When I’m Not Writing


I am often asked what I do when I am not writing. One of my favourite occupations is gardening. Bonsai, succulents and orchids give me a break from the story on which I am currently working. Amaryllis also make it onto the list, especially at this time of the year in South Africa. Both the amaryllis pictured have been in our garden for some years. They live in pots and are brought onto the front verandah just after they come into bud.  



COLOUR ME MORE: Teaching English Language and Literature

CCM Teaching English

The paperback version of ‘COLOUR ME MORE: Teaching English Language and Literature’ has just been released. I hope you will join me in wishing it well. 

Dear Reader, ‘COLOUR ME MORE: Teaching English Language and Literature’ is full of ideas and examples to help you become a better teacher of English language and literature. It is a ‘How To’ book specifically designed to assist teachers new to teaching this discipline. If you are interested in improving your skills in the creative teaching of literature, grammar, various forms of writing, public speaking, forum discussions, debating, team speaking, visual literacy, media and much more, this book should be of great help. There is special emphasis in ‘COLOUR ME MORE: Teaching English Language and Literature’ on how to use colour to help students learn.

With good wishes,

Andrew Pender-Smith

Popping Off – Why we desperately need to keep the bees.

bees and lavender

Popping Off

They are flying gold
to me and those who know them.
Bees thrumming harvests.

Nature’s bullion
sparking flowers to fruit,
now dwindling slowly.

So many have gone.
The humming golden ones
are dying, dying.

Abundance is a myth.
Bankruptcy is fast coming.
Some flowers are dead.

When the bees teemed
forth, the crops sang happily.
Silence approaches.

They are winging off.
Those who toil within petals
are almost, almost lost.

There will be no grave
to mark the final passing.
No burnished plaque.

The pollinators are popping
off, and then so will we,
lamenting: ”Too late!”

Andrew Pender-Smith

Written by the author as an answer to the question: If the bees go, what happens to us?

In pushing the bees into a losing position, it is worth considering that we could be doing the same to ourselves.  I encourage readers to give it careful thought and to ask, ”What can I do to see this does not happen?”

The Warnings

Published today on Amazon and available as an eBook and a paperback, ‘The Warnings’ is a novella set in Zululand, South Africa. A copy of the eBook cover and an extract from the book follow just below.

The Warnings Cover (2)

The Warnings

‘There is no hillside without a grave.’

Meaning: Death is unavoidable and will find you wherever you go. (Old Zulu proverb.)

No one visits the old property anymore. They dare not. The locals keep away and tell children and newcomers to do so too. It is a place inhabited by some of the worst demons they have ever known. Those ones that can live in a rock, a tree, a bird, a buck, and even a river. These things may look innocent, as if they are simply part of the everyday, but they are not. What could be living within them is too terrible to contemplate. When people talk of what they believe happened and is still there, waiting on the farm that is no longer a farm, they look at the ground and speak in a barely audible voice. They tell of the black presence that is felt but not seen. They warn against taking the dusty paths amongst the thorn trees that lead to the deserted property. Evil is waiting there, silent and hidden, and it can come out at any time and in any way. You could quickly be gone from your world into another, snatched into a realm from where the wicked ones come and go in ways that you would fail to understand. The farm that was once called ‘Valley View’ by those who owned it, is now to be left alone.
      The sugar cane died long ago and the fruit on the citrus trees remains unpicked. Over-ripe oranges fall from the trees and rot in the rank grass. The baboons and the monkeys, as well as a few buck and several smaller creatures, have ‘Valley View’ to themselves. Those who have seen and heard them, as well as those who haven’t, say the baboons on ‘Valley View’ are large and aggressive. The baboons see the property as now belonging to them and chase away anyone who comes near with loud barks and bared canines. Their teeth, so the rumour goes, are longer and sharper than those of other baboons.
      It has happened before that a person will not come back from visiting an area such as this, and it will happen again. There are bad ones amongst the world of the living dead. They will take you for their evil purposes if they catch you. Do not cross the boundaries which separate this forbidden farm from the other farms and wild spaces nearby. You could end up in a realm of bad spirits and swallowing blackness.
      The worst of things could occur if one wondered alone here at night. The umthakathi, the witches that ride baboons and hyenas, could smell you out and come galloping through the dark. They could roast your flesh and eat it, or they could enslave you in the hidden places visited only by the living dead. You would never return.
      It is because of what the local people say, though they do not like to talk about it, that what was at one time a magnificent homestead now lies crumbling amidst the encroaching bush veld. Much of the roof has caved in. A lot of the windows are missing and so are the front and back doors. They were carried away years ago by those who did not know of the turmoil that ended everything on what was a farm called ‘Valley View’. Had they known, they would not have touched the items they thought they could take from what they believed was simply an abandoned farmhouse. As it is, when they were spotted carrying them a while later in the veld, they dropped the doors and windows and ran off sweating and screaming into the dust and heat of a particularly hot day.
      At one point during its long years of desertion, the roof of the stone building tilted inward and then crashed down. Grass and weeds flourish among piles of cement, old bricks and rotten beams. A stunted thorn tree now grows just to the left of the ruins. A grey loerie often rests on its crown of twisted branches, small leaves and long white thorns. When it is there, its distinctive call of ‘’Go way! Go way!’ rises loudly from its feathered throat. Long moments after, ‘’Go way! Go way!’’ echoes from the otherwise silent valley.

© Andrew Pender-Smith, 2018      http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GLTMH69



I Am Glad


I Am Glad

They are barely there
the people in the before-
work crowds

Sometimes I catch impressions
of their smudged
jostling shapes
amidst the rush and shove,
the hooting,
the we-need-to-get there

For a second I might glimpse the
almost-faces of so many,
then it is all a jumble in the
push-and-pull of
traffic lights, subway swallowing,
cars and buses, pavement
swearing drivers
and road crossings

Those are the days I just want to sit
on a warm park bench
munch on sugary doughnuts
hold hands with someone and say,
‘’I am glad I have you.’’     

              Andrew Pender-Smith


what has touched me


what has touched me


a blue butterfly

balancing upon a new leaf

resting briefly there


singing in unison

dawn birds welcome the sun

forage in a tree


fish splash and circle

break the sun’s filtering rays

love this morning’s time


an old beetle sits

in silent contemplation

a little Bhudda


the soil shifts slightly

an earthworm is barely here

then down and gone again


velvet buttons swim

they are tadpoles exploring

loving the algae


a dragonfly’s wings

catch and shout the day’s light

disperse it for free


I have sat watching

slow to move and quick to see

what has touched me

        ©  Andrew Pender-Smith

I composed this lyric a few weeks ago. Anyone looking at it carefully, and I hope you do, will see that it is comprised of eight separate haiku designed to link through, to create a lyric. 









Will You Come Back?

Will You Come Back (2)

                                                      Will You Come Back?

’Out of something new, harrowing death may come, unnervingly swift and more disturbingly silent than its concealing breeze.’’ Craig Carden

‘’If your mother never told you to stop and listen when the birds sing out a warning, you’d best do so now.’’ Craig Carden


His dark pupils were dilated and his body was tense with excitement. Her quick movements agitated him, and he was becoming increasingly eager to get to her. Hard-muscled and taut, he was watching her as she stood semi-naked in front of a brightly lit mirror while she brushed her glossy auburn hair. His legs were stretched to the limit, and his breathing quickened. He moaned twice while rubbing his face against the bedroom wall.

      Though she was in a room in an apartment building across the road, he could see her clearly. His eyesight was excellent and his green eyes now had a brighter hue as he watched and moaned, deeper this time. All the while he continued pressing against the wall, rubbing first the left side of his face against it, and then the right. How he longed to be out of this place, to be free to get close to her. He would be on her in a second. 


The above is an extract from the newly published novelette ‘Will You Come Back?’ by Andrew Pender-Smith. The book blurb and the book can be found by clicking on this link:



What Do You Think Of That?


These two poems ‘I’ and ‘I Am A?’ are the last in this series of one or two children’s poems in a picture. More may follow later this year. As per usual, anyone who wishes to use them, such as in a poetry speaking festival or theme programme, is most welcome to do so. 

With good wishes,

Andrew Pender-Smith