About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

TED Walks in the time of Coronavirus Pt 1

No more jaunting for a while, then. No more getting in the car and driving somewhere, even local-ish, to walk the dog. If, like me, you use the prospect of spring to get yourself through the dark half of the year and find yourself, for whatever reason, locked down in a less than appealing part of the country, it's a bit grim. 

I've been chronicling my walks with Ted, our border collie, as I chronicle everything, on the grounds that some of it might one day end up in a poem. 

First, there was the trip to Severn Beach, which we pretended was Greece and got roundly chastised on Facebook by someone who believed us. It also turned out to be last trip, as lockdown was imposed the following day.  

So, we were left with a churchyard, a playing field and a park. I like wandering through the churchyard. I know quite a few of the people in it, and maybe acknowledging the dead and taking the time to talk to them is something of an insurance policy, in that they might put in a good word for us?  

The walks around the parks have their moments. It's a question of looking for beauty in the small things. 

One day we were clever. We got up really early and drove to Tescos by Horfield Common, taking Ted with us so we could combine shopping and dog-walking, thus saving one trip out and getting to walk somewhere different for a change, all without flouting the Do Not Drive To Walk Your Dog Rule. Except that even at 8am the Queue of Self-Isolation was coiling around the car park, and though it was chilly, we didn't want to leave Ted banged-up in the car, so we ended up just walking him and had to go out for shopping later. 

So it was a bit illicit after all. But we got to walk on the Common, visit a different churchyard and see the house where Cary Grant grew up. 

Then I had a hankering for sunsets. Normally, I wouldn't dream of walking down the A38 in the early evening to view them, but these aren't normal times. 

Here's the sun setting over the railway line to Avonmouth. I must have been there in one of the two exact moments every year when it's precisely in the middle of the cutting.

But sometimes the sunsets are hidden in cloud.
Sometimes the walks are, frankly, disappointing. 

Today my son, Ted and I tried the golf course. We never go up there normally, even though there's a footpath across the fairways, because of all the aggressive golfers with their puffed-out chests and their git-orf-my-landery. 

Except the place is closed. There was no one parked in the space for Seniors Captain, the Lady Vice Captain, the Lady Captain or the Lady Secretary. 

At the far side of the course, there's a lane ... 

... which leads to a rough rectangle of land, bounded by thorns and some really quite impressive trees. And there are views to the Welsh hills in the distance ... 

... and though you can't see it in this photo, a glimpse of the River Severn at Avonmouth. Which means there'll be sunsets.

We walked around two sides of the rectangle. OK, so it's not exactly wild but it's not manicured in the way a park is. There weren't many people there, either. I could feel myself beginning to Stake A Claim. My patch for the duration. Somewhere to watch the seasons change. 

In the far corner there was another path, which we followed through scrubby woodland. We were clearly skirting the Airbus site but I was in semi-rural heaven. Chiff-chaffs were loudly announcing the imminent arrival of summer. We heard robins too, and vociferous blue tits. 

 We stopped when the footpath reached a road and retraced our steps, returning to the golf course via the path up the other side of the piece of open ground ...

... which took us past an oak tree. Although small, it's clearly had an eventful past. 

I think it could become a favourite. 
By now I was ecstatic. I'd found somewhere new and much improved to walk in. 

And I saw my first ladybird of the year, and a rabbit hopped by in the clubhouse car park - my second one in three days on the edge of the airfield.

And when I got home and studied my map, I saw that beyond the road there's another expanse of common land to explore. All within walkable distance. O happy me. 


  1. Oh, that is such great news! We are incredibly fortunate to have wonderful walks within easy reach of the house. Even though the coast path itself is closed, we have other cliff-access, bluebell woods, the beach...Kitty and I are chronicling our daily walks too, on mimsy-smallstones.blogspot.com
    And trying to recognise some birds, though am not up to yours and Dru's standards!
    All best wishes for getting through this xx

    1. I think the chronicling is important, and hooray for your flotsam companion!

      My bird identification is also rubbish compared with Dru's.

  2. My late landlady used to hack out of the city presumably along the A38 to hunt with the Berkeley, who gave us such a useful rhyming slang

    1. Crikey. The cunts are everywhere.

      We had a whole place to ourselves last night, apart from the fox and the bats and the rooks heading for Rooky Wood. I noticed on the map there's also a footpath that takes you around the edge of the airfield, but that's for another day.