Showing posts from 2014


2014, a midwinter’s morning.
Winter courts spring with a bridal gown.
Laid on earth’s bare skin, the perfection of each crystalline stitch, divine.
It is melting, under shallow pools of sun.
A gem would not melt in this meagre heat: but we are temporary, we should understand.
A diamond is a thing of beauty, yet the pursuit of it, too costly. Laden with servitude, it shines sadly.
In the embroidered earth a moment holds, a proposal, a sign of hope sturdier than the materials that spark it.

A memory: a memory arrives -

1977, an early summer’s afternoon.
There was then a smaller version of me; I can observe her, as though she exists, independent of her adult self.
She had brought her necklace to school, a trinket from her Grandma, it dangled a bright jewel, like something from the Raj. She liked to wear it on her head, in the style of a warrior princess. Light fell and caught the dust as she led the class to the cloakroom and all the parents said how sweet she was.
Pantaloons to them! Her…

The '77 Port Moment

‘This is for our Christmas Day.’ The Chap rolls a bottle of port before our boggled eyes.
1977, vintage.
The price tag says what?
‘It’s my new tradition.’ He says, perhaps because he’s eighteen years old. Time will let us know.

Christmas Day gathers just the three of us this year.
The port is opened; the old cork crumbles, we utilise a tea strainer, two decanters, hide them in the pantry, next to the oats.
Breakfast is a slab of hot brioche with extra butter.
Clear dry cold sky, a platinum light: we wrestle old bicycles into it, dust them, plump up tyres. Dog runs and somehow avoids an accident. We stop at the house of Grandchild 2, swap gifts, legs gently steaming.
Dog commando-crawl sneaks onto the front room carpet from the kitchen tiles. Everyone smirks.
Wrapping paper makes a comforting debris.

We take the long road back, because of the sky, because of fun.
‘Our mission today,’ I shout, with vibrato over potholes, ‘is not to get too trolled before we start the port!’

So …

Hello Girls And Boys!

Firstly, a quick reorganisation of the grandchildren. They number only four thus far (‘only’ as in ‘not an unmanageable number,’ not only as in, ‘ that it?’) so it may seem-

random interruption- forthy- is that a word anyone else knows?- ‘forthy’ means here ‘to be precocious’-
short form of ‘forwards’ -

-forthy to be having this tidy up.

It is easy when surrounded by these outpourings of future grown ups, to be thinking forwards, it is the time of year for clear-ups. So henceforth shall Little Grandson be Grandchild 1, Little Granddaughter be Grandchild 2 : and so on.They are ordered by age not popularity.

We do like to organise them.
Not to classify but to direct.
Take this Christmas lark, for example.

Nothing is begrudged , yet just as a surfeit of food can cause bloating, a surfeit of stuff can clog the soul.
What gift can be brought without fear of clog, without loss of fun?
Memories. We aim to give a whole set.
Memories are made from formative experiences.
This …

Christmas Story 2014

This year's Yuletide story offering is a little early- I was planning a Solstice post for Sunday. Last Winter Solstice I got lost on Dartmoor just as it was falling dark... but this year the grandchildren are taking me to watch a pantomime. It will be safer but easily as busy, so I'm posting now instead. Happy Holidays to all!
How The Snowdrops Bloomed

Ice crusted over every surface, like the world was an ice pie.
A fire in the wide hearth had been lit for days, slowly warming the stone walls of the cottage. Sat close, two people unlaced their damp boots and wiggled their toes at the flames.
They formed a small family.
A child, a girl of six.
A widower, her father.

Their cottage edged woodland; from this wood they fed their fire and their bellies.
Over the fire was an iron pot; in this they cooked good winter soup.
Next to the fire was a jug.

The widower, now and then, found work at a farm. As payment, the farmer and his family sent over a jug of milk once a week, and a pat of b…

Where The Weekend Went

Friday night, a jug of rum.
We creep to our garden and spy on the frost.
It feels like dreams can find you better, if you go out into the dark.

Saturday morning, sat on the porch step, numbing buttocks, drinking coffee. Morning sun makes steam plumes along grassed edges. Sky wakes up all tumbled, bits of cloud, blue, mist, squints of sun.
Mr sleeps in, wrapped in dream and quilt.
When he wakes up, just as tumbled as the sky, he calls to come and see: a robin has snuck into our kitchen, to spy on us.
So tiny, that bird, we see: the world so big and wintry. With boldness he thrives. We admire.

It stays warm, the sun, we sit out, drink more coffee.
And one more coffee.

Saturday afternoon, all of a sudden. We forgot about time.
In the carpark, stuck in a queue, making alternative plans: a space, all of a sudden. Free parking, the sign says. This is encouraging.
In the town hall doting families gather. Children can be heard through the closed doors, practising thei…

Queen Mab

This is not the work of winter alone: Queen Mab has been loose in the night.
The horses’ manes will be atrocious!
Slender branches strew the lanes: the old ash tree must be suspected of complicity, for it has lost but twigs.
One unbroken piece of moon is left wedged in morning sky; behind dull cloud stripes of blue and pink fuzz like flannelette.
Is she sleeping now?
Our ribs hold anxious beats.
Of what does she dream?
The more we stare at the sky, the more the cirrostratus thickens.
In the thin fall of rain a whisper: of what do you dream? 

Winter The Eccentric

Winter, for all her stark chic, is a secret hoarder. 
She has a thing for extremities.
We ward her away with gloves, warming socks, impervious boots, snug hats.
She is horribly curious and will crawl inside your chest to look around, sliding cold through your damp lungs.
It is best to keep skin under thermal surveillance.

She makes water-glass, for looking in, in spite of the fish gaping below; yet for all her thievery, her stealth of trespass, her vanity, she marvels us.
She is her own kind of beautiful, as is all true beauty.

Without her, the grate has no fire, the hats and gloves are dropped, unappreciated.

Spring’s bulbs push slow roots through her iced ground. Perhaps she nips at fingertips to feed them. Winter, like a mother bird, raising her cuckoo.

Pity is superfluous.
She is made of universal stuff: present in all seasons.

The Plan Revealed

It is our belief that a crazy plan will do more good than harm. This is why we are often to be found drawing plans for hillbilly hot tubs and underground gardens. Heat regulation is the main staller with the former, the latter is preparation for when we own land. And this is beginner level crazy (intermediate elsewhere, perhaps, but we live in rural Cornwall) not far from simply dreaming. One giant shed, one polytunnel, one almost finished bath-pond testify that we can make ideas tangible. Based on this, and other little things, like compassion, like stories shared, we have been forming a bigger plan.
Here’s the rough outline:
we acquire land
we build and/or develop a self sustaining community
this community is part made up of isolated folks trying to get a foothold in general society
we run a business or two from the land (farming, crafts, camping site, etc)
How on earth do we make this happen? How will it work?
Slowly, with much head scratching, ingenuity, internet trawling, form re…


The number six turns into a frying pan. The number eight splits into two circles. Number six becomes a spoon, it dollops icing on both circles of eight, which are now cakes.
At this point, dreaming is suspected.
Awake, the interpretation takes no effort.
Yesterday marked the 68th year since my father was born into this world, and since he isn’t here any more a dream-cake is offered.

Outside, the world is enriched. Pale gold, the winter sun. From the car, from blades of grass, in swathes across the fields, verglas glints. Starlings, jet dark, bloom up with a noise like sails catching a headwind. One memento mori crow watches from the ash tree.

On the way to her nursery Little Granddaughter sits in the car, kicking up her welly boots and lying about breakfast.
‘I had chocolate,’ she says, ‘and butter and frogs and a sheep.’
‘No toast?’
‘Yes and a tree and marmite and sprinkles. Sprinkles are pretty.’
She looks out of the window. In the town, the ice has melted.

There is something abou…

Winter's First Calendar Day

Nothing much is scheduled. The same drift of cloud loops over a low hill.
Everything else is mist.
Just over the line, just out of physical sight, a future crouches.
Out of the corner of a whimsical eye: palm trees, pineapples, postcard colours.
On a salt breeze comes laughter, comes glass to glass chinking.
Perhaps we’ll walk over there.
Perhaps is a word of possibility.
Mud shines, mist lifts, sun, emergent.
Tips of fingers bare and chill, toes in boots warm as crumpets.
We walk just the usual paths with nothing much scheduled; hum a little something.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

Big And Little, First Year

Christmas is sparkling over the horizon. Littlest grandson has been here a whole year: a big brother, we say to his big brother: you have been a big brother for a whole year - do you remember when your little brother was born- what do you remember?
This is a ridiculous question to pose a usurped four year old.
‘He bought me a present.’ (Rolls eyes, seems to be wondering how we could have forgotten this, the main part of the tale.)
We watch Home Alone and lose at balloon baseball and so are forgiven.
The little brother laughs. He has cheese and crackers, teeth, and the new art of walking. Presents are peripheral things.
At bed time, the littlest cuddles in his cot; the big brother wants a story. Granma tells him Ronko the Rude Clown, while Grandad smirks on the stairs.
Of all the reading gigs, the bedtime audience is the most intense. One pair of eyes shining in delighted disgust as Ronko gets his stinky karma! One imagination sparked: the sparks seem visible.
‘Tell me again,’ he …

Staring Out Of The Window, When The Phone Rings

It is November, the latter part.
On this planet.
What of other planets?
I mis-type November, but only once, as Novelber.
Today is not for writing but for dragging rows of numbers around, making accounts.
The first frosts have visited; two mornings in a row, now comes rain, falling thickly, hypnotic.
Thoughts wander in this weather they go anywhere. (Always blame the weather.)
Numbers add up to a headache.
Still some apples hold on branches: last all winter through, sometimes, some types. They are best to see frosted: fruit and ice growing: crunchy, sweet, fantastic!
I’m supposed to be - but the phone keeps interrupting - nearly gets turned off -
It rings. A finger hovers to stamp out the noise: why is that number ringing?
Because it’s Wednesday. Not Tuesday.
If you know film terms, this is the dolly track zoom moment.
If not, the word ‘lurch’ will help.
I am supposed to be picking up Little Granddaughter from her nursery…
I apologise on the phone and in person. The child…

Honey, I Sunk The Bath

It could have been one of those projects that lingered into a domestic mythology.
We do have such a pantheon; minor deities of projects such as boot racks and office tidies that add something to the ambience of clutter, we find: a sense of a purposeful future, perhaps: stuff that could happen.
Yesterday or thereabouts I had wiggled the iron weight of the old bath till there was room to dig the hole that would reposition it as our new pond. Then it rained a bit, nothing more, here, was done.
But, then, Little Granddaughter was here and how we love an outdoor project! Enough to disregard inclement weather and at least turn over some turf. The ground here is clay-dense, rock littered: generally.
‘Granma, watch me!’ A trowel’s fill of mud gets flung high over the rockery.
Such is the power generated when three years’ life experience connects with earth.
Somewhere between the surprise of finding good top soil, the lightness of drizzle, and this power of youthful enthusing, we dug the wh…

Three Bloops

Today’s focal accomplishment was not the coconut rice, though it remains a favoured dish in the menu rounds. Too much concentration focused on the compilation of a folder, in which, page by page, fresh from the printer, a novel was stored.
My novel, not often discussed. Brainwashing or true belief, I’m not sure, only A Writer Writes: a writer does not talk of writing, this is wasting writing time. Except for those moments when I fume about synopsis and blurb, they are functional safety vents.
Only one chapter went in to the folder backwards, and this (bloop 1) was remedied swiftly. The other two bloops were in the rice. I double salted (bloop 2) and though I did not forget the chilli, I did neglect to chop it into less than one whole piece (bloop 3) which gave Houseguest Ben quite the surprise.
Sets of three being culturally usual here, I am hoping that this pepper incident is the last bloop for today. Small things all, set against the general malaise over the loss of our cat, and tha…


Up in the polytunnel, the vine had snapped its tether and fallen over, flouncing out red leaves, exposing and breaking  a root bound pot.
Planting out could not be deferred, no matter how low the desire to dig another hole.
Heavy soil, we have, thick with clay, set with obstacles.
Vines will not like it, so we have devised a planting tube.
A crock of old pottery and some sifted out stones make a drainage band, the rest is compost, lighter layers of top soil, fine volcanic rock.
And there it is, finally planted. There may be grapes, or not, next year. But unless we had spilled this sweat, we would never know: therein the satisfaction lies.

The Cat Shambles

Skulking around the rabbit hutch, we saw her first, a small framed fluffy cat. I chased her off. She skulked the old sheds instead, then, wary of contact. Until: it was somewhere around 2am at the party we hosted for Girl’s nineteenth birthday, when thronged drunks were outdoors attempting disorderly and giving up, on account of being too drunk. We had dragged out garden benches and sat laughing, and into the middle of the scrum-cackle this cat appeared, and friended us, and walked into the open house and lived there. We called the vets, the next day, holding gingerly our coffee mugs, but none of her description were on the missing cat list.
We still aren’t sure why we let her stay.
It was the right kind of house for her, perhaps; certainly she proved a tyrant to the cheeky mice. Sometimes in the mornings she would have slime trails on her, a sign of a deep hedge sleeper. Her fur dreaded up. She didn’t much care for grooming. We named her Shambles and never knew how old she was.

Rain And Intervals

Parking on the grass is denied by wheel spin. 
The lanes are not for walking but splashing and how clear the water is, with that subtle property of magnification, framing old bits of leaf, saturating colour, and the sun puts warm on your face in these blue sky intervals and the water runs downhill, gurgling. 
Clouds travel in thickly flanked formations.
In a field a coated horse tail-flicks and observes how starlings burst upwards from grass, up to the bare ash branches to make their mass noise.
Optimism pegs washing out: it gets a thorough second rinse before the sun interval repeats. It does not matter. It was not so unexpected but it cannot be predicted.
Every day we can wonder what will happen next.


What is it that we should remember?
Not a blanket patriotic blurb.
A common humanity. A day of souls.
A day of unselfish acts.
A day to mark our consciences, whether we fight or not.
A day of measuring regret.
It should connect us, this experience of human life.
The severance is what breaks us.
However war comes, it breaks us.

From Autumn, A View Of Winter

From daylight, the hours slip.
Into night the hours arrive.
I see them as new hatched fishlings: blinking, gaping, full of instinct.
Leaves; autumn is famous for leaves; for the ruby’d mulch.
It is daylight, I am walking with Dog, we go under trees, alongside the swelled river.
Walking is thinking but thinking outside is release not compression; the scenery is not lost.
Head full of projects and lists, aims, objectives: internal mulch.
What next?
The paths are covered.
A winter story is coming: barefoot, towards the hearth. Smells of candle wax and cocoa.

Cold Snap And A Cheese Board

This cold is made of sharp-shiny teeth, dainty-pointy, gripped to one’s extremities.
Thicker socks required.
Toes and soles are tenderised.
A hungry cold.
Night gapes like a gullet.
Some night perhaps when the wild of me wakes enveloped in the beauty of that consuming ache, then bare feet will run through snow, over sheer ice, then, a throat, a naked throat, a body dressed only in skin and wonder, can be offered willing to those teeth: but it is not that night yet.
A thick knit of comfort pulls around: woollen socks, a glass of rum, the Rayburn churning hot water in a flimsy tank, a cheese board, two kinds of chutney (homemade) and one sweet pickle (shop bought, a shameful favourite.)
Without hunger, satiation means little.
Without comfort, adventure lacks contrast.

Pirate Trees Ahoy

Such a wind blows as can turn tall masted trees to galleons and take them into the dark searching for gold and secret islands.
In the morning we look and find two self-seeded broad bean plants: as good as bullion here is things that grow into food.
The fat-trunked ash twitches, moored back to our hedge; the wind blows softer; they reminisce; we make-believe their whispers.
Last night’s wind has blown the weather out of shape: odd bits of rain fall hither, thither. Fragments of sun, not enough to dry wet clothes, and half-rainbows, which hold their beauty and maybe the fragmentary nature adds a sense of luck to have any rainbow at all.
Back to the dark sails the day. On the rotary line outside one sodden towel testifies to a swashbuckle system of belief: optimism, acceptance, derring-do.