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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.

Sunday 16 October 2022

Exile from Elsewhere

I haven't been to the Field of the Hollowing Oak, or the Small Dark Wood of the Mind, or the common next to the disused airfield, or the footpath by railway embankment, or the farmland that is under development and will soon be the new Bristol suburb of Brabazon for ten days, not since I momentarily mislaid where I was in time and space and did me another spectacular ankle sprain that has seen me confined to the Settee of Suffering for a large part of my birth month, which is a shame because I love it. And I miss my little bit of edgelands. So here's some photos from the last couple of months to cool my cabin fever. 

Through the parables of sunlight and the legends of the green chapels

One thing we couldn't help noticing during this time was the slightly dispiriting passage of the setting sun from Twmbarlwm in Gwent along the hill behind the M5 to Avonmouth, finally reaching the point where it's just about disappear from view, and at the same time occurring progressively earlier in the evening, from 8.15pm on 19th August to 6.40pm on 3rd October. Of course it can't be summer for ever but it's hard to see it go.

Also, the progression of autumn colour, as the leaves turn yellow, gold and red, berries ripen and fungi mushroom. 


blackberries and old man's beard

the hawthorn grove


oak bracket fungus


the rookery

hawthorn leaves

hawthorn leaves and blackberries


stump puffball

ghost dock leaves

a new view through the wood post-storm

In early September the time for picking wild damsons and making damson vodka came, so we did it. Having apples in our garden, we left the crab apples for the wildlife, along with more damsons than we took because other creatures need them too. 

The time of thistledown is waning though there are still moments of beauty ...

... and around the time of the Queen's death, the wild carrot seed heads were forming gilded sceptres.

There aren't that many feathers around to pick up any more either, though I did spot this beautiful buzzard feather on the edge of the Small Dark Wood of the Mind just after I'd watched its previous owner hunt overhead one lunchtime. 

In early September we saw a kestrel hunting a few evenings on the trot, including one night when there were two prospecting together ... 

... and the ravens did a few flypasts too.

The rookery is silent most of the time, but abruptly fills up at sundown. 

Other wildlife I spotted but didn't manage to capture included several sightings of green woodpeckers and quarrelsome jays. These two weren't getting away from me, though. 

There have still been some insects about, including two species of butterfly - small copper and common blue - I spotted within moments of each other, having tucked a couple of pigeon feathers - actually there are quite a few of those about still - in the heartwood of the hollowing oak as a gift. I hadn't seen a small copper up the field till that point. 

Clockwise from top left:  Dock beetle, clock beetle, speckled wood, small copper, large white, common blue, another speckled wood, thistle gall, greenbottle

And even when the skies seem empty of birds and insects, there's still plenty of cloud and colour to enjoy. 

Out on the farmland, the pond harbouring the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water had gone dry. Maybe he'd gone on his hollibobs. We were there to see how the development was progressing. (We don't go too often as it's pretty depressing.)

Something else new was hearing a train down in the cutting for the first time. (Normally that line only takes freight trains at night.) Again, since there was clearly some work going on down at the disused halt last winter, I suspect it's to do with the new development.)  Cwtch was stopped in her tracks by the strange noises that were emanating. 

Talking of whom, she celebrated her birth month having a lovely time tearing about and especially playing with other dogs in a much more manageable way than would be the case somewhere more dog-dense, like the local park (though she does go there too from time to time). From being a nervous lockdown pup, she's turned into a playful but respectful young dog. 

And now, laid up with a fat blackened ankle, I'm missing it more than ever. Hope to be back soon.

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