About Me

My photo
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.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

High summer at Ashton Court

We've found that as long as we pick our time, we can find relative solitude at Ashton Court, despite the pressure on open urban spaces as a result of the pandemic. So we've been going up there every couple of months or so this year, and now it's high summer's turn to take centre stage. 

The oak that's always first to greet us

yellow rattle

View over central Bristol, including the Wills Memorial building, Cabot Tower and St Mary Redcliffe

View over south Bristol with Kelston Roundhill on the horizon

View across to Dundry

Path to Summerhouse Plantation

Green where there were bluebells last time we were here

The Fattest Oak in ceremonial solstice robes

Fox or badger sett

I wish I could read bark. This is in sycamore. 

Nature watching with Cwtch the collie

Monday, 21 June 2021

You go your way and we'll go ours

Still not going anywhere much. Partly because of the pandemic; partly because of family stuff; partly because I've been writing a pamphlet of poems about the meadow and the wood and the common for the Creative Project part of my MA, so while that's under way, why go anywhere else? 

It's exactly a month since my last post about our patch in the north Bristol edgelands, and it's been lovely up there - less rainy than most of May, not as dry as April. The growth, particularly these last three weeks, has been stupendous. 

Here's Charlton Common on 31st May ... 

... and here it is, just over a fortnight later on 16th June. The fence post is almost lost in growth and in some places the vegetation is as high as me.

Some evenings the light has been so beautiful ... 

.. which is all the more precious when you remember where we are: in the industrial edgelands.

Which reminds me ... sunsets, there have been loads ...  

Even on nights when there's no light - like midsummer's night (again) - there's some colour in the field at least.

Although some cloud does enhance a sunset, especially after the sun's gone down. In fact, it's a rare sky that isn't improved by some.

You can see a picture book moon in this sky. There was a lovely full one, too. 

As for trees, the may was still blossoming in June, just as the elders were barging backwards into a month not named for them.

May in June

Morrisesque elderflowers

The cow parsley endured too: here's some having a bedtime story read to them by one of the oaks in the field.

The hollowing oak is still imprinted on the inside of my eyelids, and another of the younger, small oaks is boasting oak galls ...  

... while, when we can, we sneak around the golf course to admire Gordon the ash tree's splendid root system. 

As for flowers, at the end of May, just when I thought the early shift was over, it shifted down the field instead ... buttercups and lady's smock.

But now we're well into the summer shift of sorrel and hogweed - and the first creeping thistle ... 

... and red clover and white clover ... 

... and vetch and meadow vetchling ... 

... and dog roses ... 

... and hedge woundwort ... 

... and lady's bedstraw ... 

... goat's beard, I think ... 

... field bindweed ... 

... bird's foot trefoil by the pond ... 

... and my favourites, a crescent of moon daisies. 

The new pond on the golf course is beginning to be colonised ... 

... but I can't help feeling there are fewer insects about than last year. This is based on nothing other than a feeling, so not very reliable. There's lots of cuckoo spit, and lots of buff-tailed bumbles ... 

... and quite a few thick-legged flower beetles among the buttercups.

Snails and slugs have abounded ... 

... but there have been fewer ladybirds and butterflies. Then again, we go out mostly in the evening, so my impressions are far from scientific. 

Tortoiseshell butterfly

Speckled wood butterfly

Last year we frequently saw a kestrel hunting in the field, and an occasional barn owl. We haven't seen either for months, but maybe they're still there and we just haven't coincided with them.

We have, however, glimpsed a heron a couple of times in the otherwise unfrequented main pond. 

On the other hand it was a year before we saw a roe deer in the wood, and another month before we saw one in the field. In the last month we've had three further sightings. Just happenstance, I suppose.

Here I am, doing my best David Attenborough impression.

Lastly, here's two of my favourite other mammals, one of them celebrating his birthday. 

You go your way and we'll go ours