open the curtains

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


Summer Still October

October’s here. Let’s dress for the weather – you’ll need that scarf. Bright is the blue of sky and sea and creek; fat are the clots of cloud like overwhipped cream piled up over the inland sky and far dispersed to the distance over the coast. Too bright the colours; too sharp the shadows. Not yet the autumn glow Continue reading

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Winter Garden

From the upper lawn the view across the valley looked very green. A small patch of the Helford River was just visible beyond the specimen trees and the lower ponds, the woodland on the far hillside seeming an extension of the garden’s greenery. The water too was green, a deep teal, too far to see any movement, the day too dull for reflection or sparkle. But this is what Cornwall does best, nurtures its sheltered hollows of sub-tropical escape from the dull reality of the British weather so that even when a bright sunny day turns overcast you can walk beneath treeferns and bamboo stands green as ever – green as summer – and escape the grey. Continue reading


Tea Garden

2015.04.11 Tregothnan (6)

I wouldn’t like to guess how many cups of tea I’ve drunk in my lifetime. Today’s definitely been an exception with only one (so far…) I started drinking tea as soon as I mastered draining the dregs from my mum’s mug, soon moving on to draining the mug when she unsuspectingly put it down half-finished and left it for a minute or two. This led to me getting my own mug, albeit slightly smaller, and a whole cup of tea to myself, and I’ve never looked back. When my housemate moved back to Cornwall I offered him a cup of tea while he was unpacking, querying his affirmative with, which kind? He replied that now he knew he was back in Falmouth – typically here everyone has an impressive range of tea in their cupboard.

As it happens Viscount Falmouth knows more than a bit about tea. Continue reading

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Coastlining 1: Plymouth – Portwrinkle

Date: Saturday 15th March 2014    Distance walked: 13 miles    Height climbed: 1949ft      

2014.03.15 (2) Plymouth

Admiral’s Hard, Stonehouse, Plymouth from the Tamar estuary

The journey of three hundred miles begins with a single step.

Or two train journeys and a brief ferry ride from Admiral’s Hard in Stonehouse, Plymouth, where 18th century Naval architecture stands side-by-side with utilitarian dockside warehouses and tumbled together terraces. Past the marker beacon urging 10 knots by order of the Queen’s Harbour Master; past Drake’s Island off portside and the first glimpse of the sea beyond Plymouth Sound; up onto the slipway at Cremyll where the WELCOME TO CORNWALL sign was cordoned off at the top of the cracked quayside. Continue reading


Walking Brown

Mud underfoot. Old mud on my boots. New mud on the old mud. My hair beneath my hat, the long rope of my plait. My jacket, faded in patches. Under the collar the deep fertile corduroy of a furrowed field, the bleached shoulders compacted loam.

Bare trees. Bark and branch. Damp stumps. Dead leaves hanging; dead leaves fallen. Dead leaves crunching beneath my tread; dead leaves catching in the breeze. Dead leaves soaking in the day old rain, dissolving like wet paper to a humic pulp.

Fence and fencepost. Gate and stile. Lichen. Lych gate. Grave stone under tree. Green shoots through roots and leaf drifts. The first crocus spears pale colour up. Continue reading

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So, Christmas Tree: How Green Are Your Branches?

cat in artificial Christmas tree

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


Deciduous Coniferous

2012.11.09 Coniferous vs. broadleaf

Idless Wood, Truro

As we stepped out of the car Annie and I were greeted by at least five dogs of varying shapes, sizes, ages and muddiness who were making their way from the gateway into Idless Wood across the car park. Two women followed behind, calling them to their car which was parked next to ours. While they attempted to bundle their entire pack into the boot of a single (Fiesta-ish sized) car, we released Luna from her puppy pen on the back seat. At thirteen weeks old she was tiny in comparison to the aged and well-fed beasts that came enthusiastically to sniff her face (the women were not succeeding in getting them car-bound), but being a whippet she looked extra waif-like next to them. Don’t worry said one of the women as Luna quivered on her skinny legs and tried to get back in the car, when you’re grown up you’ll be able to outrun all of them in a flash.

Idless Wood or St Clement’s Wood, is a Forestry Commission managed patch of broadleaved woodland and larch plantation. On entering by the main path we were met with Forestry Commission signs advising us of their usual tree cutting practices; along another posing the question Why are all the trees dying? Continue reading