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 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, 31 January 2020

On Australian Wolf Road

Needed some light and sky, so we parked at Aust Wharf Road for a wander up to the old Severn Bridge. Or Australian Wolf Road, as my sat nav called it, rather insistently.

There was a faint rainbow when we arrived, but luckily for us, most of the wet weather appeared to be heading for the far bank. 

Coincidentally, it was almost exactly a year since we were there last and explored the ferry terminal where Bob Dylan was famously photographed on his 'Judas' tour. 

I'm glad we gave it a good going-over because it's not there any more.

Gone the turnstile to the gents He might have passed through. Gone the urinal He might have peed at. Gone the poem I might have written ... except it's already safely published. 

A little further upstream there was a rowing boat, washed up on the warth and not looking particularly water-worthy.

And the familiar stripy cliffs. 

And my favourite of all bridges ever. (Apart from the clappers and the mediaeval packhorse ones on Dartmoor.)

Though if there were a bridge to Europe, that would be my best one ever right now.

Still quietly confident I'll never catch myself calling the new crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge.

Up in the village my first primroses of the year ... 

... and a pair of vintage petrol pumps.

Some orders are good to follow, so we saw that the gallons figures were shuttered and the pointer vertical before we commenced delivery at the nearby Boars Head. 

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Poetry-walking Arnos Vale Cemetery

The poems are mostly written and tickets are now on sale for the IsamBards poetry walk around Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol on Sunday 8th March at 1.30pm. The event comprises a guided tour around part of the cemetery in the company of guide Janine Marriott, with added site-specific poems, most of which were written especially for the walk and cover all aspects of Death, including Life and Everything Else In Between. They cost £5 and can be bought here.

Meanwhile, a little desultory googling this morning for IsamBards photos for our new Facebook page turned up this article from the Guardian, for which we were photographed at the University of Bristol Botanic Gardens Bee and Pollination Festival at the beginning of last September, but which we missed completely when it was published a couple of weeks later. It was lovely to come across all that summery sunlight and warmth in the middle of darkest greyest winter. 

Photo by Alex Turner for The Guardian

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Misty Avalon

Another writing and editing session in Glastonbury today, for the piece on climate catastrophe some of us west-based poets are preparing, and as it was misty and sunny and beautiful, Dominic and I decided to avoid the M5 and take the scenic route.

I was hoping for a repeat of thisthe October Sunday, seven and a bit years ago, when we stopped on Bristol Hill, en route for Wells Literary Festival, to gaze at the mist spreading over the Vale of Avalon. 
But as we descended from the sunlit heights of the Mendip Hills, it became clear that it was too foggy to see anything at all. This is the view of the coombe from Rachael's sitting room. 

Throughout the day, I took little breaks to look out the window and watch its gradual retreat.

First the top of the Mendips came into view ...

... then the houses down the hill ... 

... and finally the towers of Wells Cathedral on the far side of a distant river of mist.

Then, before we left, it came piling back in again. 

I had a hunch it might be worth returning the way we came, so we drove to Wells, ascended Bristol Hill, turned around by the TV mast at the top, and drove back down the hill, pulling over just above the sign post where I'd stopped all those poetry years ago. 

And we were rewarded with this. 

A reminder, perhaps, that when you can no longer be bothered to go out of your way to find beauty, it might be time to call it a day.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Walking back to the distant past

Start as you mean to go on. Well, it is a new year and for a few days, you really mean it. To that end, Son the Younger, the dog and I got up early on Thursday and went for a walk around Avebury. 

It's hard to visit without encountering at least some of its famous stones ... 

... though this visit was more about the surrounding landscape, and we were soon heading up the Herepath (also known as Green Street) towards the ancient Ridgeway that is styled as 'Britain's oldest road' and runs from nearby West Kennett to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire.

First, though, a pause to pay homage to the celebrated beech trees near the eastern entrance on the outer ramparts of the henge. 

The climb to the Ridgeway was long but gentle, although we were glad the wind we were heading into was fresh rather than cold.

At the meeting of the ways, we paused and looked back at the way we'd come, as the first raven of the year croaked overhead.

Then along the ridge of hills ... 

... with views on either side over the chalky Wiltshire countryside.
As the track descended to the A4, we encountered a series of bronze age round barrows ... 

... and over the road,  the now obliterated henge known locally as The Sanctuary, and a further round barrow. 

We crossed the bridge over the chalk stream that is the infant River Kennet, very close to where the local Saxon lads fought, and were defeated by, the Vikings, led by Svein Forkbeard. 

Then we passed through their village, East Kennett, now home to picturesque and doubtless hellishly expensive houses and strikingly coloured winter vegetation.

Our route then took us back across the Kennet ... 

... down very muddy lanes ... 

... and around the edges of fields with views to the mysterious prehistoric mound that is Silbury Hill

What was it for? We just don't know.

But before we got any closer, it was time to head up the hill to visit West Kennet long barrow

As long barrows go, it's big and high, so instead of squeezing and crawling, you can walk inside and wander about in the different chambers.

At one point all I could see was the tip of Ted's tail, like a magic wand waving in the dark. 

Silbury Hill from the top of the barrow

The Kennet was evidently running faster and higher than usual, as our next crossing place was flooded and we had to pick our way over. Not much of a problem for me in my walking boots; pretty uncomfy for Son the Younger in his 11 year old trainers ... 

... so instead of paying closer attention to the Hill, we squelched back along the river to Avebury. 

Then home, vowing to return, more adequately shod, sooner rather than later.