Eclipse on Dartmoor

Snake of cars, stopping, waiting, thinking –
snake of cars crawling away, laden, crying…

The tors look like crowns in monochrome –
and people set like jewels.

Moving through ferns and old stones
we find a quiet place.
Morning moths rise fluttering from my feet
like single white confetti floating
to rest on green.
Tiny yellow star-flowers with
wetness clinging to Emmaus boots make
Heaven in a wild flower.

Ponies nudging – flicking – whinnying –
staying close together.
Wind furrows ferns like neck hairs under pony tails
and a flat stone waits.
Coolness growing – a patch of warmth to lean on.

Bleating and barking – single sounds on the wind.
People-watching people on the third watch
like small children wanting to get to the top – then
looking all around, staying perfectly alert to everything
– not missing a thing.  Midnight at Christmas.

Darkness descending frame by frame over
an apprehension
of what will be a new day.
Twice in six hours.

Quiet joy to be content
to look ahead
and to deny the urge to rove.
I watch the bewildered foal take milk,
and curl around my knees to
feel the moorland blur into night.




Eileen Walke

Le Corsaire, April 2011

“Y’know Mum, I love Chow very much.”

The Pirate and the Submariner.

Depths and heights…

Planning a garden, running to Big Ben and back
and bidding me
“Go home – you must bring him home.”

East Dulwich walk. “But will they
let me keep him at home if he’s dying?”

Mapping the sailing ahead
from Peckham to Plymouth to Oldham
and to Infinity.
A ship of the realm, a sextant,
stars, the lanyard, sail, rigging…
The Old Ships – the anchors.





Eileen Walke

December 17th 2016


And off we all went to Charlie and Julie’s wedding in Plymouth.

Eric fell in love with the bride as soon as he saw her in her bridal gown – and the more he looked, the deeper he fell. I think it was mutual …

After the moving ceremony we all met to eat, drink and be merry in China Fleet hostelry up the Tamar. It was so interesting to have the echo of China Fleet in the celebrations, because it brought John, Charlie’s dad, right in there amongst us. John’s father, Marcus Mathews worked in the far east for over forty years for the Hong Kong and Chinese Bank and I feel sure he must have known the Hong Kong China Fleet very well because it was this bank that helped set it up and keep it alive as a shelter for the Navy’s China fleet. So John, Marcus and Doris were very much with me in that place.

The pirate theme for each table, with it’s ‘Aaarghs’ and ‘Aaarghs’ kept Charlie’s brother Dom, (who died in 2011), close to us too and no doubt he was thoroughly enjoying the way Chris (Charlie’s son) handled his Master of Ceremonies role.

Chris’ sister Laura, with little Amelie, Charlie and Julie’s granddaughter, formed a circle of love around the happy couple, with Laura’s partner, Luke, alongside.


And the bride. Well, you took my breath away Julie! I’ve seen you now at several family weddings and you always look special – but on this day, your day, you looked spectacular. Happiness flowed through you and out of you to each one of us. It warms my heart to think my beloved son could make you so happy and I understand it completely. You’ve shared in our family joys and griefs for a long time now and I want to thank you for your love and generosity.  I often think of the glass of white wine you put in front of me at Dom’s funeral and how you knew I needed it. You’ve helped my precious husband John making bouquets and buttonholes for hours for family weddings. Your bouquet and buttonholes were wonderful and beyond that, the exquisite care and detail you devoted to your guests at the tables was evidence again of all the lovely things you are. We love you very much Julie and you bring  love and beauty to our family. Thank you.

And the groom. Charlie – or by his family nickname, Chow – my beloved son, so deeply in love and full of gratitude. You’ll be wondering why we call him Chow. It all stems from when Maria, his little sister, grew to know her newborn brother and called him ‘Dow’ – the nearest she could manage for ‘Charles’. So over the months and years ‘Dow’ developed into ‘Chow’ and other big and small people followed suit. He was a quiet and thoughtful child. He took his time with learning to speak but inwardly digested all the words his sister gave him as she ruled the airwaves in her curiosity about the world. Those of you who know him will recognise his capacity for thought before he speaks – and how what he says is careful and meaningful. I know you worked so hard for the wedding to be such a happy day Chow and I recognised how overwhelming you found the depth of love from your families and friends. Be happy always and we love you very much.




I don’t remember being at a wedding in Advent before and in that holy season of quiet and waiting for love to be born again on earth, we all shared in a glimpse of its glory at your wedding. May your married life be blessed and may you both find joy in the quiet times and the small things of life together.