Author name: AllisonHill

The Lies and Foes of the Election

A poem all about the entertaining highs and lows of the 2024 UK election.

Rishi pronounced all drenched in rain,
Our chance to vote had come round again.
With six weeks ahead of electoral fun,
Those empty promises could run and run.

Lots to See in Sri Lanka

Visiting Sri Lanka, I enjoyed seeing wonderful wildlife and some truly amazing iconic temples.

It had never occurred to me to visit Sri Lanka until one of my wildlife watching mates suggested it. Until then, I just knew Sri Lanka was once called Ceylon and is famous for tea. Not that I drink tea. After a trip there in October, I can tell you it is well worth a visit – both for wildlife viewing and cultural sightseeing.

Wildlife in Wilpattu

There are several national parks and other viewing spots in Sri Lanka. The largest park is Wilpattu, which is where we went. Wilpattu is famous for sloth bears and leopards – which are always described as ‘elusive’ just in case you don’t see them. Luckily we did. 

On our first day, we saw a sloth bear avidly digging into a termite mound and gleefully sucking up its contents. It was our only sighting of a sloth bear, but a truly memorable one. He wasn’t remotely perturbed by our presence, so we stayed for a while. A great opportunity to put my new camera to its test. It passed.

A Magpie Muses

A poem from the point of view of the only magpie living in Shetland 

Gannets and guillemots throng in their thousands,
Screeching and squawking across the cliffs,
While from the rocky ledge below,
Puffins gently rise and float free.

Face Facts

A poem about animal sentience and how we can understand chimpanzees’ facial signals

Since we descended from great apes,

Their gestures form familiar shapes,

We can tell if a chimp seeks some food,

Wants to groom or is in the mood.

Reading the signs upon their face,

Comes from our shared genetic space.

Calling animals dumb is simply unfair,

We know they can think and share and care,

They have their own sets of social rules,

And some can even work with tools.

They’re much better than us in many ways,

While we risk causing a nuclear haze.

We weren’t the creators of conversation, 

So, let’s master the art of conservation.

Memories of Madikwe

After a four-year gap, going on safari again was a real treat. I’m very lucky to have seen the Big Five a few times, so these days I like to choose a destination where I’m likely to see something new. This time my target was wild dogs, or painted wolves. For this I selected Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, to be followed by a week’s holiday Cape Town. 

Madikwe is Northwest of Johannesburg, near the Botswana Border. I set off in early February with good friend and travelling buddy, Bernie, and (most important of all) my camera gear. We flew overnight to Johannesburg, then were taken on a five-hour drive to the reserve. It was lovely to be back in SA seeing the familiar and expansive countryside.

Despite the long journey and absence of sleep on the flight (thanks to BA’s ridiculous rationing of space in Economy), we couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a game drive on arrival. We saw lots – but no wild dogs.