Wednesday, 28 January 2015


You might notice that I have a new follower called 'Gif'. I think it's spam so please don't click on any links connected to it - I would hate anything bad to happen to you. (It's safe to click on the icon itself because I've done that myself, but I wouldn't go any further.)

Do you have any suggestions as to how to get rid of it??

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Places of unknowing

Like Trish in her blog 'What's cooking?', I'm posting a picture of yesterday's extraordinary sunset (in Devon at least).

Sunset, Devon, 26.1.15

And here are some pictures of an outing Frog and I took last Thursday to what is turning into our favourite county: Somerset. Not Burrow Mump this time but the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal.

Mistletoe, poplars, Frog and Dog
Reeds and wind - a bitter north-easterly

In a recent post Autumn Cottage Diarist talks about being in a place of unknowing after her beloved cat was rushed to the vet. I'm in my own place of unknowing since my 87-year-old mother was rushed to hospital about two weeks ago, and I've tried to blog about it three times, but without success. I feel better now she's back at home, and that I've spoken to her on the telephone, and that I've arranged that Frog and I will visit in a couple of weeks' time. She lives four hours' drive away from us so it's difficult to give unplanned help. Thankfully I have four siblings closer at hand and they and their spouses/partners are doing sterling work providing her with round-the-clock attention.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

With a few words

A cold day – 1o according to my car display – and grey and damp with it.

My creative eye returns as I walk the dog in a nearby park, and there are several things I want to photograph. Why I want to photograph these particular things, I have no idea and so I have nothing to say about them – my creative brain is obviously still shocked into submission by my recent editing work.

So here are some pictures without words. Well, with a few words.

Bramble cage

Dead branches furred with lichen

Sprouted willow (at least, it looks like willow - I can't remember now what it was)

Mossed rock
Everything looks a lot brighter in the pictures than it did in reality - I think my new camera decided that the day was far too dingy and was trying to compensate.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

So simple

I’ve just sent to the proofreader a PDF of the monthly newsletter I edit. Unless anything is drastically wrong with it, I now have ten days’ or so of grace.
    I can’t wait.
    I love doing the newsletter. It’s given me confidence. I have a role in the village. I no longer feel like a freak with no children and no ‘job’ (except writing, which nobody but another writer understands). I’m thoroughly enjoying getting to grips with Microsoft Publisher.
    BUT, although only supposed to take a ‘few hours a month’ (according to the previous editor), it’s taken over most of my life.
    It’s my own fault. I think about the newsletter all the time and how I can make it better. I care about the contributors. I want more people in the village to read it. I'm scared of not being good enough or making some awful mistake.
    And I’ve lost sight of my other self. My writing self. The self who sees things when out walking that she just has to photograph.
    The self which makes me happy. 
Yesterday, I sat on the hill with the dog (as I do), basking in the sun and revelling in the view – all the way to Dartmoor, the tops of which were still sprinkled with snow.
    This is my time, I said to myself. All I have to do is make the decision to allow myself a few moments – or more.
    It’s so simple really.

A not-very-good photograph taken last week from the hill when there was a lot of snow on Dartmoor. You might have to use your imagination to see it here however.

Sunday, 11 January 2015


Did you know that elephants, lions, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses (phew, what a lot of vowels to get right) once thronged these lands, not to mention bears, wolves, wild boar and beavers? Our present natural environment is an infinitesimal fraction of what it once was – and what it could, perhaps, be again.
    Most conservation efforts (in this country at least) go into maintaining artificial habitats. For example our much-prized moorland is in fact man-made semi-desert. That land should – and could – be covered in trees. Preserving it in its current state is like preserving the ranchlands created out of the Amazon rainforest. We tend to think that nature should be returned to the state we remember from our childhood. But it could be so much more.
    So says George Monbiot in his book Feral which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.
    And not just for the sake of the planet. For the sake of our purse (surprisingly) and, most importantly of all, for the sake of our souls.
    And I agree.
    Here are some extracts from the book.
I want to see wolves reintroduced because wolves are fascinating, and because they help to reintroduce the complexity and trophic diversity in which our ecosystems are lacking. I want to see wolves reintroduced because . . . they are necessary monsters of the mind, inhabitants of the more passionate world against which we have locked our doors.

Ecological restoration is a work of hope.

. . . the large-scale restoration of living systems and natural processes . . . will, I believe, enhance our civilization, enrich and rewild our own lives, introduce us to wonders which, in these bleak lands, now seem scarcely imaginable.

So much environmentalism is negative. We must stop driving cars, buying clothes, eating food from other countries. It’s another guilt-trip, another straitjacket. George Monbiot’s book, while devastating in its account of how much we have lost in just the last few decades, nevertheless to me offers a positive way forward. It’s a vision of the future, and one that fills me with excitement.

And that’s all a pretty poor summary of a complex powerful book. You’d do much better reading it for yourself.

By the way, he calls the book Feral because the word means ‘in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication’. That’s us – as we could be.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A rest for the soul

‘Christmas is a lovely rest, isn’t it,’ I say to Frog yesterday morning.
    I’ve only been back at work two days and already I feel frazzled.
    I hear Frog hesitating. We're conducting one of our usual long-distance conversations: he's upstairs in the bathroom and I'm downstairs in the kitchen. I know what he's thinking. Several days shopping. Three days walking, two of the walks several hours long. You call that a rest?
    Eventually, after a long silence, comes his answer. ‘A rest for the soul.’
    Yes! I think. That’s exactly what Christmas is.

Sunrise, January 2013

Monday, 5 January 2015

'Now o'er the one half-world . . .

. . . Nature seems dead’ wrote Shakespeare*. He was talking about night, but the words could equally well apply to winter, and they’ve been running through my brain for the last few weeks. (That’s an old-fashioned education for you, when we had to learn chunks of plays and poetry.) Nature only seems dead however, and if you look closely – as I was doing yesterday because I wanted to try out my new camera – there is all sorts of evidence that nature is far from dead, even on a bleak January day.

* Macbeth Act Two, scene I, lines 49-50

Pink and grey-green lichen on top of a gatepost

Holly in the hedge: glossy old leaves and bright-green new ones

The ubiquitous gorse

Lime-green moss on a shady bank