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.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween on Dartmoor

A late gig followed by a 5am wake up call and I found myself heading to Devon without my lovely anti-arthritis pillow and, more alarmingly, my extensive library of Dartmoor walking books.  'Never mind,' said my companion, 'you can buy one in the Tourist Information Centre in Postbridge'.  Except that when we got there, I discovered that I already owned all of them and baulked at paying £8 for a duplicate.  So we'd be making it up as we went along.  

First, though, a coffee in the East Dart Hotel and a visit to the bridges over a rather full looking river ... 

... and the pleasure of a chance encounter with copies of my novel, Dart, on sale in the post office, right in the middle of the moor and a few miles from where the story is set, in Hexworthy. (Apparently it's been a bit of a best seller in Postbridge this year.)

Then on up the road for a couple of miles where we parked near the pub and set out over Water Hill, which soon turned out to be very well named.  

Sloshiness notwithstanding, there were some grand views in all directions, back the way we'd come (such colours!) ... 

... and looking ahead to Meldon Hill near Chagford. 

 And given that the walk was of an ad hoc nature, it was great to come across the standing stone and very well preserved double stone row on Hurston Ridge.  

The top end of the stone row.

The end stone.

We headed for the drift lane past Metherall on the edge of Fernworthy Forest, the general murkiness of the day proving to be quite photogenic.  

After stopping for a time to watch a kestrel hovering against a background of darkly dripping conifers, we headed down the lane off the moor, Meldon Hill now less than a mile away.  

Then we mountaineered over a stile and negotiated the signposting around Lower and Higher Shapley, before heading back up onto the moor at Hurston.  

At times it was quite hair-raising with fields of cows to cross with Ted (Ted does not like cows) and paths that were more like rivers, complete with waterfalls.  It would appear to have rained a lot on Dartmoor lately.  

Back on the moor we leapt Hurston Water in a feat of derring-do, only to discover that the swollen stream was flowing right alongside the wall below the aptly named Lakeland and we had to cross back over again.  

Eventually we managed to cross it for a third time and gain some higher, drier ground.  

It was a bit rainy from time to time but still very beautiful in a wuthering sort of way.  

We hit the road at  Bennett's Cross, which dates from the 13th century and is one of my favourites.

 View of Cosdon Hill and Kestor Rock.   

And then up ahead loomed the welcome sight of the pub, the third highest - and reputedly the loneliest - in England.  

It being Halloween, we were relieved to see that despite having a spiffy new pub sign, it still goes by its old familiar name of the Warren House Inn, rather than the Slaughtered Lamb.   
Let's take a closer look ... ah yes, the Three Hares. Welcome to Dartmoor!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Blackbeard's Tea Party at Mr Wolf's, Bristol, 29th October 2013

 Still not got 'en ... 

Ah, there he is ... 


Friday, 11 October 2013

A Windy Day at Glastonbury

The best laid plans gang aft agley when it's a beautiful October day and your friend is headed to Glastonbury to deliver a consignment of Christmas cards to Gothic Image on the High Street.  

Fare thee well, housework! 

Later, we would be heading for what remains of St Michael's on top of the Tor.  For now, this painting opposite St John's on the High Street had to do.

We decided to climb the three hills associated with the town.  First stop, Wearyall Hill, which is actually a lot less demanding to climb than the Tor.

On its brow is the holy thorn, a descendant of the one alleged to have been planted by Joseph of Arimathea, which allegedly blossoms each Christmas.  Or what remains of it, since it had all its branches cut off in 2010.

There is a historic precedent for this: the 'original' Glastonbury thorn was cut down and burned as a relic of superstition during the Civil War.  It's a shame that some fundamentalists don't appear to have developed at all since then.

After this act of vandalism, in 2012, a new sapling grafted from the tree in the Abbey grounds was planted but this too was irreparably damaged a fortnight later.  I wonder what right people believe they have to do this?  As Dru remarked, it's enough to make you hope they meet the god they believe in.  

The Tor with the town at its feet was looking good, however ... 

... as were these (thankfully placid) Highland cattle.

We left the hill via this stone stile ... 

... and strolled up the River Brue, so altered and engineered as to resemble a large rhyne, which it is in effect. 

This is a photo of a heron (on the bank) and a cormorant. 

Beyond Cow Bridge we headed back into town ... 

... and made our way into the Rifleman's Arms for leek and lentil soup and cheesy chips. 

After stopping to sup at the Chalice Well, we climbed over Chalice Hill to tackle the Tor from the back route. 

At the top it was very very blowy. (Photo by Dru Marland.)
Hats had to be held onto.  

But the views were fabulous, this looking over towards Wells.

The tower of St Michael afforded some shelter ... 

... while we watched the play of sunlight over the Levels.

The Tor is pretty steep - best appreciated on the way down rather than when toiling to the top. Each time I do it, I promise my knees I shall never put them through it again ... 

A quick pumping up of the Moggy's tyre and we were homeward bound, via Hornblotton so that Dru could take some photos of the church we visited a fortnight ago with her tripod ...

... while Ted waited patiently on a pew.  

It's no good, Ted ... 

... you can't hurry beauty.