely to colour the greys
Lost, or confused in the mists of time


  1. Ahh, but (mis)adventures like that are the stuff memories are made of.

    Very nicely done.

  2. Oh, I loved this...especially the last two stanzas! Wiser words have never been written. Thank you for sharing your experience... :~)

  3. Thanks to:
    Robin; I probably learnt more that day than I did in 14 years of school.
    Fledgling Poet; So long ago, but still so vivid a memory.

  4. what would life be without the unexpected misfortune that turns out to be a blessing in disguise......

  5. The story and the lessons were well worth the read. Shared laughter can be the most healing element and the one which locks in the memory.


  6. Thanks to:
    Paisley; No pain, no gain - I suppose.
    Elizabeth; Stay positive - works for me.

  7. It's amazing how the memory recalls these things, all that war junk is still out there, there's one place we went on the Normandy coast where the landing craft are still on the beach. It's been left there as a reminder of what happened.
    Good story!

  8. First time was '81 (27 years ago) - I bet it hasn't changed much.