open the curtains

and take a look out the window if you want to know what the weather's like


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Capturing Lightning

2014.07.17  (4a)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a dream. I was trying to catch up with two people who were walking ahead of me. No matter how fast I walked they continued to get further ahead, not noticing they had left me behind. Continue reading

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The Values of Desolation

 desolateadj. giving an impression of bleak and dismal emptiness from Latin ‘desolare’ meaning abandon and ‘solus’ alone >> v. to desolate ; n. desolation

A wide expanse of sandflats riddled with tidal streams, deserted in the early morning. A wedge-shaped tidal island at the end of a concrete road: blown dunes empty of human life, the air above the sifting marram sliced about by swallows and martins and pierced by the lonesome shrill of a curlew.

A moorland scene drained of colour under an overcast sky. so cold in summer I wore two coats, a scarf and a pair of gloves to brave the path. A large landscape focusing in the eye on the tapestry of life below knee-level. A loud dam at the head of a reservoir hiding a spectacular waterfall descending through towering crags to the unpopulated landscape below.

Wild winds and the remains of a Roman stone carving depicting three or four sentinels at the Milecastle, hooded and cloaked with only their miserable faces exposed. No wonder the Romans didn’t want to go any further north than this forsaken place. Continue reading


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The Language of Flowers

2012.06.24 Punch Bowl(4)

Foxgloves (Digitalis) – Devil’s Punch Bowl, Hindhead, Surrey

I find flowers pretty hard to write about.

I’m also not sure whether there ought to be a comma in that sentence. (Or should it be a semi-colon?)

I find it pretty hard to write about flowers. I get stuck. I don’t know what I should say.

I love their shapes, their colours, their variations, the profusion of surprises they offer in their deceptive simplicity. There must be a way of working this into prose without it becoming too… prosaic? But I get entangled with botanical details and the tongue-twisting vocabulary required to accurately describe them. Panicles and pedicles. Ovate and pinnate. Spadix, spathe, siliqua, anthers, auricles, monocotyledons – even jizz, I’m completely serious – all feature in the glossary of terms I find myself compelled to consult in order to get to grips with the language of flowers. Even if I am being botanically correct, will anyone know what I am trying to say?

I’m stalling as usual. I find it pretty hard to write, full stop. Continue reading


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The Sea Takes Back Its Own

They say I’m not to be trusted. Maybe that’s because I’m changeable, but only on the surface. I change my dress with the seasons, with the weather, but so do you, so what’s new there? Silk for summer, so light the quietest breeze disturbs it. Shot taffeta for weekdays, crisp and such a colour and texture, much harder to the fingertips than you’d expect by the look of it. But it creases something terrible. Oil cloth for foul weather. Denim jeans are a favourite too, that indigo/white weave, bleaching in the salt and sun and wind and constant wear, the blue dye running in the wash. Always in the wash. Lace on my petticoats and cuffs. I’m a reluctant girly girl on the outside (all that blue) but it brims over sometimes, like my true nature. There is in me an innate tendency to spill out at the edges. Continue reading


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So, Christmas Tree: How Green Are Your Branches?

The tree is easily my favourite part of Christmas, and has been since childhood. Since I left home I’ve always had a small one in a pot, the second of which, having already done two Christmases, was doing really well up until about three weeks ago when two-thirds of it started to go brown. The time had come to replace it if I were to have a tree at all in my own home this year.

I’ve always preferred real trees to the artificial alternatives, partly because we always had a floor-to-ceiling Norway Spruce in our lounge when I was little. It smelled delicious and shed characteristically all over the presents every year. However a friend of mine suggested the better option for me now might be an artificial one, as I wouldn’t have to worry about nursing it through to next year, they never drop needles, and they are much better for the world than real ones (that aren’t in pots) as you keep re-using the same one instead of cutting down and disposing of a new tree every year.

I did feel a pang of guilt: Christmas is an incredibly wasteful time with 3 million extra tonnes of rubbish produced every year in the UK. Continue reading


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A Little Lesson from the Ash Crisis

Yesterday at work I informed a customer that by not taking a plastic bag they were doubly aiding the natural environment as in addition to reducing plastic waste they were contributing to the enhancement of the great British outdoors through the company’s policy of donating a penny for every bag Not used to the Woodland Trust. Does that mean one more ash tree gets saved then? Quipped the customer in question. Let’s hope so, I replied, though it occurred to me as I said it that even though I am familiar with the species as being one of the more common trees of British woodland I wasn’t entirely sure what one looked like. I love trees, but will shamelessly own up to being woefully under-informed when it comes to matters of dendrology.

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Flora vernalis II

When I first started school my teacher told us that if you could put your foot down in a patch of grass and stand on nine daisies in one footstep then spring had arrived. Of course at that age I took it a bit too literally, and went round the lawn in my back garden to see if I could stand on nine daisies in one go in order to determine whether or not it was really spring despite the proliferation of tulips and birds’ nests in the rest of the garden…

In fact the wild flower guide lists the humble Bellis perennis as having a flowering season of Jan-Dec. Perhaps nine at once is the key. Continue reading