Monthly Archives: October 2016

Up the road and down the road


and up the steps and down the steps and up the garden and down the garden … to dispose of the green mountain hacked off at source.  The air was misty, the sea almost motionless, the day mild, the temptation to bunk off to the beach painful.

As if I didn’t have enough to do, the crab apple tree glowed in a few late streaks of sun and reminded me of another urgent task.

The chicken trundling around the kitchen floor while I stirred got so bored she put herself to bed.

Choose your words


Well …  I’m all in favour of a discriminative vocabulary (“adj. that marks a difference; characteristic; observing distinctions”:  Chambers 9th ed).

landmarkedThe format here is a little unconventional.  Short sections, each describing a particular book and its impact on the author, alternate with glossaries, focusing on specific aspects of the natural environment (weather, sea, or woodlands for example).  Alphabetical order is fragmented into multiple sequences and parts of speech are ignored altogether, sometimes making it tricky to locate a word, and occasionally quite difficult to work out how to use it (and no pronunciation guide either).   The words are often in Gaelic, occasionally Welsh, mostly in regional dialects of English, ranging from slang to technical vocabulary to nonce-words.  The principles of selection are opaque.

Some of the words are excellent, and I’ve appropriated a few for personal use:

  • roke – “fog that rises in the evenings off marshes and water meadows”
  • bungel – “clod of turf used as a missile”
  • gallitrop – “fairy ring”
  • foggit – “covered in moss”
  • thalweg – “deepest part of the bed or channel of a river or lake”
  • spronky – “of a plant or tree: having many roots”
  • purdlegog – “top of a stile”
  • one of my favourites, and a word I’ve been needing for years:  lyring – “shallow depression in tidal sandflats in which sea remains at low water”

and one I can use this very minute:

  • dobbles

(as I was clearing the vegetable patch this afternoon and picked up a good set of them.)


Ouch ouch ouch


Sometimes things are just too overgrown and entangled to be sorted.  In this case, roses and brambles and honeysuckle in a ten foot tall savagely-spiked mass.

After all those slashing thorns I may need new gloves for tomorrow.  I could do with new hands too; the carpal tunnel is going to be evil after all the secateuring, so Mme Alfred will have a reprieve – one or two more days to flower before I cut her down to the ground.



Full academicals … for added lustre.



clap clap clap clap clap


clap clap clap clap clap


clap clap clap clap clap

(and on).

During the long, long longueur waiting for the Very Important Person to appear, there was time to contemplate

a) how being in a cathedral seemed to impel the organisers to include a bidding prayer, a biblical reading and a hymn, while allowing no provision for the cultural and religious plurality of the graduands and their others

b) how there seemed to be no evidence of faith or religion intrinsic to the ceremony proper, which remained wholly secular, placing both the Christian and secular elements in false positions

c)  how unimaginative and poor the music was – no excuse allowed

d)  hair styles

e)  whether joining in the applause for a lot of persons I’ve never seen before and will never see again was an important act of social solidarity and respect, or the outcome of acceding to gratuitous and hypocritical social blackmail

f)  the transitory magic of sunlight in the clerestory

g)  how to take a screen shot on an iPhone


(ah, here we are at last – the Very Important Person, obviously both brighter and better looking than anyone else)

and h) how easy it is to be heard the full length of the nave (or possibly as far as the West Midlands) if someone is sufficiently uninhibited


clap clap clap


clap clap

And no; that wasn’t me.

Start as you mean to go on


Today’s rule was:  to take only one photograph, choosing it carefully.  How to choose?  On the bright and windy beach I could have captured:

Blue, plain blue
Or crossed cirrus feathers
A white wave frontage breaking for a mile
Scything crosses of gulls, tumbling black of crows, small flippetings of wagtails
The smooth wide sand reflections
The sun dodging in a street of bobbled cumulus
A golden cliff
A white cliff
A cliff painted in turquoise rills by outseepings through the clay
A surfer learning his wave
Zebra stripes of sea foam blown sidling and shivering past
Black sand, cream sand, and the debatable land between
Water pulled by the sun
—–and pushed by the wind
The round stone or the red stone or the white stone of memory or the fossiliferous stone or the lucky flint with a hole in it
A dead end maze of pools and sandbanks, choosing to walk
—–so that I would have to leap an exit or go back
The cold damp boulder on which I sat
A walker standing on the cliff’s edge, too close above an undercut,
—–as I could see and he could not
The beach art found abandoned near the landslip
Or the triad which I made
Tiny round pony hoofmarks made by tiny round ponies (bay and white)
Outcrops of clay with grain as fine as milk

Not being very keen on regulations, I soon decided to break the one-photograph rule, and took no images at all, leaving them scattered on the beach.



Then I lay in the recliner by the window, watching the clouds, while sillhouetted birds skidded down the wind.  The sky turned leaden, grey, unearthly pale, rich apricot in the squall, pink and gold and blue, lavender and dusty yellow, dim blue, and black.

Things to do when you can’t sleep: lxv


lxv  :  Pine for a ballcock

The sinister whisper of water secretly running in a pipe at midnight.

Visit the taps; put ear to the inside of the washing machine; listen at the boiler plumbing; stand in the cupboard below the bathroom to inspect the ceiling; pull down the loft ladder and creep full of arachno-dread around the header tanks; check for wet patches; listen; take a torch to the illegible water meter and watch the wheels still creeping, creeping, creeping round.

The downstairs toilet.  An almost invisible and silent rill of water running into the bowl hours after the last flush.  And it has one of those clever modern bolted together multi-flush siphoning thing cisterns which take actual skill to adjust, so I will have to Get Someone In.  Thus I lay crossly in the dark, pining for a simple old ballcock.