About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm 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.

Saturday 19 September 2020

A bit of out and aboutery

My dog, Ted, got me over my complete lack of confidence when it came to driving, by insisting in the early days that we went out at least once a week to visit new places, so I've decided to keep trying to get out as often as I can in his honour, even though it's hard right now, not just for reasons of grief but also Covid-19. 

Arnos Vale is somewhere I wanted to get to before it closes again. The IsamBards did a poetry walk there in early spring and we had another planned for Midsummer's Day but ... well, you know the rest. 

I missed wandering there through the summer, and now it's definitely autumn. 

It's also a bit more overgrown than usual. It took Will and I a while to find my grandparents' and infant great-uncles' grave, even though I'd committed its whereabouts to memory. More or less. 

Must get over there with some shears, we said, even though the grave is sinking between the roots of an ash tree. 

In some places the cemetery's like a painting by  Henri Rousseau.

Tyger! Tyger! 

I love this wild patch in the heart of Bristol. 

I also love Clevedon, so we popped down there too. First stop was Clevedon Craft Centre, which I last visited 12 years ago.

Then on to the beach, where we sat in the sand and scrabbled for sea glass, which was mostly too new and sharp-edged to be worth collecting. 

It was a lovely interlude, though ... 

... on a windless day. 

Out on the pier, I could see Church Hill, St Andrew's and Wain Hill, where we'd been on our last jaunt with Ted, when all had seemed well. Impossible to think that visit had been less than two weeks earlier.

There's somewhere else I've needed to go badly all year and that's Dartmoor. I didn't want to risk letting a whole year go by without setting foot on it. 

I didn't want to go without Ted either. 

In the end the Northerner and I decided to have a short walk and film my three Dartmoor-based poems from The Shadow Factory, as it doesn't look like we'll be having a proper, in-person launch any time soon. 

Except that when we arrived it was clear the conditions were against us.

And walking up steep Cox Tor in the teeth of the wind was attrition.
I staggered as far as the first outcrop of rock on its summit and howled and howled for my dog.

But I still had to get to the cairn with its trig point, a short distance that looked as wide as an ocean, 
rippled with waves from the Ice Age

It was so windy, even the landscape seemed to be coming unhinged. 

We made it as far as the big cairn to the north. 
There were amazing views in all directions, here over to Brent Tor, with West Devon beyond.

There were some very steep sections on our descent to the car.

Coming in the opposite direction was a man with two border collies. One had classic black and white markings, like Ted; the other as dark as a shadow. There's no way of knowing what went through their collie minds, but the dark one headed for Colin and the other for me, and they licked our hands, and swapped about, and they were just beautiful and so gentle. 

It was a slightly strange and special moment. If there's a message there, it's a loving one. It was always all about love. 


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