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.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Red grass, ghost birds and roe deer

The Northerner's been poorly all week, poor Cwtch is on heat, and the Met Office says we're heading for the wettest May on record. All of which means it's been nearly a week since we've been up the field and down the wood and over the common, and I miss it, along with our neighbourhood swifts, of which I've seen not one yet this year. 

So as I sit here listening to yet another storm outside, with a snoozing, oozing pup at my side, I'm going to cheer myself up just a bit by  looking at some photos when we have been able to get out. 


Come on, let's go!

Mostly, it's been like this ... 




... and yes, I know we need the water for the harvest/garden/allotment, but I was enjoying sitting on dry, cracked earth to watch the sun go down. 

Not that there's been much of that, either, as even when we've had comparatively blue skies, the weather systems coming up the Bristol Channel have dumped the worst of the cloud over Wales, as is their wont. And that is where the sun is setting for us right now.





Charlton Common

So often we've just had to make do with ordinary skies, like this one. It's not too much of a hardship.


Of course, all the rain means things have been growing.   


Some quite early selfheal


Red grass!


A still-on-the-small-side border collie


What I think is an elderly yellow fieldcap, identification made a bit easier by Cwtch having knocked it over

Of course, the best thing about this time of year is the whitethorn. It's been a bit later than usual this spring, but worth the wait.


The entrance to Rooky Wood (just up from the rookery) on 1st, 9th and 13th May
 

Spectacular display near the bottom of the golf course on an evening that was evidently too dank for golf 


Cwtch and the witch of the fairway, grim Miss Havisham 



Just one of last year's haws left

One of the sad things over the winter was how the brambly scrub around the edge of the meadow was hacked to the ground, apparently with no care at all. A lot of the Small Dark Wood of the Mind was also hacked back. It's horrible to see the damaged trees and bushes, but there is a bit more light in there now, and consequently a little blossom.



Finally, whitethorn and elder flowering together

Down at the rookery there's been the strange phenomenon of ghost birds. Having first occurred in May 2020, there's been three more instances this month. 


'Looks like your camera's clicking twice,' says Dru, and of course she's right, but it doesn't quite explain why the other birds in the fourth photo are single images ... 


... nor why it only happens when I photograph the rookery.

Finally, having waited over a year for our first glimpse of a roe deer, Cwtch and I saw another just a fortnight later, this time in the bounding down the side of the meadow and disappearing into the wooded area on the far side of the winterbourne. Cwtch was very good, and although she ran down for a closer look, I'm pleased to say that she didn't chase it, which Ted certainly would have done. It was fairly late and pretty dark ...


... but I lightened the photo and you can just make it out to the right of the rightmost tree. 



Thursday, 13 May 2021

Seizing the day at Avebury

It's 16 months since Son the Younger and I went for a walk around the wider landscape of Avebury, full of plans for where we might explore during the remainder of the new and exciting year that was 2020. It's no exaggeration to say that, given the nature of the intervening time, it feels more like 16 years. 

I'm not as convinced as the government that we're headed towards the sunlit uplands of no further lockdowns with no turning back, and so I was anxious to meet up with the part of my tribe based on the south coast while we could. We'd long mooted the idea of finding somewhere between Bristol and their location, and eventually settled on Avebury, which is much nearer to us than them, admittedly, but somewhere we could sit and picnic and wander and wonder. 

Plus, there was a new member of the tribe for the far-flung human contingent to meet. And vice-versa. Which seemed to go well. 




A quick recap - vast, sacred palimpsest of a landscape, with one large stone circle enclosing two smaller ones, enclosed by a ditch and an external bank, dating from the late Neolithic period, into which the village of Avebury encroached many centuries ago. 




The Church of St James, which is well worth visiting, dates from Anglo-Saxon times.

I'd hoped to walk along the paths on top of the banks for a good view of the landscape, but they were roped off due to erosion, so that will have to wait for another day, hopefully. Instead we explored the stones at eye level.




Cwtch also got to meet her first sheep, and was interested - and kept firmly on the end of a lead.





Obviously we had to visit the deservedly famous beeches near the eastern entrance on the outer ramparts of the henge, which always look like trees straight out of a storybook, and were vital in their new leaves. 



I like that their admirers tie ribbons around their specatcular roots as well as their branches.



And from this vantage point, we still got a bit of a bird's eye view - at least, a very low-flying one.



A low-flying dragonfly


Wildlife pond and the Church of St James




Away to me, Cwtch!


Just try it, young 'un!