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Showing posts from 2021

Breaking The Heat And Keeping Focus

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Sunday 5th September 2021 From August to September was a tumble in time, with many visits from friends and family and I wish I’d taken more notes. There are photographic records. The fields are cut, baled, the bales loaded, gone. We have fed everyone a sour bullace and sometimes a sloe and guffawed at their face pulling. We camped out and saw the barn owl’s pale swoop again. Today in the tree tunnel out from Lawhitton to Launceston I noted how the succession of warm dry days has left the leaves like dusty green leather, like the covers of old spellbooks in a forgotten library. At work we are staying in as the Tour of Britain bikes through Cornwall and roads are closed and many campers and caravans are pouring down the A30 but indoors we can have a YouTube sea and the back door open and admire the blooming pots. Writing going little by little and good, pretty much like the land progress. Wednesday 8th September 2021 The turn of phrase used here is ‘the storm broke the heat.’ Low

Hedges And Edges

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Wednesday 11th August 2021: The polytunnel is a green tangle. Cucumbers are emerging like little green balloons like we could model them into sausage dogs. Tomatoes begin to blush. The basil leaves this year are huge, like sails, an armada of flavour. Lime flowers and lemon balm and earth make a signature perfume. The garden goes feral every time we lift our attention to the land or the house- the house is currently a mess, like we’ve dumped it here, the land is getting there slowly. We are digging out the wire fencing, some of which is so grown in it might as have well have had roots. We are scything back brambles with reassurances that there will always be space for blackberry plants, just not everywhere. We are spooling up the barbed wire, carefully. Most blood is drawn by thorns. The fields will be cut in mid-August, by the Dart family who have fields nearby. They will even back the tractor in to clear nettle patches where the trees overhang. There is a chap coming for a site vi

The First Sleep

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May lasted for years, June is over in a week, somehow. I forget the actual date and am too lazy to check it no matter how easy this is, but June is the month in which we finally have a night on the land. We are spontaneous, which here means poorly prepared. We finish teaching at Okehampton, grab food and extra wine from the Co-op, drive under a sky of orange flame and dark grey crenellations, arrive at the land as the light is dipping, then remember that we should have packed a lamp - but we find a bicycle helmet with a light, and our phones have torch apps. A tarpaulin is spread upon the dirt in the stable, topped by blankets, an airbed, some duvets. A feast of quiche and chocolate laid out on the little table. Dog has her food to scoff from a tub. I twist open the cava (thank you, Ian, gift much appreciated) the cork pings off a wall fast enough to escape layers of rope-thick cobwebbing. We drink from plastic wine cups- a toast to the land, a toast to adventures! Wobble out in

The Fourth Stripe

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Finding land was a long-haul achievement- working with it to make something amazing will be a long and joyful learning curve- but here we take a little time out to attain something different. On Sunday 23rd May 2021 after seven months of postponed dates, I presented myself at the Bristol Academy to take my 4th dan black belt grading... The Academy is where all black belt gradings for our organisation have been held, but the building is no longer viable and has been sold off, this is the last event to be held on site. From my diary: Monday 24th May 2021 My brain cannot compute that the grading that has been part of my future for so long is actually now in my past. How it began: 5am start, long drive, roadworks prevent parking. Mr drove the first leg, to the Academy: off goeth he to take temperatures all day. I drove to my brother’s house to study my itinerary which I wrote to keep myself calm. After a bout of infinity during which I stretched, hydrated, and ate sensibly, my bro

Light On Our Feet With Good News

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Friday 23rd April 2021 We go into Launceston town, park in the long stay because all parking is free until May 17th (when the hospitality industry restarts). We are early and Mr’s knee hurts so we pick a charity shop without stairs; Mr buys a faux leather jacket, I pick out a summery top. Bargains curled in hand as neither of us has a bag, we find our way to the office and ask for our trainee solicitor, a young chap in a slouchy silvery suit. He comes out of a meeting, nervous, finds an empty room, and we follow him in. There’s a big blue folder of searches and enquiries which we look through, young chap jabbing a finger at relevant bits, his hands are not steady. We think the paperwork is probably satisfactory but this is new territory so it’s all leap of faith stuff - deep breath, take up the pen, sign. We leave the signatures, take the folder, and our bargains, go to Barnecutts and choose a bun each. I pick a plain chelsea, Mr goes for a rocky road. Celebratory carbs that we c

Fun And Thievery

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All day marvellous words pour through my head to describe the sounds, sights, and scents of nature. This morning a light frost was laid out for our delectation, harming no flowers, stilting no birdsong. I have energy to get gardening, to plan, to write the novel, but daily life is scarcely reported upon in spite of how it describes itself to me. We are tentatively out of lockdown, allowed to meet outside in socially distanced groups of up to 6. We are allowed to teach outdoors, numbers limited by space, keeping a 2 metre gap between students (unless they are a family bubble). At home we have the gazebo set up with a picnic bench to host outdoor socialising. Internally we are weary, we are tattered lace on spindly side tables. Every little bit of rest like this morning’s coffee in bed is held onto as though I am stockpiling loveliness in order to survive. I am writing this to help ease that mentality. I would like to adjust out of isolation, I would like to be a light frost thawing

Tides Of March

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Monday 1st March 2021, a work day. Lunchtime. I went for a stroll. Seabreeze was calling. Roamed up and down hill past many crowds of daffodils to get to Porthpean, paddled in the waves (breeze lively, onshore). There was warmth cycling through the cool in the air and water. Sound of waves and gulls. Soft sand. Simple, sensational pleasures. On the slower walk back I put hedge herbs in my coat pocket, took them back to flavour my lunch. On this evening's return commute an orange oversized moon lay over the moors, lopsided and egg-like, more reptilian than bird. I surmised a dragon within. Wednesday 3rd March 2021, an at home day. Shaking off a sense of dread. I think it is the general mess of the world; lots of specifics but not any one in particular. Yesterday was restful; a walk, some reading, a firepit evening complete with blaze of shooting star. Stopped to chat, on our walk, which is how we discovered that there was once an albino badger living in the woods. Thinking of this

First Day In The Year Of The Metal Ox

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Over this last week I did remember to go to work, then came home and back to writing. Popped outside to admire sleek ice every now and then; sometimes stars nestled in their velvet sky. One cold sunny morning the elder trees were pruned, and the wild rose in the rockery. Spring flowers were pushing up, not enough to lift the winter slowness, nor should we be in a rush to be rid of winter. We need our fallow times. Slow is important. This morning I dropped the car to Race Hill Garage since the tyre and handbrake warning lights are sparking up without reason (that I know of- a sensor may need replacing on this, my metal ox). Walked home facing the whip of the wind, glad of the long coat I was wrapped in. Stopped to photograph a lone bull - it’s your Year, I call to it, we too are in lockdown solitudes, let us have solidarity. It bowed a bovine head to continue chewing. Looked up to the treetops of the Small Woods where the spring buds hold tightly poised. It is good to rest, and go

Plotlines And Plants

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Wednesday 3rd February 2021 Returned to work on Monday with my lists of little things to achieve each day, to balance the lack of other adventures in this, the third of our UK lockdowns. Checked rota and found myself not working more than usual shift pattern for two weeks consecutively which feels like I am still on holiday. 😊 Yesterday we stocked up on top soil, potting compost, vermiculite; bought seeds for savoy cabbage and tarragon, and I treated myself to new secateurs (lost a pair in the garden somewhere). 💚 We took the van, also picking up an old window which later will be a solar dehydrator and water heater, and wood for replacing the polytunnel door, which was too long for the van. Mr had to borrow a saw and bespoke the lengths in rain so heavy it was near solid. 💧 This morning after stretches and dog walking I lugged new topsoil onto the polytunnel beds, pruned the small apple tree, cooked mushrooms on the woodburner. Right now I am about to brew extra coffee and crack

January In The Small World

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On the first day of this year Bodmin Moor is snow-cloaked. I am full of the joy of this as I top the hill towards St Austell and see two lots of fire engines hosing a house fire, the roof and upper story ablaze. On the first Monday of this year, weary and early driving to work, stopped at traffic lights- look up, see a circle of seagulls around a half moon.  Home life is cosy. Mr, me, and Dog walk up the long hill out of freezing mist into sunshine, then down to the small woods. On the way we stop to watch a nonchalant red fox snuffling in the hedge; on the way back a robin chirrups at us like it is asking for food. It is cold and sunny all day. Shovel the last of the dirt from compost bay 3 into the wheelbarrow, up to the polytunnel. Tie up the palm tree leaves, put the cold weather fleece on the lime tree. Come indoors with icy fingers. There is good food slowly cooking. Dreams wander into strange places: there’s a supermarket with sea monsters undulating in the open freezers; it w

Blurb, The Dreaded Blurb

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Writing Goals For 2021  After a brief festive respite, the novel in progress is being dragged into the light of the new year. It has taken a few complicated turns and far too many timelines but I'm wrestling it back to sense. This is the first proper fiction I've written in a long while, other than short mostly hilarious stories, my to-date published books for adults have been written from life. The joy of the ordinary is not missing from this new work, it has merely been joined up with various invented* entities and realms. To keep the plot focused and because I find it the hardest least enjoyable bit of writing I am here attempting to put together a book jacket blurb.  Please read and send feedback - no offense will be taken - I have no idea if the following makes sense let alone if it would entice a reader...  The novel itself needs some pragmatic restructuring but should be a reasonable first draft before this year is done. This, plus more blogging which will be (perform ri