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, 12 September 2021

Early Autumn Elsewhere

Early September is always a melancholy time for me, as the return to my school office heralds the darkening of the year and shortening of days. This year that feeling was compounded, as it was the first anniversary of the death of my dog, Ted. 

Not that I don't have a Cwtch to love and walk and get exasperated with and ... yes ... cwtch. But she's been put out of action for a couple of weeks, as a result of being spayed. You can see she isn't chuffed about it.

Anyway, as we are temporarily banished from the field and the wood and the common - far too exciting for a recuperating pup - it seems like an opportune time to catch up on some photos covering the tail end of August and early September.

August itself was pretty cloudy. It usually is, or at least seems to be, it being the school holiday. (Typically, the weather's been much sunnier and hotter since term restarted.)

Looking over to Mynydd Machen 

Nevertheless, there've been enough sunsets to show the sun's passage south and its desertion of the Welsh hills in order to set just beyond the M5. 

In the field the wild profusion of vegetation is dying back and we can now watch Cwtch's progress as she tussock-jumps from one side to the other. There are few flowers now, and fewer insects. 

the fairy ladders of Great (Hairy) Willowherb


honeybee on yarrow

four spot orb weaver maybe?

Two things there have been an absolute profusion of is thistledown and blackberries. I don't think I've ever seen so much of either.

You only have to turn your back for a moment in the edgelands and things change, not always in a good way. After several days' absence, during which I drove nearly 1000 miles to get my children up to Nottingham to see my mother and back home again, I returned to the lane to find the tall tree stumps lining the top part, which were flourishing trees when I was a child despite being run through with barbed wire, had been cut down to ground level and the accompanying growth slashed right back, leaving an unedifying view of the golf course car park and less habitat for the local wildlife. The barbed wire is still there, though.

And someone with nothing else to do has had another go at pulling rotting wood from the hollowing oak, destroying more habitat ...

 ... though this crocodile doesn't seem perturbed. 

Vandalism aside, I always find it intriguing the way oak heartwood rots into cubes. Sometimes it makes me think of my great-grandfather, who was a compositor and who gave up this skilled job to become a chimney sweep in the family trade when he married my great-grandmother; other times it makes me wish I could read what the tree's trying to tell me. 

There's also been a feeling of  wistfulness about Charlton Common, though I think that's more to do with the imminent building works.  

There, too, the flowers of summer are making way for autumn, which has its own beauty, of course. 

As melancholic as this time and this situation is, there are always new paths to follow and gifts to find. One night as we were walking home across the golf course, I noticed a track through the large pond that is little more than a muddy reed bed in summer, and carefully followed it to the other side. It was still full of loosestrife and fleabane, and I also spotted Michaelmas daisies, which always remind me of my grandmother, who loved them. I also managed to discomfit a toad - no photo of that, though, as it quickly scrambled away and anyhow, the dusk was too far advanced.

I also found this beautiful wing feather from a green woodpecker on its brink. Another gift to treasure from Elsewhere.


  1. That's a very lovely close-up of the honey bee on yarrow!
    And what a beautiful feather! I always enjoy your pics...

    1. Yarrow is one of my favourite plants. And I've been given some lovely feathers this moulting season.

      Hope all is well with you XXXX