open the curtains

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


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Gylly and Me

Here’s something from the archives with a beachy theme and variable weather conditions – sort of appropriate for the August this year’s meteorology has served us I thought? It’s a series of snapshots of my relationship with my local beach during my time as an undergraduate several years ago now in Falmouth. Perhaps I should do a sequel some time? I’ve even managed to dig out some actual snapshots to go with. Comments and suggestions welcome as always.

I gravitated towards the beach for reassurance: not so much for the comfort of the familiar, but for the solidarity gleaned from feeling that familiarity with the place was imminent. I looked forward to learning what those rocks were, why there was so much seaweed, and why the sand made the soles of my feet so white that my pasty skin looked tanned in comparison. Continue reading

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Retrospective: 2014 in 14

This seemed to work quite well last year so here’s this year’s shot at a little recap of 2014 in 14 sentences with 14 photos I’ve taken during the course of the year. If you click on the first image you can read the text alongside the pictures as you scroll through if you prefer.

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Retrospective: 2013 in 13

Here’s 2013 in 13 sentences with 13 photos I’ve taken during the course of the year. I don’t know if it’s true that I spent more time in and around Falmouth than previous years, but it’s felt like it, so I’ve chosen to present a retrospective that reflects that. That’s not to say I didn’t go anywhere else or do anything outside of Falmouth and Cornwall, but I thought it would be appropriate to mark the passing of time focusing on the place I invested the most time in. If you click on the first image you can read alongside the pictures as you scroll through them if you prefer.

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Death of a Naturalist

blackberryI ate my first blackberries of the summer just a few days ago.

I’ve been eyeing them up in the hedgerow since the beginning of the month when they first started to ink up in small numbers, biding my time, waiting for the sweetness, the ripeness to set in.

Pausing on the path up Pennance hill to let someone pass, I saw them, seven, eight, maybe ten black blackberries on the edge of the field. Any thoughts of saving them for my picnic dessert evaporated as the first one hit my tongue, flooding my head with juices and flavours and purple stain, and re-drawing to the surface lines indelibly printed in the back of my mind:

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: the summer’s blood was in it
[….]

___

I was fourteen and I’d never heard of him. It was the end of the summer term, and having finished all our end of year exams we were in a sort of educational limbo between lower school and GCSEs. (But of course I didn’t know the word limbo yet, nor the ‘cold glitter’ and the spark of deep core grief-sadness I cannot dissociate from it.) So they gave us something to bridge the gap, a poem to look at such as we might get to study in the following school year. It was ‘Blackberry Picking’ by Seamus Heaney. 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


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The Snowmen and other stories

Last Monday it snowed. I thought that might happen if I specifically posted an article about it snowing everywhere else in the UK apart from where I was. I’d like to claim that’s why I did it, but in truth I was so delighted with the sunshine I couldn’t have wished for any other weather there and then. It didn’t snow much, just an inch or two stuck on the roofs, fences and our garden table. A quick walk proved the landscape to be underwhelmingly under-snowed-under, with no frost to rime the trees and little more than a sugar sprinkling left on the fields and farms of the surrounding hills. I came back home and scraped up all the snow in the garden to make the biggest snowman that I possibly could. Ten minutes later he developed a lean and his hat fell off. Before half an hour had gone by he’d broken in the middle. Continue reading


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Under Londerground

Anyone outside of London who has not logged in to Google today may not have realised that it is the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. Then again almost every website I’ve visited has had some sort of Tube related slideshow, top ten, or did you know going on so, I thought, why not jump on the band waggon, or perhaps slip through the air-powered sliding doors of the red and white carriage (the last manual doors on the Tube were phased out as long ago as 1929, didn’t you know) and pull up a long overdue Underground blog post whilst it might be deemed mildly topical.

When writing about place you inevitably end up discussing travel, and whilst roads and railways are by definition very placeless the London Underground has a very definite sense of identity, not least its graphical-visual one exemplified by Harry Beck’s 1933 map which has become a cultural icon both for the Tube itself and for London. Continue reading