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.

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Autumn Fires and Stormlight

 I've spent the last five weeks rehabilitating the ankle I sprained back at the beginning of October by walking slowly but doggedly around the Field of the Hollowing Oak (difficult because of its tussocky nature), through the Small Dark Wood of the Mind and along the footpath by the embankment (difficult because of the greasy mud), and over the farmland that will shortly be under development. But first a look at the innocuous scene of the accident. (Must pay attention when walking down a rough, stony slope.)

In mid-October it was still warm and the ground was dry, and I spent some time lying on the grass beneath the hollowing oak that was still in full leaf and very green. I'd been worried that being laid up on the settee at home meant that I was missing the best of autumn, but this wasn't the case, particularly not where the oak was concerned. 

18th October

27th October

30th October

3rd November 

10th November 

12th November 

16th November 

19th November

It's been fascinating documenting the changes day after day.

Elsewhere in the field, the glorious colours of the Rookery and Rooky Wood in mid-October have all but vanished. 

The only remaining colour comes from the inhabitants - jays, magpies, rooks - who engage in noisy and repetitive corvid warfare, complete with the Charge of the Rook Brigade.

Another change in my absence was the cutting of a path right through the middle of the field. We had a bit of a panic when we first saw it, fearing it might be something to do with the development of the land beyond, even though the field is earmarked to remain as a 'green corridor' on the plans. Then I remembered the swathe is exactly where the footpath runs on the map, even though everyone walks around the field edge, so maybe it's just that someone to do with footpaths has instructed someone to do with maintenance to keep it clear. I've been sticking to the perimeter path mostly.  A path is really only a path when it remembers feet, and cut stubble is tricky to walk on.

And pity the poor ants whose nest was sliced open and predated by wasps.

Otherwise, wildlife has been thin on the ground. As thin as the fur of this poor creature ...  

'Looks like a rabbit, mam'

... and the leaves now revealing emptied nests.

The ashes which looked so stunning a month ago ... 

... are now in a state of undress ... 

... but not before they provided a spectacular golden path through the Small Dark Wood of the Mind.

Ashes are only ever not magnificent when they've been felled, like the ash on the lane leading to the golf course that gave me a poem nearly two years ago.

Other trees notably having a (metaphorical) last hurrah have been the field maples.

Colourful detail has come from berries, fallen leaves, fungi, and the few flowers there are about.  

Bryony berries, bramble leaves, hawthorn berries and field maple, oak leaves, Cwtch in the Glade of the Golden Apples, ash leaves, spindle berry, sycamore leaf

Waxcaps, meadow waxcap, field mushroom, shaggy inkcap, butter waxcap  

Clockwise: dandelion, dead nettle, fox and cubs, hogweed (most of which now resemble the broken colossus of Ozymandias), cat's-ear, unseasonal bramble flowers and beech catkins, wild carrot, buttercup, selfheal

I really like the way the cloud in this photo is emulating the spectral hogweed.

Fractal shapes in cloud

And then, after months of dry weather, came the rain ...

... and the stormlight so typical of this time of year and so very beautiful. 

Charlton Common

The Field of the Hollowing Oak on the skyline

As winter comes on, the light is changing again, seeming softer somehow. 

This is the closest the field gets to a sunset in the dark half of the year. 

And today there was a mixture of sun and rain that led to the most magnificent rainbow ...  

... a reminder to keep looking for moments of light until the Light comes back. 


Thursday, 17 November 2022

Art for heart's sake


It was a lovely morning this morning, by which I mean it wasn't raining, and Cwtch and I were off on an adventure, to visit Jinny and Dru on the Kennet and Avon at Seend in Wiltshire, where there's a Victorian postbox. 

I parked in the car park of the Barge Inn - there are, I think, at least three pubs so named on the K&A - and mounted a look out from the bridge, upstream - no, wait, canals don't have a stream, do they - east ... 

... and west, where I could see Jinny and Dru in the distance, coming to meet us.   

By now it was sunny with just the right amount of cloud and I felt pretty chipper even though I'm a hopeless winter depressive.

Dru's boat, NB Eve, was looking spectacular with its Progress Pride flag, but we were headed for Jinny's NB Netty, two boats along, despite what Dru considers her less than optimum supply of tea. 

Ooh, and it was warm inside by the wood burner, much warmer than at home, where I haven't put the central heating on yet. After a very happy Cwtch had spent some time exploring her first ever boat and located Jinny's lost socks, her store of cheese, a packet of cat food and the rather tasty tasteful leg of her decorated Lloyd Loom chair, Jinny and I hunkered down for a chat and a stint folding and sorting cards and pairing them with envelopes, ready for the Floating Market the weekend after next. 

Through the window I could see a blaze of hawthorn berries, though sadly no sign of the redwings or fieldfares that frequent them ...

... while the doors afforded a view of a gold mannequin, perched on the roof of the boat between Netty and Eve.

More (perfectly satisfactory) tea and ginger biscuits later, it was time to be thinking about going. Night creeps up so quickly these days, and I wanted to be nearly home before all the light disappeared.

Hooray for dear friends, cuddly collies and bright November days. Hopefully the weather will be as lovely for the market as it was today.