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.

Saturday, 28 May 2022

The metropolis revisited

Apart from the poetry walk and the writing groups we run, I haven't been into the centre of Bristol much lately; in fact, going there still feels like a bit of a novelty 'post'-pandemic. 

Another reason for not going there is because it's so bloody hard to drive around the place these days, thanks to stealth bus gates trialled when everyone was in lockdown that have been subsequently made permanent. I never thought I'd need to use a sat nav to get around my native city. 

I know something needs to be done about air pollution, but I'm not sure making people drive miles further to get from A in the centre of town to B, also in the centre of town, is helpful. I guess the intention is to make using a car so stressful people give up and take public transport instead, but nothing's been done to improve the service. I actually like going on the bus - they're great places to slip into the liminal space where poems live - but my part of town is served by a bus lane, which means cars have to make a considerable detour to cross the ring road - but no buses. Well done, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire.

One of the reasons I was in the centre of Bristol recently was to launch my new poetry collection, 'Learning Finity'. It was a small thrill to read the poem 'Fockynggrove' at the Folk House, which is built on the hill that went by that name in 1373. I don't have any photos of the evening, though - in fact, I have barely any photos of any of my book launches, and I've done six of them now. I'm always far too keyed up to think of recording the event, and everyone else is mostly getting stuck into the contents of the bar. Ah well. 

Another reason for being in town recently was for a school friend's 60th birthday tea, also at the Folk House - look at that selection of cake! I hadn't been able to park in either of my preferred car parks because they were full, and had ended up a fair walk away because there was nowhere to pull over to consult the sat nav on how to get to a nearer car park that can't be accessed via the most direct route any more. Still I did have a nice walk along the new cut. 

I also spent a morning dropping books into bookshops on the off-chance they might stock them, and rewarded myself for stepping outside my comfort zone by popping into the Arnolfini to see the exhibition of prints by Paula Rego, which didn't disappoint (although ending in a day or two). 

Baa baa black sheep

Friday, 20 May 2022

Softening the edges

It's been a hard two or three months. The edges of loss have been softened by the greening of the landscape but my usual delight in spring has disappeared. And yet the friend I'm grieving would be taking joy in all the daily changes, so the important thing is to keep getting out into what passes for our little piece of nature and honour it, and her. 

Prosaic things first. We haven't ventured over the far side of Fishpool Lane lately, where most of the building work on the new suburb of Bristol is going on, so I don't really know what the situation is over there, but signs of incipient building work on the land alongside the footpath at Charlton Common are evident, in this ugly fencing.

Meanwhile, up on the golf course, the development of the pitch and putt continues. One evening we saw a rabbit hopping over turned earth ...

... but squint as we might, we can't see the wonderfully witchy whitethorn that used to grace the fairway in splendid isolation. It had a tree preservation order on it, so I can't quite believe it's been felled, but I can't see it from the footpath either. 

Here it is, two years ago, with our old collie, Ted. I'll be really upset if it's gone for good. 

Apart from the rabbit, we've seen - well, there's more evidence of burrowing all across the field, but I'm not sure who's responsible. 

At first I thought it might be the work of that very rabbit and its tribe, or maybe foxes, but now, having seen some poo, I'm wondering if they might be badger scrapes and snuffle holes. Certainly you have to be careful if you go off-piste and walk the narrow track that crosses the field above the footpath (another badger indication), as you're likely to put your foot down a hole and come a cropper. 

Not that we've seen any badgers, having Cwtch in tow, despite often being up the field at twilight.

Otherwise, there've been games with other dogs ... 

... and their monkeys ... 

 ... and several encounters with unfeasibly large sticks. 

You're not taking that in the car!

And when not running about or carrying wide loads, Cwtch has been chilling in the buttercups, or the shade of the hollowing oak, and watching the sun set. 

The illuminated dog

Talking of sunsets, we've been watching them from the footpath over the fairway ... 

... and the pond ... 

... and down on the Common ... 

... but mostly the field. 

There've been a few moon rises too.

Meanwhile, the rookery is now fully leafletted ... 

... and I was so happy to meet this field maple out on the farmland. I hope it survives the building of Brabazon. 

Book launches, and rehearsing for them, meant I missed the damson blossom but it looks as if there might be a harvest later, again if the trees survive the building development till autumn. 

As for flowers, there've been loads and here they are: 

TOP:  cuckoo flower (lady's smock); white nettle and herb Robert; cowslip
MIDDLE:   bugle and red clover
BOTTOM:  vetch; oak apples (OK, not flowers); early elderflowers

TOP:  lesser stitchwort; pignut; cow parsley
MIDDLE:  dovesfoot cranesbill; hogweed; speedwell
BOTTOM: bluebells and bird's-foot trefoil

I've left my favourites till last: blackthorn ... 

... whitethorn, which scented the air headily for a couple of weeks and is now just about over ... 

... and assorted treasure. (I left the snail where it was.)

buzzard feather

magpie feathers

Bah, humbug!

Saturday, 14 May 2022

On the Edge VII: Another year in sunrises

I'm a bit late with my this year's round-up of sunrises, etc, from my bedroom window, which I do because 1) they mark the passing of my days, and 2) I like to gloat over my treasure. But here they are - mid-April 2021 to mid-April 2022 in sun tracks and skyscapes.

19th April 2021, 6.21am

26th April 2021, 5.59am
The return of the vapour trail

29th April 2021, 5.59am

23rd June 2021, 5.11am 

2nd July 2021, 9.41pm
Evening this time. A brilliant after-glow following a rainy sunset

6th September 2021, 6.49am 

7th September 2021, 6.39am

17th September 2021, 6.53am
Cloud hills towering over the Cotswolds this morning

21st September 2021, 6.33am

22nd September 2021, 7.06am
Still no ash tree for the sun to lodge in this equinox

3rd October 2021, 3.23pm
Rainbow for a daughter's birthday and a mother's death

9th October 2021, 7.47am
The last of the sun till next February. From now on we'll just get its tail-feathers

11th October 2021, 7.25am

18th October 2021, 7.27am
The briefest suggestion of a sunrise

3rd November 2021, 7.19am

13th November 2021, 8.46am
Sunrise all day with trees like these

23rd November 2021, 7.10am

26th November 2021, 9.02am
Storm Arwen incoming

29th November 2021, 7.41am

5th December 2021, 8.11am
Sky like a slightly amateurish watercolour this morning

22nd December 2021, 8.01am

24th December 2021, 8.06am

17th January 2022, 16.33pm
The Wolf Moon

18th January 2022, 7.23am

9th February 2022, 7.34am
The sun is creeping back to the corner

12th February 2022, 7.25am

14th March 2022, 6.31am

15th March 2022, 6.36am

17th March 2022, 6.24am

20th March 2021, 6.25am
Happy Equinox, quoth the magpie, as the sun rises in the ash that's no longer there

21st March 2022, 6.19am

24th March 2022, 6.32am

26th March 2022, 6.16am

27th March 2022, 7.22am

31st March 2022, 6.56am

2nd April 2022, 6.37am

7th April 2022, 6.50am
A rough night, and now it's all a bit Samuel Palmer out there

9th April 2022, 6.32am

11th April 2022, 6.27am

16th April 2022, 6.47am
Half an hour after sunrise