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.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Midsummer Elsewhere

This is the third midsummer since the pandemic started and I discovered the field and the wood and the common that had eluded me all my life till then. 

The light in the evenings is often extraordinary. And for once, the skies on Midsummer's Eve were clear enough of cloud for us to see exactly how far north the sun sets in its journey to and fro along the Welsh hills to the west of us.

The answer is just to the left of the stanchions of the new Severn Bridge. You can see them alongside most prominent tree in this photo. 

I took a video of the last two minutes of light on the longest day. Sitting in the moment, watching the sunset, is one of my favourite parts of the week. 

Here's a few more of the beautiful sunsets we've seen these last few weeks. I guard them in my memory like Silas Marner guarded his hoard of gold.

There have been some moon risings too ... 

... and some interesting weather. Not an awful lot of rain, though when there's cloud coming off the Atlantic, it's almost always heavier on the Welsh side of the Severn estuary. 

Looking south

Sun dog

Another sun dog

And of course this is the time of year when everything's at its lushest, and every day there are new arrivals up the field and out on what was farmland and is now nearly rainforest.

Hogweed, elderflower, hogweed and sorrel, dog roses, a constellation of white clover, pignut, sorrel, hogweed and bird's-foot trefoil, feverfew, grasses, bramble, cuckoo spit on creeping thistle, vetch, goatsbeard

Cinquefoil, field bindweed, lady's bedstraw, camomile, moon daisies, hedge woundwort, wild carrots

This is my favourite oak from beyond Fishpool Hill, looking so wild and Garden of Eden-y out on the no-longer farm-, soon-to-be-developed land. 

Talking of which, there's been some fly tipping out at Elm Farm - at least a skipful, I'd say ...

... and the pond has shrunk considerably in size, leaving its detritus more prominent than ever.

A little further down, towards the M5, pipes are being laid in one of the first fields to be developed ...

... and back by the golf course, the top of Rooky Wood has been taken out completely to make way for the new pitch and putt. 

Before and after

I emailed the council about the apparent loss of the lovely old whitethorn on the fairway, but no one got back to me.  

On the plus side, nature prevails for as long as it can. The horrible fencing that was put up along the footpath at Charlton Common has completely disappeared beneath vegetation, which feels like a temporary victory ...

... while elsewhere my heart soars with the beauty of it all, even here in the edgelands.

desire path

horseshoe bend

The most exciting mammal spot these last few weeks has been another roe deer, which bounded into the hedge where we picked the damsons last autumn.  No photo - it had become aware of us a moment earlier and disappeared from view by the time I realised what it was. 

Things that didn't move as quickly include the following:

Common carder bee, marbled white, lesser stag beetle, large skipper, meadow brown, ladybird, five-spot burnet moth, honey bee, spider, unidentified but very high-flying butterfly, buff-tailed bumble bee, tortoiseshell

There have also been bats ... 

... and birds.

Magpie feather, buzzard troubling the rookery (and being seen off by sea gulls), blackbird eggs

And at all times there's a little collie going her own sweet way ... 

... resolutely refusing to get her paws wet. 

Cwtch in clover

Monday, 20 June 2022

Breakfast at Oxwich Bay

It was the Northerner's big birthday last week, but he'd been working on the day, and I was reading at a launch in the evening, so we kept Sunday free for an early morning trip to Oxwich Bay on the Gower peninsula, with a celebratory breakfast on the beach. As it happened we left later than planned, as Cwtch came in from the garden the evening before performing the dead squirrel dance - which is essentially the same as the sock dance, only with a different trophy - and took ages to settle down afterwards, which meant it was a long time before we got any sleep. (She didn't kill the squirrel, I hasten to add, as it was already quite cold, but she was  very excited, very possessive and really rather cross when it was confiscated.) 

Nevertheless, we still managed to arrive at our destination by 9.30am, and settled down to a breakfast of sourdough toast, smashed avocado and boiled eggs, with cappucino, at the beachside bistro. We then headed  up the path along the edge of the cliff to the little Church of St Illtyd, but there was a service in progress so we couldn't go inside. (On a Sunday! I ask you!) 

So I'll have to go back for a proper visit one day.  

We then walked along the beach a fair way and laboured up a fairly high dune, which was hard going in soft sand, and also a bit of a chastener when I recalled how I once bounded up la Dune du Pilat in south-west France, which is the highest dune in Europe and ten times taller than the ones at Oxwich. (Although that was 45 years ago.)

There was a good view from the top, although it was a bit of a precarious perch. 

It's a long way down

Looking back to Oxwich ...

... and ahead to Three Cliffs Bay 

In the end I slithered down on my bum ...

... and walked up the gap to look inside the dune system, where the natural habitat appears to be undergoing restoration. 

We then walked back up the beach to the car park. There were a few dead urchins washed up ... 

... and I picked up some sea glass and this really bizarre pebble, which looked like a small child had doodled a picture of a fish on it with some Tippex.

It was Cwtch's first visit to a beach which doesn't have a section of mud between the sand and the distant tide, and she was as unimpressed by the waves as she is ponds,  ditches, baths and all other types of water (unlike her predecessor, Ted, who would have been in there up to his snout).

 Back home in time for a nap, and a beautiful sunset with bat at 10 o'clock (the bat, that is - the sunset was at 9.40pm). Apologies for the bad photo of the sea glass; I didn't wake up till it was nearly dark so it was taken in electric light.