This poem is from my second book, Should I Wear Floral? and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving, to be published in the early part of 2017 by Matador.

Living at the seaside brings many pleasures and much joy from visiting grandchildren who swoop down to the beach to dive into the sea and plead for ice creams or another ride on ‘the train’ to the pleasure of living in such a wonderful community.

We found Swanage one hot August afternoon in 1999. It was accidental, brought about by our attempt to avoid the returning masses hell bent on getting back to London. It was love at first sight and we have lived here since 2000.

We don’t complain about the visitors  as our town needs them to keep thriving and buzzing but with many second-homers descending on The Isle of Purbeck each school holiday this poem sums up what we see.


Friday night

Streets jammed

Car park full

One trolley

Wonky wheel

Swarming mob

Hiking boots

Ouch! Little toe


No bread

No veg

No oven chips

No fishfingers

No baked beans

Leaking milk

Oozing egg carton

Squashed cake


Six trolleys

Piled high

Junk food

Wine and beer

One checkout

Faulty scanner

Long queue

Tea Break …


Noisy kids

Crying baby

Screaming toddler

Bicker, bicker

Row, row

Red faces

White faces


Nanny and New Technology


Part memoir/part short story

It was raining heavily. So what, you might say but for someone still stuck in the Eighties, babysitting requires mastery of new technology not to mention the bravery of using public transport.

They did offer to collect me but their town house sits resplendent, devoid of parking and one journey out of Band D on a Friday evening ensures a lost spot for the weekend.

Why don’t I drive, you may ask? I hold a blemish-free licence and a not-too-old car but these days I easily decline.  Driving is no fun anymore.  Drivers are getting younger, have less hair and shiny heads which dazzle one in the headlights.  This same breed drives faster and switches lanes without warning. Tailgating is illegal but how does one shake off these nuisances when they persist in filling the rear mirror?

The one-way system in the town centre requires three circulations before I find Linden Gardens. Finding no parking space, I am unable to turn back and am then required to drive headlong into a maze of narrower one-way streets, with those irritating small humps every five metres and myriad No Entry signs.

Even if I do, on a rare occasion, find a space near enough to their home, parking is not a straightforward ‘jump out and slam your door’ job, as completing the scratch-off details on their residents’ parking permit is impossible if you have a) forgotten your glasses and b) forgotten the permit. No wonder I have little compulsion to use my car,

The first time I used the train, I arrived bright-eyed and fresh at the station, marvelling in my discovery of stress-free travelling, only to be confronted by an ‘Office Closed’ sign. How, I screeched at the blank glass, am I to get a ticket?  No problem said the greasy-haired cyclist leading me to a large machine on the platform.  Having disclosed my destination, name and address (now sure to be burgled and bereft of my analogue tv), he forces cash from my hand, feeding it into the contraption’s hungry jaws.  “How much?” I squawk as the ticket drops down minus any semblance of returned loose change.

“It’s cheaper online” he says as he pedals away.

My heart sinks at the reference to technology. At this rate, the car could return to favour, but, no ……, the prospect of driving headlong onto the pier haunts me.

This time, despite the rain and the dark of winter, I have conquered the internet but am informed my ticket can only be collected from the same self-service machine. There is no escape.  Neither is there a manned office, a guard with a flag (as in olden times) or the greasy haired cyclist of last week.  However, I manage the ticket machine, the trip and the taxi ride to be met at the door by the departing parents keen to see the start of the show.  I hear words like oven, microwave and dishwasher as Hannah provides a lightning tour of her new kitchen, a wall of white behind which these items lurk.  Then it’s mobile numbers, Sky, baby alarm (she won’t wake up they say), automatic sliding doors, windows, kitchen cupboard doors and entry phone each with its own separate hand control – “It’s all very simple” Hannah assures me, and they are gone.

I am left in a sparsely but expensively furnished room with a blank TV screen, a white wall at one end behind which somewhere is my dinner and the curtainless wide patio doors. Another door leads to the hallway and the baby’s bedroom.  Baby will not wake up was manna from heaven to my ears.  I attempt to locate my lasagne using the remote control on the breakfast bar.  After several failed attempts at tracking down and starting the microwave, the oven is purring and the dishwasher door is opening and closing only not slow enough for me to grab a cup and plate.  I give up the idea of eating and try to obtain BBC 1 via the TV remote.  What I get is not BBC 1 but a recording of Deal or No Deal, my television pet hate.  My attempts to change channel result in volume overload and unbeknown to me the baby alarm can work in reverse – not a good thing with an eight-week-old.  Blaring TV, crying baby and failed attempts to stop oven and dishwasher working in tandem result in an element of panic during which I pick up the wrong hand control which operates the sliding patio doors.

As I said it was raining heavily and little did I know that the control for the doors also activated the windows (open) and the interior lights (off) – easily done without my glasses to read the display. I decamped quickly to the nursery where for I sang nursery rhymes and was rewarded with a smile.  The simple things in life don’t change do they?


Grandma’s  Poetry Book is available by post via dcastle32@talktalk.net or on my website http://www.dicastle.co.uk

This poetry collection spans sixteen years capturing the experience of a first-time grandmother on her sometimes wobbly journey in her new role. It includes many facets of unmissable moments and childhood milestones, some humorous and others more poignant, even sad.  Such treasured times can easily be forgotten so the book acts as a nostalgic memoir. Touching and funny in turn, readers will be reminded of the joys of witnessing childhood development and the effect on their own lives. Even those yet to reach grandparenthood including fathers, aunties and primary school children have already enjoyed reading this book. Grandma’s Poetry Book makes an ideal gift for new grandparents, birthdays, Christmas and Mothers’ Day and many readers have returned to buy more copies for friends and relations. Each poem has its own laugh-out-loud illustration by an artist who has been likened to E H Sheppard.

Some comments have included ‘Pam Ayres meets Winnie the Pooh’, ‘made me laugh, made me cry’, ‘charming book’ and ‘every grandparent should have one’.


Our new book, Should I Wear Floral? And other poems on Life Love and Leaving will be out shortly. Follow me on twitter @dinahcas and on Facebook – Di Castle – Writer to hear of updates and see sneak previews of illustrations and poems.





On 10th of March 2002

I send this little rhyme to you.

To thank you in a special way

as we celebrate Mothers’ Day.


This message comes right from the heart.

Through prayers and travel from the start,

from daughter, sister, girlfriend, lover,

you found yourself as Amy’s mother.


Now you know a mother’s pleasure

interacting with her treasure –

listening to each coo and sound

fun and laughter all around.


Motherhood is life’s first-class,

as every day new milestones pass.

A special smile, a special word.

She’s talking now – what’s that you heard?


Those sleepless nights, the teething tears

Helping them dispel their fears.

The jabs, the spots, each dirty nappy,

so strange all this can make you happy!


But childhood passes in a flash,

as through our busy lives we dash,

to earn a crust, keep fit and feed,

homework to do, books to read.





Mothers’ Days will come round fast.

Quicker each year than those long past.

They evoke in us a reflective mood,

gazing proudly on our brood.


So make the most of all those days –

let her linger in childlike ways.

Remember she’s on loan to you.

In God’s great plan she’s more to do.


First give her roots and wings she’ll grow

and very soon before you know,

she’ll fly the nest like you before

and you’ll not have her any more.


Grandma’s  Poetry Book is available by post via dcastle32@talktalk.net or on my website http://www.dicastle.co.uk If you pay with PayPal it is free postage.

This poetry collection spans sixteen years capturing the experience of a first-time grandmother on her sometimes wobbly journey in her new role. It includes many facets of unmissable moments and childhood milestones, some humorous and others more poignant, even sad.  Such treasured times can easily be forgotten so the book acts as a nostalgic memoir. Touching and funny in turn, readers will be reminded of the joys of witnessing childhood development and the effect on their own lives. Even those yet to reach grandparenthood including fathers, aunties and primary school children have already enjoyed reading this book. Grandma’s Poetry Book makes an ideal gift for new grandparents, birthdays, Christmas and Mothers’ Day and many readers have returned to buy more copies for friends and relations. Each poem has its own laugh-out-loud illustration by an artist who has been likened to E H Sheppard.

Some comments have included ‘Pam Ayres meets Winnie the Pooh’, ‘made me laugh, made me cry’, ‘charming book’ and ‘every grandparent should have one’.



Life Friend


Love erupted, flashed in a day,

Changed life from slow to fast

A feisty ‘stop ‘n go’ affair

Which no-one thought would last!


Passion enflamed, excitement aroused

Sparks kindled electric charge

Sleep disturbed, thoughts thrown asunder

Am I dreaming, is this a mirage!


Treasured are all the laughs you’ve evoked

The giggles, the touch of the hand

The secret codes, the wink that declares

Against the world we stand.


Cherish the moment sharing the chores

Comfort when news is the worst

Planning how to make special each day

Thinking and putting each first.


But even Love can show some vexation

when harassed or harassing too

Making lovers aware of the meaning of life

And a compromise of view.



Creative spirits, divergent paths

Separate ways, freedom favoured

Brief intermission – rest and respite

But love and loyalty never wavered.


Precious and valued, you’re always there

When others go hurtling by

Helping me weather the storms of life

And never saying that goodbye.


copyright Di Castle

to appear in Should I Wear Floral and other poems on Love, Life and Leaving by Di Castle, illustrated by Denise A Horn


The Pyjama Game should stay firmly in the bedroom.

So a head teacher asking parents not to drop off their children at school in their pyjamas makes headline news. Plus it is only a few weeks since a shop in a nearby area refused to serve people dressed in pyjamas.


Now I can understand where this relaxed attitude originates. The formality of the fifties and sixties has long gone. These days, pyjamas come in many guises. They are onesies, play suits or clothes designed to be worn as daywear when chilling out on the sofa. So, ok, mums, I am all for chilling out on the sofa – we recognise the health and happiness benefits – but the line has to be drawn at the front door.


I had three children in quick succession in the late sixties and from the day I returned from hospital, my first jobs each morning, once an early morning breastfeed had been given, were to shower, dress, brush my hair and put on some makeup. Once I had that daily task under my belt I could face anything and, if the morning became hectic as we were about to leave the house for school, I could relax in the knowledge that I looked as smart as any young mum with regurgitated food on her shoulder.


Even at their births, the first thing I did after holding and bonding with them was to grab my make up bag and hairbrush from the bedside cabinet and make myself look presentable.  In the sixties few of us wandered around with bare faces and unbrushed hair. We would go to each others’ houses on the way back from school drop off and the little ones would play. We had no worries about our appearance as if you have put on makeup in the morning, little attention needs to be paid to it.


As I have grown older I find myself dismayed at the current trend to go out barefaced with more and more people these days displaying unbrushed hair and uncared for clothes around the supermarket aisles. There really is no excuse.


My mantra always was that looking good, well dressed and tidy was to pay a compliment to the people you meet. It also set a good example to my daughters who now are always presentable for the school run. They were raised to be aware that what their father saw on leaving the house would remain with him during the day. They knew self-care mattered for the relationship and for a person’s self esteem.


It is amusing that so many people exhaust themselves cleaning the house for visitors. There are many people who insist on doing a day’s housework prior to a family event but fail to attend to what visitors see first – their own appearance. We should remember after all that visitors usually come to see us and not our ultra shiny worktops.


No doubt the head teacher will be criticised, even forced to apologise for ‘abusing the parents’ rights’ to dress slovenly’. I certainly hope not. I am willing her to remain resolute.


Children need to know that going to school is serious business. They also need to know that what goes on at home after their departure is equally important? Pyjamas give the impression that Mum is going back to bed at 9.15 am.


Isn’t it time now for us all to push for standards?

TWITS and how we wrote to Terry Wogan


Wit, humour and geniality;  some tv accolades broadcast this morning. 31st January, 2016.


So for me it was with great sadness when I heard Sir Terry Wogan had died after a short yet brave fight with cancer. Such sorrow, as for many years in the 1980s he played a major part in my life. In fact I would say that Terry and his Radio Show kick-started my writing career.


Terry has a special place in my heart and that of my partner, Bryan. For many years in the late seventies and eighties the two of us tuned in to his Radio 2 radio show to follow stories and jokes. At the time we were both married to other people but, when I discovered Bryan had written some of the stories that Terry read out on air, I took more interest. Wasn’t that what I always wanted – to be a writer?


Not only did my social gathering of girlfriends know that Bryan Anders wrote to the big Tel but he would turn up at local dinner parties with his latest letter recording on the old style cassettes. At home, he even bought a special music centre with double cassette ports so he could transfer his own letters to a master tape for posterity.


Initially, I joined my friends in decrying his obsession with Terry’s show, his fast accumulation of countrywide friends, who also wrote to the show, and who called themselves TWITS (Terry Wogan Is Tops Society). They began to phone each other, to convey congratulations on the wit and humour in the letters and the manner in which Terry read them. At the time I was absorbed in pursuing the onset of my teaching career and my three daughters who were, by now, all at school and in numerous local activities. I spent my life driving to and from swimming pools, ballet classes and drama rehearsals. I really didn’t have the time. But I found, as you do, that if you love something enough, you can indeed find the space in your life.


After one dinner party, where we were subjected to yet another offering from Bryan that had been used on Radio 2 – I believe it was the start of the duvet debate – my friend Jill and I had a conversation which was to change my life forever. We were laughing at how serious Bryan’s addiction was, musing that there was an element of showmanship in his endeavours. I suggested that, if one of us wrote to the morning show, it might take the glow off his domination of the airwaves in our small Middlesex village. I was already listening to the show during breakfast and during my short car journey to College each morning, so I knew which themes which were being broadcast. We agreed that all the girls in our Mums’ group would listen and I would record the programme on cassette so that I could show off my efforts at the next school dance or dinner party. In our words, this would put our dear Bryan in his place.


That evening I sat down at my Olympia portable typewriter and composed something I thought would fit the present bill.  I then scribbled over it and retyped it, addressed it to the BBC and popped it into the post. Little did I know that I was about to set alight a love affair which would endure for 40 years.


But on that day I knew little of what might happen.  I knew the pattern was to post one day, Terry would read it after his next morning show and select letters to read the following morning. I wrote my first letter on the Monday night, posted on the Tuesday and on Wednesday rose early to begin recording the show. About 7.45am I heard my name – ‘Di Castle of Ickenham’ and then an unabridged reading of my letter. I can still remember the thrill and how I ran around the house shouting ‘He’s read it, he’s read it.’


Five minutes later the telephone rang and a voice at the other end said ‘so I have competition … …’. I remember worrying I had annoyed him and hoped this would not end what was a lovely friendship I had with this guy, but never anticipated what was to come in the months and years to come.


From that day we would arrange to send letters on different days – our theory was that Terry was unlikely to read two letters from Ickenham on one day. On one occasion, however, we did have letters read on the same day with Terry announcing ‘here’s another listener from Ickenham.’


Sometimes Terry introduced my letter as ‘From Ickenham  …. Di Castle …’ but months later when I had moved to Hillingdon he announced a letter as from ‘Mad Di of Hillingdon’.  I was thrilled. I was referred to as Mad Di for several letters and even headed them up with my new title but then the ‘mad’ was dropped.


Bryan and I both recorded the show each day and would dub cassettes with the other’s letters and chase round to each other’s houses to drop tapes through the door. We also liaised to ensure we did not coincide and ruin the chances of a good letter being read out. We decided early on that our chances were less if both Ickenham contributors had also posted.


Sometimes, we wanted a letter to go out earlier. There was urgency perhaps; a theme that could fade and we wanted to get our contribution in for the next possible programme. Bryan would drive round to my house in Hillingdon and I would jump in the car which then sped into central London and Broadcasting House. Bryan would race into reception and hand in his letter thus saving the delay of one day using postal delivery. I suppose we were both obsessed. I know all our seven children thought we were although there was a hint of some Kudos at school as their parents were frequently aired on Radio 2.


Of course, these days, letters would go by email, via the Radio 2 website and via Twitter. In the eighties, we only had snail mail and, while Bryan wrote his letters in perfect handwritten script, mine were typed on the old Olympia portable with lashings of Tippex over the errors.


We were having so much fun, following the themes of the programme, adding ideas to existing themes and commenting on topics in the news with the humorous punchline that we could both do so well. It was clear early on in our relationship that we shared a unique sense of humour and a sense of what would appeal to Terry on his show, which is why we were so successful. In two years, I had 120 letters read out on the show and Bryan around one hundred, a lower figure he has always resented!


But there were other knock-on effects which brought much pleasure. Bryan had always been good at contacting people and making friends. He contacted other writers to the programme and some of them were in touch with other writers so within a few months we had about ten contributors who all wanted to be in touch and we even started a magazine called the Twit Times written and edited by us which included funny letters and photographs, most of which related to the Radio 2 show and Terry Wogan. We began to meet up in London. Around this time a member made contact with Terry’s agent and what followed was one memorable occasion when we met up with the Great Man.

Then the devastating blow that was the announcement that the Terry Wogan show on Radio 2 would finish in December 1983. We were bereft but not deterred. We were already in touch with Terry’s agent and she made contact with us prior to the last show asking if we would come on the programme for his final goodbye. Discussions took place with Radio 2 and with us and we were finally invited to the last show to appear on the programme and to be entertained afterwards to a champagne breakfast in the roof-top restaurant adjacent to BBC Broadcasting House. I had to ask for a day off from my teaching job but my Head of Department was a Terry fan so there was no problem there


And so it was that, in late 1983, ten of us TWITS arrived at BBC Broadcasting House, to be treated as royalty and taken to the studio, the room where our many letters had been read on air. As well as Bryan and I there was Mike Walsh, Len Horridge, Alison Walker-Moorcroft, Betty Collyer, Nancy Chilver, Katie Mallet, Pat Stimpson and Frankie Bain.  We were interviewed and, as pre-arranged – we presented Terry with a ‘Gong’. This had been organised by Bryan Anders and our names were engraved on it. Terry had often bemoaned his lack of knighthood or recognition in the ‘honours list’ so our Gong was a token of our respect as, at the time, we didn’t think he would ever receive one. But, of course, he did eventually become Sir Terry Wogan and no-one was more pleased than the ten TWITS.


Our experience at the rooftop restaurant is a day we will always remember but during the programme we had been able to write down what we wanted Terry to mention. For example, Bryan wrote something about his sons not liking the fact that he wrote to the programme and Terry read this out. I wrote down dedications to my three daughters, also duly read out. When the show was over and we had presented Tel with his Gong, we departed for the restaurant. The photographs are evidence of our ultimate thrill at being part of this final radio event.


The Terry experience was not over. We were then invited to Terry’s first television show and for a meal afterwards. During this programme, Terry tripped down the steps. He was not used to television and we were all aware that he was better suited to radio. However, his chat show endured and we attended several other programmes and were entertained by Terry in a nearby restaurant afterwards.


Is it any wonder that Bryan and I have such fond memories of Terry Wogan? After all, writing letters to his radio programme is what brought us together. When we eventually married in 1988 there was a telegram from him which read:


‘Those who Terry Wogan has brought together, let no man set asunder.’


It has not all been plain sailing but 35 years on we are still a couple. We do not live together but have separate flats in a large building overlooking Swanage bay towards Old Harry Rocks. We have fantastic days out, fun meals together, enjoy holidays and family events. Not a day goes by but we don’t remember the famous guy whose lovely radio programme and wonderful delivery of our funny letters made our life what it is today.


When we heard the news of Terry’s death we were both consumed with grief. I was away with family but listened to the Richard Madeley programme as I travelled back down the M3 to the south coast. Richard was standing in for Terry and had been doing so for a few weeks. He expected Terry to return in a couple of weeks but it was not to be. Today, 31st January, he played the songs that Terry loved and played on his turntable in the eighties and even more recently on his show. From the first song to the last, tears rushed down my cheeks.


They were ‘our songs’. The songs we shared during the early days of our relationship and the songs which had so much meaning for us.


Not many couples will ever have what we have – the memories of a great broadcaster – a legend in the BBC – reading our scripts without alteration, making listeners laugh, being part of our lives.


It is the greatest gift to make someone laugh. To bring pleasure. To bring smiles to faces.


And that is what we did for two or three years.


It is clear to me now – and I believed it would happen then – that Terry Wogan, Sir Terry Wogan to most, kickstarted my writing career. After our experience with his Radio 2 show, I sat down to write a humorous novel, and then a second. They did not get further than an agent’s shelf but I never gave up and the result eventually was, Grandma’s Poetry Book, which I know has given pleasure to so many with its humour and observation of the funnier side of life. Numerous other articles have won prizes or been showcased on websites. The humour from the Terry years is present in each and every one.


So what can I say on this saddest of days. He was a one-off, a generous, unassuming man with a tremendous intelligence and wit, warm and witty. We will not see his like again.


And Bryan and I are so very grateful.  Grateful that we knew him personally, that we had a special link with his radio programme and the funny themes perpetrated by the big man himself and the TWITs. The TOGs came later but we had the best of times with Terry.


Today, my phone, email and Facebook page have been splurged with condolences and messages from friends who know how important this man was in our life together. We will never forget and will be forever in his debt for providing a medium that brought us together for life.