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, 23 July 2020

Ted Walks in the time of ... etc, Pt 10

One thing the continuing pandemic offers is the chance to really get to know your locality over time. Which is fine if you live in the country, but not so great if you're a city dweller, or, like us, in the edgelands. At the beginning of lockdown, I had no idea how I was going to access nature. That was before we discovered the meadow, wood and common beyond the golf course, which had clearly saved themselves for this Covid-19 eventuality, and for which the Northerner, the dog and I are profoundly grateful.

So. I enjoyed watching spring unfurl in this new-to-me nearby, and now it's summer's turn. Here are some (random) photos. 


A rose bedeguar gall, Robin's pincushion or moss gall 

Robin is Shakespeare's Puck.

A teasel in its glad rags

A treasury of vetch

A murky evening in the meadow



The ubiquitous red soldier beetle on wild carrot ... 


... ragwort ... 

... creeping thistle ... 

... and hogweed, more often than not doing what they do best.

Strange fungus for a tree stump

A man and his dog

One of our frequent, continuing sightings is of a kestrel hawking the meadow at sundown. 

Turning into the wind again and again is a useful metaphor for these times.

One night we watched it drop and come up, empty-clawed. It then went to perch on a conifer at the top of a meadow, close to where we were watching the sun go down ...

... before taking off again. Non angeli sed kestreli, as my friend Dru observed. 


This time its target was a flock of jackdaws which it harried home to the rookery. You can just see it, mistily distant above them. 

In addition to learning Lady Macbeth's hand washing speech, I've been studying the difference between umbellifers this year, so as to avoid calling them all cow parsley in future. It's been really interesting. 

In the meadow, the summer shift of upright hedge parsley has taken over from pignut ...



... though there's still plenty of hogweed around ...

... some of it on the tall side (though not officially Giant). 

(This is my friend, Liz Kerr.)



It's the wild carrot I've fallen in love with, though.
I think it might be my favourite of all the umbellifers, and I'm really looking forward to seeing all the seed heads turn into mad hats.

A moody carrot on Charlton Common
And then there are those moments when you pause in the gap between the brambles, and wonder what you will see around the corner. It's a bit like the contents of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction ...

... only better. 

Jackdaws homing

Twmbarlwm on the horizon

Creeping thistle





This has become my bolt hole and sanity saver. The perfect patch. 

Finally, from Robin's pincushion to this fledgling who flew into the patio doors a few days ago. If it had lived, it would have had a blog post of its own, like the young starling from 2016. Sadly, it was too new and too shocked to survive. RIP, little robin.  




Monday, 13 July 2020

A road trip to Berrow

A few weeks into full lockdown, a 10-mile round trip from my home on the outskirts of north Bristol to Eastville to deliver some shopping was a road trip. I remember looking at the mass of hawthorn blossom on Purdown as if it was the Alps. I've travelled a little further afield since then, but still pretty much in or only just outside the city. So it was exciting finally to fill up the petrol tank and head down the M5 to Berrow. 


The light was quite beautiful and quite unearthly by the time we made our way through the churchyard and along the footpath to the beach ...


... and there was no problem with social distancing either. It was lovely.   


Ted quite forgot his advancing years and chased the ball as eagerly as ever. 


The sunset wasn't quite as glorious as we'd hoped on account of a big bank of cloud in the west, but it became increasingly atmospheric. 


At one stage the lighthouses at Nash Point could be seen quite clearly beneath the band of cloud.  


No trip to Berrow is complete without a pilgrimage to the wreck of the SS Nornen. 


Unusually the sand around it was firm rather than mud, so it was possible to walk right out to the stern.


We walked along to the groynes ...


... and then it was time to turn  back. 


Ted marking the spot


I never mind leaving the beach because the walk back through the dunes is so lovely.


St Mary's Church and Brent Knoll




Hemlock water dropwort


Wild parsnip

It was a bit windy for flower photography but I persisted.


Clockwise top left: cranesbill; yarrow and sea radish; great willowherb; sea rocket; tall melliot; red clover; white campion; slightly pink white campion