B.D.

I’m going to explode. There’s a simmering rage. It’s rising up and ever closer to spilling up and out.

The mountain of hills and volume of small plenty is what this is all about.

I sense walls and fences stand only to be broken. Each panel a temptation to clout.

Leaning forward, I imagine a shattered wall, crumbling and littered with flaking grout.

From the wall windows litter with broken glass, alongside a sagging spout.

I look to the sky and beg, “Why? Why? Why?”. Each word grows from whisper to shout.

I stumble. I fall. No one hears my call. I snigger. I grip the trigger. Should I squeeze?

Yes, yes, God please. Do it. Do it. End it. End it all. Time to say goodbye. Time to go.

But, I take a deep breath. I focus my tired eyes. The black dogs snap at my feet. I throw them a bone.

You are not alone. You are not in company. You are not your own. You are not the company.

Twitches replace stitches. I fiddle less. I flick the pages. Reading makes me feel better.

The books are my escape. The escape is what I need. The last legs. The leg. The finale.

The fear never departs. The delay must stay. Keep it all at arm’s length. Control it.

Never ever give in. The black dogs can’t win. Snap all they want. Never give in.

Hard rain.

Trapped, twisted and descending; landing seemed so far; never ending. Flushed from on high; plummeting from cold beginnings to the warm decks below.

When it rains, it pours. The heavy hard rain begins as a gentle drop here. And a small drop there. Booming on the surface. Shattering outwards. Explosive force on almost microscopic scale. The end of the flow.

Drifting by influence; winds pull and push; tugging at the deluge and its wild rush; and unending battle of elemental force; tectonics in the sky; ending the moment of dry. Neither fast nor slow.

What started out condensed; freezing and crushed together; slid out and fell; spiraling like a dog fight; drifting and shifting; catching every light; warmer now. Hot snow?

The mind’s eye. Cry. Cry. Cry. Bellow out the yell. Roar in pain. Not now. another again. Victor slain. End of the game. Ended flow.

Review: The Big Book…

The Big Book of Literacy Tasks by Nancy Akhaven is targeted for grades K-8. As per the cover, it aims to give teachers 75 activities that are balanced and suitable for students to complete. This reference book is engagingly colourful, well illustrated and concise. It provides instructional plans that can be tailored or differentiated to the need of a teacher.

The book helps teachers to hand off the tasks to the student. It moves very much from, “I” to “You”. The book is well-structured to allow students to be challenged, and reduce teachers from dilly-dallying, which in an era of electronic media and distraction, helps a teacher try to engage a student deeper.

The author Nancy Akhavan, an assistant professor of Educational Leadership draws on her experience and dedication to professional development research to illuminate daily planning. The tasks can be divided into useful everyday skills, weekly practices and a few slightly more complex challenges. They are each applicable to reading circles, workshops or other literacy tasks. The book is loaded with tips, things to look out for and insights to allow English acquisition learners to progress into fully-fledged literacy learners. The author delivers far more than a lengthy book title.

This book offers Guru-like support, with practical advice and encouraging ideas that are easy to drop into the classroom. In a world often flooded by educational text resource, the bright cover with a climbing wall, Akhaven’s guide acted like a beacon for inspiration this week – and shall continue to be picked at until all is imparted and transferred appropriately.

The Big Book of Literacy Tasks by Nancy Akhaven has been published by California’s Corwin Literacy, a sample can be found online here.

Morphogenesis vertigo.

Enclosed at the face;
A covering for all;
A covering in part;
Worn as a disguise;
“I am Batman!”
This one is to amuse.

Industrial melanism in evolution;
From one code of darkness to natural selection;
Pollution and solution across generations;
Soot deposits and sulphur dioxide making way;
But, in better times it did not stay.

The fibre, the gauze, the fitting;
Bringing laughter, applause and teeth-gritting;
The wearer or a surgeon, or that of the patient;
Bedraggled non-conformity latent;
Attitudes infect and vendettas follow;
Collaborate via masking tape bridging the hollow.

A shield used to frighten;
This veil;
The shaped false face;
Fancy dress?
The vizard. The visor.

Bound together, hidden from all;
Abducted and placed up against a wall;
The collector hidden, concealed and camouflaged from sight;
Lovell’s telescope uncloaking the night.

Turing screening the enshrouded Enigma;
Overlooked by figures with their stigma;
How did the cell know what to do?
Sent messages of Morphogenesis vertigo.

Boundaries.

The wall doesn’t keep you inside
nor does it stop you escaping.
The range of the boundary’s grasp sit inside
refusing to ruffle or fold ever slightly like two ever strong shoulders of foundation.
The fences you make prevent you living and pay sacrifice to the freedom out of your longing reach. Barriers change in time and
ruins rise to fall, with temples and churches spilling outwardly, full of prayers for one such deity or another, seeping your skin’s
inward desire to be led and let go,
while forever knowing you carry the
weight of slumping shoulders
bound by boundaries of the mind.

Scale.

It isn’t the panic
that draws you ever closer
within its tumbling realm of vision or that tremble in your loin,
dancing upon the shaking shoulders of sacrifice.
It is the bite that remains forever itching failing to heal and settle,
a ruin which ever leaks over your skin
intoxicating the inward desire
while forever guilty mite weakens
slumping from shoulders
into the abyss.

The Fall Within You

It doesn’t take much to trip and slip when the angry dogs are snapping at your feet. They’ve invited wolves this time and they’re agitated in ways you knew as frequently possible m yet could never escape. They howl and snarl drawing nearer without ever getting close enough to sink their sorrowful rabid fangs into flesh. Their dirgeful salivating pus-filled gums drip oozing brown liquids across the foot of the bed. You feel heavy-hearted panic for a moment. Chapfallen fear.

A white hot cold like steel pressing against your mind’s eye, sliding all senses beyond control, the rage simmers and bubbles threatening to erupt to the heavens above, bringing hell to the day’s gloomy sky. Yet it won’t and can’t. You’re in a mediocre state. The best that can happen is average. The worst is equal to the best. Flailing and flat lining just above terrible but far below lugubrious pleasure. A monotonous gray scale of simply not good enough. The dour silent rage.

You know you can’t escape the wretched day that hasn’t come, but woebegone, you know it is soon to arrive. The fed up walls will fold in and the ground will crumble. You’ll slip, fall, down and tumble. The saturnine strives you had and the live you lived will be gone. The forlorn ashes of the fires burning around you will blow in sepulchral raging winds from north, east, south and west before slamming doleful thunderous bolts of lightning into the parched remains of your skeleton. That morose skeleton itself, fused and beyond mobility. Useless mirthless blue.

Hope knocks at your dejected door but the disconsolate door’s hinges have long dispirited rusted and welded to the wall. The wall has been long-covered by grim vines, rotten downhearted hanging nooses, despondent witch trial posters and fragments of a long forgotten camera obscura lens. The crestfallen wall’s dusted windows each produced Pepper’s ghosts no longer. Their cast down faded glass panes are grimed and moulded beyond shape and figure. Faded features hang weary and low, tangled in slim twine macramé. Downcast melancholy.

Life.

Life is for living; it’s for seeing; it’s for feeling; it’s for playing;

it’s for kicking a football in a field; it’s for stumbling on stones and slipping and breaking some bones;

it’s for smiling; it’s for crying; it’s for…

…missing home; it’s for feeling that tear. That tear building in your eye; and that moment you look at something so stunning, you’re overwhelmed with feelings.

You try to find the words, but the words aren’t there. They’re out there. They’re in here. In your head. But. You just can’t pick them up and place them in the right position.

Life. Life is beautiful. It’s pretty, it’s witty, it’s exciting, it’s frightening…

It’s staring into the abyss and not knowing where you’re going.

When you want to go somewhere, you go somewhere. Having a plan is all fair enough. Having no plan: just as good.

Just live the way you want to live.

There’s only one way of life.

And that’s your own.

Poem and tattoo inspired and influenced by The Levellers and their song One Way
The original recording made at Abuji Cuo in Yunnan (29/7/2021)
Details of Abuji Cuo (29/7/2021)

Live, breathe, hope (Draft #1)

Muck in your eyes, surging cries, looking at then falling skies.

Pain straining your train of thought, hate free world sought, avoiding a day of distraught.

Stress says take a rest, your chest days you’re not your best, can’t even get dressed.

Stumbled upstairs, fairs not so fair for your cares, time to go get some stares.

Off we went, full consent, not worried about the rent, feeling less than elegant.

While I live, I breathe, I hope. Those hospital superheroes got me off a bad slope. Those hospital heroes helped me cope. While I live, I breathe, I hope. Up once again looking down life’s telescope. While I live, I breathe, I hope. Those hospital heroes helped me cope.

Knees a quivering, head all shivering, doctors and nurses delivering.

The news was confusing, my listening cruising and choosing, what it’s using, musing and infusing.

Shook by the broken heart, given a start, by way of observation chart.

Rating the flurry of worry, compared to a filling of slurry, bitter taste exiting in no hurry.

Human resources steadying, off for further readying, yet in a place unsteadying.

While I live, I breathe, I hope. No need to duck, dive and mope. While I live, I breathe, I hope. I cling on to the shipping towrope. While I live, I breathe, I hope. Walking together on every tightrope.

After the manic half hours, the room drained of flowers, friends turned away after hours.

Left with my thoughts, my personal dreadnoughts, gunshots casting lots and lots.

The demon at the foot of the bed, fear felt instead, I could have been brown bread.

Jabbed and prodded until sleep, a peak that weeped in heaped seep, knee-deep in thoughts that go deep.

Slipped in and out of shut eye, thoughts indivisible by, unable to oversimplify.

While I live, I breathe, I hope. Reach out for the good bathroom soap. While I live, I breathe, I hope. Thankful for the stethoscope. While I live, I breathe, I hope. Knowing today is just a kaleidoscope.

Who am I to tell you what to believe?

Who am I to tell you what to believe? When I can’t picture the ideas you conceive. Every day you bend, kneel and pray, but here I am with thoughts hidden in grey.

What do your Gods speak to you? How can you have faith in if it’s true? Do animals and plants have belief? Perhaps they’re all to lucky to avoid grief.

What is wrong? What is right? When does darkness stop and become light? How do the lost become the found? Must it take circumstances so profound?

Who are they to tell you not to believe? They can’t feel the life we’ll all leave. Resurrection, dedication and minds so set. Always believing, no sweat for regret.

The hum of the crowds all drowned out. Knowing how and where, never in doubt. Eyes to the sky, devout until the last. Shadows of worry forever outcast.

Their words, choruses and hymns echo. Through halls, walls, valley calls they grow. How did the lambs find their leader? Must they nod or bow before their reader?

Who are you to tell me what to believe? My mind is free like the air I breathe. I pass with peace but no direction. Each duty comes with no selection.

What I choose I can’t quite grasp. The paths I lead cannot all clasp. The roads I drive cannot all go on. Each lane merges and bends to one.

Destiny and fate call my name. I don’t know the end of this game. How did I get to be so alone? The decisions alone were mine to prone, groan and bemoan.

[scrawled in Kumbum Monastery, Xining, Qinghai on 19th July 2021]

Ride forever.

I once knew a man on bicycle who could ride forever.

He’d ride into sun, storms and every kind of weather.

A puncture one day hit and tested him.

He found himself lacking the spring and vim.

Ride on. Ride hard to a fashion. Ride forever. Ride with relentless passion.

By the roadside, he tolled and slipped into woah.

Up he got, took a moment and dreamed of the roads he rode.

His wheels could feel the steel of his hand.

As he screamed and crammed the bike back onto the land.

Ride on. Ride hard to a fashion. Ride forever. Ride with relentless passion.

But he got himself taped up and back all together.

Out he headed off back into the ferocious weather.

His seat squeaked its old crumpled leather.

It whistled along the thick purple heather.

Ride on. Ride hard to a fashion. Ride forever. Ride with relentless passion.

The ride outside is a long old road.

But when all is truly told:

The wheels of the soul spin over and over again.

All along the plain the eyes focusing on the main campaign.

Ride on. Ride hard to a fashion. Ride forever. Ride with relentless passion.

Riding out far, hands over bar, music in his ears:

Waving away notions of his fears and tears.

Gears into set, helmet into position and off he flew into transition.

The clothes hemmed his angular position as he set forth his mission.

Ride on. Ride hard to a fashion. Ride forever. Ride with relentless passion.

Bitter taste.

Some things were not made to be enjoyed;

The bitter tastes they leave on the palette;

The framed emptiness they draw not toyed:

The forceful thump of Thor’s mighty mallet.

Ever cringing nails on the dusty blackboard;

Piping rumbling ghostly marching skeleton bands;

Darkest nightmares suffered and explored;

Murky creatures move through dense moist wetlands.

When hope and love do not arrive on your booking;

be sure to recall that time of overlooking;

a subordinate word at the theatre of the absurd;

for entitlement to a smooth passage is unheard.

Grasping doubt.

Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t.

I wish I could but I feel I couldn’t.

I look deeply into my dreams.

They all don’t seem what they seems.

Parts of the perfection have no direction.

Each and every ambition is littered with defection.

So, I sit back, relax and just float along.

Knowing the words and tunes but making not one song.

My actions, my words don’t let me show it.

There’s music in my soul I know it.

Doubt bites at me, it knifed into my soul.

Black dog edging, tearing away at my lifelong goal.

So, what’s stopping has stopped the beginning.

My head is no longer a fit place for winning.

Stop.

Carry on?

Fly Like a Bird of Prey.

Do you recall Kim? Before her Evangelia. Wasn’t there a Jayne too? Nikki wasn’t too quickly. Shirley not? Wendy house? Didn’t you once meet unrequited love? You said you wouldn’t carry on or try again. But, you did! And, who now? Who do you fancy? Is it that Nancy? Or Daisy who drives you crazy? Or Spring, Summer or Autumn? The seasons of choice? Dance with your dreams.

Do you remember that Karst mountain? It rise from the ground like a camel’s hump. You said to yourself it was the most beautiful mountain you’d ever seen. And then you set eyes on Everest. Then Ama Dablam. Then Annapurna one, two and three. Fishtail Mountain. Snowden again and again. Always Winter Hill, but forever dreams of new peaks unseen.

You said you wouldn’t read after Jon Ronson. Wasn’t Jurassic Park the book to end all books? Then Airframe, the Animals of Farthing Wood should. The Jack Reacher series could. Ian Fleming gave you the spy that ended all spies. Pages of love, lies and cries. Yet, you close your eyes and there’s no disguise. Your bookmark never hides.

Back in the day wasn’t Ghostbusters always your favourite? Gremlins and Goonies, two you’d never forget. Watching Jaws, again, without regret! 007 live and let. Leslie Neilson going on and on, I bet. Movies like Gemini Man and iRobot to watch once – no fret. The minds eye full of Skynet.

Things are said one day. Things come and go away. With each passing birthday I say, never betray your display of child’s play. Each day we find a way to convey the driveway of life. Hooray! The outlay does not outweigh what we repay on our stairway to our breakaway. Fly like a bird of prey.

Written in January 2020, in Nepal, on a notepad. Before COVID-19 became annoying.

Refresh.

Craning my neck: stooped harshly.

Deep inside the bowl: placed hands partially.

Turning the pressure to flow: seeking coolness.

In my Chinese house: undrinkable cruelness.

The water here: causing neshness.

Flowing slow water in Manchester: enhanced freshness.

Upstairs at the bathroom: Broom Avenue childhood.

Drinking fast to slow: glug, glug, should, would and could.

Cooler than air, fresher than fair: my share.

After teeth, before sleep: my answered prayer.

I miss that tap: we were raised together.

The tap of life: water from Lake District weather.

Night rider.

The leap of faith: a frog darting between wheels.

The ray of light: shining beams and how it feels.

The foot on pedals: energetic pulsing engines pumping like pistons.

The gripped handlebars: spinning cogs unheard for all who listens.

The rush through dark: air rippling over and under.

The night time cycle ride: a wonder of a wander.

Darkness enveloping: hot air strangling the pathways.

The slick of the wheels: gliding along, down and up every raise.

Trees looking on: witnesses of the rider in the night.

Snakes hiding away: not their chosen spectacles of sight.

Cool air nowhere to be seen: the slick ride of the bicycle abound.

Night rider: over ground, uncrowned and without a sound.

Treasure!

Treasure! Treasure, I tell you! Jewels of the ocean sent over seas and up the river! Landed to me! Inspirational treasure! Oh, how delighted I am! For my gold, has such value untold. The treasure is the warmth of thoughts shared. To be unforgettable. To dream the unknown future foretold. Tell me dreams. Are you with me? Are you for me? Oh, your unforgettable embrace. My heaven. My dream. One day, I hope you shall return. Until then, I have my treasure. The greatest treasure, however, is your heart and soul. My memories. You are the treasure I seek.

Low pulse.

Veins showing boldly, ice flowing through coldly.

The swagger has gone, the light has not shone.

Stone replaces the many beats, without the need for feats.

The temperature rose, now nobody knows.

Beasts chose this path, giving no laugh.

I’m wearing a hollow crown, high over the frown.

Darkness swallows me whole, emptying up my soul.

Growling tormented screams, ending all dreams.

No rose without thorns, these days free of dawns.

Eternally sweltering heat, sleep patterns less neat.

Lonely bedspread of solitude, world emptying seclude.

Where is hope today? It’s gone so far away.

Checking out. Sean Lock R.I.P.

Memories of you.

Remember this too.

Farewell and adieu.

It may be time to go.

How will the remember you?

This only they can know.

So, for me and for thee.

Thy words and actions be.

What you want them to see.

Live as you are free.

Without fear be the true me.

It’s your life to cast wide.

The sands of time’s tide.

Enjoy the rhythm, enjoy the ride.

Live it up and full of pride.

There’s only way to buzz your own buzz.

There’s only way of life (and that’s your own).

You need to be true to yourself.

Live hard, live well and in good health.

Buzz loud like a bee.

Today will be yesterday tomorrow.

Leave behind not one sorrow.

Regret nothing and win love.

The game of life is as a dove.

A symbol of peace flying on high.

When I go, do not cry.

For I have lived, and given it all.

To this day and every call.

Though you passed on and gone.

I spotted you as you shone.

You danced, sang and gave clout to your shout.

Your light never goes out.

Condolences to the family and friends of Sean Lock, British comedian, writer and TV star. Ever since seeing 15 Storeys High starring writer Sean Lock with actor Benedict Wong, I’ve been hooked on this charming word-loving comic genius. His panel show appearances, stand-up comedy and writing for other top-notch acts will be missed.

Sean Lock (22nd April 1963 – 16th August 2021)

Caterpillar tracks.

Creating from destruction;
removing from construction;
stripping away from old walls to create new ones;
shredding parts to create hearts;
the caterpillars may be very hungry, but the leaves no longer are.

Actively inactive, sessile rhythms;
Emerging from darkness into light;
Gone are many legs, now wings to fly high;
Dietary changes, decreased yet increased ranges;
Seek food, partnership, courtship and repeat.

In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf. Hope.

TWIS#1: Back to School

What a wonderful place to be.
What an excellent team to see.
The beginning of another school year.
Facing it without any fear.
Confident in the team founding.
Faithful to the conditions surrounding.
The seasons and reasons full of hope.
To the next climb we have our rope.
Up the mountain and down the hill.
Great days we have to fill.
To the team, teachers, staff and all:
Let’s go have ourself a ball!

Thank you for these days.
May every moment be full of rays.
We’re going to change many a mind.
New roads we can find.
Values and morals we can teach.
Making new avenues in reach.
Guiding one another with the other.
Father, sister, friends, mother and brother.
The family are invited together.
This new week brings bright weather.
Thank you all for sharing all you know.
You’re the community I want to grow.

Spirits on the leaves

Look. Look closer. Amongst the undergrowth. Spotted it? Felt the life within? Can you sense the kingdom of plants?

Shapes cast shadows across the nearby wall. The silhouette is as broad as it is tall. Light flickers its forms to reform, deform and sojourn without call. Edges of leaves curve up and over like a ball. Some so thin and long they hang and fall.

Some plants tower. Others hide and cower. Some they flower. The plant pots here are full of colour. Each colour deep in power. Life-giving health abound this ground. Giving Earth another hour. Shaking with every rain shower. Under threat of no mower.

Fragrant flavours emit to air. Their treasure chest they do bare. Each plant at war together but living side by side as if fair. They share the same soil. Some dare to have green hair. Some tuck away in a tiny lair. Some dominate their fair share.

Rustling with every breath of the breeze, gently tap tap tapping, dancing like fleas. Wishing-washing and zipping around, on the platform above the ground. The scaffolding climbing frame with a green game. The same tame with toxins that maim. A plant is not always a friend.

Tasting the saps and sucking out all the moisture, bugs creep and crawl, feeding on it all. Worms wriggle and jiggle, deep in the soil, without a giggle. They all feed and breed and distribute many a seed. Some die and what not. They rot. Their end of time slot.

HEAR THE RUSTLING! The pitter patter of drops of rain bouncing on each leaf. The scraping and brushing if bending stalks and branches side by side. The air expands Nd contracts. It moves between each plant without care. It lifts a leaf here, and drops one there.

The kingdom of the plants. Come visit us. Watch out for the ants! Bring out your best buzz!

Transference.

Is it guilt biting away inside my gut? Am I but a projection of unfinished business? I wander far and wide searching but seldom finding. I stumble. I fall. I get up again. I dream by night. I dream by day. I dream to find that elusive other way.

Do I know the answers are deep in side me? Do they hide behind a cloud of misjudgment? Are they tucked under a rock of class hope? How do I drill down into the well of dreams? I so very much want to mine them.

Hope arrived on a wind of change. As soon as it came, it departed. In the blink of an eye the Universe unravelled and left me praying for more. I know it will come, yet insecurity claws away at my dearest hope. Did I let my guard down too soon? Would it be better to burrow down into the cold earth and hide my heart?

Yet the moon rises after sunset, and the sun rises the next day. Sometimes the moon sneaks into daylight. There’s rarely a day without one or the other. One as a heart. The other as a mind. Both giving energy. Both giving freshness to the day. The winds of change and the light of belief.

Here I stand. You’re out there. I know it. You know it. We both want it. We both need it. It beats from hearts into the air and through all it passes. The message is clear. Have not one fear, for you and I are here, my dear.

Always hope.

Mobility.

I turned my lights off to love and you found the switch.

I closed the door to my heart and you found a key.

I abandoned love’s hope on and an island and sailed away. You brought it back to me.

I gave up on wanting a family, for fear of hurt and pain. I pushed away advances. I drove away desire. I kicked out at compliments, flicking them away into the darkness. Until I met you.

Everything will happen spontaneously, that is our heart guiding. I know because your heart spoke to mine.

I know not all can be certain, but I am certain. I feel certain. I know it. It can be. It should be. Connect with me. See what I see. Feel what I feel. Taste the sweetness and long to listen to the beats of our hearts. Beating. Beating fast as one. Beating as our smiles beam brightest. Beat with me. Beat on and on.

The future can be anything we write. Together with our pens and our pencils and our hearts.

I won’t tie you down. I won’t make you change. We can find a balance. If we are to be.

Be the butterfly, free to land in a hand. The hand not clasped. Free to fly. Free time stay. Free to be together. Free to be apart. Endlessly together, somehow, somewhere.

The sky is sending you my hugs. On the breeze. The wind gently blows our words to and from our ears.

Our circles, where family is not present, can be filled. Ain’t that the truth? Friends and hearts as gap fillers, ever reliable.

Thank you for opening, thank you for telling me your heart, thank you for everything you have done for me. Thank you for finding my hope.

Until we meet again, every night I will turn off the moon and dream sweetly.

I feel you.

Never let go.

How can a heart feel so overwhelmed? So deeply touched with hope?

In place of sorrow, fear or worry, a seismic flow of energy erupts.

The sensitivity and lust for such a deep connection is equal to the need for the air.

Mountains, rivers, lakes and fields may divide our being, yet two hearts are beating in synchronicity.

The stars pass overhead casting light down on memories yet to be made.

Don’t look to the past for living; don’t give worry to the future.

We’re here. We are here. Here we are. Here. We.

Poseidon

Deep diving into the depth of discovery;

She has shaken the Earth to my recovery.

Bringing connections irrespective of time and space;

Striking springs of watery emotion to rise up to this new place.

Tomorrow comes to take me away I fear;

One twelfth of Olympians of ancient time are right here.

All hope of blank canvases to accommodate more;

Gave me the feeling I want something unlike before.

Storms, horses, earthquakes and the sea;

These things could not move you from me.

Here is your Mount Olympus you dream of diving;

Well wishers walk by you, some are driving.

Wherever your path leads, I won’t forget you;

Whatever you do, keep diving, and stay true to you, deep down in the deep blue.

Stage IX: Dali (and the mysterious Aubergine)

你好!Nihao! Hello!

Salvador Dali has nothing to do with the Yunnan city of Dàlǐ (大理). The draw to Dali has been the art district, cycling, the coffee and cafe culture and my friend Echo. Also, wherever I’ve been in China, everyone mentions the comfortable weather of Yunnan.

Echo or Eck published a poetry little picture book recently. She’s made her nomadic home in Dali. Here she’s honing her artistic talent, existing comfortably and living happily. I dropped by (via Guiyang and Kunming) from Chengdu, Sichuan province to say hello. I told Echo I’d arrive on Sunday but Saturday afternoon, walking by the Terra coffee shop seemed as good a time as any. Yunnan is great for growing coffee and Dali has no shortage of coffee shops.

A good old chinwag and catch up preceded a walk through the ginnels of Dali’s ancient old town to a door in a wall. The door was open and smooth tempting beats were gently rolling out. Ducking below the low entrance, an Old-styled yard with greenery and tables greeted us. Echo’s friend (or should I say complication?) Yali and his brother were serving up delicious pizzas. The pomegranate tree nodded towards the range of locally-produced liquors. Here Echo introduced me to Myrtle Bee, a girl named QiéZi (茄子 or eggplant/aubergine). There were several others but my recollection for names had by now been overwhelmed.

Meanwhile my mouth had been delighted by a cream cheese and tomato pizza, followed by a further shared pizza with zucchini and deliciousness on top. The pesto dip was a smart move. A side salad featured a baked cheese and rocket lettuce. It was a bit too salty for my pallet, but overall very tasty. The funky beats faded and a disappointing bar called King Cat followed. The music wasn’t my cup of tea, but it saved wading through deep puddles and high-bouncing rain. After a later than expected hour, I arrived back to the Jade Emu China Australia International Youth Hostel, only to find my swipe card to enter didn’t work. The matter resolved itself and I slipped off into dreamland.

I didn’t need a sign for Cāngshān (苍山). The imposing green and cloud-kissed range of peaks. The Didi taxi driver from Dali railway station to the hostel had given ample chance to view the waving weaving green peaks. So, with a late rise and a belly full of good food, I set out for a waterfall recommended by a friend. On passing a set of small waterfalls, I headed up a track made by goats or sheep or possibly very narrow humans. The steep track disappeared and I soon found myself jutting between soft earth, trees and huge fluffy plants. By which stage I’d reached a ridge, with a very confuddled water turbine worker, who then directed me up a hidden pathway towards the top ridge. It was a tough but pleasant trail.

The undergrowth swept away to reveal a near-hidden valley tucked between two mountain ridge lines. I wandered down, dipped my feet, watched the butterflies and listened to the idyllic birdsong. One can definitely relax when clouds cuddle the mountains above, and gentle breezes softly drift around your chest whilst your feet are in chilly flowing waters.

Once again Busa called for dinner. Their second opening night led me to catch up once again with Echo, her Yali and other friends. The waitress Hazel, from Changde, took an interest in the book I was reading. A few days later, the tatty and soggy paper back was left for her to read. Echo’s friend QiéZi invited herself to my next walk the following day. Cāngshān (苍山) once again would be the wandering space.

With little barefooted QiéZi (who is no taller than 155cm), we set out towards the Cloud Jade pathway of Cāngshān. Passing the chair lift to our left, then our right, then left again we ascended. Stopping for Pu’er tea, a coffee and a snack at a park Police point seemed reasonably normal. The local boss had her grandson playing with leaves as she served a refreshing brew to us both. We left behind the options of hospitality and wandered paths here, there and everywhere. My pigeon Chinese and a relaxed mood made the afternoon to evening a satisfying and contented ramble.

By about 8pm, after almost eight hours of moving forwards, we descended through dark shadows and paths more at home in the deepest darkest parts of JRR Tolkien novels. Emerging from utter darkness, with only the company of fireflies, seemed to take a while but the adventure was nevertheless a great day out!

The next day (which is today, now) I decided this town needs a little more of my presence. I decided for the remainder of the holiday that I’d be here or there, but not so far from Dali. Why not? A place that puts a smile on your face and opens you to the nature around it, isn’t all bad! Ian Fleming penned some of his books in his Jamaican home of Goldeneye. Perhaps a few days in Dali and I may have found my Goldeneye.

However, a few hours later, I changed my mind. Have shoes, will walk. I will keep looking for answers and smiles.

Zai Jian! 再见!Goodbye!