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, 27 January 2021

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

I thought I had a good chance of getting vaccinated fairly quickly because of being a support worker for my son, but as it turned out, it was working in a special school that got me the chance of a slot first. And since Southmead Hospital and the BRI are booked up for months in advance, and I clearly can't go to super vaccination centre at Trashton Gate under even life or death circumstances (it's a tribal thing), I happily booked myself into the hub at Weston General. Hooray. A shot of Pfizer-BioNTech and a walk along the beach at Uphill with the Northerner and Cwtch, who would be getting her first chance to see the sea, all legal and lockdown be damned.  

Except that our internet router stopped working on the weekend and its replacement didn't work either and the earliest the engineer could get round was ... yes, the same time as my vaccination, and so I found myself making my way down to Uphill Slipway on my own. And it was raining and misty, and this being the Severn estuary, the tide was so far out I couldn't have seen it even if it had been fine. 

But the first thing I saw as I crossed the little car park (closed) at the top of the beach was a tricoloured border collie puppy, and then I saw a lovely old merle collie, and then a beautiful black and white one that made me think of Ted, and I thought about how lucky I am to have had my first shot and to have another one booked for April, when it might be sunny and our own tri collie pup might get her first run on the sand and mud of Weston. 

Back at home the Northerner was still waiting for the engineer to arrive, but when he did magic was performed and our running speed has apparently increased from 2 to 60. Or maybe that's because along with the Pfizer vaccine, I now have Bill Gates' microchip in my arm. 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Leigh Woods in sun and mud

Who's this, creeping through the woods at sunrise? Why, it's Cwtch the collie. 

Another Sunday morning, warmer - and therefore muddier - than last week, but still beautiful.

We got up even earlier to avoid as many people as possible, and largely succeeded. 

The views were much clearer than the same outlooks last week, when it was misty and frosty. We could see the River Avon hundreds of feet below in the bottom of the gorge. 

Today I was particularly struck by how colourful winter is in these woods. Of course, it helped that it was sunny.

We walked some way along the ramparts of Stokeleigh Camp.

We had a choice of paths ... 

... and decided to walk alongside the parish wall for a bit before making our way back to North Road. 

There are quite a few beech trees in this part of the wood. I think this one might have beech bark disease though I might need correcting on this. 

Meanwhile, others have been subject to declarations of love, a common fate of beech trees with smooth bark.

I love love Claire Sellars(?)  ... Will love her forever

The date looks like 1789 but I expect it's 1989. Maybe Claire knows the truth of the matter. She must be out there somewhere.

This tree has made a declaration of love all by itself.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Leigh Woods in frost and mist

It's quite difficult socialising a young pup close to where we live. There's the meadow, of course, but we seldom see anyone else up there. The nearest place to walk her where there are other dogs is a playing field the far side of a dual carriageway, but a few of them are quite in-your-face, and Cwtch gets a bit nervous. So, after much debate re the meaning of the word 'local', we got up at sunrise and drove 4.9 miles to Leigh Woods, where dogs are (supposed to be) on leads, and are therefore a bit less scary for a very young collie. 

As it turns out, our prime minister travelled further for his exercise, so presumably we weren't in breach of the rules, whatever they are. Also, we were there long before the crowds, and just leaving as they arrived - so many bikes! so much lycra! - so it worked out well all round. 

Along the top edge of Nightingale Valley

And it was beautiful. Sun and frost, a misty blue light ...

... and the gloriously twisted veteran trees that make these woods, and the nearby Ashton Court estate, such a joy to walk in during the winter. 

Approaching Stokeleigh Camp, the iron age hill fort

Up through the ramparts

First glimpse of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the mist

View over Avon Gorge

Around the third side of the camp

On the left, a veteran small leaf lime coppard, which is a tree that has been coppiced and then later pollarded. 

An officially veteran re-pollarded oak

One of the most striking trees in the woods is the veteran yew standing on the parish boundary. I love the way the wall, which was built in 1813, breaks to accommodate it. 

But hey, what's up, Cwtch?

Something bitier than you? Oh dear. 


Friday, 8 January 2021

Not going anywhere

So how far can we go to exercise? The Scots have been told they're allowed to drive up to five miles outside their local authority area. But people in Derbyshire have been arrested and issued with fixed penalty notices for driving five miles within their area to walk around a reservoir. The police were waiting for them there. 

In the absence - again - of any meaningful information from our government, here are some photos from a visit to Eastville Lake before Christmas, for Cwtch to see swans and ducks and so on. It's more than five miles from where we live, so presumably it's out-of-bounds now as we'd have to drive to get there and neither of us had the foresight to be Dominic Cummings.

Are you sure this is a good idea?

                    First heron

Second heron 


Is that thing coming over here?

I'm not sure this is a good idea ...

You stay there and I'll stay here ...

Am I safer on here?

Oh good, let's go home!