Monday, 29 September 2008

Dog Fight

A long fell walk is good for you; the longer the better when it takes your son 2 hours to stop moaning about going for a walk! At least the second 2 hours was more sociable. Now I know why I usually go on my own....

The wheatear on the walls didn't impress, the singing lark gained only mild interest
but the one-heck-of-an-aerial-mobbing-and-mobbing-back by a pair of peregrines and a pair of ravens did make him stop and stare. Each bird fighting for height then swooping down to crash feet first onto the back of the other - very exciting.

Photos of wheatear and raven by Mike Atkinson - follow the link from this blog to his website.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Making it count

Yesterday I saw a stoat running along the road - it really made my day. A moment to treasure.
As well as the spectacular, the everyday can be inspiring if we look at it differently. I was reminded of this the other day when I was looking at some greetings cards - ordinary pictures but the captions transformed them to something philosophical and worthwhile.
The right caption can make or break a picture - or can it? What do you visual artists and writers think?

Competition time: below is a somewhat bland photo. What caption would you give it?

Monday, 22 September 2008


I spent part of Saturday pruning and disentangling a rambling rose from my Berberis and now have the scratches and thorns to prove it!
It's all about balance. Don't cut back enough and plants suffer, cut back too much and you loose a safe habitat and feeding place for wildlife.
It's like that with the creative lifestyle too. Become too busy, as I am prone to do, and creativity is stifled. Don't do enough and it's difficult to find material to draw from.
Creative flow reflects our state of mental balance. What do you think?

Above - my garden. Below - I put out a range of food but the tits and finches always seem to prefer the sunflower seeds.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Meet Fred

Fred lives in my shed. Very confident that I know he's not palatable, he just remains squat when I open the door.

Not much of a life being a toad (actually he looks like a frog but behaves like a toad)- just squatting there all day or reluctantly crawling off with disdain if I disturb him whilst getting some tool. On the other hand after a full-on week I'm spending my day off washing & vacuuming the car, struggling to remove a climbing rose from my berberis, changing beds, shopping, cleaning the kitchen & bathroom etc, painting a wall, watching tomorrow's ironing pile grow, lessons still to plan... Not much of a life on a sunny day off. Now what about that toad...

Sunday, 14 September 2008

What a difference

What a difference a day makes, especially when the sun comes out. Yesterday's duck count revealed very little - not even a Canada goose to be found. So desperate were we to count that we were glad to see a few mallard! And then a treat - three little grebes on High Bullough Reservoir. I'm always amazed at the width of their rear ends - they remind me of enormous powder puffs.

But 8am this morning (White Coppice), with a blinding ball in the sky incising lines across the landscape, there were robin songs, stuttered warning calls and wings splattering the heavy dew in all directions. Good to see lots of common species showing themselves after their skulking moults. This morning's special treats included a dipper whirring up the watercourse, stonechat, grey wagtail and still some willow warblers and martins around. Also a family of dunnock.

Four cormorant on Anglezarke; Grey Heights and Healey Nab offered a kestrel, pheasant, song thrush, jays etc; and Heapey Lodges gave me the gift of a kingfisher in sparkling sunlit flight.
And maybe I have a poem emerging - about leaky boots....

What creature do YOU consider a gift? And why?

And let's not forget the wonderful photos of a little grebe and a dunnock taken by Mike Atkinson. Follow the link from this page to more of his beautiful photos.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Living with Wasps

One of our neighbours recently had starlings in her roof, a couple of others have had house martins, and me - I get wasps!

We had bees a couple of years ago but they only stayed a week. No trouble at all. This year we have wasps. They're living under the fascia and we hardly know they're there. They seem to respect boundaries and very few come in the house even though we have the bedroom windows open. (Or maybe that's because we don't have sticky drinks etc lying around?) The odd one that has come in has been in a very exhausted state. It's sad to see the demise of such distinguished creatures.
It's far more pleasant living with these wasps than those dreadfully invasive flies we all had a few weeks ago.

I should be able to get a poem out of this. But so far it's eluded me.

Photo copied from:

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Turquoise flight

I recently asked a group to describe a bird or animal in less than three words. It's a useful honing exercise to help us work out exactly what it is that makes a species distinct (appearance, behaviour, habitat etc.). It also promotes the many meaning we attach to words.

Can you describe your favourite birds / animals in three words or less? Please share - but don't tell us what the creature is - it should be obvious....

Photo used by kind permission of Colin Smith. Use the link opposite to his site.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

One word - what would it be?

I'm painting panels on Wez's wall - two down and three to go. Wez & Annie designed them. I started wondering if I was to paint one word on my wall, what would it be? I considered 'grace' and 'hope' and then remembered that the welcome word I chose for my mobile phone was 'jump!'

It's a word full of energy, movement and emotion. You can't jump without feeling - it stirs you up physically, mentally and emotionally. It's joyful and, also like me, it's about rolling up your sleeves and getting on with the job.

So what would your word be? And why?

Monday, 1 September 2008

Carol's Rules for Reading

1. Practise reading aloud before you go. (Be almost able to recite your poems.)
2. No need to overdress but wear one striking item.
3. Always look at your audience and smile before you start.
4. Involve the audience: ask some questions (that require just a nod in response).
5. Keep looking and smiling at the audience.
6. Never go over your allotted time.
7. Be flexible. Have more material ready than you need but always expect to read less.
8. Refer back to what a previous reader has said / done. (It shows you've been listening!)
9. If you make a mess of a poem - stop. Then start again (if it's near the beginning / a short poem).

10. If you have published a book etc. take some copies to sell. But be warned, if your audience consists entirely of fellow poets, you won't make many sales! (Why is that?)

Well those are my self rules. What are yours?

from the field book

from the field book
An inspiring gift for anyone who enjoys watching nature.