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Mind the Gaps: Notes from an Irish Island

2011.05.07 Aran (7)

It’s St Patrick’s Day today – not something I celebrate having absolutely no Irish connection whatsoever, but it made me think about Ireland and the only time I’ve ever been there, which in turn made me dig out the notebook I made during that visit. I spent a windswept and hilarious ten days with my MA team wandering around Dublin and Galway and the largest of the Aran Islands off Galway Bay, eating cheese and biscuits, free-wheeling our bikes down empty Aran roads, making a campfire made from a pallet we had to stamp on and throw rocks at to get it into small enough pieces, and scribbling who-knows-what in our fieldbooks in the guise of practising writing nature and place. Here’s a little snippet from mine. It’s a bit random but that’s the whole point of a notebook…

My overwhelming first impression of Araínn, Inishmore, Inis Mór, this largest of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Galway is the colour grey. I used to associated grey with all the negative things in life: Bracknell Town Centre and School, our head-to-toe concrete colour uniforms, the 1970s concrete architecture of the town, dank concrete underpasses, tower blocks, roundabouts and kerbs… Cornwall taught me a different sort of grey: granite, slate and raincloud, the sea under a lowering sky. Inis Mór is grey in both the Cornish sense and totally differently grey. Continue reading


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Coastlining 3: Looe – Polperro

Date: 7th April 2014       Distance walked: 5 miles       Height climbed: 669 feet

2014.04.07 Looe Island under cloud

Looe Island

Looking back towards Looe Harbour from Hannafore Point was a grim prospect. We could barely see as far as Millendreath, eastwards along the coastline. Overhead the cloud rolled across the sky of the bay like a heavy grey duvet. None-the-less we set out along the road, westward bound towards Talland and Polperro, and through gate into a field; where Annie let the dog off the lead and I immediately plunged my foot ankle deep into mud.

We’d planned this for a while. (The walk, that is, not my foot in mud. I don’t know how I manage these things, and I’m sure if I did plan them they wouldn’t be half so effective.) Continue reading

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Shadowlands & Reflections

I wrote this a while ago as a sort of joke 2012 retrospective piece, and initially wasn’t going to post it on here at all. However, in the wake of the popularity of my previous post wherein I visited the location of a BBC adaptation of a classic novel, it seems more appropriate. Forget country houses and nineteenth-century romances and read on if you fancy a trip to Narnia by way of the Great British countryside…

Wrapping myself more tightly in my inadequate layers I attempt to minimise the possible gaps in my clothing through which the wind can creep, and peer over the ship’s railings to see if I can catch a better glimpse of our destination. Cee is standing a little ahead of me on deck keeping a weather eye on the horizon. The first hint that there was something other than sea out there appeared about an hour into the voyage, a smudge on the border between sea and sky that disappeared almost as soon as it had arrived, leaving us in doubt as to whether it had been visible at all. Continue reading