Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Sunday, 28 February 2010

SPATE. The Story of My Lucky Escape from The River Swale

The recent bad weather in western europe gave rise to a death in a North Yorks river. For those unfamiliar with these Pennine fed streams and rivers, following heavy rain, the water levels can rise dramatically within the space of a few minutes as I know only too well.

It was, I suppose, about 1960. I must have been about thirteen and my brother, Trevor, was ten. We’d spent part of Saturday evening, over the road from our bungalow, digging for earthworms in a drainage ditch, in readiness for the next day’s fishing. It was a familiar pattern for two fishing crazy boys who spent every weekend they could, fishing, either the small beck that ran through Catterick army garrison or the river Swale at Richmond in Yorkshire.
The fishing craze had started two years earlier, when Trevor arrived home with a ridiculously small trout caught in the beck. Soon, I too was caught up in the lure of angling and days of kicking a football from dawn till dusk, gave way to the more leisurely pursuit of walking river banks and stalking fish. Christmas and birthday presents consisted of fishing tackle, rather than Dinky Toys, and our reading changed from ‘Roy of the Rovers’ to ‘Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing’ and the Angling Times.
Next morning, soon after dawn, with our parents still fast asleep, we made our way to the bus stop, full of youthful anticipation of the day ahead. It had rained, quite heavily, the night before and our talk was of our hopes that this would have muddied the water and improved our chances of a catch. Puddles were everywhere on the ground and the menacing, leaden skies contained only the odd blue patch, giving little hope of better weather. Dark fluffy clouds scudded before the cool and stiff, easterly March wind and we were appropriately dressed in warm woollen jumpers.

By the time we alighted from the bus at Richmond station, we had decided to fish upstream at the waterfall, always a favourite because below the falls, the water ran into some deep pools. The Swale was once considered one of the fastest rivers in England, draining water from the Pennines via Swaledale; a land so beautiful with its rolling hills and dry stone walls, that, although I’m a Lancastrian by birth, I consider it my true home.
As we started across the fields on the southern bank, we passed in front of Richmond School Yorkshire, in those days, a boy’s only grammar school; a splendid old seat of learning. I spent many a Latin lesson, learning why ‘Brutus Roman ivit ut Caesarem videret,’ and gazing out of the large windows overlooking the river, daydreaming of catching the ‘big one’. I learnt to play rugby and cricket there, being briefly famous for being able to bowl a fierce leg break like Shane Warne, twenty years earlier than the Australian legend.
As we approached the falls we were relieved to find no other anglers in sight and set up our simple tackle, consisting of bamboo rod and spinning reel. Threading the line through the eye of the hook was difficult; our cold and excited fingers shaking with growing anticipation; eager to get our lines in the water.
We fished with a floated worm, hoping to lure a dace, a grayling or a chub; perhaps a trout, if we were lucky. We began by fishing immediately below the falls, trotting our worm downstream towards the shallows, the water still too clear to help with our deception.
After a fruitless half hour I said to Trevor that I was going onto the falls and would fish the pool from above. Beneath the famous Norman castle, the falls at Richmond are beautiful, fifteen to twenty feet high and perhaps, fifty or more yards wide. When the water level is low, as it was when we started fishing, the river stream passes over the falls on the lowest parts and it was possible, by jumping the water courses, to cross over to the far bank with dry feet, especially in my Wellington boots.
Happily, despite the lack of bites, I stood on the top of the falls and fished downstream from my lofty perch, while Trevor, also fishless, continued from the bank.
As each pool yielded no fish, I moved towards the centre of the falls where I became aware that the river conditions were changing. Slowly at first, but becoming more apparent with every passing second, I noticed that the river level was rising around me so that I had to move my tackle bag away from the encroaching water. Trevor shouted out a warning, but I was, by then, stranded on higher, dry ground, cut off from both banks by the increasingly rapid torrent. I hadn’t started to panic, as I thought all would yet be well, if only the river would stop rising.
I began to feel foolish. I knew it had rained heavily the night before and I was experienced enough to know how the river behaved and should have anticipated this happening. All the Yorkshire Rivers that run off the Pennines into the North Sea are susceptible to often fatal, rapid rises in water level. If I was feeling foolish, the fish had made no mistake and had already taken refuge, oblivious to all our attempts to persuade them to feed on our bait.
My ‘island’ of dry ground was now, beginning to disappear as the water deepened and quickened all around me. The noise was beginning to hit me; from the gentle tinkling sound of trickling water to the outright roar, reaching a crescendo, such as you hear at all the famous big falls of the world. The water was encroaching quickly and soon lapped at my Wellingtons and started rising up my legs. Then the water was over the rims of my boots, rising ever faster. It is strange, but as adrenaline flooded through my blood, I didn’t register the intense cold of the water. Fear began to overwhelm my other senses as I looked upstream and saw the huge volume of water heading my way, bearing down on me like the Severn Bore. I briefly saw Trevor watching from the bank, helpless, and I turned to my own well being, clutching my tackle bag and rod as if my very life depended on it. In a few seconds, as the water reached my waist, I could feel my feet losing their grip and I instinctively leaned into the current. Then, before it reached my chest, my resistance was exhausted and releasing my tight grip on my rod and bag, I was swept over the raging falls.

It seemed a long drop and I felt I was in slow motion. Time enough to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t already in heaven, so beautiful and serene was the sensation of being borne along. I was jolted into reality at the bottom of my plunge, as the freezing cold of the peaty coloured water hit me for the first time. Luckily I hadn’t collided with a large rock as, at that speed, I would have surely perished. I was still submerged and could feel myself being propelled along by the current. I had to get my head above water and, in what seemed like ages, but was probably only a few seconds, my feet were touching the bottom. Amazingly, my Wellington boots were still attached to my feet.
The current was too fast for me to get a grip and I was rolled along, my body bouncing off rocks that were once above river level, but were now submerged. I was still holding my breath, my head bobbing in and out of the water, as I was swiftly carried even further downstream, in a precipitous rush to the sea, my flaying hands and arms trying to snag a rock. Some seventy or so yards downstream I finally came to a halt against a boulder, which I held on to for dear life. I felt exhausted as I breathed in my first lungful of air and took stock of my situation. The water was shallower here, but I was still too frightened of drowning to do other than just cling to my rock. I was aware that I was still in mortal danger; that I had to do something as the freezing water was still rising rapidly. For the first time I felt real panic, as earlier I’d had no time to think about the danger. Now, I feared that if I released my hold on the rock, I would be swept away to my death.
Although I was now sixty or seventy yards below the falls the noise was still deafening but my ears caught another sound; somebody shouting. Looking to where I thought the sound came from, I saw an angel, a young girl, slightly older than I, wading towards me with her father behind her. With the water up to their knees, they were urging me to get up and make a dash for the shallows. Drawing on the energy one conjures up in life or death situations and with the water threatening to engulf me once again, I rose to my feet and staggered the twenty or so yards, into the safety of their welcoming grasp.
I had made it; I had survived! They took me to their home which overlooked the falls and gave me some dry clothes to change into. The young girl’s mother gave me hot, sweet tea, in the British tradition, while the daughter was dispatched to intercept Trevor, who having seen me swept away, had presumed me lost and was heading back to the bus stop and home. What he was thinking and feeling as he walked back across the fields must have been dreadful. What does a ten year old, who had witnessed his brother drowning, tell his parents?
A relieved Trevor was driven home to break the news to my parents who came to collect me with fresh clothes of my own. As my mother later told me, my parents had no idea where we were and although cross, they were just too relieved that the day had ended happily.
The story should finish here, but for some families, the day would end with tragedy. Due to the swollen waters of the River Swale, downstream at Topcliffe, lives were lost, and helicopters were called out to rescue others.
Now, many years later, I often wonder what became of my angel, the girl who saw my plight and came to my rescue. Shamefully, I don’t even know her name; whether she still lives in Richmond and indeed if she’s still alive. After all these years, it would be nice to know, and if she is still alive, to be able to say, “Thank you”.

Copyright©Kevill Davies 2010

For view of The page, click on below:-

Why Mojácar?

Why we set sail

WITH the tragic flooding this week in Madeira, I am especially
pleased to be living in Mojácar. It might have been so very different
if my wife, Sue, had agreed with my idea to retire to this lush, green
beautiful island. We had been to Madeira, for a week's holiday many years ago,
when the children were younger. It was most memorable for my
catching a barracuda on a shark fishing expedition to the north of
the island, where the sea was very rough. With the sea's swell and
the smell of the 'rubby dubby' used to attract the sharks, all the
anglers, except me, were confined to the cabin or hanging over the
sides with sea sickness. As the last man standing I was able to
land the only fish to bite that day as we made our way back to the
quieter waters to the south of the island.

It was quite extraordinary the interest the fish provoked on the quayside. I had my photograph
taken and for the rest of the holiday strangers approached and asked about the fish. I took the fish to the hotel kitchens and found the chef. In exchange for cooking four pieces of this substantial fish, (two portions for our friends, former owners of a fish restaurant in Marylebone, London), the chef could have the rest. It was therefore very satisfying that whilst the rest of
the hotel guests had to be content with meals from the menu, we had the
special, a beautiful meal, cooked to perfection, set before us.
We visited the island for the second time during a cruise around
the Canary islands after we sold our hotel. It was then that I made the suggestion about moving away from England. As my wife saw it, she argued that because one can drive round the entire
island in few hours, it would limit our scope for impromptu travel, an argument you couldn't use in mainland Spain. Some time later, we had a fortnights summer holiday, touring Andalucia, the first week with friends, visiting Granada, Cordoba and Seville. Having dropped them off at Malaga airport, we travelled east to look for possible retirement venues, armed only with the name and address of an estate agent and the knowledge that Almeria had the best climate in Europe. I remember that one of the places on our itinerary was Albox and we therefore travelled from Granada, via Baza on the A-334. The town of Albox, lying alongside the main road, was so industrial and unattractive in 2002 we didn't stop to look round and headed, instead straight for Mojácar.
I must say at this point that we were both a little intimidated by the harsh and barren landscape, wondering if we were after all in the right place. Not even the almost magical view of the Mediterranean as we approached the Playa, could stem our fears that we were wasting our time. We checked in the Parador for three nights and next morning kept our appointment with the estate agent. We started in Bedar, the agent showing us 10,000 sqm plots of land in the hills and nearer Turre, but Sue wanted to be close to the sea. If we were unable to accept an inland site in those few days, something strange happened to us. Imp e r c e p ta b l y, and almost without
our being aware of it, we were becoming drawn in by the architecture of the hills and the land. The majesty; the tranquility and August loftiness gave the impression of timeless strength and permanence. Mojácar seemed to offer the best of both worlds as a place to make roots. With the sea on one side and the hills behind it seemed we could have the best of both worlds.
Before making any decisions, we wanted to take a look at the coast from Almeria to Malaga where we would pick up our flight home. So it was that after three days we made way south, fairly confident that we'd found our new home. We were right, the coast to Malaga is full of plastic agriculture and very disappointing. That was eight years ago.Today we are lucky enough to live in a house overlooking the Med, with the hills behind, but I don't know what happened to the dream of impromtu travel.

With apologies to Milton and all those who enjoy good poetry:

When I consider how my life is spent,
In this light world and wide,
Lodged betwixt capricious Neptune,
and Cabrera citadel.
What is nature's true purpose, life defined,
To what are the mountains witness?
How can the Pueblo testify?
To man's restless pursuit of his dreams.
Tell me, Mojácar, what is your hope?
Radiating your beauty in Heaven's embrace,
A beacon in the plain of desolation
Wanting to be loved, needing the solace,
Of enduring commitment and the
Permanence of the Gods.

Can you do better? I'm sure you
can! Send The your
Mojácar poetry and we will publish the best.

Kevill Davies is author of 'Apsaras'. Available at most on line book shops.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Davies Paradox

Davies Paradox

Can you explain this conundrum?

Let us say that:
___ = -1

Take the square root of both sides

We have

____ = -1^1/2

Transposing the denominator from the left side to the right, we have:-

1^1/2 = -1^1/2 X -1^1/2

Rationalizing: 1 = -1 How can this be?

It must be a consequence of the characteristics of -1^1/2 or 'i'

Can it apply to Grapefruits?

Assuming we have a number to represent a grapefruit, G


G x 1
_____ = G x -1

Take square roots

G^1/2 x 1^1/2
___________ = G^1/2 x i where -1^1/2 = i

As before G^1/2 x 1 = G^1/2 x -1

In fact anything can be operated on by this paradox, including universes (U).

U^1/2 = -U^1/2

or U^1/2 + U^1/2 = 0

For this to be non trivial, ie U =0, then the two U terms must be different.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010



MY WIFE and I attended the
dinner, recently held at the
hotel Puntazo to raise funds
for ACEM, the new group set
up to promote Mojácar. (Let
me say straight away that
the food was excellent. Well
done the Puntazo).
ACEM's aims are to bring
more visitors to Mojacar
throughout the year in a
move calculated to help sustain the bars, restaurants and other businesses that
depend on a fresh infusion of customers. The task is not easy, when they have so few out of season attractions to promote, other than to look at the Mediterranean and the beaches. Even the label of being a town with history, a lure for elderly Spaniards, perhaps, is not sufficient to divert an ever more discerning group of North Europeans from the historical sites of say, Cyprus, Crete and Turkey.

This week, we visited the town of Caravaca de la Cruz, about 70kms west of Murcia on the C-415, and in particular, the sanctuary that sits atop a hill in the old quarter. We were able to
tour the church and view the relic that gives the town it's name. Now, until this week, I
had never heard of the place but undoubtedly others have because, even in February, there was a constant stream of visitors, either individually or in groups. The relic, a small double armed cross, like the Cross of Lorraine, was reputedly fashioned from the wood of Christ's cross at Calvary, this particular cross being a symbol associated with the first Bishop or Patriarch of
Jerusalem. It resides in a little, dimly lit side chapel and is simply stunning; well worth the journey. Now, I cannot prove or disprove the provenance of this piece and ignoring the undoubted truth that if all the pieces that allegedly came from the cross were authentic, it
would need to have been a hundred times larger than it actually was, the story of Caravaca is appealing, the setting atmospheric and the
effect satisfying. What a shame, I thought, that the
church in Mojácar doesn't have say, an image of the
Virgin that cries tears of blood or that the fuente
doesn't make good, leprous limbs. If you've ever been to Lourdes you would know what I mean.
I remember, some years ago, going to Cadiz on a
three day trip. One of the reasons for going was to
visit the Cathedral and its 'million' monstrance, a reliquary that was said to be bejewelled with a 'million' gems. Sadly for each of the three days the cathedral was closed for repairs, meaning that I'll have to return one day to see the piece. I mention
this because I think it's important for the organisers
of ACEM to find and highlight some degree of uniqueness; something that sets Mojácar apart and gives motive for visitors to come to our beautiful town out of season. If you, the readers have any suggestions, please contact the and let us know your ideas.

I have developed a website with my
Titan ideas for promoting Mojacar, online. Please visit and leave your comments.
Kevill Davies is author of
'Apsaras'. Available at most on
line book shops.


THE CARAVACA CROSS shows a Corus on a Patriarchal Cross, often flanked by two Angels. The upper of the two bars on the Patriarchal Cross is normally a titulus, bearing an inscription; the Caravaca Cross is unusual in that Christ's arms are nailed to the upper bar. In the early eighth century, Arabs and Berbers invaded the Iberian Peninsula and occupied the territory.
It took almost 800 years for Christians to reconquer the land. In about the middle of that period, in the year 1231 (or 1232 by some accounts), a miracle occurred in the south-eastern
Spanish town of Caravaca de la Cruz. The town is set among the rugged sierras of Murcia, which at that time was still a Moorish kingdom under Zeyt-Abuzeyt. Being several generations
away from the initial invaders, he was from a line of well-established monarchs and one of his duties was to protect the region from invasion by the Christians. The Christian reconquest
took various forms; from fighting to gradual infiltration through missionaries. One such Christian
missionary was Don Gínes Pérez Chirinos de Cuenca. He was captured and taken before the Muslim king who was curious about certain aspects of the Christian faith. In particular, he was
interested in the Christian celebration of the Last Supper and asked the missionary to demonstrate the procedure. One can imagine the priest would be reluctant to do this - in those days only believers were present during the sacrament. Nevertheless, he agreed and the king
arranged for the necessary apparatus: an altar draped with a pall cloth, bread and wine, and some candles. One important element, however, was missing: the cross. The missionary explained that the presence of a cross was critical to the Eucharist and he could not continue
without one. "So what is that?" protested the king, pointing to something at the window. From the heavens, two angels appeared carrying a cross, which they placed on the altar and then disappeared. The priest continued with the Mass. In the Roman Catholic church, when the bread and wine are consecrated during Mass, they cease to be bread and wine, and become instead
the body and blood of Christ. The empirical appearances are not changed, but the reality is. When the missionary reached the consecration stage, the king saw a beautiful baby instead of the bread. The king was so taken aback by this miraculous image that he, and his family, converted to Christianity and asked to be baptized into the Christian faith. Many believe
that the cross delivered by the angels included a piece of the True Cross (Lignum Crucis).

The miracles didn't stop there.
Eventually, the town passed to the
Knights Templar who, in the 15th century,
built the castle that still dominates
the town today. At one time, the
Knights Templar and townsfolk were
under siege by the Muslim army and
tool refuge in the castle. It wasn't long
before the water stored in the castle
became undrinkable and several of
the refugees became ill. Scouts crept
out of the castle at night to look for
water but found the neighbouring
wells had been poisoned. In desperation,
the scouts raced out of the castle
on horses to find a safe source of
water. They found some wine, loaded
the wineskins on their horses and
raced back to the castle.
The wine was blessed in the presence
the Caravaca Cross and served
to those who had been
debilitated by the bad water. They recovered immediately and the blessed wine was mixed
with the toxic water in the storage tanks. The water became fresh and as a result, the Christians
were able to resist the enemy. Today, an annual fiesta is held in the town to remember those events, which includes a ceremony to bless the irrigation water used by Caravaca farmers.
Because of these miracles and the relic of the True Cross, kept in the Sanctuario de la Santa Cruz, Caravaca de la Cruz became only the fifth holy town, granted by the Vatican in 1998, to celebrate the Perpetual Jubilee. The others are Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela, and Santo Toribio de Liébana (Cantabria). The first celebration was in 2003 and was attended by the then Cardinal Ratzinger; now Pope Benedict XVI. This year (2010), in May (1st-5th), the
celebration will again be held. Centuries later, after Christopher Columbus set sail on his voyage of discovery (1492) Franciscan monks travelled to the Americas, taking copies of the Caravaca cross with them. The design is still commonly seen in Central and South American churches and monasteries. Houses and business premises also have copies pinned to the wall, like lucky
charms, and may be surrounded by a lucky horseshoe.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Mojácar World Titán or Marble Golf Championship

I have today launched my own project to promote Mojácar. It is to establish an annual World Titán or Marble Golf Championship.

Details can be found on the dedicated web pages accessed by clicking on the link below

Friday, 12 February 2010

The Power Of Two

HAVE you ever wondered how there always
seems to be two of everything? Right and
left: top and bottom: good and evil: black
and white. The list is endless and seemingly
trivial until one thinks of how, in real life,
there is in a wide range of subjects, a natural
polarisation of choices towards just two.
In the case of economics, we have
Socialism or Capitalism. Geography: East
and West. Politics: Democracy and dictatorship.
Religion: Islam and Christianity.
But is there something more fundamental
in the proliferation of alternatives; something
that underpins the very essence of our
being? The ancients certainly thought so
and it is reflected in their beliefs. From the
very start of human spirituality, the concept
of a dualism was at the heart of early worship
and the basis of the way of life.
Vodun, or voodoo was such an early faith
in Africa. Practised over ten thousand years
ago, Vodun is based on a two part universe,
one occupied by humans and the other by
spirits amongst whom dead relatives play a
part. In the region of Assyria, modern day
Iraq and Persia, where the first cities were
built, Zoroastroism was practiced. (In fact,
some scholars believe that the three Kings
from the east in the Nativity story were
Zoroastrians.) This faith and Gnosticism,
widespread through the Roman empire at
the time assumed that the universe was
composed of a spiritual side and a real side.
These ideas, carried by caravan with the
goods of trade, were taken along the silk
route where through synthesization or mixing
with local traditions, the Asian faiths of
Buddhism, Taoism and even Shinto became
synonymous with this core dualism.
It is not hard to visualise why they were
successful and why the Shamen or priests
were able to pray on peoples fears and
hopes and become powerful figures in communities.
It was impossible then, as it is
today, to refute arguments about what lies
on the other side of death, the realm of the
spirits, Heavens or indeed, Hell.
Is there a scientific parallel to this natural
progression to two? I remember some time
ago there was an experiment involving bubbles.
If you half fill a bottle with soapy water
and shake it well, thousands of bubbles will
form naturally. The number and size of the
bubbles being dependent, according to the
rules of physics, on surface tension. The
interesting thing is that when left to its own
devices, the bubbles will start to merge and
grow larger and theoretically will continue to
do so until just two are left. The thing is that
according to the theory it is scientifically
impossible for the two to break down to
become one large entity.
This is bad news for all those who hoped
that the science would be reflected in practice
and that one day the World would be
one; that all the peoples of the world could
live in peace and harmony as one. Well
folks, this is not going to happen. ...
Unless, that is, the world as a whole
becomes one of a new two part system.
Imagine, for instance, that aliens are discovered
in a planet and able to reach earth with
special technology. You can almost see, in
those circumstances, the peoples of planet
earth acting as one to overcome the common
Far fetched!! Well imagine this. What if all
the ancients of planet earth were right. What
if the universe is composed of two
immutable and ordinarily incompatible parts;
the real part we live in and another, invisible
and unknowable part which pervades the
universe in a way that God is said to exist.
Not possible, you say. Science, despite
widespread evidence for the reality of
ghosts and poltergeists, has not come up
with any credible evidence. Cosmologists
have so far been unable to see 'dark matter'
or 'dark energy’ and particle physicists have
come nowhere close to seeing the Higgs
Boson the lynch pin of the standard model
of quantum physics. Are they looking for
something that humans cannot perceive? It
is interesting to see in the first proper Sura
of the Qu'ran, the Cow, that it starts, 'This is
the scripture in which there is no doubt, containing
guidance for those who are mindful
of God, who believe in the unseen.' The
commentary in my copy describes the word
'unseen' to mean what cannot be perceived.
The Taoists believed in a universe of two
parts, Yin and Yang, along the lines I
described above. Except, that Taoists
believe that there is a little part of the hidden,
unreal universe in the real and vice
versa. Look at the emblem to see what I
What's going on, you might say? Well, I
have my theories, but to see them you must
visit my blog and web site on
Kevill Davies is author of 'Apsaras'.
Available at most on line book shops.
Also available at Mojácar library at the
Third Age Centre, Mojacar Pueblo.
Read more on his Indalo blog at

Tuesday, 2 February 2010