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.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Frost and mist and fire

There have been other frosty days this winter, but on Saturday there was mist too, and any grumpiness we were experiencing (having waited in all day for builders who didn't turn up), dissolved in a cauldron of frost, mist and sunset when we finally got out for a walk. 

Stars of the show were the hogweed seedheads ...

... along with crazily crocheted cobwebs ...

... and the melting driftiness of it all, that sent me into some sort of delirium and quite made me forget the bloody b*ilders.

The next day was wet and dank and we'd definitely come back through the wardrobe, but with photos to prove it really had been that beautiful. 

Yahoo! Another poetry round-up ...

Wednesday 29 November 2023

The 2023 Kennet and Avon Canal Christmas Floating Fayre

 And so to Bradford-on-Avon for the Christmas Floating Fayre on the Kennet and Avon Canal. We could have gone on Saturday, which was a cold but sunny day enhanced by the winter's first frost - a Frost Fayre! -  but someone had football to watch, and so we found ourselves east-bound on the M4 on Sunday, in pervasive mist and drizzle. 

Fortunately it was - well, not clearing up exactly, but at least not quite as wet by the time we arrived, found a parking place on Trowbridge Road and walked to the wharf. And although I've made enough winter visits to friends living on the cut to know that it's the most unromantic of lives, up to your arse in mud on the tow path, the last few autumn leaves reflected in the water, the coloured boats and woodsmoke did look very picture-rescue, as someone I know said without a trace of irony the other day. 

First, a quick chat with Dru, who was in pole position on the Lower Wharf visitor moorings, doing a roaring trade selling her art and poetry books. As usual, I'd bought enough of her calendars for the people on my present list who appreciate them, but had forgotten to get one for myself, so I needed another of those. I also couldn't resist a pack of cards featuring a frozen-looking heron on Widcombe top lock in Bath. 

Looking down at the River Avon

Then we wandered half a mile or so west to see our friend Jinny, and meet - for the first time - her dog, Millie, a Macedonian rescue who joined her on NB Netty earlier in the year. 

First glimpse of Millie

After hugs and a catch-up, we wandered back to the pub for cider ...

... and then headed up to the Upper Wharf, where there was a Barber Boat, complete with revolving pole. I have to say, I remember the ones from my childhood being just red and white, and have laboured all my life under the impression that the red represents blood. No idea, then, what bodily fluid the blue might stand for.

Back at the Lower Wharf, Dru's stall was about eight deep in customers so we sidled past without managing to say goodbye. A lovely couple of hours out, though, and a welcome change of scene. 

Tuesday 21 November 2023

In which Cwtch the Collie gets her paws wet

Since the school I work in relocated over the summer, it's felt strange not to head for the part of Bristol I worked in for 24 years. I have been back a couple of times, though - or at least, to the unnamed road the school was on, as it's a good place to park for a walk in Badock's Wood. 

The main reason for visiting Badock's Wood, apart from enjoying a change of scene, is to convince Cwtch the Collie it's quite safe, actually, for her to get her paws wet, in this case in the River Trym. This is something I've been trying to do for some time, ever since she was a pup and learnt, abruptly, that once ice has melted, water doesn't hold you up. I think it's fair to say that so far, my efforts haven't met with much success.

Now it's autumn and the Trym's fuller, I've started wearing wellies, so I can get into the water myself and show Cwtch it's fine and even fun. 

Our first visit, in October, she needed a lot of persuasion even to get a claw wet ... 

... but on our second visit, three weeks later, she ran on ahead to the little beach where it's easy for the less than nimble to scramble down to the water's edge and waited for me to join her, for all the world as if she'd decided to enjoy this game, and as I crossed from side to side over the stream, she followed me. 

Gotta love the ostentatious shake at the end, as if she's just swum the Channel.

She still likes the bridge best, though.

As well as Cwtch's progress, I've been well placed to watch the progression of autumn, from green mostly ...  

... to mostly gold and copper.

spindle berries

Down in the little wooded gorge the Corvid Wars are in full flow ... 

... and there's an array of fungi.  

I've made some tentative identifications: brittle cinder, perhaps, and sulphur tuft; lumpy bracket fungus; turkey tail; candelsnuff fungus, and along the bottom row, ooh ooh ooh my favourite jelly ears. 

Unlike where we usually walk, there are lots of beech trees in Badock's Wood, and it's a tonic to see their lovely colours as the leaves turn ...

... alongside the occasional ash tree ... 

... and equally spectacular oaks. 

I even saw some holes belonging to bank voles in the river banks, though their inhabitants were most likely steering clear of Cwtch. Standing about in shallow rivers can give you a whole new perspective on the familiar. 

'All right, all right, I'll sit on it but I'm not going to smile!'