Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Purdown At The Turn Of The Year

I intended to get up early today and walk in the frost on Purdown but I was so tired from my round trips on successive days to Leeds and High Wycombe that I lay awake most of the night, at least until the wrong end of it when I fell violently asleep. So by the time we'd breakfasted, all the frost had melted.


Well, that's not strictly true.  There were some pockets of ice. 


But most of the glory lay in sunlit views that ultimately foundered in the mist of a short-lived day. 




'And trees to pee on,' said Ted.

I didn't expect to see a gnat dance but I'm not really surprised, it was all so beautiful. 



Looking up the Frome Valley. And Ted.  

 

 The ice-age torrent turned to traffic. 

  

Then the moon rose, half full. 

  

New (to me) graffiti on the remains of the heavy anti-aircraft gun battery where Purdown Percy once defended the city from Nazi bombs.


 

 
When I loaded my photos onto my laptop, I found some from yesterday morning, when I was setting off up the M4 with two Jennies in the car, so I had my frisson of ice after all.  A beautiful end to the year. 




Sunday, 28 December 2014

T'Frozen North

Four hundred and twenty miles today, depositing cats, chattels and people around the country.  


Here are some photos I took of wind turbines and snow and sunsets and stuff whilst in a traffic jam on the M1 at Ulley,  just south of Sheffield.  (With engine switched off, of course.)




  



Was glad of a Radio 4 dramatisation of inconsequential saga by Anthony Trollope and my Led Zeppelin compilation double CD to get me home.  Seamless in-car entertainment.  

 If it's tomorrow, it must be Buckinghamshire. 



Saturday, 27 December 2014

Gog and Magog Revisited or How To Read Tea Leaves

Clearly it wasn't a completely ill wind that blew snow over all points north - well, not unless you were stuck in it in Sheffield overnight.  Although the police could have made their announcement - DO NOT TRAVEL UNLESS YOUR JOURNEY IS ESSENTIAL - ten minutes before we got out of bed at half six rather than ten minutes before we were due to leave at half eight.  As it was, delaying a round trip to Leeds to drop off Elder Daughter and a car full of stuff by one day (extended cat-sitting having been arranged) meant that we could go to Glastonbury after all, a trip  that had been rained off the day before. 

First, a pilgrimage to venerable oaks Gog and Magog, which the offspring had never visited.  I have been to see them twice before so rather than telling their story again, I'll stick to posting photos of them in their wintry garb ... 


  



... except to add that we did leave messages pushed into crevices in the bark of the only one of the two still living, Magog.  (And to say that I love the patterns of sunlight you get deep within old trees.)



One of the two brass matryoshki on my key ring fell off into the mud so I took it as a sign that I was to leave it for Magog, the female tree.  Then the other fell off and I took that as a sign that I have a dodgy key ring and put it back on again. 


Back in Glastonbury we had lunch in the cafe where poet Rachael Clyne had her book launch back in the summer. I decided to risk a potential mouthful of tea leaves so that I could read them.


The scarlet-ovalled shape is a woman reading a book while sitting under a (purple-squared) tree which is either unleafed or dead.  Next to her is a (white-ringed) dragonfly and a blue-ringed flower, so it is probably spring or summer.  Above the woman is what I initially took to be a second tree before realising it is a fox (green-squared).  The second tree is ringed in crimson and in its canopy, two yellow angels are dancing.  

What does this mean?  I think it means that one day I will find myself reading a book under Gog on a beautifully summery day and I'll see a fox and angels dancing in Magog. 

Then we did some book browsing because we could.   Poet Jo Waterworth, who was working in one of the bookshops, let Elder Daughter use the staff loo so we obviously had to buy some books by way of saying thank you.  
Then we decided not to climb the Tor or Wearyall Hill because it had started to rain and because we can come back another day and do that. Because we can.  






Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas Between The Wars

Christmas 80 years ago (in case you didn't catch it first time around). A far cry from today's bloated festivities. 


The photo is a little later - 1940 - and shows my grandparents, Hilda and Jack Hill of Douglas Road, Horfield, with their brood of eleven children, including baby triplets.  


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Tintern Sojourn

It would be enough to spend the day facilitating poetry in an ancient, sprawling house just outside Monmouth. Great to read your own poems and sell a few books too.  



But this morning the universe laid on frost, daybreak, ruins, a river, crows and jackdaws too. 




I stopped off at Tintern Abbey six weeks ago on my way up to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see 'The Witch of Edmonton', when Autumn was swinging through the trees like an orangutan.  Now it's winter with big frost-furry knobs on.  





A short distance upstream, in the car park of the Moon and Sixpence, mist lifted off the surface of the Wye. 




So six weeks, not five years.  And kind of just less than half a mile above Tintern Abbey, rather than a few.  Even so 

... with an eye made quiet by the power

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

We see into the life of things.