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.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Pen Park Hole and the Mists of Elsewhere

There's still a bit of the ridge of edgelands I've come to call Elsewhere (because that's what it's been for us during the pandemic, and a godsend too) that I hadn't been to, and that's the little park at the south-western end of it, beyond the golf course and not accessible from it. 

I'm a bit ashamed of this oversight, given how close to it I've lived almost all my life, as it lies directly above Pen Park Hole, which is, apparently, the UK's only known hydrothermal cave system and home to the only subterranean colony of the shrimp, Niphargus kochianus. It's just that there's not a lot to see unless you are a speleologist and have permission to descend into its depths ... 

... which Cwtch and I aren't and haven't. Still, we've seen what we can of it now, and there are always photos of it online, as well as the traditionally far-fetched stories attached to such places to read. 

Otherwise, we've been out and about in the usual spots. I'd convinced myself over time that the reason we didn't go 
over the golf course and around the field and through the woods and along the common much last winter was first, on account of not having a dog because our old collie, Ted, had died, and then, having a new puppy - the aforementioned Cwtch - who was too young to go out much for a while, and then, being a bit prim, decided she'd rather stay on the settee than venture anywhere in anything less than the balmiest weather.  (And yes, it did take a while to get her housetrained.)

It wasn't just her, though. I'd forgotten, as I do every summer, how muddy footpaths get, and how difficult it can be to negotiate them through narrow gaps, gates and thick woodland. How grey and dispiriting December and January can be. How there's less to see and hear and smell.

Nevertheless, we've been getting out anyway, admittedly not quite as regularly as in spring and summer, but as often as not, and especially when a bright day with blue skies lifts our spirits. 

Towards the dreaming spires of El Dub

Chinook overhead

Plus, when the sun does come out, it draws your attention to the colour that's still on show.

Mostly, though, it's been cloudy. Occasionally, this can be beautiful ...

... but when it's unremittingly grey, you need a dog to justify taking photos. 

It's also rained a lot, so even when we're somewhere less frequented and not ankle-deep in mud, the fields are still more soggy than is pleasant to walk on. 

Ditch overflow

That said, I do like mist and there's even been a few days when it's been ... well, foggy. 

Even the commonplace is transformed by it.

I especially love the armadas of plants setting sail across the farmland. 

Stairway to Heaven

Is she still taking photos?

It might seem like a dreamland, but we're never allowed to forget the building of Brabazon that's going on nearby for long, even when views of it are obscured.

In this case we beat a hasty retreat. 

The one thing it hasn't been is cold - or at least, we haven't had a sustained spell of freezing weather yet, just the occasional frost-patched day. 

This means that while birds are already beginning to discuss choosing mates and which hedges to inspect, there's still some fungi about ... 

... and at one of my parking spots, either very late or decidedly early daisies. They think winter's all over, but it hasn't really started yet. 

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